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Decisions, Decisions

BY RICH DAVIS
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER

Strokes are mostly born, not made, so my first concern is identifying the rhythm-setter of the crew. When rowing by sixes early in the season, try putting potential strokes in the lead seat as a way to see who is the most natural in that position. During seat racing, I watch the strokes almost as much as I watch all of the other rowers I am evaluating. After stroke seat, I focus on the size and technical ability of the remaining rowers. Naturally, the largest athletes end up sitting in the engine room. The middle of the boat is often wider than the stern and bow sections, and placing the bigger athletes there minimizes the effects of their movements. I put the lighter and higher-skilled rowers in the bow to keep the boat running straight. Seven seat is a second stroke of sorts and it is crucial that he or she conveys the proper timing to their side of the boat. Races are won or lost depending on who you have sitting in the coxswain’s seat, so choose wisely there. Try to spend as much time with them off the water as you can—talking, coaching, and sizing them up. Finally, I always make sure to tell my rowers that where they sit has no bearing on who would be first to be demoted to a lower boat. I have found that most young rowers mistakenly believe the seat to which they are assigned represents their ranking as athletes. That is simply not the case.

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