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Seven seat

You might think stroke seat is the most important seat in the boat, and she certainly gets a lot of attention and prestige. It's the seat many rowers aspire towards. But in my sweep days, I always preferred seven seat in the eight. Six seat was pretty good as well, lending support to stroke on port side. I was just more comfortable in the following and matching role than leading. I think it relates to a certain level of anal-retentiveness about precision.

Somehow, in fours, the seating order didn't matter quite so much, I think because when there are just four bodies trying to move in synchrony, it is easier to feel what's going on and contribute regardless of where one is sitting. I could help get boats to fly when sitting stroke in the four, but the crush of bodies behind me was always just a little too much in the eight. I was routinely just a little too slow at the catch with my legs and a little too long (due to hyper-flexibility) for shorter, quicker rowers to follow.

Doubles are a more complicated matter. The traits that make me a good seven seat also make me happy and good in bow, but if there are two such people trying to get a boat going I will sit stern if necessary, because I can keep a reasonable rhythm, as in the four. That's how it was with K and I. I could smooth out the stroke by feeling her catch timing.

Today while both thinking and trying to not-think, as one does, I was reminded of that awful period after J broke up with me when I was living by myself and had mono. As I have written before, the only person who came and visited me (bringing food) was K. The shared experience of the sport, especially things like the erg marathons and water marathon, create a special sort of bond, one like family. Not to mention the ritual of pre-dawn rising and preparation for those events. I am forever grateful for that.

A handful of bicycling events share that feeling, although it isn't quite the same most of the time because fates aren't quite so intimately linked. I think as a result cyclists aren't forced to go through quite the same sort of personality-reading that rowers have to go through.

Speaking more directly, because I don't know where else to put this and it is partly related, negativity can kill a boat. It is horrible when it happens (and ugh I have some vivid memories especially from high school), but in soul-searching I would always be drawn back into the activity by some desire to keep striving.


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