Tag: rowing gifts

GoPro Gear for Coxswains


GoPro Gear for Coxswains

Winter training trips are fast approaching (not to mention, ya know, Christmas) so I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately about GoPros – which one’s the best, which accessories are worth it, etc. Below is what I use, as well as the accessories I have that make storing, charging, and traveling with the GoPro a piece of cake.

The only things that I consider to be a must-have alongside the GoPro itself are the microSD card, the carrying case, the housing case, and the head mount strap. Everything else is just stuff I’ve found has made my life easier when traveling to regattas or rotating both of my GoPros between 3-5 coxswains on a weekly basis.

Image via // @northeasternmensrowing

Holiday Gift Guide 2017


Holiday Gift Guide 2017

It’s that time of year again and Black Friday/Cyber Monday is (somehow already) upon us. If you’ve got some holiday shopping to do or you’re still looking to add a few things to your own list, here’s a couple of ideas.

A year or so ago Amazon had an insane deal on Hot Hands and I got a 120 pack for $20 (normally it’s $75). Hand warmers on their own make great stocking stuffers but combined with the hat, gloves, and socks they make for an excellent gift that any coxswain who appreciates practicality and not freezing their ass off will enjoy.

Related: Rowing gifts

If you’re looking for some book ideas to go with that Audible subscription, check out the posts I’ve done on rowing books (here and here). If you’re looking for some non-rowing suggestions, Murder on the Orient Express, The Secret Lives of Codebreakers, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck are all on my 2018 reading list.

Image via // Potomac Boat Club

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Coxing Rowing Teammates & Coaches

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Still looking for just the right gift for the rowers and coxswains you know? Here’s a few last minute ideas.

I thought this print of the patent for the original rowing machine was really cool and could be a neat addition to any athlete’s room or coach’s office. (You can also find similar prints over on Etsy.) This set of Field Notes is from their Expedition line and features water and tearproof paper, making it great for coxswains. A regular set of Field Notes could also serve as a great gift for rowers looking for a simple way to keep a training journal. Remember, it’s not a goal if it’s not written down.

I got a Starbucks gift card last year from the crew I coxed at HOCR and after loading it on to the app on my phone it’s since become a must-have travel item for me. Not having to dig my wallet out of my bag when we’re traveling is super convenient and being able to save a little bit of my per diem money is a nice perk. This new book on Harry Parker (by MIT grad Toby Ayer) chronicles the 2008-2009 season and looks pretty cool. I originally heard about it a few years ago when row2k posted an excerpt of it and have been looking forward to checking it out ever since.

Now that our Apple overlords have decided the headphone jack is irrelevant, wireless headphones are going to be an even bigger must-have for rowers than they were before. Amazon has plenty of decently priced pairs too, which is good since these will probably live in your locker or the bottom of your bag and regularly be drenched in sweat. Lastly, this drybag would be great for coxswains who are looking for something small, durable, and most importantly, waterproof to put their stuff in and carry into the boat with them.

For more gift ideas, check out the “rowing gifts” tag.

Image via // @folkmagazine
Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Coxing Rowing Teammates & Coaches

Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Christmas is two weeks from today. If you’re still looking for a great Secret Santa gift, here are a few ideas.

Warm socks, a new uni, and fun band aids for the rowers or a coxswain wrench and hot hands for the coxswains would make great gifts for anyone but especially anyone on the team who might be a novice.

The phone case could be cool for your friends who like showing off that they do crew and the vodka, well, I’m sure there’s a volunteer assistant or two out there that would appreciate that from their team.

For more gift ideas, check out the “rowing gifts” tag.

Image via // Deutschland Achter
Rowing Blazers Launch Party


Rowing Blazers Launch Party

So last week, as you saw if you follow me on Instagram, I went to New York for the launch of Jack Carlson’s book, “Rowing Blazers“. I received an invitation back in early August and decided pretty much immediately that I was going because … how often do you get an opportunity like this?

The party was held in Midtown at the Ralph Lauren Polo flagship store on 55th and 5th Ave. and, despite the space feeling unbearably small at the time given the number of people that were there, I don’t know if they could have chosen a better place to host this crowd. Throw in some beer and cocktails (Pimms, of course), lobster rolls, and a live band and you’ve pretty much got the Henley Royal Regatta crammed into 30,000 square feet. Everyone who owns a blazer was wearing it (I get the impression they don’t get to take them out of their closets too often…) so it was neat to actually be able to see them with all their aggressively bold colors and patterns in person. I wish I could have gotten more pictures of the overall atmosphere but being 4’11” at a party where the average height was probably around 6’3″ made that kinda impossible.

Related: A History of the Rowing Blazer

The book itself is actually pretty cool although I’ll admit I was (very) skeptical at first. What sold me on it was the stories alongside the photos that discuss the history of that club’s blazer, where the colors and design came from, what the various embroidered emblems mean, etc. I’m a total sucker for stuff like that so after reading through several pages of the book while on the subway I was hooked.

One of the things that really interested me was the introduction where Jack (a former BB&N and Georgetown coxswain) goes into the sartorial history of “the boating jacket” and how its origins as part of a rower’s uniform, “to help keep [them] warm during chilly training sessions on the River Cam and on the Isis in Oxford”, have become what we and all the men in our lives now know as the “blazer”.

Related: Toasting ‘Rowing Blazers’ at Polo Ralph Lauren

One of the highlights of the night for me was getting to meet Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, both of whom co-hosted the party with Jack. Not only did I want to get a picture with them because, let’s be honest, the height difference is amusing, but I also really wanted to know their thoughts on the writers of “The Social Network” having Armie Hammer say “we row crew“. They both chuckled and said exactly what I think we were all thinking when we heard that line – “It’s just not what rowers say!”. They were great to talk to though and I appreciated getting to spend a few minutes with them.

High School Q&A Teammates & Coaches

Question of the Day

Hi, we have states in two weeks and we have boat gifts – is this a sport-wide tradition? If so, what are good gifts to buy/make? Thanks a bunch.

I wouldn’t say it’s a sport-wide tradition, rather it’s more of a “if your team does it, cool, if not, whatever” kind of thing. My team does something similar to this called “secret motivators” where each girl is assigned another girl to buy a fun gift for before each regatta. Sometimes they find out who their person is early on but I don’t think anyone is supposed to know until the end of the season. At the beginning of the season one of the seniors gave everyone on the team a “survey” to fill out where they listed why they joined the team, what motivates them, what music/TV shows/movies they like, what their favorite things are, etc. so that the person who was assigned them had an idea of what kind of things they might like.

It’s hilarious watching everyone open their gifts because it’s like Christmas morning every week – wrapping paper, gift bags, and tissue paper litter the ground regardless of where we are. The creativity that some of the girls have is pretty impressive too. Some of the things I’ve seen people get so far are baseball hats that say “crew” on them (Headsweats are a team favorite), SpiderMan coloring books, their favorite food or candy (jars of peanut butter + their own spoon seem to be popular), fun patterned sport bras, crew or team-inspired artwork, water bottles, etc. I’d say 98% of the stuff that’s given though has nothing to do with rowing (Disney princess bath soap or miniature stuffed animals, for example) but it’s all done in good fun and the goal is to just perk everyone up a bit before a regatta. Just from asking around I think the average amount that people spend each week is $10-$20, although for the first race of the season and most likely for the bigger regattas at the end of the season, people tended to spend (or will spend) a little bit more.

Don’t over think it and just have fun with it! It’s a great way to get to know other people on the team better and promote team bonding.

College High School Novice Q&A Teammates & Coaches

Question of the Day

My team is going to start a big/little program between the varsity girls and novice girls this spring. When we do the big/little reveal, we want to give gifts to our littles! Obviously this isn’t a sorority, so we’re not giving them paddles or anything like that, but do you have any suggestions for things we could put into gift baskets? Thanks!!!

That’s awesome!! We didn’t do this when I was in crew but we did when I was in band and it was so much fun. The big brothers/sisters would always write notes to our littles at band camp and before all our competitions, basically saying we were proud of them, making sure to touch on any big hurdles they’d overcome or major improvements they’d made, etc. It was one of the best traditions we had. I actually just found all the notes I got from my big sister from my freshman year and it was so fun going back and reading them and remembering all the silly inside jokes we had.

That could be something that all the varsity girls do for the novices – each varsity girl writes something for each novice and then you can compile them into individual book-like-things for each girl, that way they’ve got 10-15 (or however many) letters just for them. Keep it short, simple, sweet, and fun – let them know you’re excited to have them on the team, note something that you hope to see happen this year, recall a similar experience that you went through so she knows that she’s not the only one experiencing this issue, remind them that teamwork makes the dream work (or whatever other silly cliche phrase you wanna throw out there), etc. Bonus points for brightly colored construction paper, markers, stickers, and glitter. Bitches love stickers and glitter.

The other thing that we did that has been a tradition for like, 30+ years I think, is each new member of the band would get a brick. Our band was pretty big and with each member standing side by side we could nearly reach end zone to end zone during our shows. This resulted in our band being nicknamed “The Wall of Sound” (from Phil Spector’s wall of sound, if you know anything about music production/engineering) because when everyone would line up like that and then march forward it was a literal wall of sound coming towards you. Now, from that comes the bricks. Each member was considered a brick in the wall (a nod to Pink Floyd) in that without one of the bricks, the wall would crumble. So, during the summer after we’d started rehearsals, the upperclassmen would get together with a load of bricks, one for each freshman, and they’d stack them up on top of each other to create a wall-like formation. On one side they’d spray paint the band’s logo across all the bricks and then on the other side they’d paint each person’s name on an individual brick. We were then given our bricks by our big brother/sister and were “officially” considered to be part of The Wall. I still have my brick and consider it to be just as important as all the medals I’ve won from crew.

My point with that story is that you could also include something that shows them that they’re “officially” a part of the team. For us, it really drove home the message of how it’s about the bigger picture and how that bigger picture can’t be achieved without the contributions, dedication, and passion of each person. It’s the same with crew.

Another idea is if you’ve got a parent who knows their way around a wood shop or you’ve got some artistically inclined rowers, you could make each rower their own mini replica blade, sort of like this. If someone can make a bunch of plain ones from wood then the varsity girls can paint them with your team’s colors and then present them to the novices. Alternatively, you can make them out of modeling clay too. (I’ve done it, it’s super easy). Just draw out a template, roll out the clay, use a X-Acto knife to cut it out, and then bake it.

You could include something that you wouldn’t have survived without when you were a novice. I remember talking about this with my friends once. One wouldn’t have survived without a really thick, warm pair of wool socks, another wouldn’t have survived without the granola bars her mom had waiting in the car for her after practice (because she was always starving), another said DVDs for the 5+ hour bus rides we took every week when we’d travel … stuff like that. I’d have probably given my little a bunch of Hot Hands and an ear warmer. If someone has a coxswain for their little sister, get them a notebook and a pack of pencils. (Hint hint nudge nudge, this is a great present for novice coxswains.) If you’ve got stickers or car decals with your team’s logo on them, throw some of those in there too. Another thing you could get if you could find them relatively cheap enough is water bottles, that way everyone always has one and you can minimize waste by not having plastic ones lying around the boathouse. Don’t count out the practical stuff either, like rubber bands for their hair, band-aids, cough drops, etc.

Last idea: a blanket! My warmest, most favorite blanket that I own is one that I got from crew. It’s fleece and is orange on one side and black on the other (our school colors). They are literally the easiest things to make in the world and don’t require any sewing abilities whatsoever. I’m actually shocked that mine is still completely in tact considering it went to every regatta, then to college, and then everywhere else I’ve gone over the last twelve years.

Holiday gifts for rowers and coxswains


Holiday gifts for rowers and coxswains

It’s that time of year again! The ideas I’ve posted below would be great for both rowers and coxswains.

If they haven’t read Boys in the Boat yet, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a great book about the 1936 UW team that raced at the Olympics and for being written by a guy who’s never rowed before, it captures the spirit of the sport really well.

Related: Books on rowing, part 1 and part 2

Other ideas include the Naked Rowers calendar, a funny car decal, a sturdy duffel bag to travel with, or some cool rowing gear.

For more gift ideas, check out the “rowing gifts” tag.

Image via // @leander_club
Books on Rowing, pt. 2


Books on Rowing, pt. 2

Previously: Books on Rowing, pt. 1

There’s sort of a theme with these ones in that three of the books are written by the same author and two of the other books are written by rowers who competed together.

Seat With a View

A book with that title could only be written by a coxswain, right? This one was written by Steven Segaloff, the coxswain of the men’s 8+ between 1993 and 1996. The emotions in this book range from ecstatic with a win at the World Championships to the lowest of lows following a loss at the Atlanta games, both things I know we can all relate to. One of the things I’m really looking forward to reading in this book – and one of my favorite things about “real” stories – is the inside scoop. This would be a great book for coxswains because a) there aren’t many books out there written by coxswains and b) it’d be a great opportunity to get inside the head of someone who shared the same ambitions that most of us have.

Four Men in a Boat

As several other firsthand-accounts do, this book talks about the tension leading up to a big race (the 2000 Sydney games), the relationships between a rower, his teammates, and coaches, his struggle to make the team, and in this case, all the drama surrounding one night at a boat club party involving booze, broken glass, and a severed tendon that nearly cost this rower his spot in the boat. Something he’s quoted as saying is that it didn’t feel like everyone was in the same boat until they had a pre-race talk the night before their Olympic final. That’s pretty powerful. If you saw the Gold Fever documentary that BBC did, this is that same crew.

Related: Gold Fever

Assault on Lake Casitas

This is probably one of the most well known books about rowing. Written by former rower Brad Alan Lewis, this book chronicles what it was like trying to earn a spot on the 1984 national team. The 1980 team didn’t travel to Moscow and he knew competing in 1988 would be tough due to his age (he would have been 34), so 1984 was it. Twice he failed to make it before finally earning a spot on the team in the 2x with his partner, Paul Enquist. If you’ve trained hard for a spot in a boat and had it slip away by slim margins (like 0.9 seconds), you’ll most likely be able to relate to this book. Hard work and commitment do pay off and BAL’s story is proof of that.

Wanted: Rowing Coach

This book is another by Brad Alan Lewis and is a dated, journaled account of the year he decided to coach at UC Santa Barbara with their men’s club team. I think the best description that I read of his experience was “Stuff happens. Some good stuff, some not so good, pretty much all of it interesting.” That alone makes me want to read this book because I think every coaching experience I’ve had so far can be summed up by that same sentence. If you’ve ever wondered what’s going through the minds of your coach(es) at any given point in time, this is definitely a book you should check out.

A Lifetime in a Race

Matthew Pinsent is one of the legends of rowing in the UK. Four Olympics, four Olympic golds, 10 World Championship golds, two Boat Race wins … he’s done, seen, and experienced a lot. If you watched Gold Fever you kind of got a sense of how obsessive these guys were with their training and how downright brutal it all was, which is why I think this would be a good read for high school-aged rowers. There’s a big difference between what you perceive as being “obsessed” when you’re 16 and how you perceive it when you’re 30. He also talks about rowing with Steve Redgrave (the ultimate British rowing legend), the buildup to Athens, and what it takes to be a champion. Coming from someone as successful as him, his words are worth their weight in gold.

Lido for Time: 14:39

The last book on the list is another written by BAL and another that I can’t wait to read. The book consists solely of excerpts from his training diary between October 1983 and the Olympic games in August 1984. As he says, it includes “plenty of elaborations, insights, explanations are included, plus an exceptional waffle recipe.” One of the best quotes I’ve seen from this book (and trust me, there are so many) is this one: “If you want to be your best, spend a lot of time exploring what is more than enough. Push yourself until the bar is lying immobile across your chest. Push yourself right off the edge of your capacity.” A rumor I’ve also heard is that if you buy the book and then email Brad (his address is at the end) he’ll send you DVDs of his training footage and the heat, semi-final, and final of his Olympic race. (Edit: Confirmed. Bought the book, got the DVDs.)

Image via // @petereed