Coxing Novice Q&A

Question of the Day

Do you have any advice for a novice coxswain who just crashed for the first time? It really shook me up and I know I won’t be able to get back in the boat for a few days (due to our walk-on coxswain rotation) but I want to get over it.

How did it happen? Was it serious or minor? Was another crew involved? Were there any injuries? Was any equipment damaged? Did it happen because you didn’t know how to get yourself out of a situation or because you weren’t paying attention to your surroundings? On a scale of 1-10 (this being 1, this being 5, and this being 10), how pissed was your coach?

Shit happens. Obviously shit happening is more likely to be forgiven when you’re a novice vs. when you’ve got some experience under your belt but most coaches will let it go if you a) take responsibility, even if it wasn’t your fault because regardless, it was still your fault, b) if you talk to them once you’re off the water instead of avoiding them/the issue, and c) if you understand how you got yourself in that situation, what you did wrong, and what you could/should do differently next time to avoid crashing again (hint: there should never be a “next time”). If there was any kind of damage to the boat, ask your coach if you can help fix it or at the very least, watch while he/she fixes it. I think this is good for two reason. One, you learn how to repair boats, which is a pretty valuable skill. Two, you learn the value of the equipment you’re responsible for and how much time, money, and effort goes into repairing them when something happens.

Related: Today I was coxing and I crashed a boat because we were coming in and there are rocks on the bank of the river and I thought we had gone out enough but we hadn’t and crashed into a rock and bent the fin. I feel so bad and I’ve never been responsible for gear breakage before and I apologized 20 million times and the coach said it’s ok but he still looked disappointed and I feel horrible. Sorry, I had to vent somewhere.

Whatever you do though, please, please, please do not react to crashing the boat (or any other adverse situation) with a Kanye shrug because I can promise you, that will piss your coach (and crew) off more than anything else. Not taking the situation seriously or recognizing the fact that you potentially just caused serious damage to the shell and/or endangered yourself and your crew is not a laughing matter. It really irritates me when I see novice coxswains try to laugh situations like this off. No. Don’t do that. Your cute baby face and witty charm will not get you out of your coach’s line of fire and will probably keep you out of the boat longer than if you’d just taken the situation seriously from the beginning.

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Comments (5)

  1. One more…after talking to your coach, apologizing (since regardless of whether it was your fault, it was still your fault) and perhaps watching the repair job, then do this: move on. STOP apologizing. Stop it. Stop the “I’m so sorry” to your coach, your crew, the other coxswains, whomever. There are few things more annoying than (1) the shrug or (2) incessant apologizing that really is an attention-getting wussy tactic that benefits no one. Acknowledge it, apologize to the appropriate folks for it, learn from it and move on.