September 01, 2005

Crew Blogging

(Image stolen from Phil Carney, just for old times' sake.)

Our pal Kathy asks in comments to the CBGB post below exactly what a coxswain is when it comes to the gentle sport of shoving an oar in the water and hauling it out again.

Ah, what indeed? Basically, the coxswain is the martinet who sits in the stern of a four or eight-oared shell, hurling abuse and insults at the poor oarsmen responsible for hauling his or her lazy ass all over the river and, nominally at least, steering the boat. (I say "nominally" because I was once in a shell that managed to ram a channel buoy despite the fact that the cox had two hundred yards' width of river to play with. And I also was witness to another cox's attempt to land a boat by pointing it at the dock at a 90 degree angle and going to ramming speed.) Coxswains also spend their time off the water hurling insults and abuse at oarsmen trying to run up hills or lift weights, usually with a stopwatch in their hands. The punchline of all of this is that the average cox weighs about 90 pounds and wouldn't last five minutes with an oar. (Our friend Muzzy of CBGB fame was unusually large. As the LB Buddy pointed out, I think he actually weighed more than I did.)

There is a tradition that when a boat wins a race, the crew gets to throw their cox into the water. Some people think this is celebratory. In fact, it is an act of pure revenge.

An eternal question of college is: does being a psych major make you crazy or do only crazy people become psych majors. Another such question applies to coxswains: does coxing give one a Napoleon complex, or do only people with Napoleon complexes cox? (Yes, I'm talking about you guys.)

Hope that helps!

UPDATE: See what I mean?

Posted by Robert at September 1, 2005 11:34 AM | TrackBack

Hmmmm. So what you're saying is, an abusive Scottish dwarf might make a good coxswain?

Posted by: Bill from INDC at September 1, 2005 12:01 PM


Don't do that while I'm drinking Coffee, Bill!

Posted by: Brian B at September 1, 2005 12:52 PM

Ahhhh. Thanks, Robbo!

Posted by: Kathy at September 1, 2005 01:16 PM

There is a tradition that when a boat wins a race, the crew gets to throw their cox into the water.

Yeah, but most crews don't cut them into pieces first.

Ok, I'll stop now.

Posted by: Bill from INDC at September 1, 2005 01:46 PM

They don't bobbitize their cox?

Posted by: rbj at September 1, 2005 02:05 PM

In my first go as a cox I managed to impale a meandering sailboat with our eight. We did have the right of way. True story.

Posted by: MCNS at September 2, 2005 02:47 PM

As an ex-oarman (from a very good crew -LBSC 1962 Beat Olimpic Gold (Cal) and Pan AM Games gold (UBC) always under 6 min for 2,000 just had to brag) The cox was Bonapart personified. But he was the only one who could see what was happening. So it was up to him to make us work as a team. We had two great cox. The rest of us only saw the hairy back of the man in front of us. Anyone dumb enough to look around was sure to catch a "crab". For non oarmen that is a bad thing to do.

Posted by: Rod Stanton at September 5, 2005 05:09 PM
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