Check Your Seat
Yes, I’m anxious. It’s time to check my seat before the race. I’m anxious because I’ve experienced some lapses of focus thinking more about the race than being in the moment. How about the time we were launching the pair after re-rigging it from a double? Boat’s in the water, teammate hands me my oar and as I go to put it in the open oarlock...”for crying out loud!” It’s a sculling rigger!
I’ve got a routine now and this is what I do before every race - because this is what I do before every practice.
Check the rigger:
• All the nuts and bolts at the boat and all the backstay fasteners. Two fingers tight, great.
• Top nut at the top of the pin three fingers tight, perfect.
• Bushings at the oarlock seated all the way down? If not I squeeze the oarlock up and down. Then spacers. Is the oarlock too loose, do I need another spacer? Perhaps I can just flip one over and the oarlock will move well enough for Goldilocks.
Check the foot stretcher:
• I move it to my customary position. Did I get it perpendicular to the gunwale? Yup. Is it seated right? I push and pull on it and it and it drops into the notch. I tighten the wing nuts again. I hate it when I don’t do that. Just when you jump on the stretcher the whole thing shifts.
• Shoes at the right height and secure to the plate?
• How are my heel ties? Rules require 3” and boy do I need that with my stiff ankle joints. Oh not again the zip ties have been tightened so much I can barely lift my heels and when I do my heels come out of the shoes or the heel lifts and the sole of the shoe departs from the body of the shoe! I have spare 11” zip ties that should work and I know that at least 3-4 fingers across my hand width is about 3”. Cut replaced and done. Check.
• Almost forgot to check the 3 stretcher tracks that are attached to the boat that the foot stretcher slides in. I wiggle them and they’re tight and not missing any sections. Awesome. Thank goodness cuz I don’t have a small adjustable and phillips head screwdriver in my kit. Better get ‘em.
Check the tracks:
• First I wipe them down. That always calms me down. Hmm, looks like they aren’t even at the front stops and one of them is loose up and down. I reach under the tracks at the front and near the back under the deck and feel for the wing nuts; there are two for each track. Ah, found them and loosen the ones on the out of alignment track, tight little buggers, slide the track in place and tighten them back up. Sweet.
Check the seat:
• First the wheels. Is the seat rolling smoothly? Cool. Maybe I should push down on it while I roll it; I have put on a few pounds. It’s making a grinding noise. I check the wheels to see first if there is a rusty color around any of them while I’m cleaning them. Are any of them wobbling side to side? Especially the one with rusty color. Yup that’s the culprit. The bushings are failing. Where is that boat guy when you need him? I should have written it on the repair log last time.
• I make sure I put the seat back the right way! Ok boat’s ready to go. I’ve already checked my oar, well at least the ones I took down. • The grips are tight and wiped down.
• The collars are not broken and they aren’t crooked.
I’m ready to row. I can’t blame the equipment now. Oh well there’s always the cox.
We’ve shoved off. While I’m setting the boat I reach out and double check that the star nut at the end of the keeper/gate is seated and tight. Nothing like that popping open and the oar coming out of the oarlock – now that’s a very weird feeling!
Time to do the work.
Oh about that pair race. We swapped out the rigger and made it to the start – pretty frantic, rowed the race at a 39 and that’s about all I recall.