Marlene Royle introduced us to the drills “King of the Mountain” and the “Joy of Backing” during her summer clinics. Today, I renamed the drills “Queen of the Lagoon” and “Disaster at Backing.”
I popped in the green Peinert, a single, which I haven’t been in since who knows when. Everything started out just fine–a solid King of the Mountain up to feathering without popping back in. The adaptive rowers didn’t collide with me as I moved out to the center of the lagoon and proceeded to work on the “Joy of Backing” starting at arms away.
The whole point of going out in a single this chilly morning was to work on some of my sculling issues. Joe pointed out my hands were coming too far past my body, causing a loss of stability. As I went through the Joy of Backing, I could feel how the two oars were not engaging together. I spent time pressing out into the oars and trying to get a sense of the double simultaneous click.
When I managed to beach the boat out by the manatee marker on the north end of the lagoon, I should’ve taken it as a sign. The water was extremely low today. I noticed as I drove over the Casey Key Bridge from the heads of exposed oyster beds rarely shown the light of day. I had to walk the boat the way out to the drop off before rolling it down into the water. It’s rare to beach the boat, even in that shallow spot. But I didn’t read the omens. I lifted my fat tush out of the seat and walked it back out to deeper water and resumed the Joy of Backing.
I did all of the drills sans feet in to work on balance and to stabilize my swing and release. Mistake 1. The second mistake would be forgetting Marlene’s advice to do the drill without power application, especially at full slide. So after several minutes experiencing the Joy of Backing at full slide and feeling well-calibrated and even, I decided, “let me add some power on the next stroke.”
Pop went my legs, followed by following through my body. I lost my feet in the heels of my shoes and went tipping back, at the same time as Mistake 3: losing my grip on the port handle because I followed through past my body, and I couldn’t recover. Down the boat rolled to port and me out into the water.
Luckily it was shallow, so I used that untied foot and my right arm to catch myself before I rolled over completely. I managed to get only two inches of water in the shell and soaked my right side with that refreshingly 58-degree salt water.
From shore, I heard Joe yell, “Are you okay? I’ve got a towel in the car!”
I stuck my thumb up. Physically okay, yes. A solid dunk of some much-needed humility? Oh, definitely.
I still went out for a quick spin in the channel, but the water made the boat off-keel, so I gave up. I kept breaking my port arm, which added to my frustration. On the way back in, I worked hanging on by sitting up and rowing shorter. It seemed to help. The row ended, despite its disaster, with an excellent King of the Mountain (hands away without touching three times), and a valet row.