Personality traits in seats in an eight:

Cox:  It's pretty obvious what traits a cox must adopt and tries
to learn to do a good job in this most unique position in the
athletic world.  I'll pass on the leadership stuff, napoleon
complex garbage, and point out a secondary characteristic or two
that coxes unintentionally inherit after riding in the box for a

They can't drive a car anymore.  They take 10 miles to change a
lane, oversteer, can't find the brakes, and yell to the car a lot.
This has nothing to do with the coxes' former driving ability.
Stick Richard Petty in a cox seat for a while, they'll take his
drivers license away.  Coxes also begin to squint a lot, no loss in
vision, they just squint.

Stroke:  'It's a tough job but only I can do it.'  The meekest, most
frightened non-rower in the world - when plugged reluctantly in
the stroke seat, stays meek up until the first few strokes.  The
first few paddle strokes, a thought grows in the wimps' sniveling
little mind that this job is his/hers for life.  Back on the shore,
the real personality will percolate back to the surface.  'I hope
you guys could follow me ok'.  In the boat they're thinking: 'stop
rushing, you weenies!"  Strokes are born and made to be the most
competitive person in the boat by far, and if they stroke long
enough, become overly competitive in everything they pursue, or
don't pursue..  Don't expect to finish a game of Monopoly, Risk, or
Golf with a stroke.  The only one that can beat him to the chow line
is the three man (more later) because the stroke was delayed trying
to put more oars away in the rack than anyone else.

Seven:  the seven seat is the Bitch Niche.  I don't know if whining,
overly bossy, big mouthed complainers are born, and I can't believe
that the cosmic effect of this seat could possibly be so
instantaneous, but you could teach Mother Theresa to row in a tank,
stick her in an eight at seven for the first time, and as the stern
four is rowing away from the dock, she'll turn around and yell at
the bow four to 'set up the f*cking boat'.  The longer one rows at
seven, the more sophisticated and complex the bitching becomes,
changing from a crude verbal rowing suggestion to the six  man in
the early stages to long winded level-voiced reasoned treatises
after every piece explaining why the crew is slower now than last
week.  Ever wonder why when a coach drives up shell-side to ask how
a piece went he says:  'So how did that go, fellas?  -Not you
seven.'  I was  a team captain, looked up to leader of my college
crew, kept my mouth shut and did my job.  I raced one week at seven,
my coach told me to 'shut up Sullivan' in a post race meeting.
Women who deal with severe PMS mood swings will find those swings
totally disappear after some time at seven.  Permanent OTR.

Six:  If you bred Arnold Swartzeneggar with a Golden Retriever, you
get a six.  Six is also Seven's yin.  The gentle giant, gorilla in
the mist.  Six absorbs most of seven's bitching and keeps it from
moving through to the rest of the crew.  Six nods and agrees a lot.
It is a hard thing for a normal person to row six.  It seems like
such a great seat, you're in the stern, the boats more stable here,
but you are done with a rowing career at six, you find you been
used.  Sixes are characterized by great competence in execution of
rowing and life, but poor self confidence and a propensity to
self-flagellation.  Take your 3 year stroke out of the stroke seat
and stick him/her at six for a week.  This will be the first time
you ever hear him/her say:  'My fault, fellas', at the end of a poor
piece.  Sixes meditate.  Sixes marry, go to work for, and lend their
power tools to sevens.  This support system keeps sevens with
thriving businesses, mates they can walk all over, and a garage full
of power tools at their disposal that they don't have to fix when
they break.

Five: God. Yahweh. Allah. Buddha. It's not that the five seat IS
those things, it's just that's how (s)he gets treated.  Five's stool
don't stink, the catches don't hang.  They're the older brother or
sister that gets special treatment, and has no idea.  If a photo is
taken of the crew, five will look great, everyone else is caught
with shirtaills out, and snot on the lip.  At heart and soul, five
forgets to change oil, pay phone bills, and turn in the forms to the
IRS.  Five is an example of what happens to a bum that is treated
like a king, they act like one. Five has the greatest delta between
image and reality.  The fortunate thing is that the unearned
unabashed worship lasts only as long as the time on the water.
Five's on his own back at home.  Five wears aviator glasses.

Four:  The Amnesia-seat.  Take a genius with a photographic memory.
Row said genius at four.  Listen to him ask for the third time in
the same warmup.  'How many of these 500s are we doing?'.  Four seat
is not stupid, just has immediate and catastrophic memory loss.
At a start and 20, four settles at 21 because in the time the cox
yelled 'settle in two', he forgot.  In a Novice boat where the seats
have been removed and cleaned, it'll be four's that went back in
backwards.  Four will forget to tell the boatman about his(her)
stripped rigger nut - usually from the time he is told by the coach,
until he arrives at the boatman's bench wondering what he's doing
there.  On that first day on the water as the ice is breaking up,
who is rummaging around the back of the boathouse looking for a
sweatshirt?  Four is why racing shirts are handed out on race day.

Three:  Late in the water.  Late to practice.  Late to class. Late
to work.  Late out of the water.  Late to his date. Late to the team
bus. Late for everything but chow line.  There is no competitiveness
involved here, just an uncanny knack to have the first three rowers
into the dining hall stopped by friends for a brief discussion while
three breezes on by to the tray stack.  Three generally gets
assigned a sitter.

Two:  Lean to the Left, Lean to the right, stand up sit down fight
fight fight.  Cheerleader.  What is amazing, is to sit at four or
five after a particular piece - seven is whining about the balance,
the spacing, no swing, rushing:  two is back there with pom poms
saying: ALL RIGHT GUYS!  LETS DO THAT AGAIN!....  Two calls out
names of power 10s.  'Awright guys - OAR CLASH TEN!'  If he says
something funny, he repeated something the bowman prompted him with.

Bow:  comedian.  The bow seat creates a strange fatalism.  They know
that in a catastrophic collision, they'll be the only one to die
or get paralysed.  Consequently there is a constant quiet stream of
one-liners that two or three could probably hear if two were
not cheering loudly.  If the bow is joined by a cox in a
front-loader, this trait completely disappears, since someone is now
likely to hear him joke about three being late, five not pulling
hard, or the coxn's course looking like a signature.  (S)he can be
humorless and witless off the water, but on the water when there is
breath to spare, you're sure to catch a chuckle if you listen.

There is no possible use for this info.  You don't necessarily stick
your most competitive athlete at stroke.  Stick anyone there and
they'll get competitive.  It takes a long time for some of these
seat traits to manifest themselves in personality disorders, but you
can usually catch subtle differences the first day.

Just this fall, doing a temp coaching job for the first couple weeks
of the season, one of the crew was sick one day.  I'd laid out a
plan of drills to reinforce what we'd spent some intense teaching
time on the day before.  We were also going to get a couple few hard
miles in at a low rate by sixes.  I had a sense that I'd do the crew
more good by filling out a seat for them than by yammering from the
launch.  It makes the transitions go smoother in the sixes rotation
and I figured I could watch them while not rowing.  I told the crew
what the work and goals were of the day.  Then I told them I'd row
four (missing port).  I left the clipboard behind knowing what we
were going to do.  We rowed away from the dock, the cox started us
going with what I'd verbally laid out.  Halfway through the workout,
she asked me 'what's next'.  'What's next what?' says I.  'What's
next in the workout, coach?'  (I honestly wondered why she called me
coach at that moment, and couldn't remember the workout.)

I also suddenly remembered I was supposed to be watching rowers'
blade depths while I was out and hadn't been.............  Four.

Mike Sullivan