After school on October 26, I was really nervous because I was about to go rowing. The team needed a cox (the person who steers the boat, gives commands, and is usually small in stature), so I volunteered to do it. I decided to try it because rowing is THE sport to do, with training six times a week and so challenging that kids drop out every year. I thought it would be a great experience, plus I’d be navigating a boat through the famous Yarra River in the heart of Melbourne. I was also nervous because maybe I’d crash the boat!
At the Yarra Yarra Rowing Club, everyone got dressed in their skin-tight outfits, with their Carey School caps and flip-flops. They also put on sunscreen under their clothes even though it was cold and cloudy. I wore my gym clothes, flip-flops, my Montreal Expos hat, and borrowed my friend Quinn’s Carey spray-jacket.
We walked downstairs into this huge room with the boats. They were like kayaks, but thinner. The 12 grade 9 rowers got together, and Nathan, the adult coach, split them up into two boats, one with four rowers, and one with eight. I was in the boat with eight rowers. Nathan talked to us about motivation and what we want to work on. The boys then went in the boat room, lifted up the boat, and placed it in the Yarra River.
The river was cold and very polluted – the water was brown. The water was up to my ankles before I could get in. I didn’t have a lot of space, sitting in my mini-chair with my feet facing toward Ben, who was providing the commands to say. I had my headset on, which was plugged into the boat, and there are speakers next to each person. Each rower had one oar, the first on the right, the next left, and so on. I wasn’t as nervous, other than the fact that eight huge guys were facing me and I was the only one who could see where we’re going. I loved talking to the guys, and every now and then I said something to keep the boys motivated, such as, “Let’s go boys!”
I was pretty good at steering the boat, with the two strings, one on each side of me. Coach Nathan was following in a motorboat and telling the boys, through a loudspeaker, what type of row to do. There was one time when I accidentally brought us close to a wall under the bridge because a boat was coming on the other side, but we didn’t crash.
As we got further into the training, they starting rowing – all eight at the same time – as if it was a race. Passing by all these skyscrapers, restaurants, and people watching and pointing at us as we went by, I realized how amazing this was. I was an exchange student from Canada navigating eight rowers on the Yarra River through Melbourne!
All the kids at Carey said they hate rowing because it’s so hard, but I had so much fun. At some point, we turned around, which wasn’t difficult. That’s when we started passing the girls and the older boys. Also, when we were on the river, we saw three different helicopters. One landed right next to us and the powerful wind generated from its blades caused water to lift and spray on us!
On the way back, I steered us perfectly so that we could put our feet on the ground when getting out. They then lifted up the boat out of the water and cleaned it inside and out, before placing it in its spot in the boat house. We all went outside to get our post-practice talk from Nathan and then got changed.
Now, it’s 10:08 pm and here I am in bed about to fall asleep. I have to say that today was an exciting day! Good night! – Max Miller ‘20, Exchange Student at Carey Baptist Grammar School