A Piece of Humble Crab Pie
by Roman Horoszewski
posted on January 15, 1999
Back in the late 80's when I was a varsity heavyweight rowing at Rutgers, we used to go down to Melbourne, FL every year during Christmas break for training. Part of the10-day trip included an early morning workout against the local school, FIT. We'd get up very early, rowing under the stars to meet up with them out on the Indian River. My senior year, after spending the two previous years in the 1st boat along with National Team notables Jeff Klepacki, Jim Neil, Sean Hall, and Will Porter, looked to be a great one. We were all pretty pumped up, looking forward to a great season.
We began our workout against FIT, fairly easily winning our pieces against them. The sun was coming up over the water, it was warm, the water was flat--- perfect rowing conditions. I was rowing 4-seat when towards the end of the workout in the middle of a piece, (we were clicking along around a 36-38) I got to the finish of my stroke, went down and....the away wouldn't happen. I looked over at my blade only to see that despite having the handle in my lap, there was still about 1 foot of water above it. Apparently a wake from a boat across the river (it's several miles wide in some points), just happened to cross our paths at that moment.
Well, you can guess what happened next. You've got a men's open 8+ running it out at a 36 or so, and my blade gets stuck in the water. It wasn't pretty, just pretty funny. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. Despite what you might think, I wasn't launched from the boat; instead I was slowly (at least it seemed that way) pushed out of it. The Velcro closures on my shoes held for a few moments while I struggled in what I knew was a losing battle. Then "rip", my shoes opened. Over the side I went.
Being that I had been rowing 4-seat, luckily the first thought that came to mind was "Stay under water!"; I didn't want to be popped in the head by a blade. I came up only to see my boat speeding away and a puzzled look on our stroke's face. If I remember correctly, Sean Hall was rowing 5, and he later told me that he was wondering why my blade was dragging along side the boat and why I wasn't controlling it. And apparently my coxswain started yelling at me to watch what I was doing, all the while I was bobbing up and down in the river a hundred yards back.
If actually being launched from a boat by a crab isn't humilitating enough, the coaches launch comes by, picks me up, and my coach introduces me to the FIT coach, by saying "This is Tre, one of our Varsity guys". Hah! How ironic. To this day, those guys still give me slack about this story (along with several others about me that I've been told have almost risen to the level of urban legend in the International rowing world like the one about a black lab and my big toe. But that's another story...)