The coxswain is recognizable to most as the person who sits in the stern of the shell, facing the crew and barking or whistling rhythm to the rowers while steering the craft. At 55 feet long and 220 pounds, guiding the skinny carbon fiber craft from trailer to water without mishap also took guidance from the Wichita State coxswain.
Once situated dockside, one crew assistant began collecting the team's shoes while Blake began handing out oars.
“We like the rain; it makes us row harder,” the 23-year old computer science and psychology double-major said. “Our coach said there's only two things that will stop us from rowing: lightning, and if the river's frozen. Otherwise we'll row through anything.”
Saturday afternoon's races were time trials, about 5,000 meters in length. The four-day event, which wraps up Sunday, also included head-to-head heats and competitions that varied in gender, crew size, race length and age group.
It will take more than a little rain to spoil the rowing fun, said Sherry Andrusiak, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, which hosted the festival. Now in its eighth year, the festival is getting more attention from non-rowing families, she said, many who come down just to enjoy the live music, food vendors and other attractions.
“We're really seeing that people are starting to get the sport in Oklahoma City,” she said. “The more they know about it the more they want to participate.”