Why I Love this Photo


I love this shot. It captures for me much of the essence of why I love coastal rowing. Here’s why:

I’m barely visible. My boat is nowhere to be seen. It's not about me. Coastal rowing is all about the water. And this is water that is in wonderfully chaotic motion. It’s energy and life. Water drops are reaching for the sky, momentarily suspended, free from gravity. Air is being churned into the sea. When I entered this wave, I vanished into the sound of the collapsing water, the cold of submersion, the force of movement. Its not about me, its about the sea.

My arm and a portion of my oar are hanging in an odd angle. Throw those classical thoughts of control out the window! Merge with and embrace the ocean's energy. The wave just broke in this photo, so I threw my weight into the incoming break, balancing my seaward lean against the whitewater’s shoreward direction. Balance in the waves often requires a bulldog's courage to dive into walls of water and the confidence to know that you will come out on the other side. But if you don’t, it's cool, because you can climb back aboard and try again!

I love how the photo captures this brief moment of experience. It happens quickly, these dives through waves. But my mind enters that “near death” trance where everything slows down. An impossible amount of information is processed and a second stretches into eternity. In the heart of a collapsing wave, there is no time to think. It's all instinct, feel, trust in my training and the instantaneous connection to the rapidly changing circumstances of water unleashed. Every boring thought is wiped out of my head and I become purely aware, with every single cell in my mind and body joined with the beautiful sound, feeling, and movement of the sea.

That is the aspect of coastal rowing which I most love. In this photo it’s not about a “sport” or a competition or a status. It's fun. It’s letting go and entering a world of water.