Pre IB/AP English
Boys in the Boat Research Paper :
The 9th seat
The whole boat is made of individuals. Each individual has a crucial part in making the
vessel soar; from the bow to the stroke, every one pulls their weight. The single individual that is
usually seen as an dead weight to his or her crew is the coxswain. People usually view the coxen
as the person who 'does the talking but not the walking' by giving orders he or she can't execute
themselves, but the coxswain's job is more than just barking orders. He or she has to do multiple
things at the same time to get the boat in smooth motion. The coxen might not be physically
doing that, but mentally the coxswain finds a way to keep the whole boat in sync which is why
the 9th seat is the most important seat.
Before any motion can start, the crew must first trust and respect the person leading
them. Respect and trust are the building blocks of making a team, so without them the whole
crew will be a mess and won't make any progress. This is a very difficult task for coxswain's like
Bobby Moch in the Boys in the Boat because he, like most other coxswains, are the dwarfs
among the giants. You can't really get respect if you are physically the runt of the pack, but a
young freshman Washington coxen in 2011 had a good idea of getting the respect he needed.
Seamus Labrum said, "My goal was to make myself available, more than the others, by
constantly being down at the boathouse, ready to make my mark. "(Labrum) This young coxen
shows how that respect and trust is not given, but it is earned. His crew has to give as much as
respect to him as they do to their coach. Once there is respect and trust, the boat can start to
move under the command of the coxswain.
As the coxswain is making those commands he or she must also be also steering the
boat in a straight course. This may seem like an easy task at first, but it's a bit harder than it
sounds. In TBITB Bobby Moch had a very hard time steering in the 1936 Olympics. The buffeting
winds made the water more resistance which tilted the boat which in turn slowed it down.
Moch's job was to keep the boat in a straight line from the bow to the stern, and if he made
slight miscalculations of his adjustments, the boat would be completely off course. (Brown 344-
345) There is a technique to steering the boat and it's not the simplest thing to do. One
Sebastian River high school varsity coxswain even said that the only reason he was chosen to be
a coxswain was because of his ability to steer the boat; not everyone has that ability.