I TOOK a moment just to savour the feeling. Bloody hell, who’d have thought it? Me, skinny little Dave Tanaka from the Isle of Wight, whose crowning physical achievement was when I finally reached five foot five. Yet here I was, with eight—yeah, eight—strapping lads hanging on my every word. Legs like Doric columns, chests like slabs of granite; if we were standing up, they’d be towering over me like those bastards who always think it’s funny to rest their pints on my head at the pub.
Not these boys, though. They were waiting, muscles bunched, for my command. Sixteen eyes locked on my face, and it wasn’t so they could think up new variations on nancy-boy, runt, and squirt. And Chinky, obviously.
Nope, my lads were sitting there at frontstops, practically quivering as they waited for me to give the order. God, I loved it. I drew it out as long as I could, and then I gave them what they’d been waiting for.
Limbs burst into action, arms pumping, legs thrusting. They looked bloody gorgeous, moving as one man. A waft of adrenaline and testosterone hit me in the face as we powered through the water like a….
Well. Various penis metaphors spring to mind. I’m sure you get the drift.
“Wind for five, stride for five, and then lengthen for five.” The wires of the rudder thrumming between my fingers, I had one eye on our heading and the other constantly scanning the crew, watching for signs of weakness or bad timing. My gaze kept returning to Archie, though, and not just because he was the one sitting right in front of me, rowing stroke. His face was tense with concentration, and his eyes were still locked on me as those massive arms pulled on the oar again and again. Blond hair blown back by the wind during the recovery flopped over his eyes as his legs powered him backward on the drive. I felt a tug in the pit of my stomach as the boat surged forward—and then it began again. Catch—drive—recovery. Catch—drive—recovery. Does he dream about this? I wondered.
I used to wank off thinking about this, about Archie rowing stroke, gazing back at me like I’m some sort of god. I used to, until the day we were out on the river and I realized I was getting a hard-on. I nearly dove into the water out of sheer bloody embarrassment. I mean, it’s not like I hid the fact I was a poof, but I made sure I didn’t rub it in their faces.
God, I wanted to rub it in Archie’s face.
Bugger. I was getting hard again. I looked away from him, deliberately focusing on the other lads in turn. They were doing well—the crew had been together nearly six months now. We’d narrowly missed winning our oars at the Lent Bumps and were determined to make good at the Mays next week. Time to get them going. I waited for the catch. “Next stroke.” I could sense Archie preparing himself to follow orders.
At the following catch, I gave them the instruction. “Wind it up to race pace over five.” It’s a bit like being in the army. I’m the captain, and Archie’s my sergeant major. I tell them what to do, but it’s up to stroke to set the pace. “One hundred percent pressure, lads. Keep it up.”
Hanging on my every word, they were. God, I love this sport.