A Guide to Coxing
Basics - your first outings
These are the very basics or coxing and this is all you will need for your first few sessions. Most of this info will come up in further detail later in the guide.
The first calls you will make as a cox will be in a tub – a boat for only two rowers. The one in front of you is called stroke the one in the back is bow. In boats with four people in them such as the coastal four you will be taking out there are four rowers – bow, 2, 3 and stroke and in an eight it is bow, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and stroke. You can refer to them as bow/stern pair, bow/stern four, bow/stern six, middle four (middle pair in a four), outside four/pair. The side that stroke’s blade is on is strokeside (left from the cox’s seat) and bow’s blade is on bowside (your right). Knowing how to refer to the relevant rowers is step one.
Step two is to know where you want them to row from and how. This is either rowing from backstops or frontstops. Backstops is also called at the finish and refers to the position when the rowers’ legs are down flat and slightly leaning back with the blade handle right in front of their body keeping the blade in the water. Frontstops or at the catch is the position at the front of the stroke with the knees bent coming vertically up and arms straight out with the blade in the water. In relation to how to row initially your rowers will row square blades and later learn to row feather blades.
So the instructions you will give will come in this form – for example “bow four from backstops rowing square blades... ready.. GO!” Be sure to give the “ready – go” as your rowers will not do anything without the ‘go’. If they start rowing beforehand it is their mistake – they always have to wait for your command first.
Once you are moving steering will be your main focus. Learn how the different rudder movements affect the direction in which you are going. Pushing your right hand forward will move you right and vice versa. Using rowers can change directions as well. Using somebody on bowside to take a stroke will steer you left and vice versa. Be sure amidst experimenting to stay on the right hand side of the river and away from other boats.
You will also be required to spin the boat. This is done simply by one side taking strokes and the other one backing it down. When you spin look around to make sure you do not impede crews around you and that there is room to spin. As a cox you have to have an eye on the stern of the boat to make sure it is clear.
It is very important to know how to stop. The usual way is to call easy there (“easy” is called at the catch and “there” at the finish) which will mean your rowers will stop rowing after they take a stroke – they will do so at the finish with arms away and blades in the air, which is why you call drop after that. Often novice rowers will just stop rowing and have the blades on the water after an easy there but with more experience if ‘easy there’ is called at the right time you will need to call the ‘drop’ as well. Once you have stopped the boat will continue drifting and if you need to stop it call take the run off making the rowers slow the boat down until it has stopped. This is too slow a way of a stopping in case of an emergency when you need to stop the boat immediately. In that case you say loudly and strongly HOLD IT UP!(this command will also come from your bankparty for emphasis). Hold it up should be used in emergencies and when in doubt just stop instantly before you hit something and damage the boat or injure your rowers. It is always better to be safe than sorry!
When an outing is done you will need to park the boat on the bank. This is not easy even for experienced coxes so at this stage make sure you approach the bank slowly not to hit it and damage the boat. The general manoeuvre requires you to point towards the bank and then lean out so that the blades on the side of the bank are in the air (done my lowering the hands of the side whose blades are on the bank) and take the run off/ hold it up on the side away from the bank.
Apart from basic commands as cox you will have to know how to take the boat out safely on the water. Do not worry about this initially as getting a tub or a coastal four out will be done by the lower boats captains. However, if you are to take out a senior crew make sure you read in the relevant section (Coxing an outing) to know how to do it. If you forget do not worry – there will be somebody to help you out before you learn yourself.
And lastly what you will start doing soon after the basics is motivation and coaching about which you can read more about later (Roles of a cox).