A Guide to Coxing
- You must wear a lifejacket!
- Wear plenty of warm kit and waterproofs
- The coxbox – your most useful piece of equipment
This is absolutely essential. As a cox, you must wear a lifejacket at all times when afloat. There are no exceptions to this whatsoever. Most lifejackets are made of foam and require no action if you fall into the river. A few contain a gas canister in the front. If you end up in the water then you have to inflate the lifejacket by pulling a toggle. As a novice you will probably only come across the first type.
Over the course of the year temperatures vary wildly. However, unlike the rowers, the cox does not move for substantial periods of time. This means that unless you are suitably dressed you will get very cold. Remember - if you have too many layers you can always take some off. If you don't have enough, you will get very, very cold.
Therefore, make sure you have with you plenty of warm clothes - sometimes as many as 6 or 8 layers are necessary (in winter a hot water bottle or hand warmers might be a good idea as well), a waterproof outer layer (it rains a lot) and gloves (absolutely essential). A hat is also highly recommended for warmth. In the summer, you might want to have a cap to shade your eyes and probably also a pair of sunglasses to reduce the glare from the water
If the river level is high, or if you are rowing on the Tideway stretch of the Thames in London, then a pair of Wellington Boots will keep your feet dry. However, it is very important that you do not wear them in the boat because if, for whatever reason, you end up in the water, they will fill with water and weigh you down.
In very hot weather you should carry a water bottle. It is important that you remain properly hydrated and are able to concentrate properly.
This is not needed for your first couple of outings which will be in tubs. However, for every outing in a larger boat you should take a coxbox. Initially your coach will remind you but thereafter you should simply regard it as being as important as the lifejacket. Coxboxes come in three parts: the box itself, the microphone, and the speaker system which is in the boat. The coxbox and microphone will often already be attached but you must remember to plug the coxbox into the boat. The microphone is attached to an elasticated band which you wear around your head. A boat equipped for a coxbox has a speaker system fitted down the length of the boat beneath the seats which relays whatever is spoken. It is important to remember that the coxbox carries sound outside the boat so do not use abusive language into the headset or do not talk down to crews close to you. Also do not keep it at max volume and disturb other people (especially in morning hours). Under the stroke seat in the boat there are two magnets - one is fixed to the underside of the seat itself and the other is attached to the boat underneath the seat. As the magnet on the seat passes over the magnet fixed to the boat, the cox-box records that a stroke has been taken. There is a stroke counter which can be manually reset by the cox. The most useful feature of the cox-box display is the "rate meter". This calculates the number of strokes which would be taken in a minute if the rowers continued at a uniform speed. This number is prominently displayed in the centre of the display and is known as the "rate". Most cox-boxes are also equipped with a stopwatch and a count-down timer.
The coxbox is the most essential piece of equipment for a cox – know how to use it and treat it well – always return it back into the crewroom and plug it back in so that it can be recharged for other coxes. There is nothing more annoying than not having a working coxbox but be ready for such a situation. If you are really, really loud you can shout commands but it is unlikely that rowers in the bows will hear you. Therefore use somebody in the middle of the boat to relay commands down the boat. If a coxbox does not work make sure you let either the boatman or the coxing captain know so that they can work on fixing it so that you can get it working for your next outing.
This is a spanner with a 10mm hole at one end and a 13mm hole at the other. Almost all of the nuts on the boat can be tightened using one end of a rigger-jigger. If possible try to have one in order to be able to fix the boat during the outing if necessary.