College Coxing High School Racing Recordings

Coxswain recordings, pt. 20

Marietta Tiger Navy Lightweight 8+ 2014 Midwest Championships Grand Final

This is from Sunday’s final in the lightweight 8+ at Midwest where they finished 2nd overall and received an automatic bid to nationals at Mercer.

One of the big things I talked about with our coxswain when we were going over this on the way home was that she’d make calls like “even”, “a deck up”, “they’re sagging”, “pulling ahead”, etc. but not say on who. If it’s just you and another crew up on the rest of the field then calls like that are fine but when you’re still within the pack, you can’t assume that the crew knows who you’re talking about. Similarly with regards to “specifics”, there were several times where the margins she called were way off. That’s one of the things that you’ve got to be accurate about if you’re gonna make calls for it, which you should be. If your crew is the one that’s up, you make the call based on where you – the coxswain – are. If your crew is down, you make the call based on where your bowball is. The latter is obviously tougher to gauge than just looking straight across to the other boat but it’s not that difficult if you possess even the slightest amount of depth perception. Being up a length means the crews are bow to stern – the bow of the crew that’s behind is on the stern deck of the crew that’s ahead. Being up a length of open means there’s a full boat length of open water between the crew that’s up and the one that’s down.

At 1:28 you hear the stroke say “down” because the stroke rate was too high and the crew didn’t lengthen out as much as they needed/were supposed to. From personal experience I’ve found that this is almost always because I called the settle poorly. When I’ve been sharper with the calls and given the rowers more prep time to get ready for them, they tend to be smoother and more “on” in terms of getting the stroke rate where we want it in the fewest strokes possible. Sometimes it’s because of tendencies that individuals have (i.e. rushing) but I also kinda take the blame for that sometimes because there’s almost always something I could be saying to address that. In this case, better preparation for the settle(s) and sharper calls would have helped.

At 2:03 the coxswain says “competition’s New Trier”, which we already knew going into the race so I’m not sure why she made that call but regardless, you’ve established who your main competition is, now use that to do something. This would have been the perfect spot (especially after that call and the fact that it was right at the 500m mark) to take a ten  to regain the two seats they just took in the last 100m or so. Between 2:21 and 3:21 though New Trier walks nearly a full length on us. As a coxswain you’ve got to recognize that that’s happening and make a call to counter it. It’s fine to be “in the zone” but you can’t be so in the zone that you ignore everything that’s happening outside the small confines of the coxswain’s seat.

5:58 was the only part of the race that really pissed me off. She calls “20 to go” and then the crew took three strokes. Three strokes after the coxswain called last 20. This was another thing I talked about with the girls and later with our head coach – when you’re racing, you’re giving 97, 98, 99% every stroke. When your coxswain calls “last however many to the line” that’s kinda when you re-negotiate with yourself about how much you’re hurting and say “OK, there’s 20 strokes left … I can go little bit harder over these next 20 to make sure I finish on completely empty”. You prepare to kill your body just a little bit more because your coxswain’s told you there’s a finite amount of strokes left – it’s balls to the wall, lights out for the next 20.

When you over exaggerate the amount of strokes left by seventeen there’s a good possibility that you just robbed your crew a few tenths of a second. It’s not about the rowers pacing themselves for the end or anything like that, it’s just them digging deeper within themselves to make sure they use up every last drop of energy they’ve got. There is a big difference between the two; one’s physical and one is mental. When they cross the line after only three strokes, there’s a possibility that they’re gonna think “Wait … what? I’m 99% empty, I’ve still got 1% left”. If five, six, seven people think that, how many tenths of a second do you think that amounts to? In this race a few tenths of a second wouldn’t have made a difference but who’s to say it won’t at nationals? When I coxed the lightweight 8+ there our semi-final had like, two seconds between 1st through 5th place. That margin between the individual crews was small. In situations like that, tenths of a second matter. When medals and championships are on the line, tenths of a second matter.

University of Delaware 2013 Dad Vail Lightweight 8+ Grand Final

Right out of the gate, the way she calls the start and high strokes is great. Her tone, how she’s annunciating the calls, etc. all vibes right with the strokes and just flows perfectly. This goes a long way in helping establishing the crew’s rhythm off the line.

I really loved how coming into Strawberry Mansion (which is about 750m in, I think) she says “as soon as we’re straight we’re gonna light it the fuck up“. I think her calls immediately after the bridge were a little lackluster though. Everything felt rushed and not as on point as most of the other calls up to this point. After a call as a strong as that “light it up” one I expected a little more fire when she called the move at the thousand.

As they’re coming into the last 500 she starts getting pretty shout-y and cheerleader-y  and also maybe a little too cocky because even though they were up, they definitely didn’t have it 100% in the bag yet. That’s an important thing to keep in mind, you’ve gotta cox the whole race, not just the first 1750m and then cheer the rest of the way. Overall though I’d say this was pretty solid … especially considering this girl was a walk-on who only started coxing eight months before this race.

You can find and listen to more recordings by checking out the “Coxswain Recordings” page.

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