College Coxing Racing

Coxswain recordings, pt. 33

University of Washington 2012 Windermere Cup Men’s open 8+

I realized after uploading this that I think I labeled the video incorrectly – rather than the varsity eight race I think it’s actually the men’s open eight since “Western” is Western Washington and they weren’t in the V8+ race.

Starting at 0:22, I like this series of quick calls (“now build it and here we go, get on it now…”) right before they start their high strokes. It’s a good alternative to not calling the first four or five stokes if you’re not into that kinda thing.

“One seat up, that’s fine…” Compare his call of “one seat up, that’s fine” at 0:59 to what a lot of coxswains do – “200m in, we’re one seat up, by 250m I wanna be on their bow ball, power 10!” – and it’s not hard to see why I like this, not just for what he says but for how he says it. If you’ve established your rhythm, are taking tight, clean strokes, the boat feels good, etc. then ride that and use it to your advantage for as long as you can, regardless of whether you’re up one seat or down three seats.

If you watch the time on the video, you’ll notice that 200m to 300m and 300m to 400m only took them roughly 20 seconds per 100m. That’s a little over 11mph (18km/hr). For comparison, Germany rowed the first 500m of the final in London at just over 13mph (21km/hr). I stopped paying attention to this after awhile but in the first third of the recording you’ll hear him call 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, 600m, 750m, etc. While he’s probably rowed on the Montlake Cut long enough to know where each 100m mark is along shore, another way you can tell your crew where you are is by paying attention to the times. If during practice you’re pulling similar splits during pieces to what you’re pulling during your race then you’ll be able to guesstimate that each 100m is taking you roughly X seconds. This in turn means that even if there aren’t markers along shore telling you where you are, you can make a good guess based on what the clock on your cox box is saying.

At the 500m, I like the “five to set the swing” they took. Especially after the first 500m, which can tend to be a little frantic, it’s always good to take a couple strokes to re-establish that long, smooth stroke that you wanna maintain throughout the bulk of the race. Making focus-specific calls like he did here for swing is also important, especially when your busts are short like this one was. I liked the “good swing through the back” one the best.

Overall, this was a really well-coxed piece. What I really liked and what you should be taking away is how there was a good balance of everything a coxswain should be focused on during a race – position on the course, position on other crews, splits (if you’ve got a SpeedCoach), technique (maintaining a balance between general calls and calls for individuals when necessary), etc. His voice is great too – calm at times, in your face other times, but intense as hell from start to finish.

Other calls I liked:

“Hands up to the front bow six, we want no missed water…”

“Keep walking away, give them nothing…”

“Curb stomp the shit out of ’em…”

“We’re comin’ into the Cut, it’s Husky territory now, show ’em a hell of a race…”

“With the push…”, with regards to the leg drive. “On the legs” can get old after awhile so I like this as an alternative.

Gainesville Area Rowing Women’s Varsity 8+ Steady State + Docking

So this video is of an eight minute steady-state progression starting at rate 20 and finishing at a 26. At the start of the piece it takes a few strokes to find that long 20spm (during the 5+10) so going forward what I would do in that situation is try to hit the rates just like I would during a race, which means calling it the same, giving the same instructions, etc. (albeit minus the intensity of a race – her tone here was perfect for what they were doing), that way if you have to do something similar during an actual piece you’ll already know what to say to get them to respond (and in turn, they’ll know what they need to do).

That means telling them to hit it the rate “on this one”, making rate-specific calls such as “lengthen out a beat here”, etc. If you’re doing 5 to build or something similar then you’ve gotta communicate with your stroke beforehand and say “we’re at an 16 right now and we’re doing a long build into a 20, all you’ve gotta do is hit half a beat each stroke and we’ll be good”. From there, as long as you’re in the 19.5 – 20.5 spm range, you’re fine. Particularly at the junior level it’s unlikely that you’re going to be right on your desired rate every single stroke so going with a tight range like this gives you some wiggle room and prevents you from having to say the stroke rate every stroke to try to get it exactly on a 20.

This applies to all the other transitions too. Instead of saying “OK let’s take it to a 24 … 22.5, 22.5, 22.5, 22.5, 23.5, 23.5, 23.5, 24…” just say “OK we’re at a 22, let’s hit that 24 in one stroke with the legs … on this one, leeegs, good 24…”. Or, if you’re doing a long build again (which I think they did going from the 22 to a 24), instead of saying the rate on every stroke and nothing else, say something like “OK we’re gonna take another long build into this 24, let’s make sure we’re staying controlled, finding our length, and moving right with stern pair. Ready to go … on this one, that’s 1 through the water, 2 23, 3 controool here, 4 let’s hit that 24 … on this one, boom send…good, right on rate.”.

One of the things I think she did well was build her tone/intensity across the duration of the piece. It drives me crazy to hear one-note coxswains cox pieces like this because they never do anything different with their voice. If the rate and pressure is going up, by default so should your tone/intensity.

I love how she docked too. Good job giving them instructions and telling them what to do every step of the way. Novices in particular, take note – this was a pretty good example of how to bring it in at the end of practice.

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

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