Tag: equipment

Coxing Q&A

Question of the Day

How much would you say rowing kit, lifejacket, cox box weighs on top of your usual body weight?

I’ve never actually measured any of this so this is all guesstimating. Depending on how many layers I’m wearing, my clothes can probably add anywhere from 3-8ish lbs. A lifejacket probably weighs two pounds, and a cox box is probably another pound. So on a normal day where I’m not wearing every layer I own, I’d say all that probably adds maybe 6-7lbs to my weight. Like I said though, I’ve never actually weighed myself with all of that (and I’ve never had to wear a life jacket while on the water) so this is purely speculation.

Related: How does getting weighed in work during the spring season? I’m a coxswain for a collegiate men’s team where the weight minimum is 125. I’m naturally under 110, so what’s going to happen? Sand bags? Will it be a problem?

I feel compelled to throw this out there now … if you’re a coxswain and you’re weighing in at a regatta, you can’t use outside stuff to add to your weight if you’re under the limit. Usually you have to weigh in wearing what the rowers wear – i.e. your uni or whatever you wear when you race. When I was a novice we had to weigh in before a regatta and at the time I didn’t know I couldn’t wear all my layers when I did it, so I ended up taking everything but my long spandex pants and long sleeve spandex shirt off. Other than the obvious reason, they can also ask you to wear just your spandex so they can make sure you aren’t loading your pockets with wrenches, weight plates of your own, etc. to try and cheat the scale.

Coxing Q&A

Question of the Day

What’s the difference between coxing an 8+ and a 4+ ? I’ve mainly been coxing a four.

I personally don’t think there’s much of a difference, although in most cases going from a four to an eight is a much easier transition than an eight to a four. The two major (and obvious) nuances are that the steering reacts a little differently and you have more bodies to concern yourself with. Eights don’t react as quickly to your steering in comparison to a four, which tends to respond to the smallest touch on the rudder rather quickly, because they’re larger, which means you’ll have to be patient and not oversteer thinking that your rudder’s not working or something. Similar to a four though the boat’s steering will be affected by the number of people rowing, how fast you’re going, etc.

Related: How to steer an eight or four

If you’re transitioning to an eight I’d spend the first practice or two familiarizing yourself with the steering so you can figure out how your boat moves. Other than actual boat stuff, having four additional rowers to worry about can be tricky if you’re used to focusing on only four people but you pick up how to deal with them (for lack of a better phrase) pretty quickly. Being able to actually see the rowers is a huge plus but since you’re probably not used to watching the blades you’ll have to spend a few practices familiarizing yourself with the bladework. Other than that everything is, for the most part, the same.

How To Q&A

Question of the Day

Hey, I was wondering if you have any advice on oar painting. In the past all our team has done is just use regular spray paint over the old cracked paint job (obviously a mistake), but our coach has put me in charge of the repainting this year and I want to do it right. I’ve stared working on sanding down the blades but am unsure how to go about painting. Should we just use regular spray paint with a protective finish? I’ve read that some people use automotive paint.

It’s been awhile since I last painted any oars myself but I have a general idea of how it’s done so hopefully this helps. For paint, automotive paint is definitely the way to go. You can also use marine paint but automotive paint has more color choices.

1. Start with a low-grit sandpaper (180 is good) and sand the oars until ALL the shine is gone. Rinse the oar off and let it dry.

2. Prime the oars with a lacquer or enamel primer (lacquer works best but enamel is fine too) 2-3 times, letting it fully dry each time between coats.

3. After you’ve applied the last coat and let it dry, go over the oar with a high-grit sandpaper (400 is good), rinse, and let it dry. This will help the top coat adhere to the primer and create a stronger bond between the paints.

4. Once it’s dried, begin applying the topcoat. Make sure you use the same type of paint for the topcoat that you used for the primer – i.e. if the primer was lacquer, use a lacquer top coat. Add 3-5 layers of topcoat and make sure you let it dry fully in between each coat. After the final coat, let the oar dry for at least 8 hours (or overnight) before you start adding any designs.

5. Use painters tape and/or stencils to add your team’s design to the oar. Before you paint the design, lightly sand the area that you’ll be painting with the 400 grit sandpaper. If you’re adding multiple colors/layers to the design, let each layer dry before moving on to the next one.

6. Once you’ve completely finished painting, use a clear coat to seal in the color and design. This will also help protect the oar as well as give them a nice shine. Add 2-3 coats, letting each one dry in between.

Coxing Q&A

Question of the Day

I’m a novice coxswain and our cox boxes really sucks!! I’m thinking getting one for Christmas … do you know any good places to buy them? 

Cox boxes are pretty expensive so I would only buy your own if you are absolutely, 10000% positive that you are going to stick with it the whole way through high school (and/or college). If you’re only going to use it for a year or two I don’t think it’s worth it to buy your own.

There’s actually only one place that makes cox boxes – Nielsen-Kellerman. Each one is $500+ but if you wanted to get one cheaper, you could get a used one. Your best bet for finding one is to check row2k’s classifieds section under either “oars and equipment” or “accessories” – people post them in both spots sometimes. You could also check with local clubs/teams in your area and ask if they have any old cox boxes that they’re looking to get rid of. I’m sure they’d be willing to work something out with you.

How to cox a boat in and out of the boathouse

Coxing How To Novice

How to cox a boat in and out of the boathouse

Walking the boat in and out of the house is something you’ll do every single day so it’s important that you understand the process, calls, and terminology that go along with it. Each team will have their own subtle variances but this should give you a general idea of what to say and do. If you’re a more experienced coxswain then how get your boat in and out will probably be a lot less regimented than what I’ve laid out below and that’s totally fine. This post is written with novice coxswains in mind though which is why the minutiae of the process is laid out a bit more systematically.

Remember that everything you say should be said assertively. You also need to speak loudly so that your crew can hear you – don’t assume that the echo or reverberation of your voice off the walls and boats will carry your voice. You can never be too loud, especially as a novice.

When giving instructions about where to go it’s important to know which way to tell the rowers to go too. “In the house” means to walk inside the boathouse/towards where the boats are stored and “out of the house” means to walk outside the boathouse/away from where the boats are stored. Vague directions such as “move that way” or “come towards me” aren’t helpful so avoid using ones like that and instead say things like “take two steps to your left” or “walk it towards bow”.

Coxing the boat out of the house

Before you begin, make sure there are four people on each end and each side of the boat. It is easiest to carry the boat if the rowers are bunched up at each end or spread out evenly throughout the length of the boat. Do not have the rowers all bunch up in the middle. This minimizes the support on the ends of the boat and makes it much heavier to carry.

Another thing to be aware of when the rowers line up is their height. You don’t want to have a tall person be on the direct opposite side of a short person because then it forces all the weight onto their shoulder. If you have a range of heights going from stroke to bow, you can have the rowers switch where they stand when they’re carrying the boat down so that it’s comfortable for everyone. (This also eliminates a lot of bitching and “get it on shoulders” from the taller rowers.)

If you’re in a boat that is fairly new to the sport or has varying levels of upper body strength, your best bet is to have two tall people on either end, that way each end will be able to push the boat up and over heads. If all the stronger people are on one end and the weaker are on the other, that spells disaster in the making. Long story short, know the individual strength of your rowers.

To get the boat out of the house, the italicized words are the calls you’ll make to tell your crew what to do.

“All eight, hands on.”

This is the call that lets people know you’re ready to go. When you get hands on everyone should be quiet so they can hear what you’re saying and then do it without wasting time. If people are talking or not paying attention, that’s when boats get damaged.

“Lift it up, slide it out.”

This is the command to get the boat off the racks. When you give the command to “lift it up”, make sure you’re watching the fin. Some people have very liberal ideas of what an inch is and will lift the boat too high, causing either the fin or the hull to hit the boat, riggers, or racks above them. This can do various sorts of damage to the boat (ranging from dents in the hull from the racks or riggers to knocking the fin loose) so make sure when you say an inch, your rowers know you only mean an inch.

Sliding it out is the second part of this command. Once the boat is lifted off the racks this is when the rowers side step it to the middle of the bay. I like to say “slide it out” instead of “walk it out” because it’s (apparently…) easy to confuse “walk it out” with walk it out of the house instead of just walking it to the middle of the bay. Keeping the calls separate just avoids confusion, boat damage, and/or injury.

“Shoulders, ready, UP.” or “split to shoulders, ready, split.”

This call is only necessary if you’re bringing the boat out of a rack that isn’t already at shoulder height. If  you’re bringing the boat up from rollers that are on the ground you’ll need to say “waists, ready, up” first before giving the command to go to shoulders. Don’t go from the boat being on the ground straight to shoulders. If you’re coming down to shoulders from over heads, you’ll want to give the call to “show sides”. This tells the rowers to indicate which side they’re splitting to by leaning their head in the direction they’re going to move. Ideally they should be splitting to the side opposite their rigger.

“Watch the riggers, walk it out.”

Once you’re at shoulders, tell the rowers to watch the rigger in front of them to make sure it’s not going to hit anything and then walk it out. When walking it out, you should always be standing at the BACK of the boat. You should be able to see the entire length of the boat in front of you, regardless of whether you’re standing at the stern or the bow. The “back” of the boat will be dependent on how you store it.

The reason you should be at the back is so you can see if your boat is going to hit anything, which includes but isn’t limited to riggers on other boats, bay doors, random people standing around, etc. By following the boat you can pull it to the side if you need to in order to avoid clipping a rigger or something. Don’t count on your rowers to pay attention to whether or not the riggers are going to hit something (even though you’ve told them to “watch the riggers”) – you have to assume responsibility for your boat.

You also don’t want to stand beside the middle of the boat because if you have to make a turn coming out of the boathouse, you won’t be able to see what’s going on with the back end. If the crew swings too early, that end can hit the boats on the racks, a wall, etc. Additionally, your field of vision for what’s in front of you just decreased by about 50% because now you can’t see what obstructions might be in your way on the other side.

Coxing the boat in the house

For the most part, walking the boat in the house is the exact opposite of walking it out.

“Watch the riggers, walk it in.”

When the rowers are walking in, make sure they’re walking in in a straight line, not at an angle or anything. This is directed more towards crews who can’t walk directly into the boathouse from the dock. The back of the boat is going to follow the front, so if the front walks in at an angle the bow is going to follow, meaning that if/when the front swings around to straighten out, the bow of the boat won’t know what’s happening and will continue to try and walk forward. This typically results in the front of the boat getting pushed forward into another boat or into a wall. More experienced crews can get away with walking it in like that as long as they’re cautious but it’s not something novice or younger crews should do.

The easiest way to bring the boat in is to walk up parallel to the boathouse, weigh enough, and then side step the boat over so that it’s in a straight line in front of the bay. The key is to make sure everyone side steps it over together so the boat stays straight. Once you’re in front of where you want to be, you can walk it in.

“Weigh enough.”

Once your boat is in front of the racks you can tell the crew to weigh enough. A good way to know when/where to weigh enough is to put tape on your boat to mark the spots where it sits on the rack, that way whenever you walk in the house you always know exactly where to tell them to weigh enough. If you go in the house too far or not far enough, see where the tape is in relation to the racks and say “walk it in one step” or “walk it out three steps”. Always give the rowers specific directions so there’s nothing left open for interpretation. Don’t ever say “walk this way” because … which way is “this way”?

“Waist, ready, down.” or “up and over heads, ready, up.”

Be mindful of your position in the bay so that when you go over heads you don’t knock the riggers on other boats on the racks or the fin on any small boats you might have hanging from the ceiling.

“Side step it over, lift it up, and slide it in.”

Same as before, make sure when they lift the boat to get it on the racks, they’re not lifting it too high. Be aware of where the fin and hull are in relation to the boat above them. It’s important that everyone walks it over and puts the boat in together so that the rowers on one end aren’t already walking away from the boat while the other end is still trying to get it on the racks. Before you set it down double check that none of the riggers are sitting on the racks either because it can bend them or cause damage to the hull. If you’ve got tape on the hull to indicate where it should be on the racks, make sure it’s still lined up before everyone disperses.

The most important things to remember when bringing the boat in and out are:

Speak loudly, slowly, clearly, and concisely

Make sure your crew can hear you and clearly understand your instructions. They should never have to yell “what?!” or “we can’t hear you!”.

Pay attention to everything around you

Watch out for people standing in your path, boats that might be in slings in the boat bay, riggers on other boats, etc. It’s your responsibility to communicate to them that there’s a boat coming out/in and they’re in the way.

Don’t get frustrated

Coxing a boat on or off the racks can be nerve wracking, especially as a novice. Stay calm and be in control of the situation. Don’t let the rowers start telling other rowers what to do. Make sure everyone is quiet and listening to your instructions.

This whole process really is incredibly simple once you get the hang of it. Sometimes it requires being in a few different places at once but as you and your rowers become more experienced, both you and they will learn how to make it a smoother process and your instructions won’t need to be as nitpicky.

Image via // @rowingrelated