Basic Coxing Information

Before Launching:

  • If you are unclear about traffic patterns on the water, come early and check the map on the coaching desk at the WAC, or ask the coach.
  • Check which boat you are coxing and try to remember the crew in it.
  • Get a flotation device (on floor under the coaching desk in the canoe house), whistle (in the right-hand drawer of the coaching desk), cox box (in the red toolbox on the coaching desk) and lights and/or batteries for installed shell lights (on upper left shelf of cabinet to left of desk). When it is fully light in the summer, lights are obviously not needed.
  • The newer shells have built-in bow lights but still require the white stern light. The older wooden and fiberglass shells also need the removable bow lights. Check that the lights work. To switch them on takes only a SMALL turn to the left. The red and green lights are for the bow, and the white light on velcro is for the stern. The lights should be in working order if they were put away properly, but if they are not, see the coach for spare batteries. For more details see note about lights after practice.
  • Check in with your crew (especially the stroke) ASAP
  • Notify the coach at 6.25am if anybody in your boat is missing, so that suitable arrangements can be made. In Spring and Summer Quarters, when we row earlier, make sure the coach knows by about 6:10am what is going on.
  • If you are not very experienced, inform your stroke to pay attention to the plan for the day’s outing (see next point)
  • LISTEN to what the coach for the day tells you about the outing – you will then know what to do on the water. Don’t rely on anyone in the crew to be listening and remind you later (beware – rowers tend not to listen!). Ask if you don’t understand anything.
  • Don’t launch (move the boat away from the dock) before checking with the coach where he/she wants you to go.
  • Hustle! Try and get the boats down to the dock quickly. Always keep a close watch on the bow and/or stern of the boat as you maneuver the boat out of the boathouse – stay at the end furthest into the boathouse, and get someone else to watch the other end if necessary one of the ends for you.
  • Give commands quickly and concisely
  • IN PARTICULAR, don’t leave a crew holding a boat over their heads for any longer than is necessary.
  • Get the crew seated in the boat as quickly as possible. Press them to get their oars secured and to not mill about.
  • Fix lights on the boat while the rowers are removing shoes and adjusting stretchers
  • Collect shoes and place them under the canoes so as to keep them dry.
  • Plug in your coxbox and adjust the volume.
  • Announce to your crew that you are getting in, and enter the boat. You get to wear shoes. Ask the coach if you are unsure where you can step. The older boats DO NOT have a stepping platform and you should NEVER step anywhere but on the very-narrow raised wooden keel. Ask.

On the Water:

  • Stay awake – you are in control
  • Stay in control – never delegate responsibility to anyone else, either the coach or a crew member. We will pair you with an experienced rower in stroke seat for your first few ventures, but YOU are in charge; the experienced rower is there to answer questions and coach you.
  • Always look out for other boat traffic, particularly before you start to turn – small boats can spring out of nowhere. YELL at any singles/doubles coming towards you who do not seem to know you are there. The Huskies row in packs of doubles – try and stay out of their way.
  • Steer safely and stick to traffic patterns (see maps in WAC) – in particular, if your crew is not rowing stay OUTSIDE the channel (watch that you don’t drift into the channel while the coach is talking). If you are moving, keep to the right of the center of the channel, either inside the channel markers or just outside.
  • Steer wide around inside corners so that you can see through bridges and narrow areas before entering underneath them, PARTICULARLY under the University Bridge heading east and when entering the west end of the Montlake cut. You should ALWAYS be able to see traffic on the far side of the bridge/channel before entering it.
  • If you see a barge tow or tugboat with three or four white lights arranged vertically over its wheelhouse, DO NOT ENTER the Montlake Cut. Move OUTSIDE the channel ASAP. The three or four vertical lights indicate that it either pushing or towing a barge or other large object (e.g., a piece of the 520 bridge).
  • Try to stay within communication (sight) range of the coach, unless directed otherwise. In general, you should stay in sight and within 800m of the coaching launch; this is especially important if you are in the double.
  • Listen to the coach at all times – ask for clarification if you don’t understand what he/she is telling you to do. ALWAYS wave clearly to indicate that you have heard/understood a command. This also applies if any other coach says anything to you – if you don’t wave to show you have heard, they may keep yelling till you do.
  • Make the life of the coaches as easy as possible – try to stay within communication (sight) range of the coach, unless directed otherwise. Keep the boats grouped together if possible (loop around if too far ahead; pause drill is a good way to slow a boat down). When stopping, stop NEXT TO the other boats so that the coach can communicate with all the boats at once. This prevents too much sitting around.
  • Always follow the coach’s instructions UNLESS your boat is getting into trouble (e.g. drifting into the bank, heading for a collision etc). Then you must take control and move the boat away from danger as soon as possible – the coach may be unaware of it. You are EXPECTED to interrupt and speak over a coach whenever you feel the need.
  • If you’re coxing without a coxbox, try to shout loudly to the end of the boat – try aiming your voice at the feet of the stroke to propagate the sound along the boat itself.
  • State clearly what it is you want the rowers to do, and make sure that they do it.
  • Ask the stroke if you don’t understand something – novice coxswains will almost always have an experienced stroke to help them out. If you feel like you are getting too many comments from within the boat, tell the crew to shut up and let you make the decisions (difficult, but do it!).
  • Be specific with commands (tell individual rowers what they are doing right or wrong rather than a general command to the whole boat), and give feedback as to how they are doing. This is hard at first, but concentrate on the rowing, and learn to notice what causes problems and whether things change when you give instructions.
  • Remember that everyone has to cox and most people are nervous to start with so everyone is sympathetic towards you. Don’t take any bad-tempered comments to heart – things are said when people are tired or nervous that they don’t necessarily mean. Listen to constructive advice, and don’t worry if other coaches on the water yell at you.

Warming Up:

  • The first thing you do on the water is warm up the crew – the purpose of this is to stretch out all the muscles and make sure no damage is done by leaping straight into hard rowing, and to make sure the washer settings are correct. With this in mind…
  • Warm up by pairs (bow pair and stern pair).
  • Each pair should row square blade arms and back only, then each pair should row half slide, and finally each pair rows full slide with feather. The square-blade rowing enables rowers to adjust their hand heights for the crew and boat of the day. If they are unable to adjust and row square blade cleanly, they will need to adjust washers before rowing all-4.
  • For a non-novice crew, you should aim to have warmed up each pair by the time you have reached Fox Point (Foster Island). Stop at the green buoy and allow rowers to make any washer adjustments. On the return, try to row at least half the distance back to the WAC all-four, and be able to report to the coach how the set was during the all-four rowing (e.g. large/small wobble, hard down to one side or another, consistently down at the catch/release, inconsistent, etc.)
  • For novice crews, use both the outbound and return portions of the warm-up loop for by-pair rowing.
  • Emphasize that the crew should not be pulling hard in the warm up – instead, tell them to focus on technique and trying to set the boat.

Back on the Dock:

  • Get out first and give their shoes to your rowers.
  • Get crew out of boat and the blades out quickly.
  • Remove the lights and/or batteries and cox box and flotation.
  • Once boat is back in boathouse, wipe it down with one of the white towels. If the boat is on a high rack, have your crew hold the boat at waist so you can wipe it down before putting it up on the rack.
  • If the batteries/lights are dim or dead, notify the coach and leave the lights on the coaching desk. Otherwise, return them to the upper left shelf in the cabinet.
  • Connect the old cox box to the charger. For the newer cox boxes, notify the coach if they have less than 2 bars. DO NOT connect them to the charger.