Steering and Balancing


  • Hold the rudder line toggles lightly between thumb and forefinger.
  • Push the rudder line away from you on the side you want to steer toward – so if you want to steer right, push the right hand forward. Make sure the toggle returns to its original position (i.e. the rudder is straight) when you finish steering
  • First rule of steering is don’t unless you have to. When you feel comfortable, take your hands off the rudder for a few strokes and notice that in a reasonably fast moving boat not much steering is needed to stay in a straight line.
  • Steering slows down the boat (and ruins the set), so try and mainly steer when the blades are in the water, for more stability. A few small turns of the rudder over a few strokes are better than one long hard jamming of the rudder.
  • The boat takes a couple of strokes to respond to the rudder, so finish steering before you are pointing where you want to be to cope with this delayed response. Otherwise, you will need to compensate back the other way and will steer a wavey course.
  • To steer in a straight line aim at a distant object (or if you can’t see any distant objects due to the tall people directly in front of you, note two points either side of the course you want to steer). Use small corrections to keep in line. If you need to see what is directly in your blind spot, lean out slightly to see round the rowers.
  • If you steer round a corner (such as at Fox point or the buoys), ask the rowers to pull harder on one side than the other to help you round if you need to. Turning to port causes the boat to drop down on starboard side (and vice versa) – so tell the rowers when you are turning and they can compensate for the rudder.

Spinning (turning) the boat

Make sure you are not too close to the shore line or any other obstacle. Turn using one side backing down and the other side rowing (this side will be on the outside of the turn).

“Port side backing, starboard side rowing on.
……from the release……ready……..row”

Rowers should only move their backs and arms when spinning the boat — no legs. When their oars are recovering, they should be dragged across the water. For the backing oars, this requires that the oar be over-feathered so that it does not slice into the water.

Experienced crews should spin a boat without minimal wobble or disturbance to the set of the boat. Scraping the blade on the recovery and paying attention to blade depths when rowing or backing is key to accomplishing this.


  • Sit upright and still, bracing feet a little against the foot rest (you must keep your weight off the shell of the boat, just as you would when rowing)- if you are not braced, the body flops around and the balance of the boat is affected. In addition, your back tends to get slammed into the back of the cox seat at each stroke which can be very painful.
  • Do not be tempted to lean to one side or another to counteract a problem with the set – this will not help the rowers. I find that sitting on the flotation device can make balance more difficult as your center of gravity is raised up (this effect is most notable when the cox is tall) – so try putting it behind your back instead.