Flashback Friday: August 14th – 27th

VOTW: What it takes to fuel a Blue


Music to erg to, pt. 102 The Ataris, Andrew Spencer, All Time Low, Fergie, Cheap Trick, etc.

QOTD: What are your thoughts on female coxswains for male boats? In your experience, does this result in drama or awkward social situations? How about the role of a coxswain in bringing a team together? Do you feel that the leadership position that a cox holds on the water translates to off the water and the social dynamic of the team?

VOTW: The body of a rower

Words. Probably one of the best quotes ever (and it has nothing to do with rowing).

QOTD: I’m about to enter my second season of coxing with my high school. In the spring, late in the season, my coach put me in a new lineup of novice girls just like me and, just out of coincidence, we worked really well. We kept that boat until the end of the season and at the last regatta we even placed second, which was huge for our club, which is still really young, and our confidence. After finding out yesterday that all four girls are returning for fall crew, I’ve become obsessed with winning. I know the girls can do it, but is there anything I can do to help us? I think we need to get together and train outside of practice, but I don’t know how to go about doing that, especially for the long-distance races that we’ll face for the first time. I don’t want to seem whiny or annoying if I try to set something up with all of us, but I have to feel like I’m bringing something to this boat.

Music to erg to, pt. 51 Led Zeppelin, Spoon, Van Halen, Kendrick Lamar, MIA, etc.

VOTW: 2004 Athens Olympics M8+ Final

Keeping a notebook


Coxswain recordings, pt. 15

Music to erg to, pt. 52 Flume, Miike Snowe, Weezer, The Killers, Ellie Goulding, etc.

QOTD: I’m still new to rowing and I was wondering about regattas. How much does the busing and hotels or housing usually cost? I know my parents would help with paying but I’m scared that it might be to expensive for them.

QOTD: I have been coxing for 4 years in High School and originally loved it however the past years I have slowly started to dread the practices to the extent that I would fake sick just so I wouldn’t have to go. I find that as I am becoming a higher level coxswain (Junior National Team and now a University Recruit) that rowing is no longer a hobby for my fellow crew mates, that it is their life. I don’t think I would ever be able to have that level of commitment as rowing has started to lose all of the joy that it once brought me and has become more of a nuisance than anything else. I am now starting University Training Camp and don’t know whether I should quit or not. I have never quit at something before in my life however I just truly get no joy out of it anymore and it just makes me very tired and depressed. I also just cannot really relate with my teammates and their lifestyles as all of them are Arts students with light course loads while I am in a very competitive Commerce program and in addition many of them thrive on “rowing drama” and are rather catty and competitive. Don’t get me wrong, the thrill of coxing a race is still one of the greatest things ever for me however I don’t know if I can handle all the rest. What do you suggest? I wish to tell the coaches as early as possible if I am not continuing as I do not want to inconvenience them…

QOTD: Do you have any tips about getting back into the swing of coxing after taking the whole summer vacation off? I’ve had 8 weeks off and although I get back onto the water in a week I was wondering if there was anything I should do in advance?

Recruiting coxswains for your team



Official vs. unofficial visits

Music to erg to, pt. 5 Scissor Sisters, Kansas, Martin Solveig, Oasis, Coldplay, etc.

QOTD: Hi, OK so I have a strange question. So after many months of my mom always saying how much she wanted to row, she has decided to take a LTR class. She is extremely worried about her lower back hurting while getting in and out of the boat. Do you have any tips to help her maybe try to save her back?

VOTW: Harry Parker Memorial

QOTD: I feel like I can’t really relate to any of the other girls on my team. I know that crew itself is really close-knit, but I can’t help but feel like there’s a huge separation from me and the rest of the rest of the team where I don’t really know how to associate with them and they don’t really know how to associate with me just because I’m friends with an entirely different group of people than they are. Any advice?

QOTD: Hi Kayleigh! So a few days ago, we took some fours out on the water to get a good cool down after summer season, but also to get in a good warm-up for the upcoming fall season. I’ve always been used to fours with the handle on the right side, pointing the handle forward to go to starboard, and pointing the handle backward to go to port. That day, I was put into a four with a completely different steering system that I was not used to at all. There was a handle directly in front of me that jutted out from the top, and I would have to move the handle to port or starboard. I was guessing that you would point the handle in the direction that we wanted to go but we did a lot of straight-course rowing so I didn’t get to experiment as often as I would’ve liked to. My question is, what are the different types of steering in fours? And do the same principles apply (small adjustments, not going too hard on the rudder) to all types of steering? Thanks!


Music to erg to, pt. 6 Young the Giant, Flo Rida, David Guetta, AC/DC, Morningwood, etc.

QOTD: I feel like this is kind of a stupid question but, have you ever coxed a stern loader 4+? My new school has them and I’ve never been in one. Is is similar to an 8+?

QOTD: Hi! Quick question for a coach’s viewpoint. I just finished coxing my novice year and had to quit for the upcoming school year but if I want to cox in the future just for the summers at the local club, do you think a coach would be willing to let me cox a boat? Because I’d be like 8 months out of practice/out of the water so I’d be rusty. Is coxing one of those “muscle memory” type of things? Also, what do you think about the term, once a cox always a cox? Thanks!

QOTD: I heard that coxswains can’t sign letters of intent because they don’t get scholarships or anything so as a coxswain, how do I know if the school is serious about recruiting me and helping my admissions process? I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket and apply to like the one school I think is really recruiting me and not get in…

Things that affect the set: Bladework

A pretty common question amongst coxswains is “what are all the things that affect the set of the boat?”. I’ve been asked it more times than I can count this summer so I wanted to put a series of posts together that address some of the technical issues you might encounter that can/will lead to balance issues on the water. This is definitely not an exhaustive list by any means but it should give you some ideas of what to look for (and then from there you can use what’s in these posts and your knowledge of technique, body position, etc. to make the call for an adjustment).

W A S H I N G  O U T // Washing out occurs when you pull down into your lap at the finish instead of drawing the handle through horizontally and hanging off the handle for the full length of the stroke. Failing to support your side is not only going to cause your blade to pop out of the water early (because you’re pulling down instead of through) but it’s also going to cause the boat to roll over to your side.

Related: Top 20 Terms: Washing Out

O V E R  or  U N D E R – R O T A T I N G  T H E  B L A D E // This is common with younger rowers (i.e. middle schoolers…) or novices who haven’t quite figured out how to control the oar yet. Over-rotating the handle will naturally cause your hands to track downwards as you go up to catch which will pull the boat over to your side and then rock it back over as you lift the hands to put the blade in. Since you’ve likely skied your blade here too, what typically comes after that as a result is burying it too deep on the drive (meaning you’d be carrying your hands too high) which will then cause the boat to fall to the opposite side.

Catching or driving with the blade under-rotated will also pull the boat over to your side, in addition to making it more likely you’ll catch a crab when you drop it in at the catch.

G E T T I N G  S T U C K  A T  T H E  F I N I S H // If you’ve ever been in a boat where someone’s caught an over-the-head crab or an ejector, you’ll be familiar with this one because more so than the other examples, this one really yanks the boat over to that side. If you’re not suspending your weight off the handle then the water is going to control the oar more than you will, which means the handle will get pushed back towards you rather than you pulling it in at the finish. This’ll push it into your rib cage and make it harder for you to tap down and get it out.

Related: Top 20 Terms: Suspension

This is another reason why reminding the crew to hang off the handle is important. Driving horizontally and keeping pressure on the face of the blade all the way through the finish creates an air pocket behind the blade that allows you to tap down and release it cleanly.

Qualities of a Varsity Coxswain

Previously: Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4

Video of the Week: “Why I Row” with Gevvie Stone

Coming from a mainstream magazine with no ties to rowing, this video is really well done. My favorite part is her subtly counting in the background from one to ten as the video nears the end. It’s a good strategy, especially when you’re on the erg, but the way it’s presented here is just really powerful and motivating.

There’s really nothing like being on the water early in the morning and seeing a pack of singles, usually led by Gevvie, storm into the basin. Kinda similar to how you know Harvard is nearby when you hear their distinctive freight train-like exhales at every finish, you know when Team Gevvie is on the water because it has the power to change the atmosphere of the basin in an instant. I can’t really put a finger on what exactly it is but it’s been incredible to witness over the last few years.

Music to erg to, pt. 128

One week of camp left and then … school starts. I’ll be in Maine this weekend but will try to answer emails when I can throughout the week so if you emailed me while I was in CT + NY + PA, stay patient, you’ll hear back from me soon.

Did you see this question from yesterday on swearing while racing? If not, check it out and also check out the USRowingRefs account on Twitter. They’re a good resource and worth the follow. Other posts from the past two weeks include this one on how to prioritize and organize your calls, what it means to be a walk-on, and the latest edition of “qualities of a varsity coxswain“.

Question of the Day

I graduated college (men’s ACRA club) last spring and get asked regularly to cox competitive master’s boats. I always have fun coxing once I have been on the water for a few minutes, but am looking on advice for how to get comfortable with these crews faster.

I started coxing in college (your blog has been a huge help!) and was our top cox junior and senior year but I don’t have a ton of experience with jumping into a boat full of strangers. I don’t have the time to join/commit to a club right now (full-time work and night school for masters) so I enjoy filling in but it is definitely different than having a boat of rowers that I know well and vice versa. After thinking about it, I realized my biggest two challenges are:

1. Being comfortable “calling out” guys who are more than a few years older than me.
2. Coxing boats where I know few/none of my rowers (IE. Was asked by a friend to cox an 8+ he was bowing, then was asked by the stroke to fill-in for his club. So in the first boat I felt okay because I knew one person well, the second offer is intimidating since I wouldn’t really know anyone.)

I’m sure the more I do it, the more comfortable I will be but I was wondering if you had tips for any of these?

Check out this post and this post – both touch on getting more comfortable coxing masters crews.

If you’re coxing on an infrequent basis or regularly with new crews that you’re not familiar with (meaning a new crew every time you go out), I think you’ve just gotta get over the “fear” of not knowing anyone and accept that that’s the trade-off that comes with not being able to join a team full-time. Obviously working and grad school take precedence so it’s not something to feel guilty over but you just have to recognize that you’ll be sacrificing those regular interactions that help you get to know the rowers better.

Most of the masters crews I’ve coxed have had some sort of regular meet-up, usually a weekly thing at various bars around town, where they’d get together on a weekday after work to grab beers and hang out for a bit. Not everyone could make it every single time but at any given point I think at least 3/4 of the boat was there. The boat I coxed right after I moved to Boston would also go to breakfast at a diner near the boathouse nearly every morning before we all went off to work. Going out with whatever boat I was coxing when I could was a great way to get to know them and it really translated to how comfortable I was when we were on the water, even if I was only going out with them when they needed someone to fill in for their regular coxswain (which is what I ended up doing once I started coaching at MIT). If the people you’re coxing do something like this, make time to join them. You don’t have to go every time but even going just once would be great.

As far as being comfortable calling out people who are older than you, I talked about that a bit in the second post I linked to. It all comes down to confidence and remembering that in the boat, they’re just rowers and aren’t any different than the guys you coxed in college. They might be closer to your parents age than your age but the goal is still the same, which means how you cox them should be the same. They’re not gonna scold you just for saying “Bill, little late at the catch on that one…” or “Marjorie, hold the finishes here…”.

I wasn’t sure how to approach coxing masters when I first started either but it quickly became apparent that with few exceptions, they were just as willing to listen to me and take my feedback as any other group of rowers I’ve coxed. Just add this to the list of things that coxswains overthink that no one else actually cares about.