Coxswain Recordings, pt. 1

I’m always looking for coxswain recordings to listen to and it’s taken a fair amount of digging to find the ones I have but I’ve slowly built up a nice arsenal of videos, some of which I’ll be sharing on here. Not all of them are what I consider “good” recordings, but each one has something you can take away from it.
2011 Sprints – Dartmouth University – Lightweight 8+ Grand Final
Great race footage from the Grand Final dubbed over with the Dartmouth coxswain’s audio. His intensity is great and like all good coxswains, it’s not about WHAT he says but HOW he says it. His calls are sharp and concise and the tonal changes in his voice really emphasize what he wants his crew to do. He tells them exactly where they are on the other big players in the race, as well as how far into the race they are time-wise. The sprints by all the crews were incredible but Dartmouth NAILED it.

RCHS Men’s Lightweight Varsity 4+ Final
This girl is nuts. I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad. Take a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

Bucknell Men’s Novice 8+ Grand Final at the ECAC New England Championships
This race was incredible to watch. I like how the coxswain kept his voice fairly calm and constantly told them where they were. He spoke not to the whole boat but to bow 4, middle 4, etc. and told them to do things for him. That’s a great way to pull your rowers back in during races. If they constantly hear you talking to “the boat” they might write that off as “oh, it’s not me”, but if you specify “middle 4, give me a seat”, that’s a great way to pull their focus back into the boat. He intersperses a lot of technical things amongst the calls stating where they’re at, which is good. He’s also always saying what the OTHER crews are doing – when they’re making a move and what they’re going to do to counter it. “Our race to win” is one of my favorite calls. The other GREAT thing that this coxswain did is when he said 15 left, there were EXACTLY 15 left. Nothing sucks more than having your coxswain say “10 left!” and there’s actually 13 left.

St. Ignatius (USA) vs. Shrewsbury (GBR) at the 2006 Henley Royal Regatta
“Let them burn their wheels” – great call to make after making a shift on the rate. “Show them the thunder” – I like this one too. Get calls that ONLY your boat knows so that you can go out, implement them, and make moves on other crews without them knowing it. Another good thing this coxswain does is tell them when they lost a seat and WHY. The shock in his voice when he says “they’re challenging US?!” is great because that kind of tonal change in his voice gets the rowers thinking about it and ready to make a move to STOP the challenge. He doesn’t lie at ANY point during this race – when they start moving, he lets his crew know that they are walking on them and it is NOT acceptable. Once he tells them to push the rate up they start making their move and he tells them every time they take a seat, but he always asks for more on every stroke. “7 seats, gimme 8!”

Bucknell Freshmen 8+ vs. Holy Cross
This coxswain. I just love him. If anyone knows who he is, feel free to tell him I’m a HUGE fan. Yes, he’s the same guy from the last Bucknell recording. *swoon* “My hand is up. I have my point. My hand is down.” Just listen.

Concord Crew Head of the Fish
I’m iffy on whether or not I like this recording. I like the intensity in his voice but I don’t know if really ever says anything useful other than telling them to claim seats at the beginning. I’m not so much a fan of coxswains saying “fix the set” because, although rowers should know what to do to fix the set, I’ve found that I get better results when I tell each side specifically what to do. “Ports raise ‘em up, starboards bring ‘em down” usually gets each side to think about their hands individually and a more noticeable adjustment is made.

Upper Thames Rowing Club at the Head of the River
I like the “lock, release” call. From the bow camera view, releases looked really clean and strong. I’m a big fan of incorporating tens for things OTHER than power, like he did with the 10 for cleaning up the finishes. When he says “walk away NOW” you could see the intensity go up just a little bit. Tonal changes make a HUGE difference. “Speed the hands up, don’t panic on it, relax” is a great call because when you tell the rowers to speed something up or do something quicker, there’s always that tendency or possibility that they will lose some slide or body control, so throwing in “don’t panic, relax” is a great way to remind them to keep the bodies controlled.

Upper Valley Rowing at Head of the Charles in 2008
I watched this video more to see what lines the coxswain took vs. what was said. There are three parts to this video but you can easily find the other two on the right hand side. I saw a lot of things with the individual rowing that I would have pointed out (bow being late, 4 rolling up early, others rowing at their own pace, etc.). I think with head races the first half should have a more technical focus and then the second half should start to transition to a bit more motivational with only the necessary technical calls. Like I said, I really only watched this one to see the line the coxswain took but the audio itself is decent.

The best recording you’ll ever hear – Pete Cipollone’s Champ 8+ at the 1997 HOCR
The actual race begins at the 13:00 minute mark. I could write a book analyzing every part of this audio and why it is FLAWLESS but I’ll just let you listen to it and draw your own conclusions.

I hope this post is helpful for all you fellow coxswains out there!! My suggestions for listening to these is to have a pen and piece of paper with you so you can write down good calls you hear, try and figure out why the coxswain made those calls, and then find a way to implement them with your own crew. Don’t take any call and use it if you don’t know why the previous coxswain said it. Part of making good calls is knowing WHY those calls are good. How to they help your crew? Are they motivational or technical? What part of the stroke does the call apply to? If you can answer all those questions, then take that call and try it out with your crew. Not every call is going to work with every crew so it’s up to you to discuss after practice with your coach and rowers whether or not they responded to that call or not. Don’t be offended if they say it didn’t do anything for them. Ask them why and then tweak it a little. Fine tune it and eventually you’ll find the combination of words that really gets in your rowers heads. Good luck!!


36 thoughts on “Coxswain Recordings, pt. 1

  1. Luke says:

    Hi, I was trying to listen to Pete Cipollone’s 1997 HOCR recording but when I get to the website there is no audio link, there is just the transcript. Do you know if the link is broken. Thanks!

    • beantownkmd says:

      Hi Luke! Both the link on that post and the one on the “recordings” page (they’re the same) show the audio for me. You should see a bullet point that reads “AUDIO: Pete Cipollone coxes the 1997 Head of the Charles” with a white box below it that will stream the recording. If you don’t see that try turning off any ad-blocking extensions you have turned on. I have Ad-Block turned on and it still works for me but if you use something different then that may be the issue. If that still doesn’t work, send me an email and I’ll hook you up with the mp3 version.


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