Question of the Day

Hi! I will be doing a 2000m race with my crew tomorrow. I’m my team’s coxswain. It will be my second race, but my first 2000m race. I understand steering and such, and I know what calls to make for technique, and I know our starts, but my coach hasn’t really gone over the race itself, I guess. What I’m trying to say is that I need some guidance on how the race should go. Also, stake boats terrify me. Any help you can give me would be amazing!

Stake boats aren’t as scary as they seem. Have you practiced them at all during your practices? The best way to figure out how to do it is to practice it with your coach. Have them (or a teammate) lie stomach down on the launch (which should be sitting stationary, obvs) and act as the stake boat-holder, while you row up and try and back it in. It’s not going to be EXACTLY the same because you’ll have the current of the river moving the launch as well as the boat, but it gives you a GREAT sense of how to do it. Plus, your coach can see exactly what you’re doing and give you pointers on how to correct it.

Here’s a pretty good video that explains a lot about how to get into the stake boats.

As for everything else … it’s pretty straightforward. You row up to the start, get locked on, and go. It’s a straight 2k (I’m assuming) so you won’t have to worry about steering around curves or anything. You want to steer as little as possible so pick a point in the distance and keep it right off your stroke’s ear or shoulder and shoot for that down the course.

Pay attention to what they tell you about the starting call in the coxswain meeting. They’ll either do a quick start (“Attention, GO!”), a countdown start (“5, 4, 3, 2, 1, attention, GO!”), or a polling start (“Harvard, Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth, Cal, we have alignment, attention, GO!”). If it’s very windy or the weather isn’t great, they’ll most likely do a quick start, otherwise they’ll probably stick with a countdown start. That’s been my experience anyways.

Last minute tips:

As soon as you get locked onto the platform and start getting your point, raise YOUR hand and have your bow raise THEIR hand. Unless the marshal’s say they aren’t recognizing hands, they cannot start the race until everyone’s hand is down. If they’re standing on a platform above where you are, it’s easier for them to look down and see the bowman’s hand than it is to see yours, so make sure they’re both in the air.

Find out what the rule is about breakage. Typically if it’s in the first 100m, they’ll call all the boats back to the platform. Breakage has to be legitimate, like a wheel came off the seat or the oar broke. Oarlocks that aren’t closed, crabs, or popping a slide don’t count as breakage.

Also find out what the rule is about flags. Typically they use a white flag to signal the start. In my experience, we were told to go on the flag drop, NOT the call “GO”. If the flag drops before you hear “go”, you can start. Find out the rule for your specific regatta though.

Take a deep breath at the starting line and shake out your shoulders. RELAX!! 2ks are the best kinds of races in my opinion. I’d choose a sprint race over a head race 10 out of 10 times. There’s probably a million other things I could suggest but I don’t want to overwhelm you too much! Have a great time and good luck!!

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