Question of the Day

When a boat is down on one side, what can a coxswain do or say to get the boat set?

There’s no “magic call” that will automatically fix it. It’s both as simple and difficult as identifying the problem and telling them what you want them to do. You can’t just say “set the boat” and assume that everyone automatically knows what to do to fix it. You’ve either got to narrow the problem down to one pair or talk directly to the ports and starboards.

Related: I just found this blog and THANK GOD. Today was my second day ever coxing for novice women’s 8 and it was terrifying making calls myself. My stern seat was yelling at me telling me what to say because I didn’t know what to do. With all 8 rowing we almost kept falling over and all I could say was “one catch, everybody watch the person in front of you.” How else would you recommend steadying the boat when we’re tipping?

Instead of saying “set the boat”, know automatically which side needs to lift the hands and which ones need to lower them. Based on where your stroke’s handle is or how far down to the side the boat is tipping, you should be able to give a good approximation as to how much adjustment needs to be made one way or the other with the hands (1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, etc.). Don’t assume the set is purely because of handle heights though, especially if you’re working with an experienced crew who has their handle heights, for the most part, under control.

When you want an adjustment to be made, talk directly to the person/people you want to make that adjustment. General boat statements tend to go about as far as your stern pair, maybe, as far as who hears them. The rowers who actually pay attention to them are even fewer. It’s like when there’s an accident and someone yells “call 911” into a crowd of people. For a minute, no one is going to do anything because they’ll assume that someone else will do it or is doing it. That’s the reason why they tell you to point to someone directly and tell them to do it. It’s the same in the boat – you have to give direct instructions so no one assumes that they’re not the problem or someone else is going to make the adjustment. Don’t tell just one side to lift/lower their hands either; both sides are at fault, thus both sides need to fix it.

Related: So, what did you see? 

Another thing to be aware of is what you are doing. Make sure you’re sitting still and not causing a lot of unnecessary wobbling in the stern. If you’re leaning out to one side or doing something else to offset the boat and then tell the rowers to fix the set, they won’t know if the boat set up because you moved or because of an adjustment with the hands.

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