Question of the Day

Any tips on how to properly dock an 8+?

Trying to explain docking without any kind of visual is tough. I just think it works better when you can see what’s happening. Docking, like most basic coxing skills though, revolves around common sense. It’s also very trial and error based – you mess up a few times to figure out how to do it right. Trial by fire could also be an accurate description.

Obviously how your dock is set up will dictate how you come in but this should give you an idea of how it’s done. (Also, if it’s not obvious, read the image from the bottom to the top.)

You should never come into the dock with any more than stern pair rowing and you should never come into the dock with bow pair rowing. I don’t know WHY some coaches teach this because it seems so completely illogical to me. If you think about what part of the boat is hitting the dock first, wouldn’t it make more sense to have the rowers who are hitting the dock last be the ones rowing?

Also, don’t try and point towards the dock from the middle of the river. The current will pull you downstream and by the time you actually get to the dock, you’ll be at a 90 degree angle. Set yourself up so that even when you’re two or three lengths away, you’re only two or three feet off the dock from the end of the starboard side’s oars. If you end up taking too sharp of an angle to the point when your bow is on the dock but you (the coxswain) are five feet off it, have your stroke or seven back row, depending on who is on the river side and who is on the dock side. Obviously if your stroke is on the dock side they can’t row so have your 7-seat do it.

Last tip – make sure that you account for the speed of the current and the wind as you make your approach and tell the rowers to be quiet so they can hear what you’re saying. Docking can be tough when the elements are working against you so they need to be listening at all times in order to hear when you tell them to do something.

If you’re a novice, freaking out about docking is only going to make the actual event that much more scary. There’s probably a 99% chance that you’re not going to get it right on your first try – most of us don’t. Your coaches know this and should be on the dock to catch you and prevent any avoidable damage to the boat but if they’re not there to help you, they’re more at fault than you are because you’re still learning. However, that does not exempt you from using your common sense. Be smart about docking and it will come much quicker and easier to you.

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