Racing skills: 10 regatta tips for coxswains

Take responsibility for your cox box. 

These things are expensive  – don’t let them out of your sight. Make sure they are clearly and visibly labelled with your name and/or your team name. Bring the charger home with you and fully charge it the night before your race. Also double check that you’ve got a working mic before you leave the boathouse.

Bring weight if you need it. 

Some regattas require coxswains to provide their own weight if they’re below the minimum. Check with your coach and see if the regattas you’re going to require this.

Have your recorder, notebook, and a pen.

Make sure the batteries are charged and bring extras just in case. Have your notebook and a pen or two on hand so that you can throw together a quick recap of your race after you get off the water.

Wear the right clothes.

The “right” clothes all depend on the conditions, but make sure that you are at least wearing clothes that display your school or team logo/colors. Don’t wear something that would make it impossible to identify you as a member of your team. Check the weather the night before and pack appropriately. Unless the weather is cloudless, no wind, and 85 degrees, you’ll probably get a little chilly on the water. Rainboots or Bean boots are another good thing to have on hand, particularly if it’s cold, raining, or has rained recently, that way you can keep your feet dry while slopping through a muddy race site.

Related: What to wear

Have several wrenches.

One is necessary, multiple is preferred. Inevitably someone in your boat is going to say “I don’t have a wrench”, which only slows down the rigging process. Have extras on hand so you can share them with the rowers. Make sure they’re marked with your name though otherwise you might not get them back.

Review the course map before you race.

The week of, or at the very least the day before, find a map of the race site and go over it. Look at the race course and see what identifiable landmarks you can point out, as well as where the meter marks are. Use this to help you form your race plan. Find out where your trailer is going to be in relation to where the docks are so you can determine the best way to get down there. Also locate where the coaches and coxswains meeting will be held.

Drink plenty of water and have a few cough drops on hand, just in case.

I’m not a huge fan of cough drops but if it’s really cold or the air is dry then inevitably my throat will get kinda sore. I always try to make sure I drink a lot on race day but if I don’t have any water a cough drop is a good alternative (just not while you’re coxing – you’ll choke).

Related: How to protect your voice

Know when and where the coaches + coxswains meeting will be held.

These aren’t optional. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been to the same regatta three years in a row and you know everything they say at the meeting forwards and backwards, you should still go. This year could be the year they’ve made a change with the traffic pattern and unless you’re there, you’re not going to know about it. There’s nothing more important that you need to be doing at the ungodly hours that coxswain meetings are held so you might as well go.

Show the novice coxswains around.

Once you’ve been to the coxswains meeting, the boats are rigged, etc. take the novice coxswains on a quick tour and show them where all the important stuff is. Answer their questions, point out stuff about the race course, etc.

Keep track of your rowers.

When you get on the bus, make them countdown from bow to stern. Tell them well ahead of time what time you’re meeting before your race, at the bus, for team meetings, etc. Have everyone’s phone numbers on hand so you can get a hold of them if someone is missing. If they want to go off during the down time, at least try to get an idea of where they’re going so you know where to look if you need to go find someone.


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