Hey! So during races, do you think it’s acceptable to yell to your own crew that “the other coxswain is swerving and looking nervous” or something like that? Is that abusive to the other lanes? And also to say for instance “lane 1 is gone, they are dying”. Are those decent calls? Thank you!
I’m definitely the kind of coxswain that gets way too much pleasure out of messing with other coxswains and crews (ahem…) but I do think you’ve gotta draw the line somewhere. I think there’s a difference between saying “5-seat’s not getting her blade in” and “their coxswain can’t steer” because saying something about their coxswain steering just seems like a cheap shot to me. Whether or not it is, I donno, but it’s probably just because I’m a coxswain that I think it’s not OK to say something like that. I wouldn’t say it’s abusive but in terms of good sportsmanship I think it’s questionable. Plus, you’re the only one that’s going to care about whether or not she’s steering straight. If you say that during a race the rowers are probably just going to think “HA sucks for them” (if they think anything at all) but not really do anything different with their own rowing, whereas if you say “5-seat’s not getting her blade in” you can follow that up with “let’s take 5 for sharp catches to show ’em how it’s done”. When I’ve noticed other coxswains swerving a bit I just keep it to myself but commit extra hard to steering as pin-straight as possible for the next 10-15 strokes. Depending on how much the other coxswain’s steering is off it can be an easy way to grab a seat on them.
I do think it’s OK to say something about someone in another crew looking nervous because if you can see them looking out of the boat at you or you can hear the coxswain saying something about you guys coming up on them, trying to make a move to hold you off, etc. you’ve already started to break them. From there it’s up to you to capitalize on that. If you listen to this recording (the third one from this post) around the 1:30 mark you’ll hear the coxswain say they’re going to go off the other crew’s move. That can be huge for your crew if you call for them to take a move like that. Knowing that the other crew is already nervous that you’re breathing down their necks is just a nice psychological boost on top of all that for your rowers. Same goes for saying stuff about other crews fading.
All in all, I think whether or not they’re decent calls comes down to how you say them. If you’re saying “her steering sucks, their bow seat can’t row for shit, etc.”, that’s not OK. That’s just poor sportsmanship. Instead, phrase them in a way where you’re not sparing their feelings (because let’s be honest, where’s the fun in that) but you’re still getting the message across that you’ve found their weakness and now you’re going to exploit it.