So far finding this blog a great resource, it has helped me so much already so thank you🙂 Onto my question, as a novice cox for maybe a month, the only real thing I am really struggling with at the moment is maneuvering the boat – e.g. moving the boat from the middle of the river off to the side in order not to impede traffic, sorta like parking the boat.
Say if I was in the middle of the river and I wanted to get to the bank and be ‘parked’ in the same position as if the boat had simply moved sideways, how would I go about doing this? My past attempts doing this have involved me steering while bow just rows, then I would just get stern pair to back it. It seems really slow and inefficient when I do it.
Also if the current keeps pushing us towards the bank, to the point where there is barely enough room to take a stroke without hitting the bank what can I do to:
1) Keep the boat off the bank in the first place
2) Get out of a situation like this if it does arise again.
I usually tell bow to tap it on bow side but then the stern just gets pushed in, then I tell stroke to tap on bow and same goes, bow just goes back into the bank. If I tell all 4 to tap in on bow side, the stern will just hit the bank. BTW This would primarily be for a 4x+ as I don’t cox 8s very often, but advice for 8s would also be nice🙂 Thanks!
I’d just keep it super simple and spin the boat 90ish degrees (ports row, starboards back), take a few strokes to get out of the way, and then spin back 90ish degrees (starboards row, ports back) so you’re pointed back where you were before. You’ll be in pretty much the same position, just a few lengths to the right of where you were before. If you’re on a narrower stretch where it’s not necessary to spin a full 90 degrees or you’re just trying to move over a length instead of a few lengths I’d have the rowers spin it enough that I can take a sharp angle towards shore and then I’ll row it across. I’ve never been concerned with being in the exact same spot along shore as I was in the middle of the river (nor have my coaches) so backing it down just seems unnecessarily tedious.
As far as dealing with the current, that’s one of those things where you’ve either gotta know ahead of time that it’s strong that day thus you’ll need to stay further out from shore or you’ve gotta evaluate it when you get out and know based on the flow what adjustments you’ll have to make to your steering. If you’re sitting well off shore and it’s still sucking you in then the solution is to either a) don’t sit for very long or b) if you’re sitting because your coach is talking to the crew, make quiet calls to bow pair or stern pair or whoever your coach isn’t directly talking to and have them row you out a little. I usually try not to interrupt my coach but sometimes I’ll try to sneak in when he finishes a sentence and just say “hey, can we row it out?”, especially if we’re getting close to the point where we might get stuck or the fin could get damaged.
The simple and obvious solution to dealing with your bow or stern going back and forth into shore is also pretty straightforward – don’t put yourself in that position to begin with. If the current is strong don’t row that close to shore and if you know you’re going to be stopping definitely don’t row that close to shore. I fully get wanting/needing to get out of the way but you can do that while still giving yourself a buffer zone so as to avoid not getting stuck.
If you do find yourself in an unavoidable situation like that, you have to work quickly without freaking out and losing focus on the steps you need to take to get out of there (which is a common thing with novice coxswains). The boat is naturally gonna pivot around whichever side is taking strokes so if arms + body strokes or full pressure strokes or whatever is too much, try sculling it around by having your 2-seat take bow’s oar and bringing it nearly parallel to the hull while taking short choppy strokes.
Related: How to scull your bow around
Your stern is still gonna move towards shore but it shouldn’t be at nearly as aggressive of an angle as before, so you should have a little more room to then row it out. Again though, this can’t be something that everyone just takes their time with otherwise you will drift into shore and make things ten times harder for yourself.
Ultimately though the best solution is to not put yourself in that position to begin with. Sometimes it’s unavoidable if there’s a lot of traffic or you’ve had to stop or whatever but getting to that point where you’ve gotta execute some ninja-like maneuvers to get out is nearly always preventable if you’re paying attention to the conditions and where you’re positioning yourself on the river.
Also, don’t be afraid to say to your coach “The current’s pretty strong, is it OK to stop here rather than go all the way over so we don’t end up drifting into shore?”. If you’re gonna be sitting for a few seconds before the start of a piece it’s probably not a big deal but if you’re gonna do stationary drills or he wants to discuss something, let him know so that he knows and can be aware of that going forward since it’s not always easy to tell from the launch how the water is impacting your steering.