Sarah Ben-David is an Australian coxswain and coach. She coxed the U21 Australian Rowing Team in 2015 and 2016, winning gold in the Women's 8+ against New Zealand in 2016. Sarah is a senior coxswain at Melbourne University Boat Club and is looking to be selected in the Victorian team and U23 Australian Team later this year. Outside of coxing, Sarah is a rowing coach at Firbank Grammar School and studies at the University of Melbourne.  Sarah has been kind enough to use our new products for the last 6 months and agreed to write a review.

 

I've been using the Coxmate GPS and Audio Unit on and off for the past few months while coxing masters, club and elite crews. I found the GPS unit intuitive and enjoyable to use. I enjoyed being able to customize the display with up to five measurements without compromising the clarity of the display due to the black text on a bright background. The distance per stroke measurement is useful to quantify the effect of a technical change and evaluate the change in efficiency when changing the rate. For example, I used the Coxmate software to review data from the 2016 Melbourne Head Regatta, and observed that our distance per stroke did not change when we increased the rate, and so we decided to maintain a slightly higher rate during the Head of the Yarra the following week.

 

The Coxmate software is easy to use, though I found the data to be inconsistent at times, e.g. two seconds of variation in consecutive 100m splits. This was also apparent when using the unit itself - the numbers sometimes jump around when rowing at a consistent pace, despite playing around with the averaging settings.  This was later corrected with a software/firmware upgrade.

 

The navigation tool is interesting - I only tried it out for a couple of sessions while on camp. I didn't find it useful, because I can see where I'm going while coxing, but I can definitely see how it could be valuable to a rower. I think the tool would be more useful with a prediction setting, rather than responding to the GPS' current location. The current settings require you to be off-course before the display changes, but it would be better to know when you need to start turning.  It would be ideal for training camps on unfamiliar and open waterways.

 

I found the suction cup mount worked well in Wintech and Empacher boats, but I couldn't find a surface to attach it to in any of the other boats I tried (though maybe I just didn't try hard enough). I found the Coxmate adaptor worked well with NK mounts in other boats or I would secure it with some 3M dual lock tape in other boats. 

 

My favourite feature of the Coxmate GPS was being able to review my steering using the GPS data. The Coxmate website allows you to quickly and easily upload GPS files from the device using a USB cable, and review your steering on a map or satellite image. I've used this to review my steering in races and training sessions. This feature is by far the biggest advantage over other consumer GPS units that I've tried, and I think it would also be an invaluable selection tool for coxswains, offering some truly objective steering data to selectors. 

 

I had a more difficult time adapting to the Coxmate Audio unit. The original unit that I tried had a fault which caused the unit to shut down - which was not ideal 20 minutes into an Australian Team training session. This was promptly fixed by Coxmate, and it appears to now last at least three 2 hour sessions without any charging.  I particularly like the compact, lightweight design, and am definitely going to continue using the unit.

 

My main concern with the Coxmate Audio unit is that there is no way of knowing how much battery is remaining or what the volume is set to. I found myself sometimes pressing the volume button repeatedly, but not knowing if it was already at maximum. I'd also like to be certain that there is enough battery remaining for an entire session or race before getting on the water. I often have multiple races or sessions in one day, without any opportunity to charge the unit, so battery and volume symbols would be useful. 

 

I found the sound quality of the microphone to be far superior to the NK microphone that I normally used. The sound is much clearer, with less 'echo' and isn't affected by wind. I also tried the Coxmate microphone with an NK CoxBox, and found that the sound quality remained, but I was able to use more volume. The Coxmate product is designed to be used with four speakers, though most of the boats I use only have three (as they're set up with the NK system which only has 3 speakers), hence the extra volume requirement. The headband was comfortable, and the Velcro microphone attachment makes it easy to make the microphone sit close enough to my mouth.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed both the Coxmate GPS and Audio, and I will definitely continue using both products. 

 

Editors Notes:  Sarah offers some great suggestions and improvements to our beta products that we have already acted upon in our retail products.  The Audio unit provides a 60 minute (approx) power remaining warning in the form of a flashing LED light.   If you feel that there is any way we can improve our products please do not hesitate to contact us and tell us what we can do better.  Thanks so much to Sarah for the review and we wish her all the best for selection in 2017.  

 

If you would like to try any of our products please contact us.

 

 

 

Subscribe to our mailing list for exclusive product previews and offers.  Click here to subscribe

A popular combination for rowing and dragon boat programs is the Audio/GPS combo.  The Audio only unit is a great value, high quality unit compromising of the latest in battery technology and the best possible amplification componentry, providing outstanding clarity and volume over varying applications.  Combined with the ever popular GPS unit you have a powerful combination of reliable amplification and an endless stream of information on the performance of your crew.  Included is the Coxmate PC Analysis Software allowing you to download, analyse and assess the performance of your crew.  This software is a great resource for any athlete or coach wanting to improve.

Ultimately the benefit of having two different units is that both are optimised for a specific purpose and there are no compromises on the quality of the unit.  Sessions that do not require monitoring of workload do not necessitate having the GPS unit on board and the coach is able to decide who has information to what resource.  This provides opportunities for the rowers to have access to information while allowing the coxswain to concentrate on their steering or calls.  At Coxmate we believe offering this flexibility reflects the varying training methodologies employed by coaches and provides provision for the resources to be used in different ways to optimise training at all times.  

When you look at the value for money equation and what you are getting when compared to our competitors you are provided with an opportunity to go beyond strokes, rating and time for less money or to provides more information to coaches/athletes/crews for the same amount of money.

A common addition for rowing programs is the use of an additional GPS unit for the stroke seat in the boat.

Both can be purchased here as a combo deal.  We are happy to offer bulk quantity discounts for large rowing programs looking to purchase multiple units.  Please contact us for a quotation.

GPS Key features:

  • Touch screen (works when wet)
  • Completely waterproof
  • Speed in m/s, time/500m, kph, mph
  • Stroke rate
  • Distance
  • Distance per stroke
  • Time
  • Heart Rate (requires Heart Rate model and ANT+ chest strap, both available - contact us)
  • Recording of workouts/sessions/races for full analysis using the PC Software (12 month licence included with purchase)
  • The fully customisable display includes options for:
  1. Speed in m/s, time/500m, kph, mph
  2. Distance
  3. Rating
  4. Time
  5. Average speed
  6. Stroke Count
  7. Distance per stroke
  8. Ratio
  9. Pace distance
  10. Pace speed
  11. Heart rate (requires Heart Rate model and ANT+ chest strap - contact us)
  12. Navigation (create courses via our website maps (uses Google maps) and store them on the unit to help you navigate.  Great for rowing (going backwards!!) and works exceptionally well
  13. Download and assess the steering performance of coxswains

What comes in the box:

  • Coxmate GPS Unit with neoprene protector case
  • Mounting adapter kit including the suction mount (additional kits are available for sale on our website)
  • Quick start guide
  • Lanyard (used as a tether when on the water) - protector case connects to lanyard
  • USB Cable for connection to a computer for downloading data and charging
  • 12 month subscription to PC Analysis software available for downbload via the Coxmate website
Warranty:  There is a full 12 month replacement warranty.  If you experience any manufacturing defect with the item simply return it to us and we will send you a new unit

Audio Key Features:

Kit Includes:

  • Coxmate Audio Unit
  • Microphone with windsock for wind noise reduction
  • Charger for Lithium Battery
  • Arm Strap and belt clip (great for Dragon Boaters)
  • Silicone grease

The Coxmate Audio is a compact waterproof rechargeable audio amplifier designed for on water use. It delivers clear audio and is designed for durability. It is equipped with long lasting Li Polymer batteries and a digital amplifier for energy efficiency. 

  •   Long lasting batteries: 12.5 watt hour rechargeable Lithium polymer gives ~12 hours runtime. Recharge time ~ 4hours
  •   Digital amplifier for increased run time
  •   Automatic power down if speakers are not connected –voids accidental flattening of  batteries.
  •   Automatic retention of volume setting when turned off/on.
  •   Short circuit protection of speaker output.
  •   Compatible with any of the Coxmate or Nielsen Kellerman ® speaker/loom systems, chargers and current microphones
  •   Provision of socket  for connecting radio – enables coach to crew communication. 
  •   Integral belt clip for belt or arm/leg- strap available- mount
  •  Two way radio input for coaches

 

A review by South Africa's Backsplash Rowing Magazine and Facebook group "I F**king Love Rowing".

Gadget Review...The Coxmate……

A nifty little gadget that any rowing crew can use.

It places itself in the market amongst the speedcoaches; that is a little screen that can be placed in the boat to effectively measure speed, distance, and stroke rate to give immediate objective feedback to the rower for them to use in whichever way they like.

I tried this guy out and this is what we thought:

Coxmate is a colour and touch screen.

If you are like me and are impressed by the smaller details then you will really enjoy Coxmate. The touch screen is an easy interface to work with. Makes things easier and more direct than having to fiddle with the side buttons all the time, whilst all the time being aesthetically pleasing.

It runs completely off a GPS so there are no little bits and bobs that you need to buy or attach such as an impeller or magnets etc. This was very handy for me as I tend to lose little bits quite often!

The interface is satisfyingly customizable.

You have the ability to choose which metric you want to see and customize between readings to view at your leisure. So for someone like me who doesn’t need too many numbers, I had it mainly showing rate and split per 500 on a two view option. You can include Heart rate, distance too depending on how many metrics you want to view simultaneously.

Finally the attachment device is very simple and easy to use. It works on a very effective suction system so you can choose to place it anywhere you want and do not have to be confined to attaching to a T bolt or on the footplate.

User Review Coxmate GPS

I found the device to be fairly responsive when rowing but there is, at times, a slight delay in the reading due to the GPS signal. The dam where I tried it out is not known to have great signal in any case I would more than likely put it down to that as opposed to it having a constant delay. The overall training session with it I had was great and was good enough to know your average speed and stroke rate which is what I wanted.

A great feature too is that you can row or race against a virtual boat.

Whilst growing up and learning to row on the Concept 2 I found this a fantastic tool so to see it translated into an actual rowing boat really has some great value for training and preparation!

The device comes with PC software to ensure your data is not lost after the session. This includes a USB connection for data transfer, performance analysis software as well as route monitoring software.

It really is a fantastic tool and would recommend it to anyone out there looking for a good product for objective rowing data!

Check out the video below to get a really good idea!

Improved distance per stroke can win more races (Image from World Rowing Official Flickr)

Distance per stroke is a great way to get your rowers to think about the way they move the boat.  Just as swimmers spend time in the pool trying to cover a lap in the least number of strokes possible rowers should also learn to understand the importance of the effectiveness of each stroke.  It promotes an effective drive phase and an efficient recovery phase.

Application

Rowing technology allows rowers and coaches to easily monitor things such as stroke rate and boat speed with the use of GPS technology.  The Coxmate GPS and SX units both have the ability to monitor rate and boat speed and will give the rower/coxswain their distance per stroke in real time.

The Firbank Grammar School (Melbourne, Australia) rowing program uses distance per stroke as a training tool for rate capped pieces and interval training.  The chart below is calculated off the average winning time over the last 20 years for a particular division at the annual Head of the Schoolgirls Regatta (held in Geelong, Australia with well over 2000 competitors).  The average winning time is taken and then broken down into different intensities, ratings and boat speed.  From this distance per stroke can be calculated to allow the coxswain to work with the crew to achieve maximum effectiveness from each stroke.  Every crew in the Firbank Grammar School rowing program has a Coxmate SX unit with 10hz GPS in the boat with them every session.

Distance per stroke

Application for Novice Rowing

Any coach will tell you that teaching people learning to row to take time on the recovery is tough.  Giving the rowers feedback such as distance per stroke allows people learning to row to conceptualise the notion of time on the recovery in a more intuitive manner.

Application for Elite Rowing

As many coaches will note the trend in elite rowing over the past decade has been toward a higher stroke rate.  The New Zealand men’s pair (undefeated since 2009 – 68 races after the Rio Semi Finals) are a good example of this.  Using a tool such as the Coxmate SX or GPS unit allows crews to understand their effectiveness at given rates and optimise their stroke rate/rhythm for the best compromise between rating and boat speed.  The Coxmate PC Analysis software (image below) provides the ability to compare and establish what is the optimal rhythm for a crew.

Coxmate PC Analysis Software

Taking the next step

Technology is allowing coaches to understand rowing in new ways.  The rowing world has moved on from just looking at rating, time or the number of strokes.  For several years now Coxmate has provided the technology to coaches all around the world to make educated decisions about the direction they take their crew as they prepare for major regattas.  It is not difficult and it does not need to cost any more to have access to the best possible technology.

Check our latest solutions for all your rowing needs.