The mass of disruption and upsets at 2016 Henley Royal Regatta's final day shows how much is at stake in a top rowing race. 

Nereus at a happier moment earlier in HRR 2016

Disqualifications, steering upsets and champions overturned by upstarts - all goes to show that you can't say "rowing is boring to watch". 

Steering at Henley

There are two ways to steer - one is with a coxswain.  First up, it's clear that too many crews did not have confident coxswains who could steer a straight course down Henley's famous booms.  The overhead cameras used in the HRR YouTube videos show up every tiny deviation.

If you are not regularly racing at Henley, get to know the course, the river and take advice from experts who have done it before - the How to Steer Henley book is a great resource written by experienced coxswains. 

Know the Rules

Getting a disqualification is a seriously bad result.  Getting DQ because of poor steering is galling for the cox.  But a disqualification for infringing the rules of racing is the WORST.  

It's often said that a good cox cannot win you the race but they can surely lose it for you.  Nereus know this to their cost. 

This error came from not the cox, but the coach who was watching from the following umpire's launch.

Diederik Simon: I'm in tears 

Nereus was the fastest crew of the Ladies' Challenge Plate, but got DQ'd. Not because of obstructing the other crew, but an instruction from coach Diederik Simon - the reason given was "unsportsmanlike conduct".  [thanks to NLRoei for the link and Reddit/Rowing for the translation].

Whether you agree with the Stewards' decision or not, it is clear that not knowing the rules of racing is not an acceptable excuse.

Plus, I am sure that the expert video recording is now beginning to act a bit like a "Third Umpire" in field sports - a reference for after the fact to see what really happened in slow motion.

Coxswain toss regatta Coxmate

We have shared photos regularly of coxes being thrown in after a regatta win.  We love 'em!

And belatedly we're now sharing an album of all the best ones we can find on our Facebook page.

Take a look at the Coxswain Toss Photo Album 

And send us yours.... we always want to see more! 

I'm looking for an app that I can use to set the stroke rate I want to row to.

Can you help please, Thanks 

This sounds like a metronome app. That's what musicians use to keep tempo accurately.  The only challenge is working out what 60 seconds divided by your stroke rate is.  Musicians set metronomes based on 60 beats a minute as the default for a crotchet (music-speak).  Metronomes are based on a number which ranges from 40 - 280 (read the Wikipedia entry for metronome markings and musical score interpretation).

I have done some research and found  the Rowing Metronome app (IoS only) which looks like it's the right sort of thing for you. this will give an audible beep set to the number of counts per minute (stroke rate).  

You don't say whether you are Android or IoS user - but I suggest you search in the music apps in the Play Store and iTunes.

Now, I will add that if you are in a coxed boat, the Coxmate SX amplifier has a metronome function.  We also designed an alarm so if you are a coach you can send your crew off towards the regatta start and set it to go off 15 minutes before they need to be up there..... Hopefully avoiding a late on the start penalty mishap.

And if you need a smart phone mount to take your phone safely in the boat - Rowperfect sells them.

A brief search also finds this Quora question where the questioner has set up Web Metronome to help set a 2:1 ratio for rowing. 

Animation of rowing to a metronome - cute but pretty useless.




Do send me your feedback if this answers your question.

I was interested to hear if you had any reviews of the Coxmate GPS? It looks a good product, do you know how anyone is getting on with it?

There are several reviews – from Rowperfect website Coxmate GPS Review by Tom Carter.

From the our own website Coxmate GPS a hit with athletes.

From the Rowing discussion group on Reddit

 (Tom Carter’s review is the same as the one above but has comments below from other readers).

A detailed discussion on Rec.Sport.Rowing forum on a range of rowing boat speed / distance measurement tools and apps.

Jono Clegg GBR lightweight sculler reviews the Coxmate GPS with his Leander team mates.

Plus a video about how the Coxmate GPS unit works

You know your role as coxswain in the boat is to steer. And to motivate and give directions to the crew. If you're not doing those things well, something else is on your mind. That's why we have rounded up 10 ways to be a good coxswain because, heaven knows we could use a little direction ourselves, from time to time.


1 Take direction

We can all be a little guilty of being the Chatty Cathy: loud, boisterous, and always talking. That's all good and well, coxswains, but often it's best to shush and listen. Especially when at practice. As with any other athlete in a team sport, your coach has some knowledge to impart to you, and so do your teammates. Listen to what they have to say. Take all their input and put it into consideration next time you're in the boat. It will make you a better coxswain, trust me.

2 Row

If you want to give good calls and instruction - if you want to understand how a rower thinks - you need to row. Ask your coach to evaluate your rowing. Do it often.

3 Organise

It’s your job to get the crew launched on time for the practice, your job to ensure that everyone gets on and off the water safely and is prepared.

4 Steer

Be careful with how you handle the rudder wires.  Can you be effective with minimal movements?  How can you make steering happen to minimise disruption to the crew?

5 The Coach’s Liaison

The coach is in charge - but you have the microphone!  You have to be the effective communicator between the coach and the crew.  Do you know when to just repeat instruction and when to interpret and adapt the coach’s words?  Also how often do you represent the crew’s views back to the coach?

6 Flow of Practice

This is a tip from Yasmin Farooq - you are responsible for the flow of the outing - know in advance what the workout is, keep the focus of the crew in the boat so they deliver the best possible workout.

7 Motivator

Can you get everyone in the crew on-side and working hard for the common goal?  What can you do to encourage teamwork among the individuals so the sum of the parts is greater?  Leadership plus humour are good combinations here.

8 Racing and Strategy

Racing well is all about performing under pressure. This takes practice and so even if you only do a little bit every practice, get the crew used to being under pressure as they train.  

9 Equipment 

Know what is working, what is broken and what to do to get it repaired before the next outing.  This isn’t just your coxing amplifier but any other part of the boat that gets damaged.  

10 Weight

This is the least important part of coxing - being light and on-weight on the day is the sign of a professional coxswain, but trust me, it’s the last on the list for a reason.