Scullers mirror Coxmate

A customer in the USA sent us this unsolicited testimonial

The mirror is superb. An ex-US National team rower gave me one.  

After years of rowing with small square mirrors that I have always hated.

His son had brought six back from Australia!

Mirrors designed for rowing

Buy yours from our shop - or get a pack of 3 for your friends.


  • Large Mirror (48mm diameter)
  • Clips onto baseball cap
  • Scratch proof – glass mirror
  • Robust – mirror protected with plastic surround
  • Easy to adjust


Today Coxmate brings you two web pages which are worth bookmarking.  Every season we all end up tutoring coxswains on the basic skill of steering a rowing boat.  Shortcut that repetitive task byt giving the newcomers some pre-reading and video watching which will help them better understand what you need done when they are in the boat.

The First is by RowINTEL – a video about steering an 8. 

This explains the ‘illusion’ of the boat steering left when it actually just pushes the stern sideways and thus the bow starts to go in the opposite directions.  For me, that shows that the author really understands how a boat moves on the water.  Yes, it is an illusion.

It also explains how to use the rowers to affect the direction by holding water (checking the boat).   Jon explains the difference between getting bow and seven seats holding water – it depends on how much you want the boat to turn and whether you need the stern to move further or the bows – very helpful if you’re navigating around a buoy or an object in the water.

Learn from coxing experts

There are some masterful teachers as well as skilled experts who cox  and our second page link is to CoxswanNation – maintained by YazFarooq who is both a top cox and a top teacher.  The skills are rarely entwined in a single person.

Here’s her short e-book on “Keys to Steering in Every Situation”.  Kinda says it all.  The sub headings cover off

  • Holding the tiller ropes
  • Steering on the Recovery
  • Steering over several strokes
  • Full tiller with possible assistance from your team
  • Steering a bow loader


And I‘m going to reproduce the final paragraph in full because .......

Bowloader Steering Set-up

Coaches: Please set-up the steering so that when the lever is moved towards starboard, the boat actually turns to starboard (same set-up as an eight). This is safer for everybody on the water. This typically means the cable is NOT crisscrossed before connecting to the actual tiller.

Imagine if someone changed your launch steering wheel so that your boat went to the right every time you turned to the left. Last, a crossed tiller rope increases the range of the tiller, heightening the chances of ‘stalling’ the tiller if it’s cranked too far. A stalled tiller will serve as an instantaneous brake, and will pull your boat immediately sideways, and possibly perpendicular to your original point.


Hearing from a former coxswain who is now a coach about how they work with coxswains is invaluable for the coach who has never coxed.

Rob Colburn speaks at the Rowing Talks Conference in 2014.



His top tips:

  • Getting the coxswains to move the boat so you can coach effectively
  • Skills needed are to handle the boat and run the practices
  • Safety is the job 1 through 10
  • Learning to steer and race comes afterwards
  • Know your coxing job ahead of the start of the practice outing.
  • Steer with 1 hand - stops the oversteering problem.  He recommends you use two fingers of one hand
  • How much information should you share with the coxswain?  Rob shares a lot
  • Get them to put up the hand in acknowledgement so you know they understand what you've said.
  • Use cox as a demonstrator so there’s less pressure on the rowers. 
  • Drop hints the good coxswains will pick up on it and understand what you’re looking for.  “I once knew a coxswain who….”
  • Take the novice coxswains in the launch to watch the experienced ones handling the boat.  Gives you a chance to explain what you like / dislike about what they’re doing.   What do you mean by “keeping the boat together” they learn by seeing it happen.
  • Positive reinforcement works - let them know you know they made a change.  
  • Get feedback from them about what they learnt.  Raise their coxing consciousness - they’re learning skills every outing just like the rowers.
  • Teach adaptability so they can be opportunistic during a race.  


Articles by Rob Colburn include this one about steering head races




Every athlete on the team wants to get picked by the coach to get into the top crew.  It goes without saying that coxswains are the same.

But many coaches don't know how to pick a coxswain.  If you have the luxury of a choice, how does the coach select the best cox. 

Select coxes on skill, not size

There are lots of reasons why having a light person steering the crew is an advantage.  But it is not the most important skill you need. 

Regardless of the experience of your crew, a coach needs a coxswain who can do 3 things

  1. steer the boat to best advantage
  2. motivate the crew to deliver top performances
  3. be the 'coach-in-the-boat'

Weight, comes after these skills.

As Mary Whipple says Spatial Awareness is key to good coxing

Having the ability to maneuver your boat well will separate you from other coxswains regardless if you are a novice or not. Knowing where you physically are on your body of water verses where you need to be, then choosing the safest and most efficient way to get there is a great goal to master during your first year of coxing.

I know many coxswains who are great motivators but don’t get boated because they can’t maneuver their boat well enough. Coaches value this skill over being a motivator because it is that important.

How to pick your best coxswain

I'm not going to tell you what tests to set, but the Diary of a Rowing Coach sets out these key areas for coxing skill - use them.

  1. Come to the practice training session prepared
  2. Steering
  3. Coxing on land - winter training
  4. Coxing on land - hands on = mouths shut & looking after the equipment
  5. Commands in the boat
  6. Coxing during a race
  7. Etiquette and being a good team mate


Go gettem - find your self the best cox you can and then, of course, equip them with a Coxmate SX with GPS so the crew hears everything!


Following the wonderful live video coverage of the Henley Royal Regatta this year, it was clear from the overhead “drone” camera shots how atrocious the coxing steering was. 

Can nobody steer in a straight line?

Former coxswain Rachel Quarrell of Oxford University was asked by Adrian Ellison whether a buoyed course would improve matters.

What are your thoughts about the standards of steering (both coxed and coxless) throughout HRR?

I'm afraid that the drone mercilessly exposed every tiniest mistake (or deliberate change in course) and certain steersmen and coxes should be rather red-faced.

I have suggested to the HRR management that they might consider installing a central buoy-line, suitably fixed (perhaps to the existing pilings) and enforce a "Two strikes & you're out" ruling to stop persistent encroaching into one's opponents' water.

Am I just turning into an Old Fogey?

This stimulated a torrent of views exchanged on Facebook.

Here’s a summary of the arguments

In Favour of buoys at Henley

  • It would be easier to steer
  • History has never stopped other changes at Henley (women, carbon oars, new events)

Against buoys at Henley

  • No need because there are rules of racing which deal with encroachment into the other “imaginary lane”.
  • It would be harder to overtake slow crews during the pre-regatta practice days because now you can get 3 crews abreast in the racing course which would be obstructed by buoys and risk clipping them with your oars.
  • It was always like this – the video makes it more visible – don’t change.
  • Where would the umpires launch steer?  Would they catch a buoy on the propeller? (Albano buoyed courses have submerged longitudinal and lateral wires to keep the buoys in place).
  • There’s only one Henley and this is part of the challenge and the history of the event.
  • Steering and wash and wake is all part of why it’s so hard to win at Henley.
  • Whenever people watch the Formula 1 they wait for a crash… it’s the fun bit.


A humorous suggestion of “GPS remote-controlled steering” was made…. But the Coxmate GPS will overcome that  as there is a Plot your course option which you can upload into the unit and it will tell you if you’re off line.

What do you think? Yes or No to buoys to aide steering at Henley Royal Regatta.