Since our last post comparing the Coxmate GPS to the NK GPS there are now a few more similar products out there on the market. I thought now was a good time to draw up a comparison chart for you to see just what makes them all different.  

CoxBox is the Nielsen Kellerman workhorse which everyone knows.

Coxmate SX is our own GPS enabled coxswain amplifier.

So how do they stack up? 

Pricing first - these are based on published web data in July 2016.  


Overall the CoxBox is looking tired and lacking modern functionality like speed measurement a PC interface for downloading outing data and basics like a backlit display.    

The Coxmate SX is the winner on price compared with functionality.

Coxmate SX and CoxBox feature comparison 


Battery Life

Always a consideration when buying rowing electronics the three products go from 3 hours for a CoxBox to 8 hours for Coxmate SX. 

Speed Measurement

NK doesn't offer speed in an amplifier at this time.  And Coxmate SX has GPS and / or impeller options available.  Although the impeller option does require you to buy extra wiring, obviously.


Having a backlit display seems to be the standard nowadays and NK don't offer this feature.  Choosing what data to display is also important - Coxmate SX has a choice of parameters which include speed choices in m/s, 500m split, kms, miles or meters as well as distance moved per stroke and stroke count.  


The Coxmate can use either the NK "flowerpot" mount or its own supplied articulated mount.



Note: CoxBox is a registered trademark of Nielsen-Kellerman. 


Men have raced eights in the Olympics since 1900 in Paris. Coxmate has researched back into history to find all the coxswains who have won Gold Medals since that time.  

  • Gilchrist MacLagan winner in 1908 was killed in the first World War. He is the only man to have won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta 6 times.
  • Mike Spraklen is possibly the most successful mens 8 coach having 2 Olympic golds, and a silver for Canada '92, '08 and '12.  USA hired him in '96 and got 5th.  He is currently coaching Russia's mens 8. 
  • The Eights are considered to be the Olympic Blue Riband event.
  • Germany raced as a "United Germany" in 1960.
  • USA is the country who has won the most Olympic titles in 8s clocking up 12 wins to Germany's 6.  Britain and Canada have both won 3 times. (I counted Germany racing as East, West and combined countries.)
  • The 1936 USA crew is remembered in the book and film "The Boys In The Boat".
  • Robert Zimonyi also raced for Hungary.
  • Simon Dickie is one of only ten New Zealanders who have won two or more Olympic medals.  He has three ('68 Gold in 4+, '72 Gold in 8+, '76 Bronze in 8+)


The full list of Winning male coxswains at Olympic Regattas

1900 Paris - USA Louis Abel 

1904 St Louis - USA Louis Abel 

1908 London - GBR Gilchrist Maclagan

1912 Stockholm - GBR Henry Wells 

1920 Antwerp - USA Sherman Clark 

1924 Paris - USA Laurence Stoddard

1928 Amsterdam - USA Donald Blessing 

1932 Los Angeles - USA Norris Graham 

1936 Berlin - USA Robert Moch

1948 London - USA Ralph Purchase 

1952 Helsinki - USA Charles Manring 

1956 Melbourne - USA William Becklean 

1960 Rome - EUA (United Germany) Willi Padge 

1964 Tokyo - USA Robert Zimonyi 

1968 Mexico City - FRG (West Germany) Gunther Tiersch 

1972 Munich - NZL Simon Dickie 

1976 Montreal - GDR Karl-Heinz Danielowski 

1980 Moscow - GDR Klaus-Dieter Ludwig 

1984 Los Angeles - CAN Brian McMahon 

1988 Seoul - GDR Manfred Klein 

1992 Barcelona - CAN Terry Paul 

1996 Atlanta - NED Jeroen Duyster 

2000 Sydney - GBR Rowley Douglas 

2004 Athens - USA Peter Cipollone 

2008 Beijing - CAN Brian Price 

2012 London - GDR Martin Sauer 

Women first raced eights in the Olympics in 1976 at Montreal.  Coxmate has researched back into history to find all the coxswains who have won Gold Medals since that time.  These women deserve celebrating. 

  • There are only six women who have won all the medals as 8s Coxswains from 1976 to 2012
  • Marina Wilke's son, Rob Jährling is also a rower competing for Austrlia and won silver in 2000
  • Women raced 1,000m until 1988 when they increased the distance to 2 km to match the men's event distance
  • Romania's Elena Georgescu has won 5 olympic medals of which 3 are golds in eights
  • Lesley Thompson has competed at 7 Olympics from 1984 to 2012
  • If USA wins in Rio, they will match the Romanian record of three wins in a row 

The full list of Winning coxswains at Olympic Regattas

1976 Montreal - East Germany, Marina Wilke 

1980 Moscow - East Germany  Marina Wilke 

1984 Los Angeles - USA Betsy Beard 

1988 Seoul - East Germany Daniela Neunast 

1992 Barcelona - Canada Lesley Thompson 

1996 Atlanta - Romania Elena Georgescu 

2000 Sydney - Romania Elena Georgescu 

2004 Athens - Romania Elena Georgescu 

2008 Beijing - USA Mary Whipple 

2012 London - USA Mary Whipple


If any kind soul has the inclination - the Wikipedia entry of Olympic Rowing Medalists does not have the crews in seating order consistently (it would be a kindness to edit the article to correct this).

Coxmate GPS price compare NK Speedcoach GPS

Thank you for the opportunity to road-test the Coxmate GPS. Overall this is a good little unit for the price you pay. Initially when I opened the box I was pleased to see several ways to attach the unit to the boat, as well as the lanyard. This is great as I am a club member and do row in several different crews, I can take it with me in any boat.

The actual unit itself, I liked it because it has big buttons (great for the early mornings if you are wearing gloves.) Using the USB port made it easy to charge. The screen is clear and like your bike GPS unit, if you are wearing gloves you can still manipulate the screen. The unit has an orange rubber stripe around it that has extra grip. The downside for me is that the unit itself is smaller, therefore reading it was a bit harder particularly when you had the 5 pieces of information displayed.

I am familiar with the NK, so I read through the manual, I am glad I did as there are several different features that were interesting, particularly the ‘ratio’ feature. I wonder if this feature would assist in improving technique as you attempted to increase your percentage. I did find the initial set up a little tricky, but I am sure as you become more familiar with the unit this would be less of a problem. I like that you could easily switch from a “just row” to a workout that had been pre-programmed.

The battery life was less than the NK, this tripped me up a couple of mornings when I went to use it and the battery was flat, just have to remember to charge every couple of rows!!

In terms of the price, I know that it is very competitive. You really get what you pay for. 


The GPS is great because it does not require the hardware to capture the rowing moment. However, the lag time as it catches up is noticed when you have been used to using an impeller.

To make it even better in the future I would suggest syncing with smartphones. Just a suggestion.

I use the information from the unit to keep myself ‘honest’ in the boat. If I don’t feel like rowing one morning I have put on a program, that way I know if I stick with it I will feel much better than doing a slack “just row”.

I also use it to track leading into an event. To check the speed is increasing as technique is refined by coaches.


Overall for the recreational rower or someone starting out, I believe this is a good place to start tracking your rowing 

Zoe de Toeldo Coxswain

Tough subject but necessary.  How to pick the right coxswain for your crew.

There are two parts to this

  1. training and improving the skills of your coxes
  2. selecting a crew including the cox

All coaches should be doing 1 through the year.  Every cox needs coaching and developing to improve their skills.  

The best way to do this is to ask your coxswain at the end of each practice to tell you one thing they did well, one thing they think they could do better and use that as the basis for discussion about how to improve.  In this way you don't have to set the discussion theme - the cox tells you what they need!  [Anything to make the coach's life easy eh?]

How to choose a coxswain

Selecting a coxswain is more subjective.  If you are fortunate to have several candidates - you should read our article What's the Most Important Skill in a Coxswain?

This may help you form a short list of attributes.  You may choose to give them scores (points out of 10) for each one.

My preferred way is to form my own view but then to ask the crew in a secret ballot to write the name of their preferred coxswain and vote.  You don't need to reveal the results, just check that their view aligns with your own.  The secret nature of the ballot is important. 

A crew will work hard for a coxswain they respect and usually they respect the coxswain who will get them the race results they desire.  

This isn't a perfect system as "voting for your friends" can give a biassed result, but I have confidence if you ask them to vote for the cox who will help you deliver the best possible race - you'll get an honest vote.

Resources: Other articles which may be useful

  1.  a Reddit thread on How Coxswains are Chosen 
  2. Rowing Magazine short article about How to Select a Cox (not the greatest detail....!)
  3. Rowperfecrt's Duncan Holland on Does Size Matter? - How I choose a cox