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.


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.

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).