Rowing eight crew

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Every time you’re out on the water, measure your speed with Coxmate GPS. Its touch screen makes operating so simple, and with a waterproof design, you can be worry-free when getting hit with backsplash!

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Coxmate GPS NK GPS Compared

Tom Carter is a UK customer who has been testing the Coxmate GPS.  Read his full Coxmate GPS review here.

This extract covers his comparison to the NK GPS.

As a small GPS unit for rowing that can be used by coxless boats, currently the only main competition to the Coxmate GPS is the Nielsen Kellerman GPS 2.0, so I felt it was a good product to compare the Coxmate to. Externally you can see both units are pretty similar sizes, but due to the vertical layout of the Coxmate compared to the horizontal layout of the NK means the units on the NK screen are somewhat larger. In use however this didn’t seem to affect the general usability of the unit, as I found both the 2+2 unit display and the 5+2 unit display to be quite easy to view when in the boat.  

Comparing the screens, the Coxmate GPS is colour, has a considerably brighter screen which is also a restive touchscreen, so will work with gloves on, but feels like it is plastic so has the potential to get scratched more than the glass screen on the NK would. When using the units at the same time I found that generally the Coxmate was better than the NK at night when the added brightness meant that the screen was very bright and clear, but during the day I found that the NK to be slightly easier to read as the extra contrast and seemingly less reflective screen meant that it was clearer than the Coxmate GPS. Both are significant improvements on using a mobile screen in the sun however.

When picking up ratings, both seem equally good at picking up ratings from the accelerometer so no difference there.

With the GPS speed, I don’t have the specifics of the chips each has used but from testing both side by side I suspect the NK has a slightly faster GPS chip as it seemed to pick up changes in speed quicker than the Coxmate, that being said the Coxmate was by no means slow and over pieces they would both match up on average speed so I had no issue with the speeds reported.

Battery life I find I can get around 5-6 hours out of the NK, whereas it’s probably closer to 4-5 with the Coxmate meaning both have plenty of juice to get through a couple of outings before needing a recharge, and the use of a mini USB cable means it’s easy and cheap to have several charging cables around to boost up the power on the Coxmate GPS whenever needed

Price wise the Coxmate has DEFINITELY got NK beat – the NK GPS is currently priced at £359 plus delivery whereas the Coxmate GPS can be picked up for as little as £150 plus delivery, less than half the price.  [Australian prices NK GPS $579; Coxmate GPS $285]

General thoughts from using the Coxmate GPS

  1. Very minor comment – it’s a shame the power/pc adapter isn’t a micro USB as they are significantly more available than the mini ones, especially if you have an android phone!
  2. As I row on a river, the lack of an impeller is a bit of a shame, obviously I can’t criticise the GPS for this as its not been designed to have an impeller measurement, but for my use this is a little set back. It would be great if there were plans to bring out an impeller “sensor”, something you could attach to the boat and it would broadcast to the GPS, maybe something that could come out as an accessory? A big advantage of a wireless sensor like this would be that you could easily apply it anywhere in the boat without having to worry about routing wiring
  3. I find the choice of language/modes when wanting to start rowing a little confusing, when you press the screen it cycles from “ready” to “set” to “go”, I often get confused when cycling through as I get to “ready” and start rowing, when actually I need to press to get to “set” for it to automatically start timing when I get rowing, this may be more down to being used to NK devices as a whole and is something I found I was getting used to in time
  4. ANT+ support is fantastic and works really well, but it would be good if there was also Bluetooth support for syncing with a smartphone. I appreciate that there is PC software (which I haven’t had a chance to try yet), and that a PC is the best way to review outings in detail, but one of the nice things with  the smartphone rowing apps is that a lot allow you to extract the outings .TCX or .GPX activity, then upload that file to one of the online fitness tracking sites like trainingpeaks, strava etc, without needing a PC. Something that would encourage more people to log their workouts and make it easier to track their training and look for improvements
  5. there is no way of manually stopping the clock during a workout without stopping the workout and resetting the clock, you can have an auto stop but personally I prefer to manually
  6. More of a wish – since its essentially a bike computer with new software, it’s a shame it doesn’t actually have the bike/running software on there still, even something pretty simple so that people could use the device/have settings for cross training like cycling/running to again bring more uses for the GPS and make it easier to upload the workout to the site of their choice

All in all though these are very minor issues however, the reliability of the product has been 100% and most of the little foibles I’ve found are things I’d probably get used to over time.



Generally I’ve been very impressed with the Coxmate GPS, although the NK tends to be of a higher quality, I hesitate to say that quality is worth the extra £150, particularly since reliability wise I have had no issue with the Coxmate when using it with the only drawback to using the Coxmate being its lack of support for speed measurements using an impeller, so if you don’t have the need for an impeller then I’d recommend taking a serious look at the Coxmate GPS.


Peter Hodson visited the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, MA, USA earlier in October.

As well as signing a new agent (welcome RowIntel), he collaborated with a sculler, Luke Rein, who used the new route planning software from Google Maps and Coxmate GPS.  Luke sculls for Osprey Rowing Club.  

Take a look at the photo of the route - Luke planned this in advance and was able to display it on the Coxmate GPS and follow it during the race.  After the race, we downloaded the route record from Luke's Coxmate GPS and the speed data.

As he said when we sent him the data


Analysis of HOCR Route

Luke tracked a pretty amazing route - The white was his plan and the yellow the actual path.  With the exception of one place in the final sprint and another as he approached the long bend near Cambridge Rowing Club, he was pretty spot on.  For all I know, he had to steer around another crew at that point.

The speed graph also shows the speed loss Luke experienced when he did the final sprint course correction - you can clearly see his speed drops as he has to re-start for the final approach.

Luke, thanks for letting us share your data.

All Coxmate GPS owners get a year's free use of the Coxmate software - go to the GPS page on the main menu to register. 

Erg test race plan card

Should you let your coxswains help rowers out when coaches run 2k tests?  Some coaches definitely do not.  National team selection in New Zealand is one ergo in a room with a panel of selectors – each athlete comes in one at a time, gets on the machine and pulls a 2k.  No noise, no fuss and no encouragement.2k race plan for coxes

That’s a tough test even for a pro athlete and so most rowing clubs and university programmes allow encouragement when testing.

Since coaches know that good performances are what they want (remember it’s a test of the training programme and the coaching skill as well as athlete fitness and strength), many will allow a range of different encouragements.

A mass test

The first and often best way to encourage the crew is to allow them all to test at once.  Line everyone up (subject to having enough ergos), set the drag factor, the distance and then at the appointed hour shout “GO”.

You can further drive achievement in this format by letting athletes with similar target times sit next to each other.  In the same way that a regatta final has the fastest qualifiers in adjacent lanes, this enables individuals to ‘race’ each other as well as the distance. 

Individual tests with a crowd

I’ve also been tested one at a time but allowing the rest of the crew to gather around and shout encouragement.  This helps to isolate the performance of the individual but still lets the team spirit drive each other forward

Individual tests with a coxswain

If you’re racing coxed boats – the ability of the cox to drive performance can also be assessed at the same time as the crew by letting them agree a race plan with the athlete.  I quite like this because it lets the athlete individualise their needs and the cox to build one on one relationships and you can see how skilled the cox is at varying their approach for different athlete personalities.

Here’s advice from other coxswain bloggers

  • Believers in the Stern blog on Row 2k suggests you should always stand in front of the erg as ‘hovering behind’ is distracting to the athlete.
  • Ready All Row blog talks about having a notecard for each athlete who can write their preferred plan down and give it to the cox for their race.  Quite a nice way to find out what motivates each one.  The athlete chooses which cox they want to work with - gives insight into who's performing well in the eyes of the athletes.

How do you test your athletes and have you seen differences in how the crew approaches testing as a result?

After you’ve taught a new cox the basics there comes a time when you need then to start to drive their own improvement themselves.

You know the signs - they come and ask you questions after each practice outing - Why did you ask us to do that?   What can I do to beat the other cox?  How can I help get the crew going faster?

All great signs and of course you can and should answer these questions.

However, unlike rowing, it’s pretty hard to tell them to go to YouTube and watch videos of good coxing.  There just aren’t any.  A good cox makes it look easy - just like a swan gliding on the water - there is a lot going on under the surface!

But there is a quick and easy solution

Audio recordings for coxswains

Ask the cox to record themselves during the outing.  And listen afterwards to what they said.  

This is a marvellous self-tutoring tool because without the distraction of having to steer and manage the boat, they can just hear themselves and remember what was happening in the boat.  This form of visualisation can be a really helpful reinforcement for learning.

I am reminded of an anecdote that Thor Nilsen the FISA Director told me about a cox who influenced his own coaching skill 

“I remember van Anier coaching from the cox seat and he would close his eyes and look down while listening and feeling the boat and he would say “Number 2 you are too late”. And then he would crash the boat because he was not looking where he was going, he was concentrating so hard!”

Resources for coaching coxes recordings

Coxmate has collated some audio recording resources for you to share with your athletes.  Don’t neglect the rowers either - they can learn from these too!