Commands - talking to your crewOne of the most important roles as a cox is communication. It is essential when giving commands to your crew that they firstly know what you expect them to do and secondly when you want them to start. These are most of the commands used by crews in Cambridge and by KCBC coxes:
- 'EASY OARS'; To be said over a stroke, starting at the catch (when the blades go into the water) and finished by the finish (when the blades come out of the water). After that stroke the rowers stop rowing, with the blades off the water.
- 'DROP';To be said after 'easy oars' to tell the crew to rest their blades on the water and relax.
- 'SIT THE BOAT';The crew should balance the boat when they are not rowing by keeping their blade firmly against the water. You shouldn't really have to tell them this, but they will forget.
- 'STROKE/BOW SIDE, PULL IN YOUR BLADES'; This gives an overtaking boat more room to overtake. Not to be attempted when moving fast.
- 'WATCH YOUR BLADES STROKE/BOW SIDE'; To be used if you're not sure you're going to hit anything, but don't want to risk it. They crew can choose to obey this command or not - so it is better to make the decision for them by playing safe and pulling their blades in.
- 'HOLD IT UP'; The crew puts their blades into the water to stop the boat. Helpful if said after an 'easy oars' command. If it is really urgent, adding 'HARD' at the end: screaming generally helps as well.
- 'TAKE THE RUN OFF'; The crew gently stops the boat, not as quickly as after a 'hold it up' command. A more sedate and safer way of stopping or slowing the boat.
- 'TOUCH IT/TAP IT'; A light arms only stroke
- 'TAKE A STROKE'; A full stroke - or a number of stroke.
- 'BACK IT DOWN; A backwards stroke
Spinning the boat:
First stop where it is safe to spin (turn the boat around), and wait for it to become clear. Then tell the crew the following: (for an anti-clockwise spin, which is the normal way on the Cam)
'SPINNING THE BOAT, STROKE SIDE BACKING IT DOWN, BOW SIDE ROWING ON, STARTING WITH STROKE/BOW SIDE, GO' Different lengths of stroke:
- 'BACKSTOPS PADDLING, NO BODY LEAN'; Just using your arms.
- 'WITH BODY LEAN'; Using arms and back
- 'QUARTER SLIDE'; Just bending the legs slightly as well
- 'HALF SLIDE'; Half the maximum slide length
- '3 QUARTER SLIDE'; Most of the maximum slide length
- 'FULL SLIDE'; All the slide length
- 'DOS PRESSURE'; No work at all, really low rating (stroke per minute)
- 'NORMAL/LIGHT PRESSURE'; Not much work, but definition through the stroke
- 'QUARTER PRESSURE'; A definite acceleration through the stroke
- 'HALF PRESSURE'; Quite a hard stroke - half of maximum power
- '3 QUARTER PRESSURE'; Almost maximum power, but something extra left
- 'FULL/FIRM PRESSURE'; Maximum power
'NEXT STROKE, HALF SLIDE' (To be said over one stroke)
'GO' (To be said at the finish of the next stroke)
Or for example:
'NEXT STROKE FIRM PRESSURE FOR 10 STROKES'
'GO' (Said on the finish of the stroke)
When your crew is switched on and concentrating you can usually get rid of the 'next stroke' bit, which makes commands quicker. There's nothing more frustrating as a coach that telling the cox to do something, and the cox taking about 10 strokes to do so.
As an added complication, everything can be done either square blades or feathered blades. This refers to the angle of the blades when they are out of the water. Square means the same as when they are in the water - ie perpendicular to the water. Feathered means that when you take the blade out of the water you feather it - turn it parallel to the water. Then when approaching the catch you square the blade - turn it back perpendicular to the water. Most rowing is done with feathered blades, and square blades is used as an exercise. When changing between the two methods, use the same method given above, but say the 'GO' on the catch of the stroke, rather than the finish.
When starting the crew from rest you need to tell them the following:
- Who is rowing. All eight, bow four, etc. Tell them to go to backstops (the finish position)
- What pressure/slide length
- 'ARE YOU READY?'
'ALL EIGHT, FROM BACKSTOPS, NORMAL LIGHT, ARE YOU READY?, GO!'
'STERN FOUR SIT THE BOAT, BOW FOUR FROM BACKSTOPS, BACKSTOP PADDLING NO BODY LEAN, ARE YOU READY?, GO!'