Coxing at Magdalen

 

So you're small, maybe not especially sporty; but you really like bossing people around? Let's be honest, who doesn't? The often overlooked but vitally important coxswain role - known almost universally as the cox - could be just up your street (or stretch of river)!

 

What does the cox do?

 

If the rowing boat were a body, the cox would be the brain. They are the only one of a crew facing forward, and the only one not physically rowing, so have a unique viewpoint on the race from their cockpit. As part of a crew, the cox has three responsibilities: Safety, steering, coaching and motivation - in that order.

 

Safety:

  • This is without a doubt the cox's most important role.
  • Since they are in the best position to be able to see other crews and obstacles around the boat, the cox has to keep an eye out for these things, and stop the boat if necessary. It's your responsibility as cox to make judgement calls about what lines to take and how best to avoid incidents.
  • Safety extends to the equipment as well. Rowing boats are notoriously long things, and so the cox has the job of coordinating the rowers while they carry them around, and ensuring that the proper safety measures are in place on the boat.

 

Steering:

  • Just as in Formula 1, a good racing line makes all the difference. This is especially true in bumps racing where intelligent coxing can be the difference between bumping and getting bumped.
  • Along the racing course for bumps racing, known as the Isis, there are fast straights, tight corners and river currents - all of which make coxing here truly exciting!
  • The cox steers in one of two ways:
    • Rudder: Every eight (boat with 8 rowers, plus cox) is fitted with a small rudder beside the fin, on the underside of the boat. In the cox's seat, there are two cables, which they uses to move the rudder. It's very simple; push your left hand forward to go left, and right hand forward to go right. The skill lies in knowing when to steer and by how much, which comes with time and practice.
    • Rowers: Since in a standard eight there are four rowers on each side, if one side pulls harder than the other, the boat will begin to turn. (Just like a wheelchair, where the user pushes one wheel forward to turn a corner). To use this method, the cox makes calls (orders to the crew), such as 'Hard pressure on bow side!'. This can be a very effective way of turning sharply and quickly.

 

Coaching:

  • In some ways, the cox is the coach's eyes and ears inside the boat.
  • Since from the cox's seat they can see each rower individually, and feel the movement of the boat, the cox is often best placed to figure out what improvements need to be made to the crew and their synergy.
  • In this case, the cox makes technical calls in order to address problems with the crew's technique.
  • This means the cox should understand good rowing technique - but don't worry at all if you are new to rowing. We will teach you all you need to know, and it won't take long before you know all about rowing without even having to do it!

 

Motivation:

  • This is probably the best-known aspect of coxing: the shouting part. In a race, the rowers are expending huge amounts of physical effort, and it's very easy to lose focus - this is where you come in.
  • During the race, it is your job to motivate the rowers and keep them on track. The cox does this through a variety of different techniques.
  • Every crew is different and is motivated by different things, so communication with the crew is vital and you quickly learn what sort of things make your rowers tick. These include: technical calls (to give them something to focus on), time/distance calls (to let them know how far they've come), position calls (to let them know how close they are to others), and motivating words and phrases (to unleash their inner strength).

 

So, why cox?

 

Leadership:

Whether on the water or off, as the cox you will be in charge of your crew.

 

  • Since most eights consist of several very large rowers, often with equally large personalities, it is very rewarding to be told that you are now in charge, as you learn to keep them in check.
  • What's more, the leadership and motivation skills that coxing provides are invaluable to any employer, so it would make a great addition to your CV.
  • Coxing can also improve your self-confidence, since the cox gets used to asserting themselves and having their voice heard.

 

Camaraderie

As a cox, you become an integral part of what is certainly the ultimate team sport.

 

  • Unless everyone in the crew does their job, the boat won't go very far at all. What this means is that every member of the crew is valued for their contribution, and the friendships rowing creates are often extremely close and long-lasting.
  • Nothing quite matches the mutual respect, and close friendship, between a cox and their crew when training for a regatta.
  • As a cox, you will also get to spend time with both men's and women's crews, and with rowers from every year, from first-year undergraduates, to eighth-year DPhil students.

 

Competition:

Do you like devising clever strategies? What about the thrill of racing down a river at high speed? Say no more...

 

  • Coxing a bumps race has two important aspects: The intelligent, technical race plan; and the adrenaline-fuelled excitement.
  • Ask any cox, and they will tell you how as soon as the gun is fired to start a race, they become a different person due to the excitement.
  • What's more, rowing has a healthy culture of competition, meaning that you will learn to win and lose with equal grace.

 

Common Misconceptions

 

'But I'm not very small or light, how can I cox?'

Yes, it is true that most Olympic/university-level coxes are both small and light. But this has little bearing on most coxing in MCBC. The fact is, every crew needs a cox and so we do not discriminate based on size. The 82kg, 6'3" Captain of Boats is also a registered cox...

 

'But don't you just sit there and shout?'

The cox's primary tool, after the rudder, is their voice. Their calls (orders) are made audible by a 'cox-box', a piece of equipment that connects to a microphone and speakers inside the boat. So, yes, the cox does talk a lot, and occasionally shouts, but as you've seen above, it's a little more complex (and a lot more fun) than that.

 

'What if I have never coxed before?'

Not a problem at all. The vast majority of coxes in MCBC, and in Oxford as a whole, start out as total novices.

 

'Why would the rowers listen to me?'

With nine different people in the boat, eight of which face away from the direction they're moving, it is always the most practical option to listen to the cox. You will quickly get used to people following your orders. In addition, more experienced rowers tend to be very well trained to listen to the cox.

 

'But will I be doing any exercise if I cox?'

 Coxing is more of a skill than a physical pursuit. That being said, the best coxes know how to row, and the best rowers know how to cox. With the way our schedule is structured, it is certainly possible to do both. Then again, if physical exercise isn't your cup of tea, then you don't have to if you don't want to!

 

 

 

 

 

Coxing at Magdalen

 

So you're small, maybe not especially sporty; but you really like bossing people around? Let's be honest, who doesn't? The often overlooked but vitally important coxswain role - known almost universally as the cox - could be just up your street (or stretch of river)!

 

What does the cox do?

 

If the rowing boat were a body, the cox would be the brain. They are the only one of a crew facing forward, and the only one not physically rowing, so have a unique viewpoint on the race from their cockpit. As part of a crew, the cox has three responsibilities: Safety, steering, coaching and motivation - in that order.

 

Safety:

  • This is without a doubt the cox's most important role.
  • Since they are in the best position to be able to see other crews and obstacles around the boat, the cox has to keep an eye out for these things, and stop the boat if necessary. It's your responsibility as cox to make judgement calls about what lines to take and how best to avoid incidents.
  • Safety extends to the equipment as well. Rowing boats are notoriously long things, and so the cox has the job of coordinating the rowers while they carry them around, and ensuring that the proper safety measures are in place on the boat.

 

Steering:

  • Just as in Formula 1, a good racing line makes all the difference. This is especially true in bumps racing where intelligent coxing can be the difference between bumping and getting bumped.
  • Along the racing course for bumps racing, known as the Isis, there are fast straights, tight corners and river currents - all of which make coxing here truly exciting!
  • The cox steers in one of two ways:
    • Rudder: Every eight (boat with 8 rowers, plus cox) is fitted with a small rudder beside the fin, on the underside of the boat. In the cox's seat, there are two cables, which they uses to move the rudder. It's very simple; push your left hand forward to go left, and right hand forward to go right. The skill lies in knowing when to steer and by how much, which comes with time and practice.
    • Rowers: Since in a standard eight there are four rowers on each side, if one side pulls harder than the other, the boat will begin to turn. (Just like a wheelchair, where the user pushes one wheel forward to turn a corner). To use this method, the cox makes calls (orders to the crew), such as 'Hard pressure on bow side!'. This can be a very effective way of turning sharply and quickly.

 

Coaching:

  • In some ways, the cox is the coach's eyes and ears inside the boat.
  • Since from the cox's seat they can see each rower individually, and feel the movement of the boat, the cox is often best placed to figure out what improvements need to be made to the crew and their synergy.
  • In this case, the cox makes technical calls in order to address problems with the crew's technique.
  • This means the cox should understand good rowing technique - but don't worry at all if you are new to rowing. We will teach you all you need to know, and it won't take long before you know all about rowing without even having to do it!

 

Motivation:

  • This is probably the best-known aspect of coxing: the shouting part. In a race, the rowers are expending huge amounts of physical effort, and it's very easy to lose focus - this is where you come in.
  • During the race, it is your job to motivate the rowers and keep them on track. The cox does this through a variety of different techniques.
  • Every crew is different and is motivated by different things, so communication with the crew is vital and you quickly learn what sort of things make your rowers tick. These include: technical calls (to give them something to focus on), time/distance calls (to let them know how far they've come), position calls (to let them know how close they are to others), and motivating words and phrases (to unleash their inner strength).

 

So, why cox?

 

Leadership:

Whether on the water or off, as the cox you will be in charge of your crew.

 

  • Since most eights consist of several very large rowers, often with equally large personalities, it is very rewarding to be told that you are now in charge, as you learn to keep them in check.
  • What's more, the leadership and motivation skills that coxing provides are invaluable to any employer, so it would make a great addition to your CV.
  • Coxing can also improve your self-confidence, since the cox gets used to asserting themselves and having their voice heard.

 

Camaraderie

As a cox, you become an integral part of what is certainly the ultimate team sport.

 

  • Unless everyone in the crew does their job, the boat won't go very far at all. What this means is that every member of the crew is valued for their contribution, and the friendships rowing creates are often extremely close and long-lasting.
  • Nothing quite matches the mutual respect, and close friendship, between a cox and their crew when training for a regatta.
  • As a cox, you will also get to spend time with both men's and women's crews, and with rowers from every year, from first-year undergraduates, to eighth-year DPhil students.

 

Competition:

Do you like devising clever strategies? What about the thrill of racing down a river at high speed? Say no more...

 

  • Coxing a bumps race has two important aspects: The intelligent, technical race plan; and the adrenaline-fuelled excitement.
  • Ask any cox, and they will tell you how as soon as the gun is fired to start a race, they become a different person due to the excitement.
  • What's more, rowing has a healthy culture of competition, meaning that you will learn to win and lose with equal grace.

 

Common Misconceptions

 

'But I'm not very small or light, how can I cox?'

Yes, it is true that most Olympic/university-level coxes are both small and light. But this has little bearing on most coxing in MCBC. The fact is, every crew needs a cox and so we do not discriminate based on size. The 82kg, 6'3" Captain of Boats is also a registered cox...

 

'But don't you just sit there and shout?'

The cox's primary tool, after the rudder, is their voice. Their calls (orders) are made audible by a 'cox-box', a piece of equipment that connects to a microphone and speakers inside the boat. So, yes, the cox does talk a lot, and occasionally shouts, but as you've seen above, it's a little more complex (and a lot more fun) than that.

 

'What if I have never coxed before?'

Not a problem at all. The vast majority of coxes in MCBC, and in Oxford as a whole, start out as total novices.

 

'Why would the rowers listen to me?'

With nine different people in the boat, eight of which face away from the direction they're moving, it is always the most practical option to listen to the cox. You will quickly get used to people following your orders. In addition, more experienced rowers tend to be very well trained to listen to the cox.

 

'But will I be doing any exercise if I cox?'

 Coxing is more of a skill than a physical pursuit. That being said, the best coxes know how to row, and the best rowers know how to cox. With the way our schedule is structured, it is certainly possible to do both. Then again, if physical exercise isn't your cup of tea, then you don't have to if you don't want to!