All participants of WRA are required to act as coxswains from time to time. In general, members are expected to cox one time for each three to four times that s/he rows.


What to do if you ARE the coxswain?

  Check with the coach as to which boat you will be using. Get a flotation device, whistle, cox box, lights (if it is fall or winter). Check that lights work. Red and green lights are for the bow, and the white light is for the stern. If they need new batteries, get them in. Check in with stroke and notify them if you are not very experienced at coxing. Listen to what the coach for the day tells you about the outing - you will then know what to do on the water.

When in doubt, call “weigh enough”. It is better to stop the boat and have to reset a drill or piece than run into something.

Assume scullers cannot see you.

Listen to your coach

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the coach or the stroke

Plan ahead

Be decisive


The communication chain should be coach; coxswain; rowers

Coach tells the coxswain what to do, coxswain tells the rowers

Always insist that the rowers react on your call only

Caveat: the coach may prefer to call certain drills; always defer to the coach and ask

if anything is unclear

The rowers should not be talking to each other during practice/drills

Keep conversations with the stroke private (cover the mic)

Always make calls “in two”

Count and make calls on the stroke’s catch

Be precise and crisp with the timing of your counting and when you say “go”/”row”;

the words should be short and exactly in time

Your stroke should tell you if there are boats behind you; feel free to ask the stroke


The primary emphasis of any row is safety. As a coxswain, you are responsible for the safety of the crew and the boat. From “hands on” to “get towels” the boat is yours. Treat it as such and expect your crew to do exactly as you tell them.

Be extremely aware of the boat when on land:

Watch the bow and stern
Call “heads up” when needed
Protect the skeg

Know the hazards on the water:

Submerged logs
Jet skis, kayaks, surf skis, motorboats

Know the flow of traffic on the lake


The coxswain controls the direction of the boat primarily by steering using the rudder

To turn the boat to the right, push your right hand forward

To turn the boat to the left, push your left hand forward

Anticipate your turns and plan ahead

You can also turn by asking for pressure from one side or the other

Port pressure: turn to starboard

Starboard pressure: turn to port



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“Row Happy. Race Hard. ”
  WRA Motto