Idiot question of the day

How does an uncoxed rowing crew know where it’s going?

19 thoughts on “Idiot question of the day”

  1. Depends… sometimes courses are buoyed, or you can judge from the banks/coastline Sometimes you can take a fix on two static objects and row away from them, knowing you’re straight-lining. Sometimes (often, when not on an established course, which doesn’t have to mean a proper race course) you do indeed look over your shoulder every now and again.

    Maybe there are other ways. Never seen people use rear view mirrors, but it would be helpful!

  2. That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking (for no very good reason). A couple of car rear view mirrors, one on either side of the boat, would be most helpful I would have though. Maybe caravan mirrors even.

  3. I think at international competition level, you just row straight, guided by the buoys away from you. Normal people just look round. I’ve seem people sculling with tiny little mirrors on their hats of the type made for cyclists, but they are uncommon.

  4. I’ve seen coastal scullers with big mirror rigged, but never racing shells.

    When racing, there’s buoyed courses & strict traffic control. When trying the guy in Bow is usually the nervous sort who doesn’t want to pair the side of a barge red, so keeps looking over his shoulder.

    There have been so very nasty impailments when two she’ll come together…

  5. Yes to all of the above. S’pose it might be a thing in bumps races, with mirrors handy for the bow.

    Slightly off topic, I used to see crews training after dark in the Great Ouse near St Neots with bike lights mounted at bow and stern. Fantastic.

  6. On smaller rivers uncoxed crews normally have a bank steerer. Someone on a bike, normally also the coach, telling them where to go.

    Wing mirrors would be useless as you don’t actually sit still in a rowing boat….you are almost constantly up and down the slide.

  7. Wing mirrors are (imho) worse than useless because the field of vision is very restricted; they tend to promote a false sense of security in their users.

    If you’re competent, you will be able to glance over your shoulder and get almost the full field: it’s astonishing how much you can see so rapidly, once you have the knack. There is, of course, a small blindspot behind your opposite shoulder.

    It can be exciting: the last time I fell out of a boat I was in a coxless pair (not steered by me, I hasten to say). The first I knew of impending disaster was when the bow of a boat travelling in the opposite direction passed me, so close I could have touched it. The next instant, I was under water looking up at a circle of light surprisingly far above me. The breakwater of the other boat had smashed my oar out of the swivel, which turned us over in an instant.

  8. With dragon boats, the rowers (paddlers) sit facing forward so that they can see where they’re going.

    This is why China will win in the long run.

  9. It’s a particular skill that you learn by experience. On a straight course you just look back at the buoys or bank. On a real river you need to know it backwards, i.e. where each bend begins and ends, and where the hazards are. Rudder controlled by the bow man’s right foot. Satisfying when it works!

  10. Bloke no Longer in Austria


    It is well known that in competitions boats employ small boys from local orphanages strapped to the underside of the boats, armed with a mask,snorkel and speaking tube.

    FISA rules stipulate the size of the child and that one glug means right and two glugs mean left.

  11. Well obviously in terms of lewd jokes the low hanging fruit (fnarr, fnarr) is an uncoxed rowing crew being made up entirely of post-op trannies.

  12. Never get in a boat with Murphy rowing, his extreme left-leaning will get you going round in tight little circles

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