Coxing lessons from Henley Royal Regatta 2016


The mass of disruption and upsets at 2016 Henley Royal Regatta’s final day shows how much is at stake in a top rowing race.

A Guest post by Coxmate.

nereus, dutch rowing, henley royal regatta Nereus at a happier moment early in HRR 2016

Disqualifications, steering upsets and champions overturned by upstarts – all goes to show that you can’t say “rowing is boring to watch”.

Steering at Henley

There are two ways to steer Henley – one is with a coxswain.  First up, it’s clear that many crews did not have confident coxswains who could steer a straight course down Henley’s famous booms.  The overhead cameras used in the HRR YouTube videos show up every tiny deviation.

If you are not regularly racing at Henley, get to know the course, the river and take advice from experts who have done it before – the How to Steer Henley book is a great resource written by experienced coxswains.

Know the Rules

Getting a disqualification is a seriously bad result.  Getting DQ because of poor steering is galling for the cox.  But a disqualification for infringing the rules of racing is the WORST.

It’s often said that a good cox cannot win you the race but they can surely lose it for you.  Nereus know this to their cost.

This one came from not the cox, but the coach.

Diederik Simon: I’m in tears 

Nereus was the fastest crew of the Ladies’ Challenge Plate, but got DQ’d. Not because of obstructing the other crew, but an instruction from coach Diederik Simon – the reason given was “unsportsmanlike conduct”.  [thanks to NLRoei for the link and Reddit/Rowing for the translation].

Whether you agree with the Stewards’ decision or not, it is clear that not knowing the rules of racing is not an acceptable excuse.

Plus, I am sure that the expert video recording is now beginning to act a bit like a “Third Umpire” in field sports – a reference for after the fact to see what really happened in slow motion.  Is this the right way to go for rowing umpires?


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Sean

    It was a bad decision and a sad day for the sport of rowing.

  2. Chris Madell

    “Whether you agree with the Stewards’ decision or not, it is clear that not knowing the rules of racing is not an acceptable excuse”.. I really feel for the Nereus crew. but their coach is to blame

  3. Charles

    Nereus won; the home team Leander nearly pulled off a finish that would have obviated the DQ, so they win the back door way. The race should have been re-rowed at the very least. A final verdict determined by so dubious a method? Boris the umpire should be put on notice–he DQ’d two crews on the same day. He was an ineffective umpire, and he lost control of the race. There’s not a coxswain in the world who wouldn’t move his crew for an umpire, especially at this level of the sport. Boris is a rule guy, not wise man. Get rid of him.

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