Amplifying the coxswain’s voice is not new – but having reliable equipment that allows your voice to be heard throughout the boat is essential for the professional cox. Amplifer units are often called cox boxes and this is also a trademark for the NK brand.
A cox box has two parts – the microphone / amplifier and the loudspeakers. Coxes carry the amplifier and plug it into the loudspeaker harness or “wiring loom” when the sit down in the boat. The amplifier has a headpiece microphone that mounts from a head band so the mic sits just in front of the cox’s mouth leaving their hands free to steer the boat using the rudder attached by wires located beside the coxswain’s seat. When not in use the amplifier is often recharging the battery.
Battery life is critical for a cox because having it fail during a race may mean the difference between winning and losing. Coxmates have an average of 10 hours battery life – and up to 15 hours in the Audio only AA unit. All batteries can be replaced by the user and do not require returning to our workshop.
What can a cox box do?
The basic models just amplify the voice of the coxswain transmitting the sound through the speakers so each athlete can hear clearly. Most coxed rowing boats are fours of eights. A four will have two speakers – one for each pair of rowers. And an eight will have either three or four speakers – four is better because the sound is distributed more evenly down the boat. Coxmate speaker harness for eights has 4 speakers.
The more sophisticated cox units can record the stroke rate – the number of complete cycles of oars going into and out of the water per minute. This is done using a magnet located under one of the rowers’ seats which passes over a corresponding magnet that is wired into the amplifer – it records one rate count with each pair of seat passes (one during the power phase when the oars are in the water and one during the recovery phase of the stroke when the oars are out of the water). Low rates are around 18 strokes per minute and high rates can go over 40 strokes per minute.
Coxswains will also want to be able to time races and training pieces as well as counting the number of strokes taken for drills and racing starts during practice.
Top of the range Coxing Equipment
The most sophisticated tools for coxswains now include GPS measurement of the boat speed. Using this base data a range of additional derived measures can be given to coxes.
• Stroke count
• Speed in meters per second or 500m splits
• Distance moved per stroke
• Racing a pace boat
• Recording pre-set workouts
• Computer download of speed throughout the workout
The collaboration between coach and cox is crucial to getting the most out of your crew – understanding what each is trying to achieve and working out the calls, pushes, technique and race plans that deliver race winning results is the last finesse of coxswain equipment – the brain!