I’m aware that Emma Sprints is probably your first race so I thought I’d go into a bit more detail than usual on your responsibilities on Sunday. Side by side racing is usually great fun but also has the potential to go wrong, particularly in poor conditions. As cox your role is vital in ensuring the safety of your crew. It is important remain calm and in control at all times, if you are panicked your rowers will be too and accidents may happen.
Before each race, all crews will be lined up in order along the bank. Initial marshalling is between the P&E and the Railway bridge on the towpath side of the river. Your station is next to your crew on the draw, 1 is pretty much at the Railway Bridge and 16 will be towards the P&E. The bank marshals will be giving instructions and your bank party should help you park at your station, though (particularly with higher station numbers) you may want to think about crossing the river and getting ready to park in the correct area on your own well before your station, it is very difficult to land unless you cross early enough. There will be markers on the bank, though these may be tricky to see from the boat. It’s also a good idea to know who is near you in the draw to give you a reference point to find your space. After the first race follow instructions from the bank to find subsequent stations (though you can also work these out from the draw if you like). Also be alert to changes in plan throughout the day.
After pushing off from the bank you will need to row up the start, where you will either be towpath side for odd numbers or meadow side for even numbers. This is just after the Railway Bridge for the first race. Here you will be positioned side by side with your competing crew, lined up, and started. This will be done as quickly as possible to avoid boats drifting out of position so please be alert. Relay any commands from the umpires to your crew as quickly as possible. You may also choose to keep your hand up and lower it when you are ready to race. The start is the biggest potential for accidents so be quick to stop, reposition, and restart if it looks like you are heading into something.
In poor conditions crews will be started one behind the other before the start. In this case build the rate up however you would normally. The race will still officially start at the same point (where it will be timed from) where you should be at full speed. The winner will be declared after the finish.
When racing please bear in mind the following points:
- Stay on your side of the river at all times.
- If a collision with a bank seems likely, stop the boat, reposition it, and restart. This is MUCH quicker than crashing and recovering.
- In the event of a blade clash, crab, or other incident, keep calm and take control of the situation. Stop the boat if necessary.
- There will be a marshal following your race, listen out for any instructions.
- The winner is the first to cross the finish line.
After racing please wind it down and keep rowing until you are given further instructions.
After the first race winning crews will row up to the next corner (do not cross over) where they will spin, the losing crew will spin half way down the straight outside the Plough pub. Follow instructions from the bank to find your next station. If you win both races you will spin just past the railway bridge and should get ready to race again shortly, otherwise you should row back to the boathouses.
Crews racing irresponsibly will be asked to stop and forfeit the race, though I hope it won’t come to this. You should also have a quick look through the online instructions to give a bit more information on the format of the day.
Good luck on Sunday!