Guidelines for Coxes and Coaches

In addition to the guidelines set out in this section, all coxes and coaches should be familiar with

You may also find useful the Map of the River. All College coxes should subscribe to the CUCBC Coxes' Mailing List to which important announcements including river closures and changes to the flag status will be sent. Coxing Resources:

Coaching Resources:

Action to be Taken In Case of Collision With Moored Craft

Narrow Boats

Should a sculling or rowing boat come into contact with a moored narrow boat, the following procedure should be used to ensure the minimum risk of damage to either craft:
  1. Immediately easy and back water with the free blade(s).
  2. Back down with the stern most oars/sculls on the opposite side from the side of contact with the narrow boat.
  3. When clear, paddle on with the bowmost oars/sculls, drawing in the sternmost oars/sculls on the side closest to the moored boat.
  4. Should it be necessary to push off from the hull of the moored boat, use oar/scull blade tips against the BLACK painted side of the moored craft’s lower hull ABOVE the waterline.

GRP Cruisers

Should a sculling or rowing boat come into contact with a moored GRP Cruiser, use the same procedure as above but, should it be necessary to push off from the hull of the moored boat:
  1. Push of from the cruiser’s fenders or rubbing strakes or, if this is not possible
  2. Push off ABOVE the waterline so as not to remove antifouling paint below the waterline. [NB: This is a change to previous practice and is to enable the craft’s owner to see any slight scratches and deal with them as part of normal maintenance. Scratches and breaks in a boat’s anti-foul coating BELOW the waterline may remain unnoticed and can lead to much greater problems over time.]


Remember that courtesy costs nothing and, should the boat owner be aboard if and when a collision occurs, an apology should be offered at once. Your priority will be to disengage safely and without causing damage, but an apology will diffuse tension and go along way to creating good relationships between all sectors of the river-using community.

Code of Conduct for Anglers & Rowers

This code is endorsed by the Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs (CUCBC), the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association (CRA) and the Cambridge Fish Preservation & Angling Society Ltd (CFPAS). It is essential that every Association, Club and Society Member should abide by the spirit of this Code, which is intended to promote the greater safe enjoyment of the river amenity so as not to unduly disrupt or disturb others appreciating the facility.
  1. Courtesy is required between all the parties. Should any dispute arise and it becomes necessary for the parent clubs to intervene, anglers and rowers should exchange names and club membership and refer the dispute details to their respective parent body.
  2. The Angling Society will publish dates of the main rowing events and will endeavour to ensure that no fishing will take place between the Pike & Eel and Baits Bite Lock on the published dates. Pleasure fishing on those dates should be reduced.
  3. The Rowing Association / CUCBC will publish dates of the main fishing matches and will endeavour to ensure that no rowing takes place during the times of the fishing matches which will normally be between 10.30am to 3.30pm unless otherwise stated and 9.00am until 1.00pm for the Junior Angling Tournaments. The Angling Society should advise when major or national matches are taking place and in these cases rowers will be advised of the particular importance to avoid these times.
  4. Rowers are asked to keep outings below Baits Bite Lock to a minimum. They should be especially aware of anglers and should check for any fishing matches. See special note below.
  5. Rowing coaches are asked to ensure that they do not halt crews for instruction purposes immediately adjacent to anglers. Anglers in turn should avoid swims adjacent to recognised starting and finishing posts.
  6. Subject to the river conditions and being clear of obstructions, crews are asked not to turn boats immediately opposite anglers.
  7. All parties to be mindful of the peace and quiet enjoyed by residents on or close to the river.
  8. All parties to show consideration to other water users and to the public using the hailing way.
  9. The hailing way must not be blocked by fishing tackle or rowing equipment. Parking of trailers or vehicles adjacent to the hailing way should be carried out with respect to other river users.
  10. It is important for all river users to understand how narrow the river is in places. At some points it is barely possible for two eights to pass each other safely particularly near moorings. Rowers are asked to make every effort to avoid fishing lines but anglers must be aware of their difficulty and be prepared to move their tackle to avoid damage. Roach poles are of particular concern and anglers should lift these in good time when rowers approach.
  1. Permission to row below the lock is restricted to first boats and boats in the top two divisions of the May Bumps only.
  2. In the Michaelmas and Lent terms no CUCBC boat will go down below the lock from 8.30am to 1.00pm or after 4.30pm on any weekday.

Code of Practice for Coaches


The purpose of this Code of Practice is to maximise the capacity on the river and to ensure that every crew has the best opportunity to train.

Guiding Principles:

  1. Traffic on the river remains safe for all users at all times.
  2. It is more important for a crew to row than a coach to talk.
  3. Do not hold up other crews.
  4. Take care and be aware of single scullers, Town crews and other river users.

Above Chesterton (Downstream or Upstream, before 0900hrs and at any time when the river is busy - common sense defines this):

  1. Unless required for safety, no rowing with fewer than 4 rowers at a time in an eight, roll the changes rather than stop/start, and at a minimum of half slide.
  2. Increase boat speed (via increasing number of rowers, or pressure up to half pressure) as needed in front of other crews.

Chesterton to Penny Ferry (Pike and Eel) (Downstream or Upstream):

  1. Keep moving through this stretch of water, but expect to merge with upstream crews spinning at the pub.

Penny Ferry (Pike and Eel) to Ditton, Ditton to Bovis (Motorway) Bridge (Downstream or Upstrteam):

  1. Treat this as the main 'course' for crews.
  2. No rowing other than continuously with full crew, unless not safe to do so, or of doing standing starts.
  3. Standing starts, and their practise, may be done provided that others are not impeded.
  4. No stopping other than at Ditton to spin, to fit in with traffic or to maintain safety; if spinning, do so near the post at the bottom of the Reach, and do not join a line of crew spinning all the way up the Reach - wait your turn at the bottom!
  5. Expect other crews to be rowing at speed, especially upstream, and do your utmost not to obstruct them.
  6. Respect other crews that simply cannot go any faster but do their best to maintain the flow.
  7. Obey relevant rules re overtaking, pulling in to the bank to give way etc. (See Rules of the River).
  8. If coaches wish to talk to crews at Ditton, which is often unecessary, pull into the bank to do so and do not create an obstruction to moving crews; do not stop and talk elsewhere on the river other than below the Little Bridge.

Ditton Corner:

  1. Expect crews to be spinning just upstream of the corner.
  2. Once spun, pull into the bank to talk/rest, or move off promptly. Don't just sit stationary in the river!

Bovis (Motorway) Bridge to Baitsbite Lock:

  1. (Downstream) Expect to find crews spinning below the slight corner so reduce speed to suit.
  2. (Upstream) Expect to find crews assembling near the Little Bridge for upstream pieces. Such crews to move off as soon as possible without long instructions from the bank. A reasonable delay to allow a slower crew to get ahead is acceptable.

Coxing Guidelines

A concise guide to coxing with particular reference to the river Cam.

The Role of the Cox

Apart from the first outings of a novice cox, the cox (and not the coach or anyone else) is in charge of the crew and ultimately responsible for what it does. This includes:
  • Keeping your crew safe at all times obeying the rules of the river.
  • Maintaining complete control in the boat.
  • Coaching the crew and improve the standard of rowing.
  • Running the race: motivating, setting tactics and getting the best out of your crew.
  • Steering a good course.
A good cox is one who discusses issues with their coach, however simple or complicated the question may be. The best way to cox is to be a coach in the boat and inspire confidence. The only way to do this is to listen, reinforce what the coaches say and question. Most coaches are oarsmen and don't think about spending time coaching coxes. If you make the effort you will learn, your coxing will improve and your crew will respect you.


Safety is unfortunately now a prominent issue, highlighted by recent inept coxing putting people's lives in danger. It is very simple to avoid accidents - keep control and don't bow to pressure from over-aggressive rowers.
  • Safety is the prime concern of the cox. This is true whatever the situation -- a race, the bumps or an outing. If a situation is dangerous, STOP. If this is in a race, it will be re-run.
  • It is your responsibility to know the rules of the river and you are legally bound if the crew is involved in an accident.


Your commands are for all the crew to hear. They must be clear, concise and useful. The aim is to tell the crew what the situation is, what they are going to do about it and when they are going to do it. Make sure you and the crew understand what your commands mean. Discuss commands on land and ensure that there is no uncertainty. This is especially important before your first outing -- you must know what to say to start rowing, stop and steer. Not only is this very important for safety, it stops you losing respect by not knowing what to say. The way in which you give commands makes a huge difference:
  • Voice Quality: This can be varied if you have a cox-box. For novices this is unlikely so you need to develop a way of shouting so you can be heard. Try to project your voice as opposed to shouting straight into your stroke's body.
  • Rhythm: Helps the crew achieve their own rhythm. It is very important to emphasise the rhythm you want the crew to achieve by the timing of your commands (e.g. command same length as stroke in water).
  • Timing: give your commands at a similar point in the stroke, and appropriate to how and when you want the crew to react. Tell them what they are going to do and ensure that they do it when you say `Go'. This is often at the finish.


Know as much about the crew as possible -- their strengths and weaknesses, where problems will arise and how to overcome them. This is crucial to your role in a race, and can make all the difference between winning and losing.
  • Encourage the crew. You are trying to get them to go through a lot of pain and it makes a big difference if you are giving them goals to achieve and telling them that they're doing well.
  • Tell your crew exactly what is happening the whole time. If you are going to hit the bank tell them. In a race, if you are two lengths up or down on the other boat tell them that -- if you lie they'll hate you afterwards.


The Cam is not a river that lends itself to convenient rowing due to its narrowness and sharp bends. Familiarise yourself with the map of the river. Especially dangerous corners are:
  • The Road Bridge (Queen Elizabeth Way)
  • Chesterton (Green Dragon)
  • Ditton
  • Grassy
You must keep close to your side of the river and be ready to easy and hold the boat up quickly.You may find it difficult to get round using the rudder alone if you are going slowly. Use `2 and 4', or `Bow and 3' to take the boat round. Do not stray to the other side of the river -- fast crews may be coming up.
  • Pushing away from you on the right string makes you go right, pulling the right makes you go left. Remember that the boat pivots about a point roughly in the middle of the boat, so the stern will swing out as you turn.
  • The rudder acts as a brake. The one sided braking turns the boat. It also makes the boat lean. This slows and unbalances the boat -- try to use it only when the blades are in the water (though this is impossible on some corners).
  • Feel for the delay between steering and it taking effect. Learn to anticipate. Anticipation is the mark of a good cox. Be aware of other crews around you, anticipating what they may do. The cox needs to observe a long distance ahead (cf. good driving).
  • Watch for the wind: clever coxing can anticipate the wind pushing the boat off course. You may often find that you have to steer a compensating course(i.e. pointing away from the bank to keep moving parallel to it).
  • Don't lean your own body weight from side to side when steering (or lean out to see where you're going). You must keep your body weight central and steady in the boat.
The most important rules relevant to coxing are:
  • Keep to the right: except in the Gut and Plough Reach where you keep to the left. Boats going downstream give way to those coming upstream, especially when crossing over.
  • Spinning: Look before you give the command, never just because the coach says so. Never spin where it is dangerous, e.g. corners, when a crew is close behind and never in The Gut
  • Overtaking: As with spinning, look and decide whether it is safe. Always ask to `come by' before overtaking.
  • Easying: Always give way to faster crews; draw into the bank if necessary. The river is very narrow and you will often need to draw your blades right in. This is possible, you won't capsize but you will need to do it very quickly. Make sure your crew is aware of this in advance.
  • Anglers: treat with courtesy -- avoid their lines and don't easy next to them.

Coxing Bumps Races

Available below are the coxes' presentations given to all competing coxes prior to Bumps races.

Senior Coxes' Presentaion - those who have coxed Bumps before900.74 KB
Novice Coxes' Presentaion - never coxed Bumps before1.16 MB