Coxing Commands

The Crew

The crew are named and numbered from forward to aft. The bow sitting on the most forward thwart and the stroke on the most aft.

1 Bow

2 No.2

3 No.3

4 Stroke Oar

In a Gig 4:Stroke and Number 2 (usually) row on the starboard side of the boat;Bow and Number 3 (usually) row on the port side of the boat.

The Coxswain: the coxswain is in charge of his pulling boat and its crew.


Count off from Bow when ready

As it says. When you are ready the crew count off from the bow position to inform the Cox that they are now ready to row. Ie Bow , 2, 3 ,Stroke.

The Cox will now start the row.


The starting point for a crew before the row is about to begin.

You must be sitting with legs straight, leaning back and holding the Oar Handle  just under your chest and the blade resting on top of the water ready to go.


Where you start a race from!

You are sitting with legs slightly bent, Arms  are straight  and you are stretching forward .The blade should be square and ready to take the stroke.

Are you Ready

This is you last chance to tell the Coxwain that you are not yet ready to row. Let them know if you are not. Loudly!

Go or Row

When everyone is ready the cox instructs the crew to do will be followed by the word ”Go or Row !”.

The reason is to make sure everyone responds to whatever is being instructed in a coordinated way.The crew should wait for the Go before responding to the instruction.

Hold It .

The most important command to know that the cox ever gives is the one to stop the boat. In an emergency-stop the cox will call ”hold it hard” and this means the crew must stop rowing or whatever they are doing and hold the spoons of their oars as square as possible  in the water against the direction of travel to stop the boat quickly.

If the cox says ”Hold it  ” this is a normal (not emergency) stop and the crew just  hold the spoons of the oars on  the surface to slow the boat to a standstill. The  blade should be held at an angle of 60 degrees to the water surface.

Easy Oars

The command to stop rowing (but without stopping the boat) is ”easy-oars” or ”easy-all ”. You should stop rowing and finish in the arms-away position with the blade not touching the water.

You stop rowing and sit with your legs straight, at backstops and your hands away in front of you.

Drop or Rest .

After easy oars, when the cox calls this you can let the blade drop onto the water while keeping hold of the Oar handle either in your hands or tucked under your arm

Back it down or Back it

This is used by the cox to control the boat and either spin  or move the boat astern.

This means you reverse the Oar blade in the water so the “Spoon” is facing the bow   of the boat.  You then push the Oar rather than the usual pull.  If both sides are “backing then the boat will go backwards.

If the Cox has one side backing and the other rowing then the boat will spin.

Gunwale Oars

The oars are slid inboard and across both gunwales and held there.

Out oars

This command is given to get the oars out to the rowing position with the blades feathered and flat on the water.

Trail oars

The crew will bring their oar handles over their heads so that they are parallel to the line of the boat. This may be necessary for passing through a narrow space.

Mind your oars.

Given to warn the crew of an approaching obstruction where they need to keep their oars clear. ‘Port/Bow ‘ or ‘Starboard/Stroke’ can be added to the end of this order.

Row light

The crew rows at light pressure.

Row firm

The crew rows at full pressure.

Up one / Down one

Is in relation to the rowing stroke  rate. Stroke  is to be followed at all times but this is called so that the whole crew should be aware that the rate is about to change on the next stroke

Eyes in the boat

This is an instruction to the crew to keep their gaze from wandering abroad or to stop the talking, and pay attention to the rowing.

Fend off .

This order is given to the crew to fend-off to prevent damage to the side of the boat, or when coming alongside a jetty or another boat. It can also be used if the boat is coming alongside for a short duration without securing.

Man the  boat

Crew to get into the boat and  in their allocated positions. The crew, once in the boat, will place their oars,adjust their stretchers and wait for the Coxswains commands.


Take the fenders out/in  of the water and inside/outside  the boat depending on whether you are mooring or casting off.

Bow Pair

The Bow and No 2 positions in the boat

Stern Pair

The No 3  and Stroke position