A cox’s view of Broughty Ferry 2019

Louise reports: This year’s  Broughty Ferry regatta was challenging in many different ways, not least the dreich weather. For those who were rowing it was hard, with the 2.6km distance being longer than many of the events and a strong current and at times choppy water didn’t help. Most often the event reports are written from the perspective of those rowing but we are of course crews of five, so i thought that I would write a report from
the cox’s experience.

There are a lot of regattas where the cox has a relatively straightforward job of lining up at the start, steering towards the finish in a straight line and
motivating the crew. There are others at which the cox has their skill and
nerves really tested. Broughty Ferry Regatta this year certainly came into the latter category.

Our 60+ crews and their medals. Photo by Rachel Holburn

At coxes’ briefing everyone was warned of the strong spring tide running into the Tay all day, with high tide around the time of the last race. We were also warned about maintaining clearance round the two buoy turns, especially as the first leg was across flow. We were also told that the markers were not the usual ‘knock-em-over’ Lomo type buoys but were really solid and unforgiving.

The start was the first challenge, with skiffs pointing down-river till almost
under starters orders, when a rapid turn to line up was made and the start
being called almost immediately so smart positioning and alert listening for the start being called was required.

The next problem was to deal with being the filling in a skiff sandwich with 12 boats in many of the races all heading for the same buoy about 800 meters away. The cross current was fierce and so was the fight for the best position, sometimes with no option but to have oars clashing with boats on each side.

A photo taken by North Berwick shows a buoy turn, with many skiffs jockeying for position.

The next thing on a cox’s mind was making sure that you were not drifted into the solid buoy and at the same time keeping an eye on 11 other boats with the “3 boat length” rule to comply with regarding right of way. A decision was also needed regarding whether a turn was made with inner oars holding water or everyone rowing round. With so many boats all fighting for space it was inevitable that oars were hitting the immovable post or clashing with other oars.

Many penalties were given by the umpire, a rare thing, and I even saw two
boats locked together hull to hull. Fortunately by the time the second turn was reached the races were more strung out with fewer clashes and boats being drifted away rather than too the buoy. One final challenge, which some found too difficult, was the cross the finish line between and not outside the markers.

Another North Berwick photo – close encounter of the skiff kind…

If any new Skippers are thinking that this is not for them I would say give race coxing a go as it is very rewarding. However, speak to one of the old hands to help choose a straightforward event for your first try and you will enjoy it. You will learn new skills, tactics and good seamanship and soon go on to new challenges. The great thing about our sport is that we never stop learning and above all else, it is fun.

The results!

Click on the links to see more photos on North Berwick’s Flickr pages, and on our own Flickr. Check the SCRA website for results and a photo of our medal-winning men!