Some real life examples to add to your repertoire...
  • "You look like eight abortions rolling around in a bucket" - to a school first eight.

  • "Yeah, it's pretty good, but it's still shit".

  • "Why you not fucking understand? Maybe next time I tell you in Chinese and you understand"


  • "I look into your eyes and see nothing but the back of your fucking head"

  • "Just a hint of a backsplash, just like a squeeze of lime in your mineral water, just a hint!"

  • "What's the fucking problem? You need an alarm clock in your fucking boat. Turn the fucking thing on! You fucking need to fucking wake up!"

  • "I'd love to see the world from your perspective, but I can't get my head up your arse"

  • "leave some water in the river"

  • "you can't have made the crew go that much faster, the rest of them must have been up to something" (when seat racing doesn't go to plan)

  • "Greg, you must accept your size, try not to be bigger than you are"

  • "I can see three puddles and a gob of snot on strokeside"

  • "That’s shit, that's shit, that's shit, that's shit, you c*nt, that's shit, that's ok, that's shit etc." - to be chanted in rhythm with the catch"

  • "I've never had a meaningful session in the dark"

  • "There are two sorts of people in the world: those made to row, and those made to watch television - unfortunately you fall into the latter category"

  • "Don't row like suitcase" (Serbian coach who didn't understand the distinction between suitcase and baggage)

  • "Sit up - it's a backbone not a wishbone -- you look like a dog fucking a football"

  • "Jana, you're rowing like a whore. Try to keep your legs together"
    followed two days later by...
  • "Very good, Now you're a less expensive prostitute"

  • "I think you generated more heat than speed"

    And finally, a coaching suggestion to change an aspect of technique.

  • "Er, 5, could you, er, not dip at the catch"
    5 strokes later
    "Er, good effort, 5...."

Picture the scene, a scratch eight are out on the Tideway in conditions that can only be described as "very windy", making it rather choppy at Harrods - which in turn made the boat slighlty less "rock-solid" than usual.
Cox - "Keep the hands level at the knees, keep the body still at the catch"
Cox - "...this really is rather shit."
Cox - "I meant the conditions, of course, not the technique..."
Cox - "Well that one ought to get into the Tideway Slug Hall of Coxing Comments for sure!"

They just keep coming... ( if you have any more)
  • "Let the hands come over the knees, like a praying mantis"

  • "Stamp down on the foot stretcher..... like i'm going to poke you in the eye....with a flick knife.....that has a lump of shit on the end of it"

  • "lucky you're all so fit, otherwise that could have hurt" (after a particularly brutal early-season training session)

  • "you're a knats cock off perfection boys""

  • "What the fuck do you think you're doing? How fucking stoopid are you?!"" (must be said in the most condescending, patronising tone manageable)

  • "5 - you have some shit on the end of your blade.... other end 5."

  • "I saw your legs last night, and I thought they were a pair of swizzle sticks. Do some fucking leg presses"

  • "Try to aim for the bit *between* the banks!" (to a novice cox, in desperation)

  • "Guys, will you please wash your kit?! You're all going to catch the fucking plague at this rate, you stinking bastards"

  • My favourite call has always been the novice cox in Oxford VIIIs who had obviously been told by someone it was a good idea to count strokes out to the crew. And who could be heard as the crew exited the Gut and started to race up the Green Bank, calling out "97, 98, 99..."


  • Late eighties, from an OUBC coach to an Oxford development crew:

    From the coaching launch: "'R' either there’s something wrong with your pitch, or you’re a c*nt."
    An hour later, ashore and pitch gauge in hand, coach strolls over: "I’ve checked the pitch R and you’re a c*nt."

  • "Three, you're rowing like a christmas tree......" (?!?)

  • "Stroke it like a Lady, don't bang it like a whore!"

    Might put these into their own page soon - some more classics below.

  • "CELEBRATE THIS BOAT !!!!!!" (The cox of a J4x+ overheard about 200m before the finish of the Hampton Junior Head [very loud])

  • "Oi stroke ! Leave the thinking to me!""

  • "I have fed the results into the computer... ie my brain , and you're dropped"

  • "every one a coconut!" (I had a coach who used to shout this, absolutely no idea what he was on about)

  • "Let me introduce you to a radical new concept - it's called the front half of the slide" (must be said in a voice of withering contempt)

  • "you look like you are trying to hit the water with your handbag"

  • "Oi, F****r, I am going to call you Sainsbury's as you're Rowing like a man pushing a shopping trolley. Get your wrists flat"

  • "If you want to do dressage then piss off to the equestrian centre and don't come back"

  • "You're sculling like a man escaping from Alcatraz, sit up"

  • "I am going to call you Bucket as you can't row stroke side and we would have been better served by putting a bucket over the side of the boat"

  • "do you have a pact with the fishes - is that why you don't put your blade in the water?"

  • "A light caress of the nipple" (Said by an older male coach to a young women's eight didn't go down too well)

  • "You're missing it at the front ... you're not connecting through the middle ... in fact, your whole concept of rowing is wrong"

  • "Pull with your left hand, your left hand, .......your LEFT hand,.................................................. Try your other left hand."

  • "Rowing is very simple. You put your blade in square, pull, take it out square, easy ... anybody who says something different is a c**t and anybody who can't do it is a c**t !"

  • A reader writes: - At HRR my VIII had stopped at the upstream end of Temple Island on the course side. Tucked into the island bank to keep out of other crews’ way the toffs and tarts on the lawn of Temple Island stared down and started to ask us, (chinless and champagne-fuelled), questions. Our coach’s voice boomed through his megaphone from the towpath. "Molesey! How many time have I told you not to speak to the nouveau riche."

    The 2007 Senior and Novice Fairbairn Cup races - as organised by Jesus College Cambridge for the inhabitatnts of Fenland Poly, took place last week (29th and 30th of November). As usual with college racing, the activity on the water was frantic and highly entertaining, especially for those watching and listening from the relative safety of the bank.

    During the Novice races the following coxing techniques were observed:

  • "CATCH.....CATCH.......CATCH.......CATCH (could prove to be a long race)...

  • 'Now just keep going guys, keep going, that's good, keep going.' (coming off the start)

  • Off the start, again... 'Right, two, drop out, four, drop out, six drop out, ok strokeside DROP OUT '...CRRRRUNCH.
  • Extra points for the Peterhouse four that appeared to stop 30 strokes after the start to de-kit. As well as for the eight that rowed past really hard towards the end of the race, then two fell off his seat, bow looked at him, stopped rowing, then put his hand up and looked at the coach.

    Not to be outdone - the senior races also threw up some entertainment on the coxing front:

  • "You can't afford to get tired now!" (Hughes hall cox, coming up to halfway)

  • "I can see in your faces that it hurts..." (helpful)

  • "So, we're not TOO far from the railway bridge, and THEN it will be halfway" (really helpful)

  • "er guys, could you just put some more work down in the water... ready... go!" (Magdalene)
  • Credit to the polite Downing cox, who, on hearing 'Good steering, Downing, well done' from their coach, a certain Mr Watson... stopped talking to the crew and thanked him. (Whipper - what are you doing to them???! - Ed)

    And finally - the Newnham alumni crew in the senior women's division appeared to have someone of a different gender at six - quite impressive in both the women's division and as a Newnham alumnus!

    n.b. said gentleman has since been identified as one Tim Granger who comments:
    "the boat was entered by the Newnham Gryphens, which is their boat club alumni society. As I coached Newnham for about 4 years I'm a member of the Gryphens, and was going to watch the race - until I got a call the night before asking if I had a wig to wear..."

    Full results can be seen at

    some examples of the fine coaching talent on offer at TRC:

  • "Hang off the blades as if you're hanging off a crucifix"

  • "Who taught you to row like that? Your dog?"

  • "Will you stop fucking crying and row?!" (to a single sculler)

  • "Your bow side is so bad we're going to switch you onto stroke side and start again from scratch" (said in response to "why am I the one who has to change sides?")

  • "My granny stirs her coffee harder than you're stroking that boat"

  • "It's not fucking dressage"

  • ""The ham sandwich would have beaten all of them" (after seat racing a sculler first in a single, then in a double with various other people)

    and finally some very special (but sadly non-Thames) coxing calls:

  • "By the end of this piece I want you sweating like Michael Jackson in a nursery"

  • "I was aware that there was a significant risk of you being sick over me during that race" (to stroke, at the end of winning a race)

  • "Stick your tits out like there's a cute boy in front of you"

  • "Row very hard in that direction" (detailed race plan)

  • "Sit up! It's a backbone, not a wishbone... you look like a dog fucking a football"

  • "Well done, you’ve pushed the crew in front to its over-bump..."

  • "Stroke? You couldn't stroke my cat"

  • "You have no monopoly on PAIN, Peterhouse!"

  • "They tell me that it’s all a matter of physics. If you pull harder you go faster." (overheard at the Cam Regatta (about 30 years ago) from the cox of a coxed four many lengths behind its opponent)

    The latest installment...
    • "I want you to slam your shoulders back as if you were trying to get through your girlfriend's bedroom door"

    • "I can do it. Why can't you?" (helpful coaching at its best)

    • "It's a case of mind of over matter. I don't mind, and you don't matter"

    • "Take it easy will you. I’m knackered" (Seven to stroke in middle of race)

    • "Either start rowing properly or I will come over there, rip your head off and shit on the stump"

    • "Just keep your hands low, brush over your crown jewels and keep moving your hands steadily out..."

    • "Go out of the blocks like a cougar with a porcpuine shoved up its arse"

    • "I'm right, you're wrong, fuck you" (a certain coach who used this phrase so much, that the UL boys he was coaching at the time even called their trial VIIIs: I'm Right; You're Wrong; and Fuck You).

    • Boatman to blond self-appointed Adonis and elected College Boat Club Captain: "Mr G you're rowing like a sack of shit"
      Captain (in gentlemanly aggrieved tones): "But I'm rowing with the University Lightweights"
      Boatman (smugly): "Then you're a lightweight sack of shit"

    • "I think you're OK, but the dog says you've got to row in the 2nd VIII" (Coach who always had two dogs with him to help keep the front of his launch weighed down)

    • A reader writes:
      Many years ago I coxed the Queens' College men's 1st VIII. I always regretted it, and this day was no exception. We got as far as Churchill boathouse, and the coach tells us to stop, and then do an exercise, following his instructions precisely. They were : Let go of your oar. Put your hands on the saxboard beside you. Lift yourself up off your seat. Crew sits there with various Churchill boaties, and other passing crews, pointing and laughing. Coach then says "we can get on with some rowing now you've aired your brains"