30 Days to Head of the Charles
A 30-day program designed to help coxswains prepare for Head of the Charles Regatta.
(photo courtesy of Hope Wilkinson)
Coxswains, get ready for Head of the Charles by taking one small actionable step per day in the 30 days leading up to the race. Whether it's your first time on the course or you're a seasoned HOCR cox, we hope this program supports you in your preparation for HOCR 2022.
Watch the official Head of the Charles video on YouTube. Over the next month you'll come to eat, sleep, and breathe this course—that starts with introducing yourself to its twists, turns, and landmarks.
Continue to build familiarity with the regatta by reading the official Head of the Charles rules, consulting the official race course map, and reviewing the official bridge traffic guide.
Read two articles from the Ready all, row blog about steering the bridges and steering the turns on the Head of the Charles course. p.s. Did you know we had author Kayleigh Durm as a guest on Episode 005?
Read the How to Cox Head of the Charles booklet from Coxswain Nation / Yaz Farooq's official annual coxswain clinic. This clinic was also summarized in a Ready all, row blog post.
Study head racing strategy in general. We have two podcast episodes on this: 016 | Prep to Chute & 017 | Chute to Finish Line. See also: Ready all, row and the Short and Snarky Guide to Coxing and Rowing.
Watch several Head of the Charles race videos / listen to audio recordings, and identify one or two that you like. Pete Cipollone's 1997 race recording is a classic, and there are hundreds of others on YouTube.
Take care of your physical health: plan a workout, hydrate, and get to bed on time. Looking for exercises that will strengthen your body for coxing? Our Episode 009 guest Deirdre McLoughlin has you covered.
Make your regatta packing list. Whether you're local or traveling to the regatta from far away, you'll want to make sure you remember important items like your cox box and waterproof clothing.
Make your initial race plan. What types of moves will you make at key course landmarks? What technical, informational, and motivational calls will your crew need? To get started, check out this article.
Make your "disaster plan." What will you do if you launch really late? What bridge arches are available if you get stuck behind a slower boat that won't yield? What if a rower catches a boat-stopping crab?
Re-watch the official Head of the Charles video on YouTube. This approach of periodically re-engaging with material is a learning technique called distributed practice, which we mentioned in Episode 002.
Weeks turn! CoxPod listeners will know this is a favorite of host Sally. Explore this Ready all, row article about Weeks, and check out this row2k article to learn which turn coxswains think is the second trickiest.
Re-watch your favorite video(s)/recording(s) from Day 6. Can you predict which course landmark is coming next in the video, or can you visualize the course as you listen to the audio?
Talk to a fellow coxswain who has raced at HOCR. At this point in your preparation, you likely have a few questions about the regatta. Don't have someone you can chat with? Check out our Slack community!
Quiz yourself on the HOCR course and rules. This is an evidence-based learning strategy called retrieval practice. We've got you covered with a 20-question Head of the Charles quiz for coxswains.
Visualize your warmup. Can you mentally walk through the course in reverse, from FALS to the basin? For guidance, check out this Ready all, row article and the official HOCR video from 3:30-8:30.
Visualize your race. How will you approach each bridge? When you look to your left and right, what boathouses, buoys, and landmarks will you see? Where will your point be during each part of the course?
Do some self-care. Is there a task at work, school, or home that you can get ahead on, so that you don't spend the Monday after the regatta feeling disorganized, behind, and stressed? What else do you need?
Make your travel/race day playlist. Do you need songs that pump you up, or calm you down? Will you want to listen to your favorite race recording one last time, as inspiration the night before your race?
Optimize your shell. Are there any minor annoyances you want to fix? A bowloader headrest that digs into your neck? Frayed wiring that you have to hold in a weird way to get the speakers to work?
Discuss your race plan with your crew. What type of motivation will they need, and when? What technical reminders would be helpful? What are their fears, and how can you tailor your coxing to assuage them?
Make your race day index card. CoxPod listeners will know this is host Breana's favorite prep strategy. Write down your race plan, bow/event number, calls you'd like to make, course landmarks, and other info.
Do something to celebrate with all of your teammates, like baking a treat that you bring to trailer loading. Even those who weren't selected for the final HOCR lineup(s) contributed to making the team strong.
Get up close and personal with the Charles River on Google Maps. Click here to be dropped onto the map at the HOCR start line, and navigate using "street" view.
Pack. Check the weather forecast for regatta weekend and make any necessary adjustments to the packing list you created on Day 8. Did you remember your cox box, headset, and charger?
Send important information to your crew about meeting times and locations for your Friday practice and weekend race. When your team trailer parks in the coming days, be sure to share that info as well.
Walk the course, from the start line to the finish line. Stand on the bridges and envision the points you'll take when you're on the water. If the course buoys are set, take note of where they are.
Practice on the official Head of the Charles course. Take note of what it feels like to see the course landmarks in person. Notice where the buoys are set. If you can, try taking the major turns at race pace.
Race! Take a deep breath. You are prepared for this. Good luck to all competitors, we wish you the best.
Take a moment to reflect. What about your race went well? What could be improved for next time?
Thanks for joining us on this journey, we invite you to share any feedback you have on our contact page.