Mary Whipple- Coxswain (Jordan Richardson)

Whipple's Voice and Background


The position of the coxswain in a rowing race is absolutely crucial to the success of any team.  The coxswain's importance spans leading the team, keeping the rowers in the correct mindset at all times, ensuring the best possible form, and managing the timing and rhythm of the stroke rate.  It takes a talented coxswain to execute all of these jobs perfectly, and a large portion of a coxswain's talent is derived from her voice and the vocal effects that she uses during a race.  It is because of this that a coxswains voice must be captivating, by necessity, or she would be unable to command a boat and lead a team to victory.


A perfect example of a skilled coxswain is Mary Whipple, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and a five-time World Champion.  This excerpt is from Whipple coxing the 2003 Milan World Cup Final. The excerpt begins just after the buzzer sounds, signaling the beginning of the race.  Whipple immediately launches into encouraging the team to pull their hardest while keeping the rhythm of the piece. Whipple uses rowing jargon frequently to manage her boat.  When she says "lengthen here,"  Whipple is instructing her crew to slow down their recovery, speed up their drive, reach as far as they can, and not rush the stroke seat (the rower that the rest of the boat follows).  When Whipple states numbers such as "we're at a 43" she is referring to the stroke rate, or 43 strokes per minute.  The phrases "coxswain on coxswain" and "we've got stroke seat" are ways in which Whipple lets her team know where they are in relation to the other boats hey are racing against.


However, for a coxswain, what they say is only really effective in the context of how they say it.  The ability to successfully lead a crew  is dependent on the authority a coxswain's voice commands as well as the skill in which she controls the boat via various vocal techniques. Through the five other excerpts provided, we will examine the various effects that make Whipple's voice worthy of a world-champion coxswain.