© 2009 Alex Domanski/Bongarts/Getty Images
Controlling the eight
Cox Martin Sauer leads the
German Men’s Eight at the
2009 Rowing World Cup in
Being small and light and telling eight tall, fit, strong personalities what to do may sound daunting and uncomfortable, but for some this role
brings athletic achievement. Sitting in two of the fastest boats in the world are Martin Sauer, coxswain for the German World Champion men’s
eight, and Mary Whipple, coxswain of the United States World and Olympic Champion women’s eight.
Martin Sauer was ‘discovered’ in true East-German sports style when a rowing trainer came
talent scouting at his school. Along with looking
for tall rowers, the trainer asked small people
to stand up. Sauer stood up. Sauer says if the
trainer had only been looking for rowers he would
never have become involved in rowing. That was
17 years ago. Sauer was 11 years old.
“I learnt from experience, watching and trying
what others try and developing my own
personal style.” Sauer also learnt from the very
experienced Peter Thiede. Thiede had led the
German men’s eight for over two decades with
four Olympic Games of experience behind him
including Beijing 2008.
title in 2006, at the age of 23. After Thiede’s
retirement, Sauer took over as coxswain of the
men’s eight and in 2010 helped the boat gain the
supreme position of World Champions.
Learning how to be a coxswain, Sauer says,
was simply about growing into the position.
Sauer worked his way into Thiede’s position as a
junior, then under- 23 coxswain, before coxing the
senior men’s coxed four to a World Championship
Sauer is very passionate about being a coxswain,
offering a two-part explanation to his role: “The
first part is steering the boat. The second part is
more important, it’s being the leader of the boat.
The trainer tells me what the crew has to do and
I communicate it to the team. I feel what the >