Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Good-Bye and Welcome!

Dear Readers of HTBS!

‘Hear the Boat Sing’ (HTBS) was founded in March 2009. After more than five successful years on Blogger, with nearly 1,700 blog posts, HTBS has now moved to Wordpress, where a team of seven writers are trying to live up to the HTBS motto: 'This blog covers all aspects of the rich history of rowing, as a sport, culture phenomena, a life style, and a necessary element to keep your wit and stay sane'.

The new HTBS website will have all the old blog posts since March 2009, so you will still be able to go back to read the ‘old stuff’, and at the same time enjoy all new features that a new platform allows us to do.

For all of you who followed HTBS via e-mail and joined the old site, please come with us to the new website by joining and following us on

Göran R Buckhorn,
editor of HTBS

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

F.S. Kelly on the BBC

F. S. Kelly in 1903. Picture: Wikipedia.

Tim Koch writes:

Regular readers will know that HTBS has written many times about one of its heroes, Fredrick Septimus Kelly, a rower and sculler who won eight Henley medals between 1897 and 1906 and an Olympic Gold in 1908 and who was also a gifted musical composer and a gallant and decorated soldier, killed in action in 1916. In 2009, we posted a two-part biography (which is here and here) and our most recent post concerning the great man was last week when we linked to a YouTube video containing Kelly’s Elegy for String Orchestra, written at Gallipoli in memory of his friend and fellow soldier, the poet Rupert Brooke.

In the single scull, Kelly won the Wingfields in 1903 and Henley's Diamonds in 1902, 1903 and 1905. His record time for the latter, 8 minutes and 10 seconds, lasted for 30 years.

There is no shortage of accounts of a man who touched people’s lives in a variety of ways. For example, the Australian Dictionary of Biography gives a nice overview of his life while the auction sale details of his war medals naturally gives a fuller description of his military career. In 2004, the National Library of Australia published Race Against Time: The Diaries of F.S. Kelly, edited by T. Radic, and sections appear online on Google books.

Kelly’s last and perhaps greatest race was the 1908 Olympic Final in which his Leander crew beat the Belgians. Here he is standing on the far left of the crew known as ‘The Old Crocks’.

The most recent tribute to Kelly has been by BBC Radio. On 10 August they broadcast an hour long programme fronted by Steve Williams who won Gold in the GB coxless four in both the Athens and Beijing Olympics. It was in a series entitled “Heroes at War” (though “Sporting Heroes at War” would have been more descriptive). Those in the UK who missed it can hear it through the ‘on demand’ site, BBC iPlayer which will have it available for a week, until 11am on Sunday, 17 August. While iPlayer TV programmes can only be viewed by those with British Internet Service Providers, radio (for some reason) can be accessed (also only until the 17th) from anywhere in the world through (though only via a desktop computer, not a smart phone). Unfortunately, the end of the online version seems to have been clipped.

Steve Williams, later accompanied by BBC Northampton sports editor, Graham McKechnie, records his thoughts ‘on location’ in Henley, Marlow, Gallipoli and the former battlefields of northern France, frequently quoting from Kelly’s diary and with the man’s music forming the underscore. The result is an atmospheric and moving insight into a very complex personality. I particularly like the story that Williams tells of Kelly conducting his battalion’s band as they perform Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture at the Front, presumably within the sound of real artillery. Famously, the ‘1812’ is best known for its finale fanfare of chimes, brass and ‘cannon’. It is, as Williams observes, a very ‘cinematic’ image, and I would suggest that were it a product of a piece of fiction, it could be considered too contrived.

The Martinsart British Cemetery near Albert in Picardie where Kelly is buried. Picture: Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Put aside an hour and enjoy this tribute to a great athlete, artist and soldier.

Monday, August 11, 2014

2014 World Rowing Junior Championships - Results

German's Women Eight winner at the World Championships in Hamburg. Photo: FISA.

World Rowing Junior Championships in Hamburg, Germany, ended yesterday. FISA writes in a press release:

The home advantage paid off for Germany as they finished at the top of the medals table at the 2014 World Rowing Junior Championships in Hamburg, Germany.

The 13 finals raced on the fifth day of the regatta saw rowers face challenging rowing conditions which called for excellent technique. Germany was the only country to have boats in all 13 finals and they topped it off by winning the most medals including seven gold medals.

The golds for Germany came in the men's and women's eight, men's and women's single sculls, men's four, men's quadruple sculls and men's double sculls. This gave the host nation a clean sweep in the blue riband boat classes. The women's single saw Melanie Goeldner stay ahead of Camille Juillet of France and Marieke Keijser of the Netherlands to win the event. Tim Ole Naske won the men's single sculls by a large margin with Daniel De Groot of Canada and South Africa's Daniel Watkins taking silver and bronze respectively.

After missing the podium in 2013, the German women's eight won this year over the 2013 Junior World Champions, Romania as well as the crew from Russia. Romania ended with bronze and Russia with silver. In the men's eight Germany finished ahead of the Netherlands and Italy. The silver for the Netherlands was their first medal in this boat class and it represented one of two medals that the Dutch won at this regatta.

Romania finished second on the medals table with a count of two gold medals, two silvers and a bronze. The golds for Romania came in the women's double sculls and the women's pair. China also tallied up two gold medals. The Chinese brought a small team to the regatta, and found success in the women's four and women's quadruple sculls.

Italy and the Czech Republic both had gold medal success with Italy winning the men's coxed four and the Czech Republic taking gold in the men's pair.

Find the results here.

A number of these athletes will now move on to the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China which begins on 17 August, 2014.

Next on the World Rowing calendar is the 2014 World Rowing Championships. These will be held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from 24 to 31 August.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Oar My Pen

My Oar My Pen

All I write
I write longhand,
the page my scull,
my pen my oar,
words, the river
I row, calm
water, whitewater,
water of glass, water of froth,
sculls vulnerable
to rock, to pebble,
to grain of sand in my path
the ink of my oar attempts
to navigate.

Philip Kuepper
17 June 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

In Memory of Oarsmen who Died in the Great War

Martinsart's British Cemetery, where F. S. Kelly is buried.

This year media are writing celebratory pieces on the First World War that began 100 years ago, on 28 July 1914 to be more exact. The River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames has just started a very promising blog, Home Front Henley, about the War. Read it here.

HTBS has several times written about oarsmen who fell in the Great War. To mention a few of the more famous ones: Frederick Septimus Kelly, Julian Grenfell, Eric Fairbairn, Guiseppe Sinigaglia and Bernhard von Gaza. We have also posted articles on War Monuments at rowing clubs and other places and war recruitment posters.

In his book The Boat Race: The Story of the First Hundred Races between Oxford and Cambridge (1954) author Gordon Ross lists 42 names of British Blues who paid the ultimate price during the 1914-1918 War - twenty-one Dark Blues and twenty-one Light Blues.

On 1 August Martin Cross published a wonderful piece on FISA’s World Rowing website about the First World War and oarsmen who fought on the battlefields around the world. Read his piece here and watch his video (below) on how he, in May, sculled the River Somme in France to commemorate the brave oarsmen who died:

In the June/July issue of British Rowing’s magazine Rowing & Regatta, Cross also had a well-written piece about his Somme row.

Though the following video has been posted on many places around the web during the last couple of weeks, it is worth watching and listen to over and over again. This is oarsman and composer F. S. Kelly’s Elegy for String Orchestra, written at Gallipoli in memory of Rupert Brooke, the poet and fellow soldier, who had died on board a French hospital ship just off the Greek island of Skyros, where Kelly and his comrades buried Brooke.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

HTBS by the Numbers

Hello All!

Here is an update on HTBS's 'numbers' that we would like to share with you readers.

HTBS will pass a special number today, as we will reach 300,000 pagevisits by the end of the day. We are also rapidly approaching 1M pageviews, we have right now 105 followers, and this is the 1,692nd post. Not bad for a blog celebrating the history of rowing.

Our warm thanks to all you HTBS readers ~ you are the ones who got us there....

Göran R Buckhorn,

Henley Literary Festival 2014

Greg Denieffe writes:

The 8th Henley Literary Festival beginning 29 September and running to 5 October is now open for bookings. The exciting news for rowing enthusiasts is that there are three opportunities to catch up with the authors of recent publications on the subject. Dodd, Carlson and Mowbray may sound like the name of a dodgy firm of solicitors but the only thing dodgy about their contribution to the world of rowing literature is that Chris Dodd touches on some dodgy dealings in his book Bonnie Brave Boat Rowers.

Dodd will be the first of the trio to grace the festival when on Monday 29 September he literally takes to the water on board Hibernia to discuss Geordie Rowers.

A canny good read!

From the festival programme (FP):

As fitting an author to appear at Henley (and on the Hibernia) as you can imagine. Christopher joins us from the River & Rowing Museum to recall the rowing culture that thrived in the north east of England through the 19th and early 20th century. Rowing was a professional sport inspiring innovative design of racing boats, while the music hall roared with songs to honour the oarsmen’s prowess.

You can read HTBS editor Göran Buckhorn’s review of the book here, order a copy here and read a review of Chris’ 2012 appearance at the festival here.

Also on Monday 29 on the Hibernia immediately after Chris, Jack Carlson will tell the story of his book Rowing Blazers.

Rowing Blazers, British edition

Rowing Blazers, American edition

Cambridge University’s Lady Margaret Boat Club has the honour of wearing the first blazers, so called as they were (and still are) bright red. But the jacket has gone on to become a worldwide rowing uniform and one that brightens the Thames banks during our Royal Regatta in July. So join Jack, winner of last year’s Regatta, aboard the Hibernia with his stunning book on the history and development of the rowing blazer, featuring designs from around the globe. He is wonderfully qualified as an oarsman who has represented the USA at the World Rowing Championships and rowed [sic] for Oxford in the University Boat Race. So that is two blazers he is entitled to wear! (FP).

Tim Koch recently reviewed the book for HTBS. He also features within its pages. Read his review here and watch a video that tells the story of the authentic striped, piped, trimmed and badged rowing blazer, through the oarsmen and women who wear them here.

Whilst these two events follow each other on board the Hobbs & Sons Hibernia, separate bookings which can be made here are required for each.

If these two rowing events can be said to top the festival, you will have to wait until the final day (Sunday 5 October) for the tail. It is an event that I am particularly looking forward to as I have already received a ‘pass out’ for the day and my ticket is booked!

Recipe book?

Alison Mowbray won a silver medal in the women’s quadruple scull at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Her autobiography Gold Medal Flapjack, Silver Medal Life was the first rowing book published in 2014, with a publication date of 2 January.

From the official press release:

Alison Mowbray wasn’t a sporty kid and thought that being good at sport was a pre-requisite for going to the Olympics. She thought she might be a doctor, a teacher, a Blue Peter presenter or maybe the first ever female naval submariner.

Then at 18 I discovered rowing. From that point on, for the next 15 years, I didn’t have a choice anymore. She made the British team at 27, by which time she had already lived a whole other life.

I never planned to be inspiring so really this is just the story of how I did the things I love, the very best I could do them, and how very far it took me. You don’t choose to go to the Olympics. You lay out everything you have and let the Olympics take it no deals, no bargains, no questions asked, no hope of return. Maybe it will be enough and the Olympics will choose you, and maybe it won’t.

That’s what you do. That is this story. This is a Silver medal life of achievement, addiction, alcoholism, anorexia and Alzheimer’s. But a Gold medal story of passion and perseverance, and not letting anything or anybody get between yourself and your dream. And of what happens next perhaps the most Olympian journey of all after the blaze of glory with the medal held high. Because what do you do when you’ve achieved everything you ever wanted to achieve? Where do you go from there?

This started out as a recipe book with a few stories from my life, and then the story took over. It also became really important to me to write this as a history of British women’s rowing because I don’t think many people on the outside really understand how incredibly self-motivated and tough us women have had to be pull ourselves up, often in defiance of the first fledgling attempts at some sort of system”.

Alison will once again take to the water on the beautiful river Thames on the final day of the festival as the Hibernia is also the setting for her talk. Martin Cross, aka The Blogging Oarsman gives his take on the book in a short video which you can watch here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Workout

The Workout

The warm drapery of sunlight
dragged across the cold
colbalt water in the Nordic
morning.  The sculler
shivered as he slipped
into his scull.  The quiet
drip of his oars into the lake
began the measured
conversation between
himself and rowing,
a conversation warmed
by the efforts of his strokes.
Then he felt the drapery
of sunlight brush his shoulders.
And he took the conversation
deeper into the morning.

Philip Kuepper
22 June 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

1974 World Championships on Rotsee

On 1 August rowing historian and journalist Christopher Dodd wrote here on HTBS about the 1976 Henley Royal Regatta. Just a couple of weeks earlier, on 13 July, he had written a 'prelude' to that piece on his own blog Rowingvoice. In that article he remembers how he, as the rowing correspondent for The Guardian, and Jim Railton of The Times had arrived at Rotsee in Lucerne for the 1974 World Championships. Dodd's "Hot times in the Cold War" is an entertaining story about Henrietta's bar and the hostess's party trick, the British eight's disastrous race in the semi-final, how the eight's cox, Pat Sweeney, worked his boat through the other nations' crews one by one in the final and how the Championships ended with a tear gas attack by Swiss police trying to break up the athletes' after-race party - while the party band continued to play on.... They don't make regattas like that anymore.

In June earlier this year, a video on the eights final at the 1974 World Championships was uploaded on YouTube, see below. (There are no race commentaries, but close to the 500-metre mark, at 2:32 min., Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" - released in January 1974 - starts to play and will follow the race to the finish line.)

Please see also HTBS's post "The Story of the Martini Achter" on the American 1973 and 1974 crews, and the 1974 crew's reunion earlier this year.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Phoenix Boat

The Phoenix Boat

After the race, the boat
was broken up
and burned.
In the flames, rose
the robed gorgeous
Bird of Fire,
flight of flame fanning,
with brilliance, the air.
Afterwards, ashes
lay white-hot on the ground,
like the whispers of spirits
already discussing
next year's race.

Philip Kuepper
20 June 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

100 Years ago at Henley

Union Boat Club, closes to the camera, meeting Harvard for a celebratory row at Henley Royal Regatta this summer.

HTBS just received an e-mail from American 1956 Olympian cox, Bill Becklean (whom we wrote about on 18 June). Bill went to Henley Regatta this summer to, among other things, cox in a ‘reenactment race’ to celebrate the 1914 Grand Challenge Cup race between the American crews Harvard JV and Union Boat Club, of Boston. A race that Harvard famously won.

‘Both organizations showed up with veterans to row over the course during the lunch intermission on the day of the finals. Both crews much enjoyed the demo,’ Bill writes.

The UBC crew, back row: Bill Becklean, Charlie Clapp, Sam Batchelor and Derek Silver; front row:  Val Hollingsworth, Mike Corr, Rob Wettech, Alecs Zoluls and Josi Shamir. (Sorry, no information on the names in the Harvard crew more than Devin Mahoney, cox.

Update 3 August: On the River and Rowing Museum's new blog Home Front Henley, on 5 July, there is a contemporary account of the race between Union BC and Harvard - read it here. See also the blog on 30 June, here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Chris Dodd: Henley Royal Regatta 1976

Thames Tradesmen leading Leander in the final of the Grand. Photo: Rowing August 1976.

As HTBS readers know by now, YouTube is a real treasure trove when it comes to film clips on rowing. HTBS’s Tim Koch found two wonderful films from the 1976 Henley Royal Regatta on YouTube. HTBS asked rowing historian Christopher Dodd to write a commentary about Henley for that year. As many of you are aware of, Dodd is an authority on British rowing and he paid special attention to the country’s rowing progress during the 1970s in his book Pieces of Eight: Bob Janousek and his Olympians (2012).

Christopher Dodd writes:

Henley Regatta took place on 1-4 July 1976 at the end of a heat wave. The temperature reached over 90° Fahrenheit*, humidity was at its wettest, the river low and the stream minimal. There was a new hazard to Henley, clearly visible in the YouTube video clips – swimmers on the booms and on the course. See the following film:

The open events were devoid of national crews, including the entire British team, who were in Canada preparing for the Montreal Olympics. Britain’s best hopes for medals that summer were the men’s eight, hand-picked three years before by Bob Janousek, the national coach, and the double scullers Chris Baillieu and Mike Hart. The eight’s last pre-Olympic regatta was Lucerne, held before Henley that year, and there was no opportunity to thrill the home crowd at Henley.

So the open events were short of class if not of competition. Janousek’s eight was a blend of Leander Club and Thames Tradesmen, and it was these two clubs who finished up contesting the Grand. Both contained men who had missed Olympic selection. 

Leander reached the final by beating the University of British Columbia (three quarter length) followed by London University (half length). Tradesmen arrived there by beating London RC by a third of a length. London were effectively the national lightweight eight (no Olympic lightweight events in 1976). London University were coxed by John Boultbee, who later became the first Australian to be elected a Henley Steward.

As the clip shows, Tradesmen won a close final by two thirds of a length. This was the second attempt after a re-row was ordered by the umpire after Leander stopped at the top of the Island during the first attempt when their rudder hit a submerged object.

The race was re-scheduled for 4.15 p.m. (three and a quarter hours after the first start), and Tradesmen went out to three quarters of a length at Fawley and saw off Leander’s attempts to get even.

The crews in the Grand final were:

Thames Tradesmen: Mallin, K. Cusack, Burch, Wilson, Bayles, Roberts, Milligan, Brown, cox Sherman.

Leander: D. and G. Innes, Tatton, Hardingham, King, Woodward-Fisher, Gregory, Rankine, cox Lee.

The commentaries on these clips are by Jim Railton, the rowing correspondent of The Times, who had been the ARA’s trainer in the late 1960s and who, a sprinter by sport, had blooded himself in rowing as a volunteer coach at Tradesmen.

Railton has a comfortable, warm voice with a trace of his Liverpudlian origin, and he doesn’t make mistakes. But his performance highlights the problems of commentating on rowing and filming on the Henley course. He is caught between the producers’ paranoia of silence breaking out even when the viewer can see what is happening, and the commentator’s paucity of information. Although he had coached some of these men – producing a famous ‘Beatle’ four of Mason, Clark, Robertson and Smallbone who morphed into Janousek’s Olympic squad – Railton doesn’t furnish us with their record, past performance or personal history. Added to which, he’s talking to a monitor in a trailer somewhere. It’s unfair to throw all the blame for lack lustre at him. The same challenges face the Stewards today as they seriously consider getting the tv cameras in.

The Thames Cup in 1976 was electric because the local club, Henley RC, were on the brink of winning their first Henley medal. They beat Saxon, Vesta, Rollins College and the selected University of Pennsylvania to reach a final against Harvard. Their race with Penn was hairy because Henley lost an oar from a rowlock on the 18th stroke, but recovered to take the lead.

A year before, Harvard had lost the first round of the Thames to Garda Siochana, the Irish police, who went on to win the cup. It was the first time Harvard had lost in the Thames, and in 1976 they were keen to recover their record. They were selected and reached the final by way of wins over Molesey, Imperial College, Hansa Dortmund and Christiania of Norway.

The final was a cracker. Henley had a canvas at the quarter mile signal and kept it to the Barrier and stretched it to a third of a length at Fawley, over-rating Harvard. Then Harvard drew level at the three quarter signal. Henley rose to 41 and Harvard to 43 to bring the latter home first by a canvas.

The crews in the Thames Cup final were:

Harvard: McGee, Templeton, Wood, Moore, Wiley, Perkins, Porter, Gardiner, cox You.

Henley RC: Maffre, Bushnell, Smith, Allen, Marsden, Pankhurst, Glenn, Richardson, cox Woodford.

After Hansa Dortmund withdrew, the Stewards’ was a straight final between University of British Columbia and Thames Tradesmen. Both crews had also rowed in the Grand, with Tradesmen having covered extra mileage that day because of the Grand re-row. The Canadians took the lead off the start and had a length and a half at the mile. Tradesmen then reduced the gap and pulled a desperate splurge out of their hat to finish a third of a length down.

The crews in the Stewards final were:

UBC and Vancouver RC: Rea, Bodnar, Moran, Allester.

Thames Tradesmen: Mallin, Roberts, Milligan, Cusack.

The Princess Elizabeth for schools was marred by the exam timetable again, complained the Henley recorder. Why these people who arrange A levels cannot conduct their affairs to avoid the Henley timetable, he couldn’t imagine. There were two selected crews – Holy Spirit High School (U.S.) and Emanuel School from Wandsworth, and they duly met in the final. Holy Spirit beat Hampton and Tabor Academy to get there, and Emanuel disposed of Abingdon and Eton.

In the final Holy Spirit led to the Barrier, where Emanuel drew level. Not for long, however. The Americans had half a length at the three quarters signal and drew away at the end to win by two thirds of a length.

The crews in the Princess Elizabeth final were:

Holy Spirit HS: McDevitt, Millar, Bibik, Foerster, Guenther, Welsh, White, Brown, cox Maguire.

Emanuel School: Tollitt, Ridgley, Lemmens, G. Roberts, Field, Downie, N. Roberts, C. Roberts, cox Upton.

The other half of the Tradesmen Grand eight won the Prince Philip for coxed fours by a row-over. Leander, the other finalists, withdrew because they were also rowing in the re-scheduled Grand and refused to contest the Philip before it. So the Philip was a damp squib – not the only one on the Sunday afternoon. With a fork of lightning and a clap of thunder, the weather broke, and all thoughts turned to Montreal.

Christopher Dodd’s Pieces of Eight is available from the River & Rowing Museum here and Richard Way Bookseller, 54 Friday Street, Henley-on-Thames or give them a call at INT+44+(0)1491-576663.

*Editor's Note: In an unsigned article about the 1976 Henley Regatta in the magazine Rowing, August 1976 issue, it was stated about the warm weather:

On two days in the nineties the rule about jackets was relaxed in the Stewards’ Enclosure, although ties were still required and shirts had to stay on in the public enclosure. On the banks it was bikini tops which came off, making paddling up to the start more interesting than usual.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 World Rowing Junior Championships

Representing the USA in the women's double sculls at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Germany are Claire Campbell (bow) and Mary Campbell, sisters of Andrew Campbell, who just last weekend became the champion in the men's lightweight single sculls at the 23-Under Championships. Photo: USRowing.

On 6-10 August, the 2014 World Rowing Junior Championships will be held in Hamburg, Germany. About the Championships FISA writes on their website:

More than 730 junior athletes, under the age of 19, from 57 nations will compete in the 13 different boat classes. Germany, Italy and the United States have entered the largest teams; they have entered all 13 events with a total of 49 athletes each.

The women’s single sculls has an impressive turnout and with 35 crews entered, it is the largest field competing at the event. The men’s single sculls has 32 crews entered and the men’s pair and men’s quadruple sculls both with a field of 27.

This is the first FISA World Championship appearance for Nigeria and Togo, who will both compete in the women’s single sculls, with Nigeria also entered in the men’s quadruple sculls.

The course is located on the Dove-Elbe Water Park, which was officially opened as a regatta course in 1985. It is situated on a peaceful arm of the Elbe River and has hosted numerous national and international rowing events including the World Rowing Cup in 2011.

For rowers to be eligible to compete at the World Rowing Junior Championships, they must be 18 years of age or under. A rower can compete as a junior until 31 December of the year in which he or she reaches the age of 18; after that date the rower is classified as an under-23 rower.

Some participants from developing nations are able to attend the World Rowing Junior Championships through donations from participants at the World Rowing Masters Regatta (whose participants are all over the age of 27). 

Live race tracker, audio streaming, results, race reports, live blog and a photo gallery will be available throughout the junior championships on

A full list of entries and an updated provisional timetable can be found here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ghost Rower

Ghost Rower

I saw,
reflected in the gleaming
hull of a yacht,
a sculler scull past
in the harbor crowded with craft,
though I never did see him
in the flesh.

Philip Kuepper
19 June 2014