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.
Photograph: Werner Schmidt
Friday, June 4, 2010
The Bournes: 3 - The Theoretical Coach
Bob Bourne’s father Gilbert Charles Bourne, was born in 1861. At the age of six, the family doctor declared him unfit for sports as he had a heart disease. However, at a new medical examination at Eton, young Bourne was given a ‘clean bill of health’. He immediately began to row competitively but, as The Time’s obituary put it, “as his style was unpleasing to the authorities, he was given only a humble position in Lower Boat choices.” It all changed in the spring of 1878, when Bourne unexpectedly was picked for Trail Eights, and he rowed bow of the Eton eight, and the crew reached the final of the Ladies' Plate at Henley that year. He was Captain of the Boats in 1880 and 1881.
G. C. Bourne rowed in the bow seat in Oxford’s winning Blue boat, both in 1883 and 1884. In front of him sat, at two-seat, R.S. de Havilland and they would later become advocates for the English orthodox style taught by the famous Dr. Edmond Warre, head-master and their rowing coach at Eton.
G.C. Bourne, who became a famous professor and coach at Oxford, used his studies in zoology, marine biology, and mathematics to mix in with his coaching. He coached Oxford for several periods from 1885 to 1927 (12 of his Blue boats won The Boat Race). His love for theory, whether it was to coach, to build boats, or the best dimensions of oars – their length and the width of the blades – is clearly seen in his wonderful book A Text-Book of Oarsmanship with an Essay on Muscular Action in Rowing, which was published in 1925 (reprinted in 1987).
Here is a 5-minute newsreel from 1925, Getting Well Together, “by courtesy of Doctor Bourne” [who is coaching the dark Blues in this film!]:
‘Hear the Boat Sing’ (HTBS) was founded in 2009 by Göran R Buckhorn, a Swede living in Connecticut, a magazine editor, culture scribe and a rowing historian. In 1990, Göran co-founded the Swedish rowing magazine, “Svensk Rodd”, for which he is now a contributing editor. He has written numerous articles on rowing, and is one of the Directors of Friends of Rowing History and a member of BARJ, the British Association of Rowing Journalists. Regular contributors to HTBS are: rowing historians Tim Koch and Greg Denieffe, both in England; Hélène Rémond, France; and Philip Kuepper, Connecticut. Besides writing articles on The Boat Race, the Henley Royal Regatta, the Wingfield Sculls, and the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race, Tim has made some rowing documentaries. He is also a Director of the Friends of Rowing History and a member of BARJ. Greg is an Irishman who specializes on Irish rowing. Some of his finest pieces are on HTBS. Hélène, who wrote her thesis on British rowing, has covered The Boat Race and the Henley Regatta for French papers and HTBS, also shooting beautiful photos for this blog. Philip’s poems on rowing have topics about everything between the daily life and the divine.