Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Thomas Keller Medal Goes To Jüri Jaanson

On 10 July, Jüri Jaanson (left) was awarded the Thomas Keller Medal from the hands of Dominik Keller, son of the late Thomas Keller. (Photo FISA)

Earlier in July, the Thomas Keller Medal committee announced that the 2011 Thomas Keller Medal, rowing’s highest distinction, was awarded to Estonian rower Jüri Jaanson. The 18-carat gold medal was awarded on Sunday, 10 July at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland. Dominik Keller, son of the late Thomas Keller, FISA’s former President, was as usual handing out the award.

In the July issue of the FISA Newsletter, it says,

“Throughout his long career Jaanson took part in no less than six Olympic Games. He holds five World Championship medals, including one gold from 1990 in Lake Barrington, Australia and a silver which he won when racing in Finland in 1995. Driven by his urge to win an Olympic medal, Jaanson had to keep rowing until 2004 before reaching the Olympic podium, taking silver first in Athens in the single scull and four years later, in Beijing in 2008 in the men’s double sculls.

It was probably this ambition to be on an Olympic podium which helped him persevere despite the many challenges he had to overcome. He suffers from severe hearing impairment. He also had to overcome the challenges of rowing first under the Soviet system and then the transition to a totally new system following the collapse of the USSR. The resulting loss in funding was only another difficulty which made his perseverance and achievements even more remarkable.

Jaanson retired after competing at the 2009 World Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland, 23 years after he first appeared on the international scene at the 1987 World Championships in Denmark. At that time, he had finished fifth behind Thomas Lange, Peter-Michael Kolbe and Pertti Karppinen. He had gone on to win his only World Championship title three years later, in 1990, at Lake Barrington, Australia.

Throughout Jaanson’s extensive rowing career he only ever took four or five months out of the boat. This was usually in the winter time when it was not possible to row. He is a true legend in his country and hero in the sport of rowing, having even been named Estonian Man of the Year in his home country following his 2004 Olympic silver medal in the single scull.”

About the Thomas Keller Medal
The Thomas Keller Medal is the highest distinction in the sport of rowing. It is awarded to recognise an exceptional international rowing career as well as exemplary sportsmanship and legendary aspect.

The award was named after the late President of FISA, Thomas Keller “Thomi”, who was born in 1924 and elected President of FISA in 1958, at the age of 34. He was then the youngest-ever president of an international sports federation. Following the 1988 Olympics, Thomi Keller spontaneously awarded the FISA Medal of Honour to Peter-Michael Kolbe and Pertti Karppinen to commemorate one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport and recognising their exceptional talent and sportsmanship. This shaped the idea of the Thomas Keller Medal which was initiated by the Keller family following Thomi’s passing in 1989 and was first awarded to the great Norwegian oarsman Alf Hansen in 1990.

Each year, the winner is carefully selected by the Thomas Keller Medal committee, after a broad international nomination process, to ensure that the true values in which Thomi so strongly believed are represented in this award.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Greg Searle To Publish An Autobiography In 2012

The writes today that British oarsman Greg Searle, who took an Olympic gold medal in the coxed pair in 1992 Games in Barcelona together with his brother Jonny, is going to publish a memoir next year. Publisher Jon Butler at Macmillan has bought the rights to Be a Legend by Searle. In 2012, at the age of 40, Searle will go for his second Olympic gold medal, now in the eights. Butler told,

“Greg Searle’s extraordinary comeback will be one of the stories of the London Olympics, regardless of his boat’s performance. The final of the men’s rowing eight will be watched by millions, and the story of Greg’s fierce determination to be an Olympian again at the age of 40 will be on everyone’s lips. This book will take the reader to the very heart of what it means to compete at this level, and provide a window into the fears, dreams and decisions that make up Greg’s historic quest for glory.”

Read the article here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Four Men On The Thames

Early this morning, the four friends Iain Weir, James Clarke, Mark Bavington, and Stephen Feeney of London Rowing Club pushed off their touring quad at Lechlade to begin “the epic journey rowing it back to Putney”. They hope to arrive at Putney on Sunday. These four fellows are not trying to break any records, or to do anything extraordinary on the way, but what they are hoping to accomplish is to raise awareness about the illness Neuroacanthocytosis. As advocates they are also hoping to raise money for this noble cause.

To visit their website, “Four Men in a Boat,” and learn how you can donate money, please click here.

The Four is also hoping to show how easy it is to get involved in recreational rowing with the Explore Rowing scheme, which is run by British Rowing.

Warm thanks to HTBS's Hélène Rémond, who pointed us in the direction of this event.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Greatest Of Them All!

A few days ago, The Daily Telegraph asked the question: ‘Of all the British heroes and heroines of past Olympic Games, who is the greatest Olympian of them all?’

Silly question, really, as we rowers know who this person is, but just for the fun of it, let’s play along…. Well, actually, we did not have to worry as Sir Steven Redgrave got 58% of the votes, to compare with second-placed Daley Thompson, the decathlete, who received 13%.

Read The Daily Telegraph article here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blackburn Challenge Race

And now a local story: On the 23 July it was the 25th anniversary Blackburn Challenge Race around Cape Ann in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Two local fellows, whom I briefly know, Russell Smith and Sean Bercaw, were rowing the 20-mile-long race, Smith for the 19th time, and Bercaw for the eighth time. The local newspaper, The Day, was running a nice story about the two, which you can read here. You can also see a clip of the two fellows sculling above.

And they won their class, the fixed seat, double, at 3:25.57. Congratulations! Gloucester Times wrote about the race, here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Men Of A Certain Breed

In the book Battle of the Blues (ed. Christopher Dodd & John Marks; 2004) the actor and comedian Hugh Laurie writes about his famous father, Ran Laurie, who rowed in three winning Boat Races for the Light Blues between 1934 and 1936, and took the Grand at Henley for Leander in 1934. Ran Laurie also stroked the British eight that took a fourth place in the eight at the Berlin Olympic Games. After World War II, in 1948, Ran Laurie and his rowing partner, Jack Wilson, both came back to England after a career in the Colonial Service in Sudan. They later that year took an Olympic gold medal in the pair at the Olympic rowing event in Henley-on-Thames.

Hugh Laurie writes in Battle of the Blues (p. 79),

"I have a picture over my desk of my father and Jack Wilson receiving their gold medal on the pontoon at Henley in 1948. Jack is loose-limbed and dashing, my father ramrod straight to attention. I think it describes the two of them very well - or perhaps each is describing a part of the other - for these were two really remarkable men. Tough, modest, generous and, I like to think, without the slightest thought of personal gain throughout their entire lives. A vanished breed, I honestly believe."

Hugh Laurie also talks about his father on the British television-show Parkinson (this was before his "House" days...) how he did not know that his father, who clearly was a very modest man, was an Olympic rowing champion. So when his parents suggested that the three of them were to go on a fishing trip, with his father at the oars, young Laurie very skeptically asked his mother: "Does he know how to row?"

Hugh Laurie, who tried to follow in his father's footsteps - or should I say wake - at the oars, confesses that he is 'not made of the same stuff.' My own father was not an oarsman, though he supported my Swedish rowing club, when I became a member. I came to think of my father earlier today. He and Ran Laurie were of the same generation, and I can only agree with Hugh Laurie, men of that generation were of a certain breed.

Here is a clip with Hugh Laurie on the Parkinson show:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Harry Parker Is Ill

Well, I guess, it is official now after the Boston Globe wrote about it on the 21st July, legendary rowing coach Harry Parker, 75, is undergoing treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Parker took ill in mid-May and has since been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which is a form of blood cancer that can lead to leukemia.

I thought he looked a little tired when I briefly talked to and congratulated him to Harvard’s three wins over Yale on 28 May (see HTBS Harvard Takes It All), but he still had the glimpse in his eye when he talked about his Harvard crews.

Parker did not go to Henley, instead associate head coach Bill Manning, who has proved to be a capable coach, was in charge in England. Manning tells the Globe that although Parker is getting treatment at Dana-Faber Cancer Institute doesn’t mean that he is not involved. “It’s very clear that Harry’s in charge,’’ Manning told the Globe. “He’s running the show. My expectation is that he’s going to be coaching on the water essentially every day [when training starts again in September].’’

Already on 11 July, Rowing News reported that Parker was receiving cancer treatment. To read the Globe’s article, click here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rowing Inriggers In Sweden

The other day, the local tv-channel in the town of Kalmar, located on the east coast of Sweden just across to the island of Öland, showed a short clip from the rowing club in town, Kalmar Roddklubb, founded in 1925. The recreational rowing has always been strong at the club, which nowadays has forty-something members. Most of the members, it is said in one of the interviews, are 65-year-olds and older. A couple of times a week, the members go out in the club’s inriggers ‘to enjoy being out in the nature’.

Below is the clip:

Sulkava Race

Every year the mighty Sulkava Race is rowed in Finland. The Englishman Anthony Shaw has completed in this 60km long race and has posted an interesting entry on Chris P.’s eminent blog Rowing for Pleasure. Click here to go to Tony’s article.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Day With The Uppers

These Queen’s Men are in a ‘ram dam’. Bow and stroke are rowing, number two is sculling.

HTBS’s Tim Koch attended what must be regarded as a very British event, ‘Swan Upping’. Here is his report:

‘Swan Upping’ dates from perhaps the 12th century and occurs annually over five days towards the end of July when mute swans between Sunbury and Abingdon on the River Thames are checked, marked and counted. In the best traditions of strange British events, it is an ancient activity whose purpose has changed over the years, it involves a certain amount of dressing up and drinking alcohol and it has both practical and ceremonial aspects.

The rowing connections to Swan Upping are two-fold. The Uppers work from six Thames Skiffs and they are mostly apprenticed served watermen, licensed to work the river. Some of them are also Doggettt’s winners.

The Royal Swan Uppers wear red Guernsey sweaters.

Historically it was desirable to own swans because the young birds (cygnets) were considered good to eat on special occasions. The King or Queen was entitled to claim ownership of any unmarked swans in open water. Today swans are no longer eaten and only three bodies have maintained their right to own the birds. These are the Crown (the King or Queen) and two Livery Companies, the Vintners and the Dyers. Livery Companies are descended from medieval guilds who regulated their trades, the wine trade in the case of the Vintners and the cloth dying trade in the case of the Dyers.

The event is run by the Queen’s Swan Marker, presently David Barber, a man clearly genuinely passionate about swan conservation. He wears a scarlet jacket with gold trim. These days he is supported by the Queen’s Swan Warden, presently Professor Chris Perrins, an ornithologist from Oxford University. The Royal Swan Uppers wear red Guernsey sweaters embroidered with the Queen’s cipher. The Vintners’ Swan Marker is presently Martin Spencer, a Doggett’s winner, and his men wear white Guernseys, and the Dyers’ Swan Marker is currently David Reed and his men wear blue Guernseys. Each boat flies appropriate flags and pennants.

The day begins with a small glass of port and a toast to Her Majesty the Queen, the ‘Seigneur (Lord) of the Swans.’

One of the Vintners’ skiffs, coxed by Bob Prentice, Doggett’s and Henley winner.

When a groups of swans with young are found, the cry of ‘All-Up’ is given and the boats surround the brood. They are taken ashore, data is collected, each bird’s health is checked, they are weighed and cygnets whose parents carry the rings of one of the livery companies are given the same rings. Royal birds are not marked. At some spots local schoolchildren are invited to watch and ask questions. Education and conservation are important modern aspects of this ancient activity.

Here is a nice video of a recent Upping:

In 2009 the Queen was the first Monarch in hundreds of years to witness Swan Upping taking place. A news report on this event is shown here:

In the first 15 seconds and then from 42 seconds a ‘ram dam’ is shown, this is a skiff that has bow and stroke rowing (one large oar held with both hands) while number two, in the middle, is sculling (two small oars, one held in each hand). Could a HTBS reader explain the logic of such an arrangement?

Some of the Queen’s Swan Uppers relaxing under tow.

There is some cheating involved in covering 79 miles of river in five days with frequent stops to wrestle large angry birds. The skiffs are towed behind motor launches for some of the way. These are supplied and driven by members of the Thames Vintage Boat Club who are a very hospitable crowd. The final craft in this flotilla is the press launch which is one of Henley Royal Regatta’s umpires’ launches.

The two Vintners’ skiffs under tow. The tow boats must be members of the Thames Vintage Boat Society.

Skiffs, tow boats and the press launch (a HRR umpire’s launch) in Boulters Lock.

I had a splendid day on the Thames with the Uppers. My thanks to the many people who looked after me: Martin Spencer (Doggett’s 1970), Bob Coleman (Doggett’s 1996), Paul Willmott (Press Officer), Caterina Little (Buckingham Palace Press Office), Carolyn and Brian (thanks for the ride and the wine) and Sean and Paul (thanks for the ride and the beer).

The only question that remains unanswered is - what does swan taste like?

‘All up’ A brood of swans are penned in by the skiffs.

The swans are put back after marking. The lady in the centre is from the Shepperton Swan Sanctuary, the man behind her and to her right is the Queen’s Swan Warden, Professor Chris Perrins.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tim Koch On Rowing Pamphlets

Tim Koch writes about rowing pamphlets,

The recent HTBS item on the mystery rowing pamphlet which started here and finished here reminded me of the fact that, in the pre-internet age (remember then?), the pamphlet was a relatively cheap and easy way to get political, social and technical ideas circulated. As it is often held that everything that you need to know about rowing can be written on the back of a postage stamp, the sport lends itself to the production of such publications.

Steve Fairbairn (1860 - 1938) probably the most influential rowing coach of the twentieth century, produced several pamphlets. I have a reprint of the fourteen-page Rowing in a Nutshell: The Endless Chain Movement and I have a feeling that his book, Chats on Rowing started as a series of booklets. I am sure that HTBS readers will let me know if I am correct and also what other pamphlets 'Steve' produced.

I recently had access to the archive of W.D. Kinnear (1880-1974), the 1912 Olympic Sculling Champion (I will write more about this another time) and one of the things it contained was a 1925 pamphlet by 'J. Beresford'. I assume this is Julius, Beresford Senior (1868-1959), not Jack, Beresford Junior (1899-1977), his son and five times Olympic medalist. It contained everything that 'Old Berry' thought important about rowing - on one side of something smaller than A4. (See also HTBS 28 February, 2010 for the 1954 edition, seen on the right.)

The most recent such publication that I know of is the 32-page Rowing Technique: A Manual for Rowers and Coaches first published in 2001 by Peter Holmes and the late Andy Holmes (1959-2010).

In my opinion it is a splendid little book which should be issued to everyone starting rowing (and to many who have been doing it for a long time). The publisher is Springback Books. Their website no longer works but I would imagine that the Richard Way Bookshop in Henley has copies.

If I may deviate slightly, from an historical point of view, I particularly like the one page chapter in Rowing Technique entitled 'Old Masters'. It says of Edmond Warre: 'We no longer accept the 'body-beginning' of orthodox, fixed seat style but Warre defined most of the other elements of good technique'.

On F.S. Kelly: '(Kelly) applies Warre's ideas to sculling, insisting that the action is the same.

R.S de Havilland: '(de Havilland) bought Warre's ideas up to date for longer slides. Fixed seat coaches argued that the slide just extended the swing. Havvy changed the emphasis by insisting that legwork is still the foundation of rowing. But... he still stresses the need to swing and get on your feet'.

On Gilbert Bourne: '(Bourne) accepted all of Warre's ideas (Göran Buckhorn disagrees) .... he analyses the stroke in a scientific way that modern coaches still find useful'.

On Steve Fairbairn: '(Fairbairn) remains the most influential coach in rowing history. His ideas on 'natural action' and the 'springing hit' are fundamental to good technique. We even still use his coaching calls. No one has written better about what it feels like to row a blade'.

The best thing about pamphlets is that lack of space forces the author(s) to follow the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid. This alone is an argument for bringing them back.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

'Ducker' McLean Wrote "Oarsmanship"

Thank God for HTBS’s readers! Through posting comments and sending us e-mails we here at HTBS know that there are actually readers out there who not only silently read the entries that we post, but also give us information when we might fail in our attempts to find the background to a story. Of course, this is what HTBS is all about, to entertain and educate as many people as possible in the noble history of boat-racing, rowing, and sculling.

Malcolm Cook, who has chipped in important information before, sent an e-mail yesterday saying that he had solved the mystery with the pamphlet Oarsmanship. The good Malcolm writes,

“I’ve managed to track down the author of your pamphlet on Oarsmanship. In your blog you quote the pamphlet’s opening paragraph. Thanks to Google, I’ve found that it’s also the opening of a section entitled “Oarsmanship” in the rowing article in The Encyclopaedia of Sport (published 1898). The author of that section is given as D.H. McLean. Wikipedia has a biography of him here.

The relevant volume of the Encyclopaedia can be downloaded or read online here.

The section on Oarsmanship starts on page 271.”

Brilliant information, Malcolm. Thank you!

About the author of Oarsmanship, we borrow from Wikipedia:

Douglas Hamilton McLean (18 March 1863 - 5 February 1901) was born in Sydney, Australia and was educated at Eton and rowed in the school’s eight that took the Ladies’ Plate at Henley in 1882. At Oxford, he rowed in the Blue boat between 1883 and 1887 (winning in 1883 and 1885). The 1887 Boat Race was a memorable one, McLean’s fellow crew member Guy Nickalls wrote in his memoirs Life’s a Pudding:

“Then, ‘Ducker’ McLean broke his oar off short at the button. With the station in our favour and him out of the boat we could have won even then, but ‘Ducker’ funked the oncoming penny steamers and, instead of jumping overboard as he should have done, we had to lug his now useless body along, to lose the finish.”

‘Ducker’ and his brother Hector won the University Pairs for New College in 1885 and the Silver Goblets at Henley. In 1886, they were overpowered in the Silver Goblets final by Stanley Muttlebury and Fraser Churchill. In 1898, ‘Ducker’ collaborated with William Grenfell, (1st Baron of Desborough) writing Rowing and Punting.

‘Ducker’ was also a keen cricket-player and a “fair shot”.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tim Koch: Professionals Win At Henley

Two men who wrote rowing history, Martin Spencer (1970) and Bob Prentice (1973), the first working watermen to win at Henley Royal Regatta in 1976.

Tim Koch continues here with an interesting entry about two professionals, who have actually won at Henley:

The film director, Jules Dassin (or, more likely, one of his scriptwriters) observed that ‘There are eight million stories in the naked city.’ This may be true, but I would guess that there are probably even more stories to be found amongst those attending the Doggett’s Coat and Badge. This is just one of them.

While waiting to board the press launch at the 2011 Doggett’s, I began talking to Martin Spencer who won the race in 1970. I claim to be a rowing historian but I did not know that Martin, together with Robert ‘Bob’ Prentice (Doggett’s winner in 1973) were the first working watermen to win at Henley Royal Regatta. They achieved this in the Double Sculls in 1976, under the colours of London Rowing Club. This is not to say that they were the first watermen capable of such a feat, but for most of Henley’s existence they would have been barred as professionals. They were first in a boat together at Henley in 1967 when the younger Prentice was the coxswain.

Bob was National Youth Sculling Champion 1970 and 1971, represented Britain at the FISA Junior Championships 1970 and 1971, he won the double sculls at the National Championships 1976, 1977 and at the Home international 1976, 1977, and 1979. He is Tideway Waterman to Oxford University BC, a Queen’s Waterman, a former Waterman’s Bargemaster and the current Fishmongers’ Bargemaster. The latter post also means that he umpires the Doggett’s race. The record Bob set for the event in 1973 (23 minutes and 22 seconds) still stands.

Martin comes from a family with long associations with the river and two of his cousins wear the Coat and Badge. His father was a keen oarsman and the young Martin constantly asked to be taught to row. To delay the task, his father said that he must be able to swim ¼ mile, the width of the river at Greenwich. The 12-year-old Martin soon achieved a mile at the local swimming pool and so dad had no choice. He must had been a good teacher as, apart from his Doggett’s and Henley win, Martin competed in every Scullers Head from 1968 until 1982 and he won the event in 1980, beating Tim Crooks, a man with a formidable rowing record, by point two of a second.

Both Martin and Bob still look very lean and fit and one imagines that either could still jump into a sculling boat and show the youngsters a thing or two. They will both be ‘Swan Upping’ this week – more about that soon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tim Koch: The 2011 Doggett's Coat And Badge Race

This year's Doggett's Coat and Badge winner: Chris Anness.

Last Friday, 15th July, it was time for the annual Doggett's Coat and Badge Race on the River Thames in London. HTBS's Tim Koch was there and here is his report:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the British like to combine sport with wearing archaic clothing and drinking alcohol. The 297th Doggett’s Coat and Badge proved no exception. My report on last year’s race explains the origins and organisation of this little known and unique event, the oldest continuously held sporting event in Britain. Put simply, it is a 7,400-metre sculling race between London Bridge and near Albert Bridge, open only to those who have completed a waterman’s apprenticeship (thus qualifying them to work on the river) in the preceding few years. The winner receives the bright scarlet costume of an eighteen-century waterman with a large silver badge on the arm.

Going to the start.

Nick Beasley (2001) and Jude McGrane (2007) aboard MV Elizabethan by the Tower of London.

Bob Prentice - the race is always umpired by the Fishmongers' Bargemaster.

I was lucky enough to be able to view the race from the press launch and my thanks to the ever efficient Sandra Watts at Waterman's Hall and to Ted Manning of the Fishmongers' Company for arranging this. Confusingly, the Fishmongers run an event that one would expect the Watermen to be in charge of. The historical reason for this was that the Watermen could not be trusted with Thomas Doggett’s legacy, it was feared that they would take it down to the pub and spend it. My thanks also go to Waterman Nick Beasley for introducing me to many former winners.

At the Millennium Bridge: Alloway, Anness, Dwan, and Coleman.

A small boat on a big river: Alloway passes Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

Alloway approaching Vaxuhall Bridge - He seems to have a small pairs of sculls sticking out of his ears...

At the traditional post race meeting place, the invitingly named ‘Hung Drawn and Quartered’ pub near the Tower of London, I spoke to some of the people involved. First, the 2011 winner, Christopher Anness:

The conditions today were good, there was quite a lot of tide behind us, but it was rougher than I thought it would be. Everyone prepared their boats well and I thought it was a true test of our waterman’s skills.... it was a good battle. My race plan was to start quite quickly and then relax and enjoy it.... I knew that I’ve put the miles in and I’ve put the effort in.... and then push after Parliament, in the second half of the race…. I had a really good start.... I was about a length up by Cannon Street Bridge (300 metres). Everyone was taking their own course. I had a good pace through to Blackfriars Bridge (1,100 metres) and everyone was close there, all the boys did well. We all got to Waterloo Bridge (1,900 metres) in good shape, some of us went inside Coin Street Moorings, some outside, it did not seem to make a time difference today.... In the second half of the race Merlin [Dwan] and I opened up a gap and we held our positions from then on.... no one gave up, that was the best thing. The time was 24 minutes and 10 seconds, I think the verdict was three or four lengths. My Dad, Gary, won in his first year (out of apprenticeship) in 1982. Both sides of my family have always worked on the river. I’ve done a six year apprenticeship and this is my first attempt and it’s great, really good fun..... I’ve had a lot of coaching but my dad is the main one.... he’s helped me so much....I’m competing tomorrow [16th July] in the National Rowing Championships in the lightweight single and lightweight quad (for London RC).... but this (the Doggett's) is important, this is what I wanted to do.

Leonard Grieves, who won the Coat and Badge in 1969, views the latest winner, Chris Anness.

Next, I spoke to Merlin Dwan, the man who came a close second and who had the added pressure of coming from a family with four living Doggett’s winners.

It’s a 7,400-metre race so it’s down to whoever wants it most or whoever gives up first. Today has been one of those races where Chris [Anness] and I have fought the whole way and it’s been a good, powerful race. But I lost. Chris is a really good man, we’ve grown up together...., my dad and his dad have been best friends for years..... we both live and train at London Rowing Club.... I had a blinding race but (Chris) was just that bit better than me, he deserves it... There was no way that I was going to give it to him though, I kept looking and looking, at one point he was six, seven lengths ahead of me.... but I just went for it.... These days you have three chances at the Doggett’s so I'll defiantly be back next year....

Last few strokes: Anness ahead of Dawn.

The man with one of the best views of the race was Chas Newens, who drove the umpire’s launch. Chas has been doing this for the various events including the Doggett’s, the Wingfield Sculls and the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race for many years so he knows what he is talking about.

Today, the weather was absolutely wonderful and we were well on time..... As predicted, the two boys, Merlin Dwan and Chris Anness, were away, followed by Dan Alloway and then the other competitors (Stuart Coleman, Ben McCann and Jack Clark). All of them performed well... without ALL the competitors you would not have this special race... OK, you will have those who, for their own reasons, have been sculling for a long time in a lot of races, they know the tactics......, whereas the others work afloat and put their name up for Doggett’s. The whole race was first-class and I do not think that anybody was upset by the result, they all did their best and that’s the most important thing....

Ben McCann takes a bow at the finish.

Finally I spoke to Nick Beasley (Doggett’s winner 2001 and current Watermen's Bargemaster) for his view.

A fantastic, well fought race.... (Anness and Dwan) steered well, the conditions were reasonable apart from the wind, a good flood tide.... We have not seen a race like that since 1973 when Bobby Prentice broke the course record. We were 48 seconds away from that today, so it shows the class of the 2011 race. Bobby Lupton, who came second to Bobby Prentice in 1973, went onto win it in 1974 and I think Merlin (Dwan) will do the same in 2012.

Victor Chris Anness with his grandfather, sister, and father (who won Doggett's in 1982).

Mixing with competitors past and present, winners and losers, their parents and grandparents, siblings and friends, wives and girlfriends, I had a small glimpse into the remnants of a world that was once commonplace but that today has almost vanished. This is a world where ordinary families lived, worked and played together for generations. This is easy to over-romance as, historically, the waterman’s world was one of uncertain, backbreaking work with little chance of advancement. Nevertheless, I left the pub feeling slightly jealous of those I left inside, drinking, joking and reminiscing. This is a club that most of us are not eligible to join, one which we can only look in on from the outside. Some people talk about getting more publicity for the event, but I doubt that the outside world would ever see beyond the archaic costume and really understand the wonderful heritage that the Watermen and their families have, a heritage that is most clearly expressed in the annual race for Thomas Doggett’s ‘Coat and Badge’.

Above on the right: Clark and Alloway find solace in defeat.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oarsmanship By An Eton House Master?

In an attempted to solve the mystery with the pamphlet Oarsmanship, (see Friday's & Saturday's entries) I send an e-mail to rowing historian, Tom Weil, who quickly sent back a reply. Tom writes:

"Regarding your pamphlet Oarsmanship: I was, at first, given my confidence that my bibliography lists almost everything at this point, and my recollection of a couple of pamphlets with rather simple titles, fairly optimistic about being able to answer your question. No such luck.

Of course, the limitation “For private circulation only” offers two consolations: first, that it was not made commercially available, and, second, that the number of copies may have been extremely limited. Nevertheless, it is humbling, as always, to stumble upon another unknown printing.

My best guess is that this little pamphlet was written by one of the house masters at Eton sometime 1900-1930, and distributed to the boys of his house. The principal clue is the Spottiswoode et al. publisher - they are particularly linked to Eton publications."

Thank you, Tom! It is of course thrilling to think that I might have a rare publication piece in my collection. At one point, I thought it might have been a small thing written by R.S. de Havilland, ‘Harrvy’ (on the right), who in 1913 came out with his famous little pamphlet Elements of Rowing, which was published by Spottiswoode, but the writing style (and rowing style, for that matter…) is not Harrvy’s.

Is there any more takers out there?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Great Bourne Family

On Wednesday 13 July, in an HTBS entry, I asked for help to identify a small pamphlet called Oarsmanship, which I have in my rowing library. This 15-page brochure has not a cover, no printing year, and no name of the author. So far an 'anonymous' reader has suggested that it might be G.C. Bourne, who went up to Oxford in 1881. It is not a bad suggestion, but I am not sure if it really matches Bourne, who published his famous book A Text-Book of Oarsmanship in 1925. I have taken a good look in my copy of that book, but the writing style differs from the one in Oarsmanship. It is true that both authors mention old master Dr. Warre, but that would have been common practise during this time as Warre had such a major impact on the rowing style at Eton and Oxford for many years. I guess my question still is unanswered.

However, by coincident I just received an old article from 30 March 1946 (published in the Picture Post) about the the Bournes, "The Greatest Rowing Family": Dr. Gilbert C. Bourne, his son Robert 'Bob' C. Bourne, who stroked four winning Oxford crews in the Boat Race 1909-1912, and his son, Robert 'Bobbie' M.A. Bourne, who was awarded his Blue in 1939, but had to give it up ten days before the Race due to hurting his hand. When World War II broke out he joined the 4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantary but was captured before Dunkirk. He spent five years as a P.O.W. After the war, he went up to Oxford again and earned his second Blue. At first his stroked but was moved to No. 4. The 1946 Boat Race was won by Oxford. (In the 1947 Boat Race, Bobbie Bourne was also rowing at No. 4, but that year the Race was won by Cambridge.)

On top is a sketch from 1882 when Gilbert C Bourne rowed bow in the winning Oxford crew in the Boat Race. The following year, still at bow, Bourne took his second victory in the Race.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who Wrote "Oarsmanship"?

In my little collection of rowing books and pamphlets is a 15-page brochure called Oarsmanship printed by Spottiswoode, Ballantyne and Co. Ltd - Eton, Colchester and London. It is missing its cover and has no author or printing year. On the top of the page it states "For private circulation only". The texts begins,

"If it were not for the fact that oarsmen of the very first class are extremely rave, it would appear that the art of rowing ought not to be a difficult one to acquire. There is only the one stroke to learn, and, when that is learned, it only has o be repeated, now at a faster, and now at a slowe rate; there are not the same difficulties as there are for instance in cricket, where the beginner has to learn a number of different strokes and where he has to deal with circumstances which are constantly changing."

The author goes through the rowing stroke: the swing forward; the beginning; the swing back; the finish; the recovery; the swing forward. The unknown author mentions Dr. Warre and quotes from his "Notes on the Stroke" (published it seems in 1875, 1880, 1898 and in On the Grammar of Rowing in 1909), and the Oxford University eight of 1878, "one of the most famous eights". He also writes, "When I went up to Oxford in the early eighties... ". Some Cambridge victories in 1886, 1887, 1888, and 1889 are also mentioned in the text.

This little publication is not listed in Freddy Brittain's Oar, Scull and Rudder (1930).

Help to identify the author and printing year would be very much appreciated!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Into The Pink Palace

The restrictions to be able to move around at Henley Royal all comes down to which badges you might be wearing during the day. One of the days at the HRR, I found myself wearing the right badge to have access to Leander Club, located just by the Henley Bridge. I tried to give the black-dressed ‘guards’ a friendly nod when we passed through the gate at Leander, but not too friendly, as I did not want them to think that I did not belong to the crème de la crème, or the cream of the crop, that passed them into the Pink Palace. However, I tried to walk slowly enough for them be able to glance at all the badges I was wearing to find the right one for the club.

Yes, this was my first time inside Leander and I was surprised in a way to find that all the walls were not totally covered with old oars, rudders, plaques, and rowing paintings, although, of course, the club has probably more rowing memorabilia than any other boating club in the world. Some rooms had cases with trophies, but it was difficult to see because of all the people moving around.

One big surprise was that Gant clothing company, which sponsors a rowing race between two schools in Sweden, had stuff on display at Leander. It seems Gant is supporting the club’s latest campaign, ‘Join Leander’s Journey’ – read more about it here.

For those of you who would like to read more about Henley badges click here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 HRR... Just Wonderful!

Needless to say, I loved my first visit to Henley Royal. I did have high expectations before I arrived, but never, never could I imagine that it would be that wonderful! Of course, several factors play into this statement: the races were outstanding with many records being overturned - there is always something special seeing history in the making; marvellous weather; being among good friends; having a drink in the middle of the day; taking the time to just watch people passing by; and dress up and wear whatever I liked without people staring at me (at work in the USA I still get comments because I am wearing a tie...).

Here are some more photographs by Hélène Rémond, Tim Koch, and Jan Servin:

Two HTBS-iarians having a serious discussion about if there should be more or less cucumbers than strawberries in a Pimm's Cup.

Editor Per of Svensk Rodd shows Tim how to use the new erg from Concept. The sliding-seat is only moving slightly while the foot stretcher is the moving part (just as the sliding-riggers did once upon a time).

Three Korean gentlemen: Mr. Ro Hong Chul, Mr. Jung Hyung Don, and Mr. Kim Ji-Ho.

Outside the Stewards' Enclosure: Members of the Virginia B.C. who competed yesterday in the Veteran's Henley.

Distinguished Henley spectators.

Going for an outing with your loved one.

The winners of 2011 The Prince Albert Challenge Cup: Harvard University.

The Princess Grace Challenge Cup winners: Princeton Training Center 'B'.

Proud winners...

Time to leave...

Thanks to everyone for a lovely time!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Drinking At HRR

As we have mentioned before, Henley Royal is a big social event, and socialising with your friends and colleagues means having a drink or two with them, and HRR is the perfect place for this. The Stewards' Enclosure offers several good places for a drink whether you would like to have coffee, tea, beer, Pimm's, or champagne. There is the Café Regatta, Real Ale Bar, Bridge Bar, Coffee Bar, Oyster Bar, Champagne Bar, Fawley Bar, Seafood Restaurant, and Mile & 1/2 - and this is more or less just inside the Stewards' Enclosure. With a Leander Club Badge you will have access to a couple of very nice places to have a drink inside this famous club.

If you find yourself sitting at the Regatta Enclosure, you have a decent restaurant behind the stand. If you go downstream towards the Start, along the towpath just north of the Regatta Enclosure, you will find a variety of overpriced food places (not all serving good food). Here you will also find some places serving drinks. If you have decided to walk to the Start, do stop at the Barn Bar for some refreshments. Of course, there is also a couple of bars at the Start - and you should really go to the Start as you can study and take some photographs of some tense moments of the crews before they are off.

Time for tea.

Fawley Bar

Having a Pimm's Cup with friends.

(Photographs: Hélène Rémond)