Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Chemistry Of Vision

The Chemistry of Vision

From shore I watched him
Row with the flow of the river,
Molten midnight blue. Midnight blue
He rowed,
Until he appeared to melt
Into the molten
Blue river,
Melted into the surface, and flowed

Philip Kuepper
(September 2011)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

'Row' - Such A Simple Word...

Well, here is another one of those silly commercials using 'rowing' to get the message out. And, of course, there is an app for that! If you want to try your hand at racing the guinea pigs, please click here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Rowing Book: On Holland Beker

While many good books have been written about the history of rowing: the rowers, scullers, rowing clubs, the World Championships and the Olympic rowing events, etc., very few books have been published about a special regatta; of course, with the famous exceptions being the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the Yale-Harvard Regatta, and Henley Royal Regatta.

Earlier this year, however, a gorgeous book was released in the Netherlands about one of Europe’s most prestigious rowing regattas, “the Championships of the Netherlands for Gentlemen Amateurs in Single Scull Outrigger”, or as it is also known, Holland Beker, which was sculled for the first time in 1886. The Ladies’ Trophy was added in 1988. To celebrate this regatta’s 125 years, the Regatta Association decided to publish Holland Beker to be handed out to the competitors, but also to be used in the next few years “to recruit athletes to compete at the regatta in Amsterdam”, Johan ten Berg, editor of the book, writes in an e-mail. Editor ten Berg has had several contributors writing the interesting history of the Holland Beker, which not only reflects on Dutch rowing, but also European rowing as well.

As an old book editor, let me tell you what a pleasure it is to read and flip through the pages of this beautiful book, whose pages have two columns with the text both in Dutch and English. The book, which has a slip case, has wonderful photographs in black&white (and some “hidden” pictures in colour), but also fold-outs and facsimiles of letters, maps, and documents, which proves that the group behind this publication has, indeed, done everything aesthetically possible to produce a marvellous printed work that can raise awareness among the top elite rowers in the world, that the Holland Beker is open for everyone; and, at the same time, give the rowing history buffs their adrenaline to run faster…

A good example of this is the interviews of nine great scullers, some of them the best in the world at one time, who all have won the cup, which is a “Wanderpreis” which means that it sometimes disappeared abroad for a year when a foreign sculler became the title holder. The interviews, made by journalist Tjerk van Weezel, shows the scope of famous cup winners: the Dutch scullers Rob Groen (winner 1963 and 1964), Jan Wienese (1965 and 1966), and Irene Eijs (1995); the Germans Peter-Michael Kolbe (1975 and 1986) and Thomas Lange (1987), the Czech Ondřej Synek (2005, 2007, and 2010), the Belarusian Ekaterina Khodotovitch (1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010), the New Zealander Mahé Drysdale (2008 and 2009); and – hold on to your hats – the Finn Pertti Karppinen (1980) – see photograph on top.

Yes, the big scoop in this book is the interview with the legendary Pertti Karppinen, who has not been interviewed ever before outside his home country, due to language problems (not Karppinen’s, but the interviewers, who did not speak Finnish). In an e-mail the good fellow Johan ten Berg reveals that the book production group invited Karppinen to Amsterdam during spring, and he was accompanied by his daughter, who is studying in the USA, and who acted as translator.

In the interview with the “Gentle Finn”, he says that he kept records in note books of all his practice sessions through the years, a year in Karppinen’s case being between Easter to late November when there was no ice on his training waters, nor was it too dark to row. Karppinen also tells stories of his never ending battles against Kolbe. I distinctly remember seeing Karppinen at regattas in Sweden and Denmark, for example at the Nordic Rowing Championships, where he just seemed to be invincible; an untouchable sculling Legend and God.

The other eight interviews are also very interesting – Tjerk van Weezel has really done a stupendous work – as the scullers not only tell about the racing at Holland Beker, but their training and philosophy behind competing at the (old) European Championships, and the Worlds, and the Olympics.

Coming from Scandinavia, I found it extremely interesting and thrilling to see a facsimile letter from Axel Lindqvist of Dansk Forening For Rosport, the Danish Rowing Association, written in November 1945, assuring one of the organisers of Holland Beker, a Mr. Jongejan, that the cup had been in safe hands during the Second World War, as the Danish title holder, Viggo Olsen, who won it in 1939, had had the cup locked up in a bank safe in his home town of Sorø, outside of Copenhagen. The letter becomes a document of its time, when Mr. Lindqvist writes to his Dutch friend asking if he has received a packet, probably with food. Lindqvist offers to send more packets, but would first like to make sure that the first one has arrived. That you had to be careful for certain reasons after the War is made clear when the Dane writes:

“And my friend Weber. If he is alive, I should be glad to send him a packet also. That is, you understand, if he isn’t blacklisted. One has to be careful in these times, you see. I had a lot of friends i[n] Norway, some of them stuck to Quisling, and I don’t know them more.”

Lindqvist, who before the War had worked for the Ministry of Finance, writes that he has been made head of a special Danish government investigation bureau which is “blacklisting the Quislings” in Denmark.

(Click on the image of the letter to enlarge it)

The Holland Beker is, indeed, a grand book which tells the great story of a valuable and significant European regatta. John ten Berg mentions in an e-mail that the book is actually not for sale, as it is used as a hand-out to the participating scullers, but, with Chairman of the Holland Beker Regatta Association Nico Rienks’s blessing, the HTBS readers can order copies by e-mailing the regatta secretary at

The book costs €35 (Euros), and the postage, of course, varies depending on where you want the book to be shipped, and via air or surface. Indeed, a marvellous book it is!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another View Of ‘Power & Grace’

Tim Koch writes from London,

Yesterday’s HTBS item on ‘Power & Grace - The 2012 US Women’s Rowing Team’s Calendar’ was thought provoking. I always feel mildly uncomfortable when serious female athletes allow their images to be used in an arguably ‘sexual’ manner. Male athletes pose in such ways as well but, in our unequal society, they are not taken less seriously when they do it (see ‘Nude Men of Leander’). Perhaps it is a matter of degree, the difference between admiring an athletic form, which I think is acceptable, and the thinking of someone like Sepp Blatter, the President of the International Soccer Federation, who, in 2004, suggested that female soccer players should “wear tighter shorts and low cut shirts...” The HTBS item on a painting of a ‘topless’ female rower produced some interesting comments. While we are on the subject of sexism, below is a picture of the cover of Rowing magazine from December 1960. The image is fine, but the text......

(Click on the picture to see a large image!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

“2012 Power & Grace” - US Women’s Rowing Team’s Calendar

It’s time to think about next year! Well, that is buying a calendar for 2012. Just like last year (being a calendar for this year), the US National Women’s Rowing Team is offering a calendar to raise funds to help cover their daily training. “Training to make the Olympic rowing team is a full‐time job, requiring 45+ hours per week of dedication. The team trains thrice daily by rowing, erging, running, biking, yoga and weight lifting”, it says on TF Publishing’s website.

This year, the photographs are taken by Jordan Matter and Jeremy Saladyga. The price for the calendar, “2012 Power & Grace”is $13.99, but only $12.99 if you pre-order them. To go to the TF Publishing’s website, please click here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hathaway At The Sculls

I like so called detective stories. Unfortunately, I have little time to read any nowadays, but now and then I enjoy watching Masterpiece Mystery on Sundays on the American PBS channel. Being a fan of Inspector Morse, I try to not miss the sequence series Inspector Lewis, which is just wonderful. I think the actors Kevin Whately, who plays Inspector Lewis, and Laurence Fox, who is Lewis’s marvellous side-kick, Detective Sergeant Hathaway, are brilliant.

Just as Inspector Morse was filmed in and around Oxford, so is Inspector Lewis. Quite often when Inspector Morse and his Sergeant Lewis were down by the Isis, a college shell of some kind would pass on the river in the background. I have been waiting for that to happen in Inspector Lewis, too. Well, the other week it actually happened. In the opening scenes of the episode called “Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things” Hathaway was out in a training single wobbling his way on the river while he, with earphones, was listening to a recording where a man’s voice told him to quit smoking. I am not surprised to see Hathaway out on the river plying the sculls as he is a Cambridge man, but I am a little disappointed that he is doing it so poorly. But maybe it is because he is distracted by a women’s college coxed four which rather closely passes him.

If you have not watched this episode, and would like to at least see the beginning, please click here (I am afraid you have to sit through a commercial and Alan Cumming’s introduction before it starts). Take the opportunity to watch it now as this episode will only be available on PBS’s website until 4 October, 2011.

(Photo from PBS website)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

R&R September: Olympian Michael Lapage

The latest issue of the magazine Rowing & Regatta arrived in the mail today. As always, R&R looks lovely and this September issue has 72 pages with interesting and well-written articles. In this issue alone, you will find articles about the World Junior Championships, Under-23 World Championships, Adaptive World Championships, World Championships, gig rowing, a new exhibit at the River and Rowing Museum on women rowing, six pages of news, two pages of obituaries, and comments, viewpoints, and British Rowing’s campaign “Explore Rowing”, and much more.

R&R has also started to publish a series of articles on British Olympic rowing profiles eminently written by Mike Rowbottom. First ‘profile’ out was Harry Blackstaffe (gold in the single sculls in 1908), followed by Jack Beresford, Junior, (five Olympic medals in five Olympic Games between 1920 and 1936). In this issue Rowbottom has interviewed the last surviving British oarsman from the 1948 rowing event, 87-year-old Michael Lapage, who rowed in the seventh-seat in the eight which took a silver medal. Just look at that magnificent photograph of Lapage on the cover!

The observant reader of HTBS might remember that Tim Koch wrote about Michael Lapage and his son and grandsons in an earlier entry posted on 7 September, "The Rowing Lapages", which has a rare film clip from the 1948 Olympic eight’s final on the Henley course.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Nice Collection Of Rowing Stuff!

Actually, just by accident, I happened to come across Riverow Bookshop’s website, which offers a really nice lot of rowing books, ephemera, prints, and even some old oars. There are more than 125 different items, which has been accumulated by a collector during 30 years, according the book shop’s website. All of it is offered for $7,000, which seems a little high; on the other hand there are some really rare ‘goodies’ in this lot. Riverow Bookshop is located on Front Street in Owego, New York. To take a closer look at what is being offered, please click here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis

The taut muscles of his arms
Flexed as he pulled
On the oars,
The measured grace of his motion
Pulling him along the river,
The heartbeat of the river
Pulsing him toward the bay
Where the seagulls were waiting
For him to fly with them.

Philip Kuepper
(September 2011)

(Photo from Peter Mallory's The Sport of Rowing)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"USRowing's America Rows" Wins Grant

In a press release USRowing writes about a grant the organization has won:

Following a 12-day voting period on Facebook, USRowing’s America Rows Program was one of six grand prize winners of the inaugural Team USA Grants.

America Rows and the other grand prize winners will receive $12,000 grants, which are intended to assist programs within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic family that aim to improve sustained competitive excellence, instill the Olympic Values and grow sport participation in the U.S.

“We are really excited at the response from the community to the Team USA Grants competition,” said USRowing Chief Executive Officer Glenn Merry. “I think it demonstrates that rowing is ready to address and support the issues around inclusion and access to rowing in America. America Rows is an important strategic initiative for our organization.”

America Rows is USRowing’s nationwide diversity and inclusion initiative aimed at increasing awareness of rowing and introducing the sport to a diverse group of Americans. The program hopes to increase the number of Hispanic and Latino Americans, African-Americans and Asian-Americans who participate in rowing, as well as increase the participation of the physically disabled. The Team USA Grant will allow USRowing to provide mini grants to America Rows affiliates across the country.

To read the entire press release, please click here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Great River Race

Tim Koch writes about an interesting rowing race:

Saturday 17 September saw the 23rd Great River Race take place over a 21 mile / 34 km course from Millwall to Richmond on London’s River Thames.

An slightly old promotional video for the event (when it was run in the opposite direction) is here:

This annual race was inspired by a 1987 charity row by Doggett’s Coat and Badge men who rowed the Company of Watermen and Lightermen’s shallop from Hampton Court to the Tower of London. Following the success of this it was decided to issue a challenge to find the UK Traditional Boat Champions. From the start a pursuit handicap was run. All boats were handicapped using naval architects’ calculations so that the slowest boat went away first and the fastest, last. This makes for good sport even for those many crews who just wish to take part and who have no real intention of making a race of it.

For the last three years all crews have been equipped with a GPS tracking system which allows both race organisers and members of the public to track the progress of competitors throughout the race by logging on to the Great River Race website.

This year over 300 boats took part. The rules of the race say that the boats must be rowed, sculled or paddled and most boat classes must carry a coxswain plus a passenger (who may take turns at the oar or paddle). The ‘passenger rule’ comes from the Watermen’s historic responsibility to carry passengers on the Thames (small children are often favoured for this role). Also, no sliding seats or riggers are allowed and each boat must fly a flag. The huge variety of boats that take part (gigs, cutters, currachs, dragon boats, skiffs, whalers, and longboats to name some) coupled with the inclusive atmosphere of the event which attracts men and women, the young and the old, the competitive and the leisurely, mean that there are thirty five trophies on offer including one for ‘sportsmanship’ and one for ‘endeavour’, that is the most effort displayed by a junior crew.

If you fancy taking part in the 2012 race, you can hire or buy a suitable boat here.

Good luck!

Here follows some of Tim's photographs from the race:

Monday, September 19, 2011

European Rowing Championships Results & Videos

If you are interested in the results at the 2011 European Rowing Championships, click here.

If you are interested in watching the races from the European Championships, click here. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Coastweeks & Ed Monahan - A Man To Count On!

One way to understand that Autumn will soon be upon us is that the head races begins in New England. One of the first ones is the Coastweeks Regatta, which was held today on the Mystic River. It was actually the 20th Annual Coastweeks Regatta and although slightly more than a week ago, it looked like it was going to be a small amount of rowers - young boys and girls, and older men and women, novice and more experienced “oars” - who would find their way to Mystic, Connecticut, but things changed. Early this morning, the organisers handed out around 200 bow numbers to participating rowers. Not bad, not bad, at all.

The weather was cooperating: the sun was up and there was a light breeze, which however, was a little stronger out on the water, especially at the start, which was under the I95 Highway bridge upriver. The finish line was, as always, the dock by the Mystic Seaport’s North Lawn.

One in the group of organisers, Edward Monahan, 75 years young, was, as always, ready with his shell and sculls to fight for a medal. Ed was one of the founding fathers of this regatta 20 years ago, and to celebrate this, his fellow members of the Regatta committee had instituted a new prize, the Edward Monahan Founder's Trophy for the Men’s Veterans Racing Singles.

Ed Monahan (on the right) congratulates Steve Gurney of the New Haven Rowing Club, the first recipient of the Edward Monahan Founder’s Trophy for the class Men’s Veterans Racing Singles at the Coastweeks Regatta. Photo: Betty Monahan.

Ed, who by the way, did win a medal at this regatta, is a man who rows by the numbers, which was pointed out last month in an article in the local newspaper, The Day. Read more about Ed by clicking here.

You will find the results from the Coastweeks Regatta here.

The Coastweeks Regatta is one of the regattas in Mystic during this weekend. The other one, The Battle Between the Bridges Invitational Regatta, is always raced by men and women in single sculls the day before Coastweeks. I am afraid not much information went out about this year’s Battle Between the Bridges, which is rowed on a short 500-metre course between the railroad bridge and the bascule bridge in Downtown Mystic. Both events are sharing the same programme, ‘Mystic Weekend of Rowing’, which this year honoured one of the great men of American rowing, Hart Perry, who sadly passed away in February this year. Hart was the founder of this regatta, and from now on, the regatta will be referred to as the Hart Perry The Battle Between the Bridges Invitational Regatta – a very suitable tribute.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Reflection of the Rower

The Reflection of the Rower

The glass of the window appeared black,
Its clean surface mirroring
What it looked out on,
The small round table
On which stood a clear glass vase
Holding one red dianthus,
Next which stood a salt cellar
Paired with a pepper grinder.
Behind these sat a thick
White mug of hot black coffee.
Behind this I sat,
Before me rising a serpentine
Cloud of steam off the coffee’s surface.
In all this, only the steam moved,
Until, suddenly,
Behind me,
I saw reflected in the window,
A rower pass, silently, along the river,
Disappearing from view
As he passed behind my head,
Then reappearing,
As though a thought from my mind
Had become embodied as I watched.

Philip Kuepper,
(September 2011)

Friday, September 16, 2011

The 2011 European Rowing Championships Starts Today

Today the 2011 European Rowing Championships starts at Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Here is what FISA, Worldrowing website writes about the event (slightly edited):

Memories of the World Rowing Championships may still be fresh, but racing has done a quick turn to Plovdiv, Bulgaria, for the 2011 European Rowing Championships. Plovdiv is welcoming international rowers back to their waters for the first time since the 1999 World Rowing Junior Championships. Read on to find out who to watch out for in the 14 events racing from 16 to 18 September 2011.

Women’s Pair (W2-): It will be hard to look past Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu of Romania. They won at both the 2009 and 2010 European Championships and are gearing up to make it three in a row. The duo may receive a good run for their money from Claudia Wurzel and Sara Bertolasi of Italy. The Italians finished seventh at the recent World Rowing Championships, whilst Romania was fifth.

Men’s Pair (M2-): A bronze medal at the World Rowing Championships for Niccolo Mornati and Lorenzo Carboncini of Italy gave them a huge confidence boost and they will be going to Plovdiv in a positive state of mind. Mornati and Carboncini are both extremely experienced and last year at the European Championships they were second. But also very much up on Italy’s pace are the Gkountoulas brothers from Greece. The brothers finished fourth to Mornati and Carboncini by less than a second. It is likely that these two crews will dominate the field and be the front pace-setters.

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x): This race may go Ukraine’s way. Anastasiia Kozhenkova and Yana Dementieva have moved from their country’s medal-winning women’s quadruple sculls and into the double. They found success almost instantly with a bronze medal at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne earlier this season. Then at the World Rowing Championships they finished fourth.

Right on the tails of Kozhenkova and Dementieva are likely to be the Czech Republic’s Antosova sisters. Lenka and Jitka Antosova were sixth at this year’s World Rowing Championships and in their third season of rowing together the Antosovas have been regular A-finallists picking up a fair few medals along the way. Watch out too for Italy’s top double for many years: Laura Schiavone and Elisabetta Sancassani were in the quad at this year’s World Rowing Championships, but they are back in the double to try and improve on their 2010 European Champs bronze medal.

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x): A real mixture of talents in this event means that everyone sitting in the starting blocks will be open to possibilities. This review is thus one of ‘maybes’. Maybe it will be Lithuania at the head of the field. Saulius Ritter and Rolandas Mascinskas are one of the only entries that have spent the season rowing together. They finished a credible tenth at the World Rowing Championships earlier this month.

Maybe it will be the Italians: Pierpaolo Frattini became a World Champion two weeks ago when he won the men’s coxed pair. Now sculling, Frattini has partnered with Romano Battisti whom he rowed with in the men’s eight at last year’s European Rowing Championships.

Men’s Four (M4-): The standout crew in this event is in little doubt. Greece’s Papachristos, Tsilis, Tziallas and Christou have just come off a season which was capped by a World Championship silver medal. Greece also finish second in this event at last year’s European Rowing Championships and in recent years their small sweep squad have been establishing themselves as a force worthy of recognition. It is likely that Greece will leave the rest of the crews to race for second.

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x): It is difficult to look past the new World Champion Mirka Knapkova (on the left) of the Czech Republic. Knapkova goes to Plovdiv on top of the world and, in the absence of Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus and any other World Rowing Championship A-finalists, Knapkova will be hard to beat. Knapkova, however, still needs to keep on her toes as the very experienced Julia Levina of Russia is lining up. Levina can be a little inconsistent but has the ability to pull off an upset if she has her best race.

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x): Mindaugas Griskonis (on the right) of Lithuania has been working away in the single for several years now with noticeable improvement. At the World Rowing Championships the 25-year-old sculler finished seventh and during the season he managed to break into the top six at one of the stages of the Samsung World Rowing Cup. Griskonis also raced at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, finishing eighth. On paper he is the one to beat.

Germany’s Falko Nolte will be trying to prove himself and will give Griskonis a good run for his money. Nolte has spent the season as Germany’s number two single and raced to a fourth place finish at the second World Rowing Cup.

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x): Whenever Alexandra Tsiavou leaves her single to team up with Christina Giazitzidou in the double they make history. Earlier this month at the World Rowing Championships Tsiavou and Giazitzidou finished first to become World Champions. They are also defending champions at the European Championships and they should make easy work of the field lined up at Plovdiv.

The biggest threat is likely to come from Great Britain. Kathryn Twyman and Andrea Dennis are the number two double for Great Britain and thus raced at the World Championships in the lightweight quadruple sculls. They won this. They also came second (behind their number one crew) at the Munich World Rowing Cup earlier this season.

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x): At last year’s European Rowing Championships in Portugal, Pedro Fraga and Nuno Mendes were the stars. Fraga and Mendes are Portugal’s most successful rowers and in 2010 took silver in front of their home crowd. Fraga and Mendes are back again as they work towards their second Olympic Games.

The race for gold is most likely to have the Italians in the mix. Lorenzo Bertini and Elia Luini of Italy recently took a bronze at the World Rowing Championships and they have regularly been on the medals dais since they came together at the European Championships in 2009.

Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-): It is hard to look past the Italian line-up of Daniele Danesin, Andrea Caianiello, Marcello Miani and Martino Goretti. The Italians finished second earlier this month at the World Rowing Championships in a race that was full of upsets and they are racing again at Plovdiv just to prove that their silver was no fluke. To beat the Italians will be hard, but there is no doubt that the Czech Republic will try their best. The Vetesnik brothers, Juri Kopac and Miroslav Vrastil have been together since 2009 and are slowly moving up the ranks.

Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x): Ukraine has a solid tradition in this event and they come to Plovdiv as the only line-up that is the same as the one at the World Rowing Championships in Bled earlier this month. The crew of Kateryna Tarasenko, Tetiana Kolesnikova, Nataliia Huba and Svitlana Spiryukhova finished sixth at Bled and will be the crew to beat in Plovdiv.

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x): On paper, Russia look to be the crew to beat. They have maintained their fifth-place finishing World Championship crew of Vladislav Ryabcev, Igor Salov, Nikita Morgachev and 2004 Olympic Champion Sergey Fedorovtsev, and it is likely that this is the crew they will be using to get back to Olympic glory next year.

Poland should be interesting. The current Olympic Champions have had a difficult 2011 season and ended up fourth at the World Rowing Championships in Bled. The crew racing at Plovdiv has retained Piotr Licznerski and Konrad Wasielewski of the Bled crew and with Wiktor Chabel and Kamil Zajkowski racing in the middle of the boat, this crew could pull out a few surprises.

Women’s Eight (W8+): Romania must feel an element of ownership to this event. They are the defending European Champions and they run their eight with a very stable women’s sweep squad that sees limited changes in the line-up. They also won the eight in 2009 and 2008 under the guidance of coxswain Teodora Gidoiu. In Plovdiv the crew has six of the same athletes as a year ago and they are the exact same crew that raced to fourth at the World Rowing Championships earlier this month.

Romania is the team to beat. Likely to put up a good challenge are Ukraine and Poland. Both of these crews raced at the World Rowing Championships and finished seventh and eighth respectively. The field of six boats also includes a new British line-up which features a bunch of up-and-coming national team members.

Men’s Eight (M8+): Poland finished second at the 2010 European Championships. This could be their year to break into the gold medal spot. Seven of the nine members from 2010 remain in the boat and the crew is identical to their World Championships crew that raced to a fifth-place finish earlier this month. With Daniel Trojanowski in the cox seat, this is a very established crew that has been working towards the London Olympics ever since the Beijing Olympics wrapped up. Finishing in third behind Poland a year ago was Ukraine. Their crew has also remained relatively stable and they will be ready to push Poland to the line.

Famous Rowing Brothers Go Nuts

I know, I know,.... this is terribly silly. Read what The Independent in London wrote on 14 September about the twins going nuts - click here!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hélène Rémond On ‘Paris Beaches’

A lithograph by Jean Henry Marlet “La pleine eau”, dating back to the 19th century (1821-1823). A copy is actually available on eBay right now.

Here HTBS’s Hélène Rémond gives a little report on ‘Paris Beaches’ and an exhibit at Hôtel de ville of Paris that will end very soon (so, hurry, hurry over there):

To celebrate the 10 years of the Paris Plages operation (‘Paris Beaches’), which transforms Paris in the summer when the city and the riverside thoroughfares become car-free resorts, the Hôtel de ville of Paris has organized a free exhibition which will be up and running until 17 September.

Paris Plages has allowed the French capital’s residents to establish an unusual relationship with their river and the exhibition retraces several centuries of the city’s life on the banks of the Seine.

The exhibition entitled “Paris on the Seine – From the Old Quays to Paris Plages” retraces the history of both economic and social links. During the time of Paris Plages, the Seine’s banks become pedestrian and the beaches are spread across three spots: Louvre/Pont de Sully, Port de la Gare and Bassin de la Villette which features a proper water-sports complex (with rowing boats, kayaks, pedal boats and dinghies) alongside quaint quay-side restaurants and boules courts.

In the 18th century, the river Seine was already a hot spot for water pleasures and entertainment. There were also celebrations made by the Monarch with fireworks for Royal births and weddings, and military victories.

André Basset is the author of the print entitled “VUE DES REJOUISSANCES DE LA PAIX (titre inscrit, en carcatères inversés); Vue perspective des Réjouissance faites sur L’Eau pour la publication de la Paix vis-a-vis le palais Bourbon à Paris” which dates back to about 1750-1785 - for more info about the print, please click here.

There were spectacular sporting events in the 19th century, too, which saw the development of leisure and sport. Here are a few illustrations shown at the exhibition:

Swimmer Billington at the arrival of the race, which he competed through the Seine River on June 27, 1909. He’s sitting by French swimmer Estrade. Photo: C Maurice Louis Branger/Roger-Violet.

An ad in a newspaper which presents the Traversée de Paris made by swimmers and rowers in 1931. It was organized by the committee of international regattas of Paris and the French Swimming Federation.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

2011 World Rowing Masters Regatta Results

Last Sunday, 11 September, the World Rowing Masters Regatta ended in Poznan, Poland. Here is what FISA posted on their website, slightly edited (link to all the results at the bottom of this entry):

After 400 races, the 2011 World Rowing Masters Regatta is completed. Masters rowers, those 27 years and over and out of international competition, spent four days racing on the Malta regatta course in Poznan, Poland. The rowers came from 37 countries and went up in age from the youngest category, ‘A’, right through to ‘J’-category which included the oldest man who is 92-years young, and the oldest woman who is 89-years young.

To get through this hefty number of races, officials started a new race every third minute and with some rowers taking over five minutes to complete the 1,000-metre course, a lot of tolerance and juggling had to come into play. In the ‘I’ men’s single, 81-year-old Stanislaw Soldatov of Russia’s Dymano Moscow club, took 5:32.52 to finish the course. Soldatov’s race was won by Germany’s Karl Trager, 78, of the German Ruderclub Rossleben. Trager’s time was 4:34.34.

At the other end of the scale, Lars Bo Andersen of Sorø Rowing Club, Denmark, took 3:36.95 to cover the 1,000-metre race in the ‘B’ category single. Andersen is 45-years-old. This was just one of the events Andersen raced in as he, like many of the competitors, choose to race in a number of races. Former Olympian, Pauline Bird, 54, of Great Britain, raced in six events, including a number of different age categories as it is possible to row ‘down’ in a younger age category.

As the racing format does not include semifinals or finals, each event has a number of heats with the winner of each heat receiving a medal. The handing out of medals is thus a full-time job for the organising committee.

On the final day, Sunday, competitors joined together in mixed gender boats for 150 races.

For complete results, please click here.

(Photograph from FISA's

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

HTBS Quiz: Stanley Bruce!

So, dear reader of HTBS, did you come up with the answer to rowing historian Tom Weil’s question which was posed on HTBS yesterday: “Which Prime Minister wrote a pamphlet on rowing technique?”

How many of you said: Viscount Stanley Melbourne Bruce, Prime Minister of Australia between 1923 and 1929? Yes, Bruce was the one! Anyone interested in Stanley Bruce (1883-1967) political career please click here.

The good Tom sends the following information about Bruce’s pamphlet: Rt. Hon. S.M. Bruce: Rowing – Notes On Coaching, London: Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ltd., 1936. 24 pp. 8.75” Printed ivory paper wraps.

Tom has also compiled some more information from different sources about the content of the pamphlet: Bruce’s writes, “These notes were dictated in 1919 [...] immediately after I had coached the Cambridge Crew for the King’s Cup at the Henley Peace Regatta.”

It seems that the pamphleteer, Tom’s message says, also dwells largely on elements of the stroke cycle, but includes thoughts on various challenges (“An Ordinary College Crew for Henley with about three weeks to practise”) and types of rowers (“The job with [a good stroke who is a bad oar] is to prevent [him] from rowing himself stupid instead of stroking his boat”).

Stanley Bruce was admitted to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and won the “Clinker Fours” in 1903 and did so well in the “Hall” boats that year, that he rowed in the winning Light Blue crew in 1904. The following year, he was captain for the boat club, and in 1906, Bruce coached the “Hall” eight that went for the Grand at Henley. He came back to coach in 1911 and, in the words of a contemporary paper, “improved the Trinity Hall crew out of recognition” [quote from A History of the Trinity Hall Boat Club (1930) by Henry Bond].

Tom writes that Bruce wrote Rowing – Notes On Coaching while serving as Her Majesty’s Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Bruce said the three things which pleased him most were his Cambridge Blue, his captaincy of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and his fellowship of the Royal Society (1944).

The HTBS readers might wonder if I knew the answer to Tom’s question. The honest answer to that is: sort of… The only oarsman that I knew had become a Prime Minister was the “Hall’s” Stanley Bruce, which proved to be a good guess. However, I did not know that Bruce has written a rowing pamphlet. So, now the hunt is on to get hold of a copy of his Rowing – Notes On Coaching...

Monday, September 12, 2011

HTBS Quiz: Which PM?

Rowing historian Tom Weil sent me a question the other day.

Let’s turn this into a HTBS quiz! Here is Tom's question:

“Which Prime Minister wrote a pamphlet on rowing technique?”

(Sorry, you can not really win anything, but if you guessed right, you will at least walk away with your head high and feel the satisfaction of having been right. Tomorrow, you will find the right answer here on HTBS!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Idol Of The Hour

Above is a beautiful image of an oarsman, which was on the front cover of the London magazine The Sphere on Saturday, 30 March, 1912. Below the drawing it states: “One of the Idols of the Hour – A Boat-Race Study by F. Matania”. We do not know if it is an Oxford or a Cambridge man – perhaps he is more the ideal of an oarsman with his noble face and his eyes dreamily gazing into the distance. Two oars are being carried out to the water in the background; it seems the crew is getting ready to embark. The oarsman is unaffected by the hullabaloo going on among the spectators, who in the picture are just a blurry mob beneath him. Instead, he is showing great confidence. Maybe he would not be so collected if he knew what was waiting for him, his crew, and their opponents on this very blustery day on the River Thames.

As we all know, the 1912 Boat Race should turn out to be a historic race as both crews sank due to bad weather conditions (it was re-rowed on the following Monday; Oxford won). Read a race report here. But who was the artist, who so wonderfully depicted this dignified creature of a man?

‘F. Matania’ stood for Chevalier Fortunino Matania, who was born in 1881 in Naples, Italy. Matania met success early in life. At 14, he helped his father, an artist, to illustrate books and magazines. Between 1895 and 1902, young Matania created works for the magazine L’Illustrazione Italiania. In 1902, he left for Paris, but was shortly thereafter invited by The Graphic to London for the Coronation of Edward VII, and so began the Italian’s ‘cooperation’ with the British Crown; he would cover royal events, marriage, christening, funeral and coronations – the last one being the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953.

In 1904, Matania joined The Sphere, where some of his most famous illustrations would show up, among them the illustration of the handsome ‘Blue’ on top. One of his most famous illustrations before the First World War, actually appeared a few weeks after the one of the oarsman. On the late evening of 14 April, 1912, the ‘unsinkable’ ocean liner Titanic hit an iceberg and sank a couple of hours later, on 15 April, which Matania later illustrated in The Sphere. See his illustration on the right.

Some of his most celebrated and emotional works were produced during the First World War, when Matania became a war artist drawing realistic images from the trenches. His most acclaimed painting was entitled ‘Goodbye, Old Man’. It shows a British soldier saying farewell to his horse, which is laying dying on the road. To see that painting, please click here.

After the war, Matania started working for British and American magazines, and when, in 1929, the British woman's magazine, Britannia and Eve, was launched he became their artist for the next 19 years. He filled his studio with ‘stuff’ that would help him create realistic images for the magazines. Many of his illustrations were of half-nude women, because the readers demanded it, he would say.

Fortunino Matania died in 1963.

Here is a news reel from 1932, showing Matania working in his studio – click on the b/w image to start:


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Well Done, "Rowing News"!

Yes, I have to confess that earlier on HTBS I have been complaining about the magazine Rowing News. Even whining a little, I guess, for example here and here.

That is why I now would like to write that I was pleasantly surprised when I received the current issue (October 2011) of Rowing News two days ago. Here was an issue to my liking: Bryan Kitch of the eminent blog, Rowing Related, has several well-written and good articles about the World Championships in Bled (this article is actually a preview of the Championships which ended on 4 September), a new tri-state rowing club in New York, the under-23 Worlds on Bosbaan, and Rob Waddell. It seems that Kitch has established himself within the American rowing writing world – good for him, as they say on this side of the pond.

Alessandra Bianchi has an interesting article, “Hearts and Minds”, how to coach ‘clueless, carefree teenagers’. Now, this is one example of the type of article that I have complained the magazine has been lacking: articles and pieces about those who row – please observe everyone, I am not using the word ‘crew’ here – on a lower, grass roots level, meaning not an elite level (they might one day, but that is not what the article is about).

Finally, the always-reliable Andy Anderson, who never fails to write interesting and entertaining articles, has a nice piece about great international coaches of all time, “The Innovators”. The coaches Anderson writes about are: Thor Nilsen, Steve Fairbairn, Karl Adam, Rusty Robertson, Harry Mahon, Mike Spracklen, Al Morrow, Dick Tonks, Theo Körner, Jürgen Gröbler, Jutta Lau, and Nicolae Gioga.

Good show, Rowing News!

Friday, September 9, 2011

On The Day Of The Race

In 1903, Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly published a rowing story by Edwin Oviatt, "Atkinson No. 7 - A Story of the Yale-Harvard Race" with illustrations by Howard Giles. Oviatt was at a time the editor of Yale Alumni Weekly, and wrote the book The Beginnings of Yale (1701-1726) (1916). The 12-page story in Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly is typical for it's time. It is about 'old' Ted Atkinson, who is studying at Yale and suddenly finds himself in the crew who is going to meet Harvard. Although a spare, Ted practice hard at seven-seat. On race day, the coach picks him to row behind the stroke. Of course, thanks to Ted, the Yale crew wins the honour, if not the race.

Giles made five marvellous illustrations for this story. In the illustration above, we can see how lively the Thames River was on Race Day with steamboats, sailing yachts, and smaller sailing boats. At the Race these days, very few boats are on the river, and certainly not any spectator vessels. It's a pity, really...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 World Rowing Masters Regatta Starts Today

Photo: Niksa Skelin - FISA's website.

Today the 2011 World Rowing Masters Regatta starts on Lake Malta in Poznan, Poland. From FISA's website, HTBS got the following:

The Lake Malta regatta course, located near the city centre of Poznan, Poland, will play host to 2,503 boats from 37 nations at the 2011 World Rowing Masters Regatta, from 8 to 11 September.

Following on from the success of last year’s World Rowing Masters Regatta held in St. Catharine’s, Canada, in which nearly 3,000 rowers participated, the Poznan waters are already thriving with the refreshing mix of experience, competition, friendly rivalry, and Olympic history.

Germany has entered the greatest number of competitors, boasting a healthy 698 boats. Great Britain is the second biggest nation represented here in Poland, with 299 boats. Poland, the United States of America, Denmark, Czech Republic and Australia also have a large fleet of over 100 boats. Organisers have also noted that entries from Brazil, Argentina, and Finland have grown since previous years.

Masters rowing begins at the age of 27, for those who no longer row at the elite level. Competitors range from former Olympians through to those racing for the first time. Races are divided into age groups going through to the recently added “J” category for the over 80 year olds. In this regatta, the eldest male competitor is 92, and the eldest female is 89 years old, proving that age truly is just a number.

Some competitors have already caught the eye of those here in Poznan. Miroslav Knapek, the father of newly crowned World Champion in the women’s single sculls Mirka Knapkova (CZE), will be racing in the “E” men’s double on Friday.

Similarly to last year, the men’s “C” age group is the most subscribed, with a total of 360 boats, 118 of which will be racing in the single. Masters rowers are allowed to enter more than one event at this regatta which means organisers already expect 7,043 “seats” to compete. For instance, Debbie Bregenzer “the cox” of Switzerland will cox a total of 13 boats. Sunday’s racing programme is composed of mixed crews and competitors can make entries during the event for these races, so the number of seats will most certainly rise before the entries deadline on Friday.

The weather for the regatta looks slightly unsettled, with a little bit of wind, rain, sun and cool temperatures forecasted until the culmination of racing on Sunday.

The masters regatta also contributes to a fund to help junior rowers. Last year, 8,176 Euros were raised through the donation of 1 Euro per boat entry fee.

Racing is held over 1,000m with races starting every three minutes. There are no finals, only heats, with the winning boat in each receiving a medal.

Live streaming is provided on the Poznan Organising Committee website here.

Please find the regatta programme here.

Glowing Sculler

You will constantly find old cigarette and tobacco cards for sale on eBay. The one above (which, however, is rare on eBay) was issued by Bocnal Tobacco Co in the U.K. in 1938 and comes from a set entitled Luminous Silhouettes of Beauty + Charm and measures 2.7 by 1.4 inches. It is No. 6 in a set of 25 other sport 'glowing cards'. Below you can read on the back of the card that if you hold the card under a light it will glow in the dark, which it still does although it is more than 70 years old.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Rowing Lapages

HTBS's Tim Koch writes from London: The BBC Radio station that covers the county of Shropshire recently ran a story about three
-generations of the Lapage family and their involvement with rowing. Read it here.

Grandfather Michael, aged 87, won a silver rowing for Britain in the 
eights at the 1948 Olympic Regatta held at Henley. He and his family had never seen film of the 
event so the BBC tracked down an old newsreel and put it onto YouTube for them. You can watch it here….

The 1948 Games were known as the ‘Austerity Olympics’ as they were held only three years after the
 end of the 1939-1945 War when conditions in Britain were in many ways worse than during the 
conflict. The country was nearly bankrupt and everything had to go for export. Michael told the BBC 
that this was one reason that the well-fed Americans beat them: “They had more meat then we did. We were still on rations.”

This may have had something to do with it but, looking at the footage, the confident low rating start of the US team suggests that they were in control of the race from the beginning.

 The British rowers were not exactly over cosseted. They did not have the sides of Texan beef that 
the Americans brought over with them, but they did have their butter ration doubled from two to four
 ounces (60 grams to 120 grams) a week. They had to supply their own kit but they were given a scarf,
 a blazer badge, and a pair of underpants. ‘Austerity’ seems an understatement!

Lapage’s crew was essentially the 1948 Cambridge Boat Race crew. They had set a new course record, 
breaking the eighteen-minute barrier for the first time on the Putney to Mortlake race. The practice
 of sending the currently most successful club crew to represent Britain at the Olympics continued
 until the 1972 Games when something resembling a ‘national squad’ was established.

The 1948 London Games were a triumph. They cost £73,000 / $117,000 to stage (about £20m / $33m in
 today’s money) and made a profit of £20,000 / $32,000 after tax. London 2012 may cost more.

Michael’s son, Philip, is a rowing coach at Shrewsbury School and his sons, Sam and Patrick, aim to 
row at the 2016 Olympic Regatta. Sam, who is still at school, recently rowed at the ‘Coupe de la
 Jeunesse’ (the Junior European Rowing Championships) while older brother Patrick, 21 (on the right), stroked the GB 
men’s eight to third place at the 2011 Under-23 World Championships. He also came third in the coxed 
four in the 2010 Under-23s. Patrick is currently a Junior (Third Year) at Harvard where he strokes
t he Varsity Eight. He won the Ladies Plate at Henley in 2010 with the Crimsons. His impressive 
Harvard Crew record is here.

I suspect we will hear a lot about the rowing Lapages in the future 
and that more underpants will be coming their way.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Pole Is Reached

On 17 August, HTBS wrote about the 'Old Pulteney Row to the Pole' which was the brainchild of Jock Wishart (on the left), a seasoned Arctic adventurer and Transatlantic rower. Jock led a small, brave crew of five men in a world's first attempt to Row to the Magnetic North Pole. How did it go? To read the story click here.

In this video you can watch and hear about the crew's hardships of trekking over the high Arctic to reach a place where a plane would pick them up. Because of all the gear, the men had to make two trips. Well Done, Boys!

(Photo and video from 'Old Pulteney Row to the Pole' website.)