Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Prestigious Cup Is Back!

Today, 21 December, Row2k is posting what they call an "exclusive" story by Janit Stahl, "The Philadelphia Story: Gold Cup Shines Again" about the Philadelphia Challenge Cup, also called the Gold Cup. This 18-inch Cup, crafted of gold, had been missing for more than 35 years when it was found in an antique shop on 8th Street in Philadelphia in 1996. The ownership of the Gold Cup became a legal matter, which ended last month when Herb Lotman, founder and CEO of Keystone Foods, bought the Cup which is now to become, again, one of the most prestigious sport trophies in the USA. There will be a press conference this morning where many questions about this beautiful Cup hopefully will be answered. Row2k has promised to keep its readers updated with more news about the 'pot'.

Of course, frequent readers of this blog maybe will remember that HTBS already on 12 November broke the news that Herb Lotman had purchased this trophy to give back to the rowing community in Philadelphia.

Click on the following links to read what The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News are writing about the Cup.

The photograph by Todd Rothstein is from Row2k.

Dying By The Erg

One of the rowing blogs I enjoy reading is Bryan Kitch's Rowing Related (you will find a link to his blog on the right). On Sunday, Kitch posted an interesting piece about why rowers fear the erg. It's a good question.

Some weeks ago, I decided to more regularly do some work-outs at a gym (well, the YMCA in town). To be really honest, it was the 'fenders' around my waist that were bothering me. Being an old rower, of course, I knew that the erg is an excellent tool to become fit. But I hesitated, wasn't it terribly boring to sit there on my rear end going back-and-forth? Well, I decided to have a go. After the first 5 minutes on the erg, it felt like I was going to die, after 15 minutes, I thought I was going to throw up (or was it the other way around?). When I finished my 30-minute piece, I was certain that my heart would stop any second, if not, could someone just kill me there and then, please? (I remember thinking about my wonderful children who would be fatherless at young ages, and my dear wife, did she understand the real value of my rowing book collection?)

Despite my ordeal, I was back on the erg after some days, to do it again, thinking, that I was going to die there on the floor, beside the erg. However, this was now some weeks ago, and I am doing much better on the erg, thank you very much. Now, I am actually longing to be on the erg to pull some good scores (well, for me, that is). And, another thing, I have by now, told my wife the value of my rowing books, just in case...

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Question About "The Young Rower"

Yesterday, a lady by the name of Annie left a comment about the print "The Young Rower", which I posted an entry about on 3 October last year. Annie writes, “I have 2 original pages from The Tatler ("The Young Rower") and "The Young Swimmer" from the Sketch. Anyone know where I can find more? I did hear that they are part of a series. Thanks.”

I am afraid I don’t know the answer to her question. Is there anyone out there who is able to help Annie with her question? I think it might interest the rest of the readers of HTBS, too.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sport et Style: On Jack Kelly

A week ago, HTBS's special correspondent in France, Hélène Rémond, very kindly sent me a copy of the French magazine Sport & Style, the December issue. It just arrived and after I eagerly flipped through the pages I found the article, "Un Roman Américain" [An American Story] by Paul Miquel, (pp. 100-105). The article is about Jack Kelly, Sr., and Jack Kelly Jr., or "Kell" as he was also known. Miquel, who is basing his article on Daniel Boyne's book Kelly: A Father, A Son, an American Quest, which was published in America in 2008. Miquel draws parallels between the Kelly family and another "immigrant" family from Ireland, the Kennedys, calling the Kellys "des 'Kennedy du sport US' ". Boyne, who is briefly interviewed in the article, agrees that there were some similarities between the two families, although, of course Jack Kelly Sr.'s political career was only on a local level in Philadelphia. So all you readers living in France, Switzerland, and Belgium, or in a country where you will be able to get hold of the December issue of this beautiful magazine, Sport & Style, run and get your copy right away!

My warm thanks to Hélene for sending me a copy of the magazine and an English translation, which made it easier to read the article as my French is terribly 'rusty'.

Friday, December 17, 2010

X-Mas Is Just Around The Corner...

Well, to be really honest, I never managed to send off my list to Santa this year, and as Christmas is next week (I know, autumn passed by just like that, didn't it?), I guess, I will not receive a single scull this Christmas either, not even a pair of sculls...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Go Marj!

There is an inspiring story in the Boston Globe today, about Mrs. Marj Burgard, who is 81 years young, and a Master Rowing World Champion. Read the story about the amazing Mrs. Burgard here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Which Is The Funniest English Novel?

Being in the month of December, everyone is writing 'lists'. Some lists go to Santa, others are published in newspapers, magazines, or on the web. And it is all kinds of different lists, this year's best movies, cars, books, bikes, toys, and so on. I happened to come across one of these lists yesterday, in The Guardian, where Robert McCrum is blogging about books. Under the head-line "Which is the perfect comic novel" he has listed the ten funniest English novels. McCrum got the idea after reading an article by Marcus Berkmann, who in the magazine The Spectator is writing about an entertaining novel. Berkmann mentions that most of P.G. Wodehouse's books are tremendously funny, while McCrum can agree that "some of his novels [...] are indeed close to perfection." This makes McCrum write a 10-top-list of the perfect comic novel, which (side-stepping Wodehouse and American funny novels) I am happy to report includes Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (1889). Jerome's novel is indeed a very funny book (some of the people leaving comments on McCrum's article do not agree). Including this novel, I have almost read half of the books on McCrum's list. I write 'almost' as I never really finished Charles Dickens's The Pickwick Papers.

One of these days I am going to sit down to write my favourite 10-top-list of rowing books. I guess Three Men in a Boat will be on top when it comes to the most comic rowing book.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Victorian Holidays On The Thames

Last Saturday, 11 December, a new exhibit opened at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames, Escaping the City, which is showing paintings and artefacts of Victorian holiday life on the River Thames. “The exhibition will look at how the boating boom brought many advantages to boat builders, hotels and pubs through 19th century photographs, adverts and signs,” it says on the museum’s web site. Work by artists Frederick William Watts, George Dunlop Leslie, and James Tissot will be on display; Tissot's On the Thames is seen on the right. The exhibit will run between 11 December 2010 and 2 May 2011. Get more information from the museum’s web site by clicking here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 Ernestine Bayer Award Goes To Joanne Wright Iverson

The recipient of the USRowing’s 2010 Ernestine Bayer Award, formerly known as the Women of the Year Award, is Joanne Wright Iverson. She began to row in 1959 at the Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club, which was started be the late Ernestine Bayer. In 2009, Iverson published a book, An Obsession with Rings, which is her account of the battle to get the American women to row at the Olympics. She managed the first female Olympic rowing team in 1976, where the U.S. took a silver medal in the single and a bronze in the eight. Read the USRowing’s article here, and go to the HTBS entry on 24 March 2010 about An Obsession with Rings by clicking here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some Good Old Stories Told By Cleaver

I feel that I am not yet ready to let go of Hylton Cleaver's The Vengeance of Jeremy (1953), which I wrote about on 28 November. Cleaver is well-known for his sport books about rowing, but this is a fictional book about the young boy Jeremy, who in the beginning of the story loses his father. Jeremy's father is a newspaperman who drops dead in front of his editor after he mysteriously got stabbed researching a front-page story for the paper. Jeremy follows in his father's foot-steps to try to find out why his father got killed. This leads him to the Metropolitan Rowing Club, which has an eight training for the regatta at Henley. About the town of Henley, Cleaver writes:

"Henley itself is an old riverside town halfway between Oxford and London, and spread over three counties, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. All three meet where it stands. As a world-famous course it has one peculiarity. For most of the year there is nothing to suggest that a regatta is ever held there. The racecourse at Epsom on which the Derby is run is permanent; the Twickenham stands rise gauntly towards the sky as stolidly in the summer as on the days of Rugby internationals; the famous Long Room in the pavilion at Lord's is there throughout the winter, to be seen and studied; and the Stadium at Wembley never changes.

But the race-course at Henley is built afresh every summer; the piles and booms are set in those dead straight lines by experts only just in time for the regatta to open, and as soon as the last race is rowed the same gang of craftsmen start to dismantle it again. When racing begins those enormous grandstands, vast marquees, flower gardens, restaurants, band-stand, boat tents, rafts and judges' box, look as if they had their roots there. But the river is a King's Highway; the tow-path cannot be barred to the public; and so every year 10,000 has to be spent in setting out the lavish scene, and then removing it again as if by magic."

In the same chapter, called 'Water Jockey', Jeremy gets a question by the eight's coxswain: "You've never been a cox? [...] Don't take it up, then. You have no idea what it's like to spend your time sitting cramped in a boat about a yard away from the face of your Stroke, and to be forced to keep on starring into it for an hour on end." The cox continues: "On the water [...] the jockeys are called coxes", and in a most unflattering way, he then says: "Horses may be a little less stupid than crews, and they do at least face the right direction, whereas the slaves who ply the oars in these galleys have their backs to the winning post, and can be told any story about how far away it is."

In the next chapter, 'Coaching Days' the Metropolitan RC's coach, Mr. Harkwright Startin, tells Jeremy some old, 'true' stories about Leander, Cambridge, Oxford, and Henley and these stories would later reappear in the magazine Rowing and his A History of Rowing (1957).

Friday, December 10, 2010

More 'Ice Rowing'

Here is a short news clip from the beginning of December 1927. The well-known American sculler Walter Hoover is trying out a new light-weight shell, 27 lbs. Watch out for the ice, Hoover!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Changes at Henley

A press release from the Henley Stewards reads: “The Stewards have decided to introduce an event for Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls at the 2012 Regatta. The event will be offered for eight quads racing in the Regatta and there will be Qualifying Races.” Read the whole press release here. At a December meeting, the Henley Stewards also decided “that rowers competing in The Thames and in The Wyfold Challenge Cups may only race in one event at the same Regatta i.e. the practice of rowers doubling up will no longer be allowed.” This change will go into effect at the next regatta in 2010. Read the whole press release here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cranberries, A Black Tooth, Or A Sword?

Regarding the e-mail from Chris Partidge of Rowing for Pleasure, which was posted on HTBS yesterday, it ends “Your reference to Lund reminds me of the time I visited it for the launch of the Bluetooth radio short-range radio system for mobile phones and computers. At the launch, we were told all about Harald Bluetooth, who unified Scandinavia (hence the appropriate use of his name for a common standard for radio communication). According to the PR spiel, he got his nickname from his love of cranberries, which stained his teeth. Later, we were taken to a historical recreation at Malmö Castle [seen above]. I got talking to a real historian, who said “Cranberries? It’s all ballocks. Bluetooth is a corruption of an old Norse name meaning ‘Grey Warrior’ or something similar.”

Many sources claim that the Danish king’s name Blutooth, old Norse ‘Blátönn’, actually means ‘black tooth’, which is also Frans G Bengtsson’s explanation of King Harald’s name in an essay he wrote about how The Long Ships came to be written. In The Long Ships Bengtsson has put in an episode with Harald having a terribly tooth ache. However, modern research declares that ‘Bluetooth’ was probably the name of Harald’s well-made sword with a bluish blade. The word ‘tönn’, ‘tooth’, is to be found in many given names of Viking swords. In The Long Ships, the Vikings’ swords ‘bite’ a lot…

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ugly Covers Of The Long Ships

Chris Partridge of the blog Rowing for Pleasure writes in an e-mail:

I made a mental note when I read your posts about Frans Bengtsson to look out for a copy of The Long Ships. Sounds a good read, I thought. Just now, I went up to the top floor of Partridge Towers to look out a Hornblower book knew my son had up there, and lo and behold I found a copy of The Long Ships there. None of my family has a clue how it got here. I am looking forward to reading it, even though the cover has an even worse historical atrocity than the helmet wings on the new edition. Not only does the Viking warrior in the picture look as though he is asleep, he is wearing a helmet with cow horns. [See picture on the left.]

Cow horns have been comprehensively rubbished lately, even in the popular TV panel game QI. According to a transcript produced by a QI obsessive, Stephen Fry said: “Viking helmets didn’t have horns. It’s thought that they were actually little more than leather skullcaps, or nothing. The idea of horned helmets comes from various pre-Christian Celtic artefacts and depictions: wrong people and wrong era. The modern association with Vikings dates from a Swedish book illustrator named Gustav Malmström in the 1820s and from productions of Wagner’s Ring in the 1870s (not that the Ring is about Vikings), into which it was introduced by Carl Emil Doepler, the designer of that show. Furthermore, the horned helmets were a development of an earlier 19th century romantic notion: the winged helmet. Horns muscled wings out until they were revived by the Thor and Asterix comics.”

Mind you, that didn’t stop a crew from my club, Langstone Cutters, rowing the Great River Race in plastic cow horn helmets.

And so Chris ends his thoughts about awful book covers of the Bengtsson novel. I can only agree. There are some terribly ugly ones with historical blunders like horns and wings on the Vikings’ helmets. Why can’t the illustrators do a little research before they start putting their pen to paper? I believe some of their helmets were made of iron to protect them from sword blows, etc.

Besides the cover of Chris’s edition seen above, the first paperback edition from 1957, published by the New American Library, also has a dreadful cover, seen at the very top of this entry. But, of course, the important thing is what Frans G Bengtsson’s The Long Ships has to offer as a historical novel, not the different covers. I am delighted to hear that Chris found a copy of The Long Ships, and I am certain that he will enjoy the book; I am yet to find a reader of the book who did not like it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rowing Online

Some years back I was subscribing to and writing book reviews and small pieces for the beautiful magazine Maritime Life and Traditions. I was sad when it went down the pipes in 2006. Somehow the National Maritime Historical Society’s magazine Sea History started to come instead, I guess as compensation, but when they wanted me to subscribe to it, I politely declined. To me, Sea History, although a nice publication, never came close to what Maritime Life and Traditions used to be, a first-class publication with well-written articles and wonderful illustrations in colour. On Friday, the latest issue of Sea History, No. 133, Winter 2010-11, showed up in the mail box. With the magazine came a letter asking me to ‘come back’ as a subscriber.

Yesterday, I had the time to flip through the magazine, and on page 50 I saw an interesting article by Peter McCracken, “Competitive Rowing Online”. McCracken writes “Competitive rowing, like any pastime, has an online presence these days. Rowing history, curiously, is not well represented online, but a 20004 essay titled “The Danerously Neglected Legacy of Rowing”
at provides some considerations as to why this is so.” Even though Peter McCracken never mentions the name of the author of that great article, Thomas E. Weil, McCracken is right, the article gives the reader a lot to think about.

Then follows a list with descriptions of valuable rowing links (many you will find under my ‘Good Rowing Links’ on the right). Allow me to here quote McCracken: River & Rowing Museum; Fishmongers’ Company (which organise The Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race); Rowing History (The Friends of Rowing History); the National Rowing Foundation; Row2K; Henley Royal Regatta; The Boat Race; Head of the Charles; Pocock Racing Shells; Northwest Maritime Center; USRowing; Rowing Canada; British Rowing; 2012 London Olympic Rowing; and FISA World Rowing. Two rowing blogs are also mentioned in the article: Chris Partridge’s Rowing for Pleasure and HTBS (the blog you are on right now.)

Peter McCracken is happy to welcome other suggestions, please e-mail him at

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Long, Cold Winter Ahead...

The snow came early this winter in many parts of Europe. E-mails and phone calls from Sweden are saying the same thing: the snow came way too early. I still remember the cold, long winter of 1993/1994 in Sweden. My friend Per Ekström and I were working on the issue of the rowing magazine Svensk Rodd that was due for March. All the articles and images were in place and the printers were more or less waiting at the presses, but we still lacked a picture for the cover. Per and I met at the rowing club in Malmö to try to find something ‘snowy’ that we could take a picture of. In the boat house we found a bow from an old wooden single that had just been cut up. We borrowed the bow and placed it on the frozen canal (yes, the water was frozen stiff so you could actually walk on it). We threw a life saver around it, and took a couple of pictures. The result you see on the right.

I have a feeling this is also going to be a long, cold winter. I don't like it!

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Say, Those Danes...

“Ten of Denmark’s best rowers smashed the World Record for a team going 24 hours non-stop on the indoor rowing machine over the 24-25 November,” FISA reports on their website. “They set the new World Record by completing a massive 512,649 metres at Copenhagen’s central train station watched over by commuters.” The rowers were Mads Rasmussen, Thomas Morsing Larsen, Peter Søgaard, Anders Moustgaard, Kasper Aagaard, Mathias Thørring Larsen, Christian Place Pedersen, Jens Vilhelmsen, Kasper Winther Jørgensen, and Rasmus Quist. Read the FISA article by clicking here. Below you can watch the oarsmen in mid-race.

And here is the final minute...

Great Scott! Well done, boys!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Ad With Rowing History

Tim Koch writes from London about the above advertisement, that it‘s a “reminder that there was a time (1962) when you could associate rowing and smoking. It shows the old Maidenhead Rowing Club. They have since rebuilt on the other side of the river (and given up smoking). “

The ad is for “the outstanding cigarette of the day” Senior Service, launched in Great Britain in 1925, which was named after the nickname of the Royal Navy. What I find interesting with this ad is that it gives you some rowing history facts of British rowing. Among other things you can read:

“The first race on record is that for Doggett’s Coat and Badge in 1715 from London Bridge to Chelsea, and Dr. Johnson in a letter to Mrs. Thrale refers to a regatta at Vauxhall in 1775. 1829 saw the first ‘boat race’ and in 1839 the first Henley Royal Regatta - now a sparkling social occasion and magnet to the world’s crews. Certainly a more beautiful setting for it would be hard to find.”

Of course, the regatta in Henley-on-Thames became ‘royal’ first in 1851!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Watch The 2010 World Championships Races

FISA World Rowing Live has now posted all the World Championships races. Watch them by clicking here.

Rowing On Ice

Yesterday, I saw this funny video about 'Ice Rowing' in Finland on Chris Partridge's eminent blog Rowing for Pleasure. I cannot help stealing it from him as I talked to my dear mother in the south of Sweden yesterday and she said they have tons of snow already! It's a funny thing, just because I am from Sweden everyone here in New England thinks that I love the winter and snow. Sorry, I never loved the snow in Sweden, and I don't love the snow in Connecticut. However, if I had the chance to try some 'ice sculling' I would for sure take it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Inrigger Rowing Is Still Alive In Britain

HTBS's Tim Koch did a little research on inrigger rowing in Britain. Here is Tim's report:

Following the recent item on inrigged coxed fours, on 27 November, some people may have the impression that inrigged rowing for pleasure and competition no longer exists. This is far from the case. In Britain, the Skiff Rowing Association, SRA, has existed since 1901 and is still going strong. The Thames Skiff is a round bottomed, fixed seat, clinker built boat with the blades held in place by wooden thole pins at the side of the craft. Singles and doubles are the most common though there is no reason why trebles and fours cannot be made. The SRA sets the rules of racing and runs three events - the Inter-Club competition held at Henley on Thames and the Singles and Doubles Marathons. All other events are organised by affiliated clubs or regattas.

The affiliated clubs are:

The Skiff Club (1895)

Thames Valley Skiff Club

Wraysbury Skiff and Punting Club (1931)

Dittons Skiff and Punting Club

Wargrave Boating Club

Granta Skiff Club (Cambridge)

The affiliated regattas are:

Sunbury Amateur Regatta This has skiffing, punting, and dongolas (a punt paddled by a team of six people kneeling). It offers club and ‘local’ events and includes pub teams and a tug of war! It all ends with fireworks. Its website says: Away from river, the lawn provides a wide range of activities. From beer tents to Punch and Judy shows, there is something for every member of the family. Many community groups and charities have stalls on the lawn and Sunbury Regatta is a fundraising opportunity for many.

Chertsey Regatta was established in 1851 and so is one of the oldest rowing events still in existence. It offers punting and skiffing.

Hampton Court and Dittons Regatta started in 1881 as an ‘Aquatic Sport and Venetian Fete’. It has punting, skiffing, dongola and junior dingy races. Some early 20th Century film of the event is shown below (click on the black box!).


The Wraysbury and Old Windsor Regatta and The Walton Reach Regatta are so traditional that they do not have websites!

Egham Regatta offers junior sculling, punting and skiffing events and so I think it is the only British regatta run under three codes – British Rowing, The Skiff Rowing association and The Thames Punting Club

Every year the Auriol Kensington Veterans’ Row to Henley passes through this delightful event (in a literal sense as we row over the race course in preference to going up the narrow temporary navigation channel) and I can vouch for the fact that Egham has a marvellous family atmosphere and is well supported by the local community.

A glance at the web-sites of these clubs and regattas quickly shows that they seem to have a good balance of fun and competition, something which is sometimes lost in normal 'outrigged' rowing clubs with their ergo tests and six day a week training.

(On finishing this article it suddenly struck me that an item on active inrigged rowing in Britain should include the thriving Cornish Pilot Gig racing scene. However, I will be returning to my native Cornwall for Christmas so I will produce something in the new year – hopefully after some first hand research).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Williams's Quintuple Dirt Cheap

Tim Koch, HTBS special correspondent in London, reports that “The five-person sculling boat built by Carl Douglas for the recent Robbie Williams / Take That video reported on the 22 November has been sold on eBay after a twelve person bidding war for £3,800 ($5,900). Part of the money raised will go to support youth rowing. This was a bargain for the winner as it is less than the price of a decent single scull. Of course there is only one other boat in existence that it can race…”

Thank you, Tim, for keeping the HTBS readers updated!

New Book About Madras BC

A new rowing book has just been released in India. The book is about one of the country's oldest rowing clubs, Madras Boat Club, which was founded in 1867. This 400-page book, Down by the Adyar, is written by Mr. M. Muthiah, who has published other books on sport clubs in the city of Chennai. Down by the Adyar is INR700 (around $15.50 or £10.00) and can be ordered at Madras BC, address: Raja Annamalaipuran, 2, 3rd Ave., Boat Club Road, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 600028, India, or by e-mail: (I hope this is still the club's e-mail address!)

Here is an article about the book, and here another.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Rowing Story By Hylton Cleaver

On 10 November I asked if anyone knew about a fiction story on rowing by Hylton Cleaver, who was a sport journalist and author of books for young boys. I know of several novels by Cleaver in which he tells the stories of boys boxing and playing cricket and Rugby football, but rowing, sadly not. On 13 November Tim Koch published a nice piece about Cleaver, which had a link to many of the titles of his novels, but nothing stood out as being about rowing. Then slightly more than a week ago, Tim sent me a link to a book by Cleaver on eBay, The Vengeance of Jeremy (1953). The cover was ripped, but on the spine one could see a 'rowing scene'. I looked around on the web and found a copy with a nice dust-jacket, and ordered it right away.

The book arrived just before Thanksgiving, and I am happy to report that here it is, a fictional story by Hylton Cleaver that actually involved rowing, and rowing at Henley Royal Regatta, I might add. However, Cleaver does not miss the opportunity to mention also the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, Head of the River, and the Doggett's Coat and Badge Race. To be really honest, to a reader of today the story-line might seem a little weak, but to a young English boy, who read it now almost sixty years ago, he would probably indulge it with delight.

On top is the cover and the spine, and on the right is the frontispiece. Please contact me if you know of any other titles of fictional works by Hylton Cleaver that involves rowing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Inrigger: A Rare Boat Type

The coxed inrigger four is indeed a very rare boat type nowadays even in the Scandinavian countries. It was actually introduced as an Olympic boat class at the fifth Olympiad, the Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912. In the Rowing Programme, Rules and General Regulations,* published in 1912 by the Swedish Olympic Committee, there is a definition of a ‘Four-oared Inrigger’ stating that

“An inrigger gig shall be clinker built and comply with the following measurements and weights: –

Length: maximum 10.60 metres
Width: at the widest place, minimum 1.05 metres
Depth: 0.36 metre
Width at water line: 0.78 metre
Weight: 85 kilos
Number of boards on either side: 7.

The width of the boards must not in any part of the cross-sections of the boat vary more than 2 centimetres. For the purpose of measuring the width at the water line, an apparatus of the following construction will be used:
A bar, about 1 metre in length, placed on its edge and supplied with two vertical, movable arms, 12 1/2 centimetres high, one at each end.
In the middle of the bar a notch large enough to fit over the keel of the boat.

When a boat is to be measured, it shall be laid bottom upwards, with the apparatus placed over the middle rib. The vertical arm is then pushed so far along the bar as to touch the sides of the boat, at the water line. The distance is measured on the bar between the vertical arms, and if, for example, this distance for a four-oared boat is at least 0.78 metre, the boat holds the measurement; if the distance is less, it is not up to the standard.

The length shall be measured in a straight line between the extreme ends of the stem and the stern. The depth shall be measured inwards, from the deepest point of the keel to the deepest part of the boat and perpendicularly up to a line through the upper edges of the uppermost boards. The width shall be measured between the outer edges of the uppermost boards on the widest part of the boat. The width at the water line shall be measured outwards on the middle rib and a height of 12 1/2 centimetres above the lowest board.

The boat shall have an outward keel which in every cross-section shall reach at least 1 centrimetre below the lowest edge of the lowest board. The weight of the boat is reckoned exclusive of the oars but inclusive of all other equipment of the boat. The position of the rowlocks or the axle of the movable rowlock may not be more than 3 centimetres outside the outer edge of the upper board, and the measurement shall be made straight out from the place where the rowlock is fixed.”

At the Olympic rowing event in Stockholm the following inrigger crews competed: Nykjøbings paa Falster Roklub, Denmark; Société Nautique de Bayonne, France; Christiania Roklub, Norway; Ormsund Roklub, Norway; Göteborgs Roddförening, Sweden; Roddklubben af 1912, Sweden. The Danish boat won followed by the Swedish, Roddklubben af 1912 (seen below). See also HTBS 21 April, 2009. The inrigger would never again appear at an Olympic rowing event, and has to be regarded as an Olympic curiosity.

What is not known, or maybe more correctly, remembered nowadays is that they also had inriggers in New Zealand during the 1880s and 1890s. Michael Grace, author of the eminent The Dolly Varden Legacy, wrote in an e-mail that he had a draft about inriggers in New Zealand for his book, but it never made it into the final version. This is what he wrote about the inriggers:

“Competition in inrigged fours was still very much prevalent into the 1880s and 1890s. However, the practice of acknowledging the representative boats, rather than the crew themselves, seems to have subsided about the time the NZARA was established (1887). While there is no record of the names themselves, the Club recorded a number of victories in Senior, Junior and Maiden Inrigged Fours during late 1880s and early 1890s. At a NZARA meeting in December 1896, a rule was passed that Maiden four-oared races were only to be rowed in out-rigged boats at all regattas. This effectively spelt the death knell of inrigged racing in New Zealand and this form of boat subsequently faded into obscurity.”**

This boat type has also started to fade away in the Nordic countries, which is really a pity!

* A photo copy of the Rowing Programme, Rules and General Regulations was sent to me by Tim Koch. His club, Auriol Kensington RC in London, has a copy of this rare publication in their archives. It once belonged to the club's prominent sculler, Wally Kinnear, who took an Olympic gold in the single scull in Stockholm.
** My thanks to Michael Grace for allowing me to publish this piece.
For more about the Olympic rowing in Stockholm, see my article
Samuel F. Gordon and the 1912 Olympic Rowing.

Friday, November 26, 2010

High Spirits

Here is an ad that I found in an old publication, British Rowing Almanack 1957, which was the 'Official Handbook of the Amateur Rowing Association, the Scottish Amateur Rowing Association and the Women's Amateur Rowing Association, with notes on companion Associations overseas' as it states inside the publication. It was edited by A.S. Irvine and published by C.E. Fisher & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. in London. The men seem to be in high spirits. It must be due to being oarsmen...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Martin Gough: Andy Holmes, Responsible For British Rowings Success Today

Martin Gough, who is assistant editor of the BBC Sport website, writes here exclusively for HTBS about the memorial service on last Saturday for Olympian Andy Holmes, who died on 24 October from what is believed to be Weil’s disease.

In August 2008, Hammersmith and Fulham Council invited representatives of local sports clubs to drinks at the Town Hall to celebrate the achievements of local athletes at the Beijing Olympics. Two Olympic rowers brought their new bronze medals, a fencer who hopes to compete at London 2012 was introduced to the audience, as was a member of the Sydney 2000 gold-medal rowing eight, resplendent in his Great Britain blazer.

The coach of Furnivall Sculling Club was part of the crowd, lurking in a corner, wearing a lounge suit, chatting to friends. Andy Holmes – the most decorated Olympian in the room, with two gold medals and a bronze too – wouldn’t have minded not being introduced, and probably didn’t expect to be. However, as his former pairs’ partner Sir Steve Redgrave pointed out during a recent BBC television tribute, Holmes was one of those responsible for the situation British rowing finds itself in today: one of the country’s most successful - and consequently best funded - Olympic sports.

As Martin Cross, a third member of their coxed four – which won Britain’s first rowing gold for 46 years at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 – said on Saturday: “His dedication and hard work ethic, along with the belief that he, and other British rowers, could beat the seemingly-invincible East German crews and one day dominate their discipline, is part of the legacy that he has left.”

Cross was speaking at a memorial for Holmes, who died last month aged 51, at his alma mater, Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith. The school’s main hall was packed and the atmosphere celebratory for the life of a man whose energy enthused others, but occasionally cracked with emotion, with his absence keenly felt. Family members, including his mother and two brothers, spoke of his love of fun, and habit of getting into scrapes.

Holmes’ first wife, Pam, read a poem about their 20 years together – from their first meeting at a disco, being chauffeured around in his black Cadillac, the birth of their four children and his “mid-life crisis”, when they split up in 1999. Members of the Latymer 1st VIII of 1978, the junior national champions whose recent reunion, with Holmes back in the five seat, saw a group of 50-year-olds beat their current counterparts – one of the strongest school crews in the country – recalled his inspiring influence on their group on the water, and his anarchic side of it.

Those present had no doubt that it was Holmes, rather than actor Hugh Grant, who was the more prestigious graduate of their school in 1978.

Cross spoke of the ruthless drive and dedication that saw Holmes – in the days before central funding and plentiful sponsorship – work on a building site, carrying huge hods of bricks to improve his endurance, in the hours between his morning and evening training sessions.

Richard Phelps, himself a Latymer old boy who made the Great Britain squad, spoke of his awe and fear when Holmes asked to join him in a pair on training camp. “Andy was the hard man of British rowing. He did not sit behind Steve Redgrave, he drove Steve Redgrave,” he said.

Now a teacher, journalist and TV commentator, Cross also read the transcript of an interview he held with Holmes about his “lost years” – the period between leaving rowing in 1989 and resurfacing, thanks to the entreaties of a school friend, as a coach three years ago.

Holmes was setting up a removals business in south London but threw himself into his second passion, drumming, with the same dedication he had once put into rowing – two hours in the morning on the legs, an hour in the afternoon on the fingers. Holmes was no friend of authority. A job as ambassador with the French Rowing Federation ended shortly after he undermined coaches by giving an unregarded duo a training programme that saw them beat the rest of the squad.

He refused to brag about his Olympic success. A cousin was disappointed when Holmes forgot to bring his gold medal to a dinner he had organised, but both were pleasantly surprised when the oarsman discovered the medal in his suit pocket. When Holmes retired, the trophies and medals were consigned to a suitcase in the attic, and daughter Amy only found out about her father’s past life when she saw him featured in a book at school.

The family, including Holmes’ second wife Gabrielle, have attempted to record many of the tributes that have been received over the last weeks, in part to show to his daughter Parker, who was four weeks old when her father died.

Cross said: “One day Parker is going to ask about her Dad and she is going to have the same journey of discovery that Amy did and learn about what a remarkable Dad she had.”

Many, many thanks to Martin Gough for his nice contribution!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 USRowing Medal Goes To Frank Cunningham

On 18 November, USRowing announced the names of 2010 Annual Award Winners. I was happy to see that this year's recipient of USRowing's highest honour, the USRowing Medal is Frank Cunningham, legendary coach out in Seattle. Cunningham began to row at Noble and Greenough School in Massachusetts in 1937. During the 1940s he rowed in different crews at Harvard University. He has coached many of the U.S.'s most prominent scullers. Read USRowing's press release here.