Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Swedish Rowing Foot Note In Philadelphia

Let us stay in Sweden for a while, or that is, with a Swedish connection.

One of the most famous rowing spots in the USA is Philadelphia with its Boathouse Row along the Schuylkill River. Of course, way back when, rowing in Philadelphia was not only about the Boathouse Row clubs, there were other rowing clubs in town, too. For a short period, between 1882 and 1885, there was even a rowing club founded by Swedes living and working in Philadelphia. Not all Swedes who immigrated to America ended up in Minnesota, many settled in the Philadelphia area.

Atlantic Works Inc., which was a machine factory in Philadelphia, had a lot of Swedes working on all kinds of levels. Stephan Rozycki, who was born in Paris by Polish parents and grew up in Sweden, was an engineer at Atlantic Works who, together with seven other Swedes in October 1882 founded The Swedish Rowing Club of Philadelphia. The Swedes shared the boathouse with an older club, The Riverside Club. Back home in Sweden, Rozycki’s sister made and sent him a flag which would be used as the club flag. The Swedes’ uniform was yellow with blue striped shirt, blue trousers, and a blue cap with a yellow star. “Svea”, their first boat, bought in June 1884, was a six-oared gig with the oar blades painted in blue with a yellow star. Later in 1884, the club acquired a coxed out-rigged four, “Göta”, and a single scull, “Thule”. All boats were frequently used by the fifteen members of the club, especially during the summer days of 1884 and 1885.

The Swedes particularly concentrated on long-distances rows on the Schuylkill, and through Point Breeze and down the Delaware River. The Swedes were known to row also during extremely hot summer days, which made spectators on the river banks cry: “There come the crazy Swedes!” According to a 1934 article by Fredrik Arsenius, The Swedish Rowing Club was invited to join the Schuylkill Navy at several occasions, but the club declined as its members were afraid that they would lose their ‘Swedishness’.

The Swedes last outing was on a very hot summer day, 17 July 1885. By then Stephan Rozycki had already left the club to join the US Navy. He was later stationed at the US Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island. The Swedish Rowing Club in Philadelphia is a little foot note in the rowing history along the Schuylkill.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Home Again...

At last, we are home in Connecticut again after a two-week visit to Sweden. It was supposed to have been only an eight-day stay, but ash clouds from the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland closed most airports in Europe. To be honest, I am not complaining as we stayed at my mother’s place in Malmö, in the south of Sweden, so we did not have to camp-out at an airport or sit in an over-crowded bus for two, three days to go to an open airport, or any other horror story that there are plenty of in the wake of Eyjafjallajökull erupting. Not even when our flight from Copenhagen to Boston was changed to go via Glasgow airport, instead of via Keflavik airport in Iceland, did I get disturbed. Instead, I saw it as a great opportunity to get some of those British magazines that are hard to find here in the U.S. Well, although the news agency at Glasgow airport had a ton of magazines, they did not, for example, have Literary Review which I was looking for, and the ladies working there had not even heard of it.

There was also one disappointment in Malmö: the doors at my local rowing club remained closed during my visit. My mother’s flat is only a couple of blocks away from the canal where the boat house is located, so I had the opportunity to pass the house several times. At one time it was open, so I could at least go in to get a whiff of the boat house, but there was no activity, maybe due to the chilly weather, who knows?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Over The Atlantic In Ash Clouds...

So, if everything goes well, when this is posted in the afternoon, European time, my family and I will be over the Atlantic flying home to the U.S. A one-week stay in Sweden turned out to be a two-week stay due to the volcano activity in Iceland. At home, everything goes back to 'normal'. After all, there are many rowing stories to tell...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mark Twain On Rowing

Earlier today, rowing historian Bill Lanouette sent me an e-mail with a very interesting piece of literary and rowing history: a rowing race report from author Mark Twain from November 1868. The article is about the race between the famous professional oarsmen the Ward brothers (see illustration) and the St. Johns crew. Many thanks to Bill for this great culture find!

San Francisco
Alta California, November 15, 1868



A Lively Boat Race - The Wicked "Wickedest Man" - On the Wing - Something About Chicago - Story of a Rail - Personal Gossip

International Boat Race.

HARTFORD, October 22, 1868.

I went up to Springfield, Mass., yesterday afternoon, to see the "International boat race" between the Ward brothers and the "St. Johns" crew, of New Brunswick. We left here at noon, and reached Springfield in about an hour. It was raining. It seems like wasting good dictionary words to say that, because it is raining here pretty much all the time, and when it is not absolutely raining, it is letting on to do it. I assembled on the bank of the river along with a rather moderate multitude of other people (moderate considering the greatness of the occasion), and waited. A flat-boat was anchored in midstream, and on it were collected the judges, the boats' crews, and some twenty of their friends. A dozen skiffs and shells were hovering in the vicinity. The conversation of the crowd about me seemed to promise that I had made this journey to little purpose, since all the talk was to the effect that the idea of anybody attempting to conquer the Ward brothers on the water was simply absurd. Everybody appeared to think that the St. John's gentlemen would be so badly beaten that it could hardly be proper to speak of the contest as a race at all. My sympathies always go with the racer that is beaten, anyhow, and so I began to warm toward those New Brunswick strangers in advance. The cries of "Two to one on the Wards!" "Ten to one on the Wards!" "Hundred to five on the Wards!" I felt like resenting as so many personal affronts. Shortly two "shells" were brought to the front -- long, narrow things like telegraph poles shaved and sharpened down to oar blades at both ends. The contestants took their places -- the four St. John's boys dressed in pink shirts and red skull-caps, and the four Ward's in white shirts and with white handkerchiefs bound round their heads. They were all find looking men. They rowed away a hundred yards, easily and comfortably. I had never seen such grace, such poetry of motion, thrown into the handling of an oar before. They ranged up alongside each other, now, abreast the judges. A voice shouted

"Are you ready?"

"Ready!" and the two shells almost leaped bodily out of the water. They darted away as if they had been shot from a bow. The water fairly foamed in their wake. The Wards had a little the start, and made frantic exertions to increase the advantage but it was soon evident that, instead of gaining, they were losing. The race was to be a very long one - three miles and repeat. When the shells were disappearing around a point of land, half a mile away, the St. John's were already a trifle ahead. The people in my vicinity made light of this circumstance, however. They said "them Ward's" knew what they were about. They were "playing" this thing. When the boats hove in sight again "them Ward's" would be in the lead. And so the betting against my martyrs went on, just as before. Finally, somebody suggested that appearances seemed to indicate that the race was "sold." It had its effect. the most enthusiastic shortly began to show a failing confidence, and to drop anxious remarks about the chances of the race having really been betrayed and sold out by the Wards. But, notwithstanding all this talk was so instructive, the next twenty minutes hung heavily on my hands. There was nothing in the world to look at but five hundred umbrellas and occasionally a fleeting glimpse of the water -- and even umbrellas lose their interest in the long run, I find. there is nothing exciting about umbrellas -- nothing thrilling. One's pulse beats just as calmly in the presence of umbrellas as if they were not there. And they don't really amount to anything for scenery, being monotonous when there are so many. But in the midst of these reflections some one shouted:

"Here they come!"

"Whoop! St. John's ahead!"

"For fifty dollars it's the Wards!"

"Fifty to twenty-five it's the Wards!"

"Take them both! - hundred to a hundred it's _____"

"Three cheers for - Oh, the suffering Moses, the St. John's are ahead!"

It was so. It was easy to distinguish the pink shirts, now, flashing back and forth. On they came, dividing the water like a knife, and the white shirts far in the rear. In a few minutes they came flying past the judge's stand, every man of them as fresh and bright and full of life as when they started, and handling the oars with the same easy grace as before. A cheer went up for the gallant triumph, but there was little heart in it. The people on the shore were defeated, in pride and in pocket, as well as the opposing contestants. The Wards came in rather more than a hundred yards behind -- and they looked worn and tired. The race was over, and Great Britain had beaten America. Time, 39:38. there was but one consolation, and that was, that in a six-mile race on the same water, last year, the Wards made it in 39, thus beating the present time by 38 seconds. The Wards went into the contest yesterday in inferior condition. Their mainstay, Joshua, had been sick and was still unwell. However, these boys behaved in an entirely becoming manner. They said that they were badly beaten, and fairly beaten, and they wanted no excuses made to modify their defeat or diminish the brilliancy of the St. John's victory.

On 21 April, it was exactly 100 years ago Mark Twain died. 'Mark Twain' was pen name for Samuel Langhorne Clemens (30 November 1835 – 21 April 1910).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eric Linklater's Rowing Poet

Does anyone read Eric Linklater nowadays? Linklater (1899-1974) wrote novels, short-stories, poems, biographies, travelbooks, and children’s books, and was very popular, especially during the 1930s and 1940s. He had some rowing in his novel The Men of Ness (see No. 24 in the entry on 29 July 2009), which was translated into Swedish by my favorite author Frans G. Bengtsson, who wrote about the Viking Röde Orm (The Long Ships). Bengtsson also translated Linklater’s Poet’s Pub (1929), Poeten på Pelikanen (1933).

I happened to flip through this novel the other day (actually, I flipped through both the English and the Swedish versions as they were standing next to each other on the book shelf). The Poet’s Pub is about Saturday Keith who, in the beginning of the novel, is reading an unfavourable review in The Times Literary Supplement about his latest collection of poems. The reviewer is mocking Keith, comparing his bad poetry to his poor performances as a stroke in three losing Oxford crews in the Boat Race, “Mr. Keith is, as he always was, indomitable. But here he is bucketing badly and a long way from Mortlake – or Parnassus.” We are given an example or two of his meager poetry, and regarding the poem “The Blue Scarf” the reviewer writes, how Keith's “long service with the Oxford University Boat Club finds an echo in lines which apparently reproduce the obedient rhythm of a crew with ears agape for the coach’s next remark. ‘Then through the wood the wind came with a shout,/ And like blue wings her long blue scarf flew out,/’ writes Mr. Keith, and we may pardonably think of such a couplet as the response to an injunction to ‘Give her ten’ – though Mr. Keith exceeds his instructions and give us twenty.”

A career as a poet seems not to be in sight for Saturday Keith, so when his friend Quentin Cotton offers to make him the manager for his mother’s newly-purchased pub, ‘The Pelican’, Keith jumps at the offer. And how could he fail, after all he is an Old Blue…

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Harry Tate - The Music Hall Star And Oarsman

Earlier today, the reliable Tim Koch responded to my question from Sunday's entry about Blackie's friend at the oar, Harry Tate. From London Tim writes,

"Here is a picture of Harry Tate the music hall star. It seems to be the same person as Harry Blackstaffe's partner. I am impressed that he could lead the life of an itinerant performer and still be a good enough rower to partner the great man. Nothing to do with rowing, but Harry Tate's catch phrases are interesting. 'Goodbyeee' inspired a very popular song of the First World War and beyond. 'How's your father?' was commonly used in Britain as a euphemism for sex until fairly recently. 'I don't think' used ironically (as in 'He's a nice chap - I don't think') was unknowingly revived in the form 'Not!' in the Mike Meyer's film, Wayne's World in 1992."

Thank you, Tim for solving the 'Harry Tate Mystery'!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blackie's Rowing Partner Harry Tate

When I wrote about Harry Blackstaffe’s charming little drawing of a sculler after his name on the dinner list of the winners of the Wingfield Sculls in 1930, I could not remember where I had seen it previously. But the other day, when I was going through some old rowing post cards, I came across Blackstaffe’s signature again. Blackstaffe, or ‘Blackie’ as he was called, rowed and sculled for Vesta RC, and in the photograph above, we can see him together with Harry Tate in a pair. Looking in H. B. Wells’s Vesta Rowing Club: A Centenary History (1969), I can only find Blackie’s partner mentioned twice, in the Foreword, written by Thames RC’s Freddy Page, and by Wells, who writes, “The No. 2 in the crew was R. M. Hutchison, later a famous figure on the music hall stage under the name ‘Harry Tate’.” [p.5] But maybe that is not Blackie’s partner in the boat, although the name is the same. Anyone who knows?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Rowing Limericks: 'There was a young sculler from...'

In his Boating (in the Small Oxford Books series, published in 1983), rowing historian Chris Dodd writes about poetry on rowing, that “A volume of good rowing poetry would be a slim one, indeed.” I agree, although Dodd shows in his little book that it is not impossible to find some good poems on oarsmanship. And I have tried to show some good ones in earlier entries (click on ‘Rowing Poetry’ under Labels in the green-colour column on the right).

However, I have found it hard to come across rowing in limericks. This kind of poem has five lines, anapestic or amphibrachin metre with a strict rhyme scheme: aabba, so that line one, two and five rhyme; and line three and four rhyme. Traditionally, the first line introduces a person and often a geographic place, the latter at the end of the first line. It seems, though, as in many limericks nowadays ‘the place’ has been dropped. One important element in limericks is that they should be witty and humorous, and even risqué at times. A ‘poor’ versemonger is even allowed to sacrifice a good quality rhyme if the final result produces a funny limerick.

Here are some rowing limericks:

A certain rowing historian at Yale
whose varsity training made him pale,
cried out in space
- blue in his face -
“Cox, get me the god damn pail.”

There was an old sculler of Mystic
whose style was very ancient and rustic.
When he got a boat with a slide,
he complained about the ride:
“This going back and forth makes me seasick.”

And then a little naughty one:

A young handsome lad from Mystic
was out rowing with a beautiful ‘hot chick’.
Though she was not very bright
he found the outing a delight
as she was steering the boat with his ‘joystick’.

The Tideway Slug actually posted a whole page with rowing limericks once upon a time. Read them by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rudie Lehmann's Rowing Style

We all have our ‘rowing heroes’. One of mine is Rudolph Chambers Lehmann (1856-1929) – R.C. Lehmann – who was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He became a famous coach, both for Oxford and Cambridge, but also for Leander, Harvard University, Trinity College (Dublin) and Berliner Ruderklub. During a few years, he was a Member of Parliament for the Liberals. Lehmann wrote some very good books on rowing, and wrote articles for Punch. He is also known as a poet, who wrote light verse which was mostly published in Punch. Here is one fine example:

Style and the Oar

To sit upon a seat
With the straps about your feet,
And to grasp an oar and use it, to recover and to slide,
And to keep your body swinging,
And to get the finish ringing,
And to send the light ship leaping as she whizzes on the tide!

To make the rhythm right
And your feather clean and bright,
And to slash as if you loved it, though your muscles seem to crack;
And, although your brain is spinning,
To be sharp with your beginning,
And to heave your solid body indefatigably back;

Not to be a fraction late
When the rate is thirty-eight;
To be quick when stroke demands it, to be steady when he’s slow;
And to keep a mind unheeding
When the other lot are leading,
And to set your teeth and brace your back and just to make her go.

And when she gives a roll
To swing out with heart and soul,
And to balance her and rally her and get her trim and true;
And while the ship goes flying
To hear the coxswain crying,
“Reach our, my boys, you’ll do it!” and, by Jupiter, you do!

To seek your bed at ten,
And to tumble out again
When the clocks are striking seven and the winds of March are chill;
To be resolute and steady,
Cheerful, regular, and ready
For a run upon the Common or a tramp up Putney Hill;

To sink yourself and be
Just a unit, and to see
How the individual withers and the crew is more and more;
And to guard without omission
Every glorious tradition
That the ancient heroes founded when they first took up an oar;

In short, to play the game
Not so much for name or fame
As to win a common honour for your colours light or dark –
Oh! It’s this has made your crew-man
Such a chivalrous and true man
Since the day that Father Noah went a-floating in the Ark.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Greg Searle's Come-Back

On Sunday, 14 February 2010, I wrote an entry about rowing magazines, and, I have to confess, I whined a little about the new lay-out of Rowing News. I'll be darned if I do not have to change my mind after receiving the issue for April. Now, here is probably what the magazine wanted to do in the first place, a clean, easy-to-read lay-out with full-page columns (it seems the issue I was not so impressed by had a lot of technical mishaps). Not only is the lay-out looking nice, there are some great articles, too. I especially enjoyed the piece by Chris Dodd about the British oarsman Greg Searle, the old Olympic champion who has decided to make a come-back in the boat for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Greg Searle’s greatest moment was probably when he and his brother Jonny, and their coxswain Garry Hebert, in the coxed pair beat the famous and ‘unbeatable’ Abbagnale brothers in the final of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 – a nail-biting race.

Click here to read BBC's Martin Gough's blog entry about Greg Searle and watch a video interview with Searle. To watch the amazing Olympic gold medal race in 1992, click below.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

'Tunny' - A Great Coach

I am not sure when this little pamphlet was published, but it states that it was ‘revised Michaelmas, 1956’. The pamphlet, Introductory Notes on the Art of Rowing, 12 pages, was written by signature ‘B.T.’, which stands for Brian Tunstall. I have by now read quite a lot of different books and pamphlets on how to row, and, being short and concise, I think this is an excellent little work on how to become a good oarsman or oarswoman. To give you an idea how Tunstall has done it in his booklet, here are the sub-titles: ‘The Idea of Rowing’, ‘The Idea of Racing’, ‘On Keeping Time’, ‘The Beginning’, ‘The Finish’, ‘The Recovery’, ‘Coming Forward’, ‘Light Hands’, and ‘Getting the Feel of it’. Tunstall gives easy instructions to follow, in an easy language for the novice to understand. Again, a wonderful little pamphlet, which now is hard to come by.

Who then was Tunstall? William Cuthbert Brian Tunstall (1900-1970) was one of the leading naval historians starting in the 1920s and to his death, and wrote ground-breaking works on naval tactics and other books on naval subjects. Before the war, Tunstall was a lecturer in History and English at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and the Secretary of the Navy Record Society. During the war, he was the naval correspondent for the BBC European Services. Later, he lectured at the London School of Economics and at the Royal Military College of Canada. Rowing historian Bill Lanouette (seen on the left) in Washington DC, who has just handed in his book manuscript about the professional oarsmen, the Biglin Brothers, to his literary agent, has told me that when he was studying at the London School of Economics in 1964-1965, he had Tunstall – or “‘Tunny’ as we used to call him” – as rowing coach at the school’s boat club. “We rowed from the University of London boathouse at Chiswick, just upstream from the ‘Boat Race’ course,” Bill writes in an e-mail. He continues, “during breaks in his coaching [‘Tunny’] would regale us with stories about the signal flags used at the Battle of Trafalgar. A great coach, and a grand character.”

Many thanks to Bill Lanouette for the information about Brian Tunstall. Good luck with your book on the Biglins.

Buy The Rowing Stuff!

Yesterday, Chris Partridge, who is running the great blog Rowing For Pleasure, had an entry posted about a visit he made at Turks Auctions. According to Chris there is a big collection of rowing gear that MUST go! Although I will be travelling across the pond in a couple of days, to go to Sweden, I will not be able to take a detour to England, this time. But if you live there - what are you waiting for? Go immediately to Chatham Boat Yard to buy the rowing stuff!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Picture Cavalcade of Boat Race Day

Here is a picture cavalcade of Boat Race Day. Hélène Rémond, who, in an entry yesterday, wrote about the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, has taken all the photographs. Thank you, Hélène, for allowing me to post them here.

The Thames Embankment

Launches for the Boat Race

The Media Centre at Thames RC

Inside the Thames RC is a wall of the results

On Friday, the day before the Boat Race, the light blues, Cambridge, went for an outing

At the start at Putney

Which way to Hammersmith Bridge?

Oxford still in the lead coming out of Hammersmith Bridge

The enterprise is flourishing on Boat Race Day

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Boat Race Through French Eyes

Hélène Rémond, whom most of you readers of this blog would recognise as a frequent contributor of thoughts, ideas, and written material, managed to persuade the editor-in-chief of the French newspaper where she is working, to send her to London to write an article about the famous British Boat Race between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. I am happy to say that she also agreed to write a little report for H.T.B.S. (‘Hear The Boat Sing’). Thank you, Hélène, for both the nice article and photographs!

By now, all your H.T.B.S. readers have the information: Cambridge won the 156th Boat Race last Saturday, and against the odds, as the bookmakers predicted Oxford’s victory. Earlier posted entries on this blog give links to major articles in British newspapers, and the official website of the Boat Race is really comprehensive.

As correspondent for the French newspaper Ouest-France, I had convinced the Chief-editor of the Sunday edition (Dimanche Ouest-France) that the Boat Race was an event that could not be ignored and as I had planned to spend the Easter week-end in London, I was willing to write about it... In France, rowing is not given much coverage. Often, people confuse it with canoeing or kayaking. I am always very happy to participate in the promotion of the sport which exercises your whole body and which is so enthralling. Its history appeals to me. And the Boat Race is a British institution!

I am pleased to share my photos with you all. I arrived on Friday at the Media Centre, at the Thames Rowing Club in Putney. Near the Putney Bridge station, I came passed a park with a public notice announcing the Boat Race. It made me feel very enthusiastic to be in London to witness this special event. On Friday, the embankment was rather empty and calm although the Press Launch brought about a certain amount of journalists who were presented the Cambridge crew. It was an opportunity for me to photograph the rowers who were to become victorious the following day.

On the day of the race, as the beginning of the afternoon was approaching, there was an increasing number of people gathering along the Thames. As Tim Koch explains in the post entitled The Old Boat Race Course, the Hammersmith Bridge was open to the public this year and this is where I was to see the race and where I shot most pictures... It is amazing to witness this endurance test.

I asked Chris Dodd if he could explain to French readers the popular craze for the Boat Race as about 250.000 persons gather along the banks of the Thames. “Because it’s there. It’s a simple two-horse race that’s been around on the present course since the 1850s, and still has an amateur feel about it. Both universities have worldwide allegiances. And it is a good excuse to go the pub”, he smiles.

And when I asked the question to members of the public on the Hammersmith Bridge, they agreed it was a nice moment to share with friends and have a beer! Actually, the pubs – just like the rowing clubs at the start – are full to the brim. Tim refers to pubs, and I have come passed a few (and photographed the sign of the Old Ship), near the Furnivall Gardens, where a big screen presented the whole event. There was a real festival atmosphere, with music, and much liveliness. The good weather conditions made it all the more enjoyable: no April showers even if there was a good chance of some rain on Boat Race day according to the forecast.

More of Hélène’s photographs from the Boat Race will be posted tomorrow!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Earl Of Iveagh's Dinner...

Hélène Rémond, one of the readers of this blog, spent the Easter weekend in London to cover the Boat Race for a French newspaper. While at the Thames RC, which acted as the Media Centre, she found an interesting ‘invitation’ for a dinner in 1930, the Wingfield Sculls Centenary Dinner. Tim Koch wrote about this dinner in an earlier entry, on Friday 26 March, which I then followed up with another entry, on Saturday 27 March. You can see Hélène’s photography of the invitation above. I am happy to report that tomorrow, I will post an article Hélène exclusively wrote for this blog about the Boat Race.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Great Blog For Rowing Coaches

The other day I came across an interesting blog about coaching rowing, ARC – The Association of Rowing Coaches, South Africa. This association was formed in February 2006, and the following year Jamie Croly began posting articles of interest to the group’s members and other rowing coaches. I did not have to spend that much time to realise what great stuff was on this blog. Under ‘Labels’ you will find entries with everything a coach needs to know. Among ‘Labels’ you will also find a heap of articles written by famous coaches like: Mike Spracklen, Jurgen Grobler, Harry Mahon, Harry Parker, Kris Korzeniowski, and Thor Nielsen. The last entry was posted in December 2009, so I am not sure if Jamie Croly is still updating the blog, but there is enough of really good material for you to study for a long time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

World Rowing Library

In the latest issue of FISA’s World Rowing Newsletter for March, the international rowing federation has assembled a collection of rowing books and DVDs, the World Rowing Library. The rowing books and DVDs in the collection can be purchased in the Library. One of the books that you are able to buy is Dan Boyne's Kelly: A Father, A Son, An American Quest; a book which I am proud to say I had a small part of producing. To have a look at the World Rowing Library, please click here. Of course many of these books are available in your local book shop. If you live in the U.K., or Europe, do try Richard Way Bookshop in Henley-on-Thames.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Old Boat Race Course

After finishing up selling beer at Auriol Kenisington RC’s bar during Boat Race Day, Tim Koch sent me an e-mail. He writes, “I cannot add much to what has been already said about the 2010 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. More often than not the event is just a procession, but this year it was an exciting spectacle. As the race was held over Easter the crowds on the towpath were fewer than usual but this resulted in most people getting a good view. For the first time in many years, people were allowed to stand on Hammersmith Bridge which was only closed to motor traffic. It reminded me of the famous Walter Greaves painting, Hammersmith Bridge On Boat Race Day (1862).” [Seen above]

Tim continues, “The Boat Race always prompts me to revisit a favourite print from the Graphic magazine of April 1875. The 'Champion Course' (Putney to Mortlake or visa versa) is, naturally, little changed but the man made landmarks come and go. In 1875 the start had an aqueduct where Putney Road Bridge now is. Leander still had a Putney boathouse. The Surrey (port side) bank down to Hammersmith is still much the same. The Soap Works became Harrods Depository which is now converted to luxury apartments. The bridge is the old Hammersmith Bridge (1826-1886) which supported 12,000 people during the 1870 race. At Hammersmith (on the Middlesex or starboard side) the distillery, foundry, lead mills and oil mills are (thankfully) gone. At Barnes, the Surrey side is now built up but Middlesex retains more of its open spaces. At the finish there is no Chiswick Bridge (opened 1933) and the end is marked by the ‘Ship’ pub. Indeed, the pubs are the most unchanging landmarks. The aforementioned ‘Ship’, the ‘Bull’ at Barnes and the famous ‘Star and Garter’ at Putney all thrive today. The course is much like the sport of rowing - in some ways unchanging, in some ways always changing.”

Thank you, Tim, for this nice history piece about the Boat Race Course!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

After The Boat Race

After The Race

“What Do They Do Till The Next Boat-Race, Father?”
“Well – They Go On With Their Rowin’ – With A Bit Of Studyin’ Thrown In.”
[From Punch, 28 March 1923]


Saturday, April 3, 2010

What The Papers Wrote About The Boat Race

So, Cambridge won the 156th Boat Race with 1 1/3 lengths in a time of 17 minutes 35 seconds.

Here you can read what the major British newspapers wrote about the race:

Guardian's Andy Bull's Cambridge surprise favourites Oxford to win the Boat Race

Telegraph's Rachel Quarrell's Boat Race 2010: Cambridge beat Oxford in 156th university showdown

Also from the Daily Telegraph's Simon Briggs's, Boat Race 2010: Oxford's Winklevoss twins lose their Facebook status

And Simon Briggs's second article in the Daily Telegraph, Boat Race 2010: Compelling contest augers well for the future of rowing in Great Britain

Independent's Alex Lowe's Cambridge overturn odds to win the Boat Race

Independent's Chris Dodd's Rowing: Cambridge stay the course to snatch victory

The Oxford Times's Mike Rosewell's Where did it go wrong for Dark Blues

Of course, do not forget to check out the Boat Race official website for more good stuff about this incredible race. And there is the whole entire race on a video - thanks to BBC.

Cambridge Wins The 2010 Boat Race

Although the Thames was cold and grey, the conditions were great for the Boat Race. Oxford was the favourite and was leading slightly in the first half of the race. They did not, however, manage to pull away from the light blues, who powered through the Surrey bend, and won a fabulous race. An hour earlier, Cambridge’s Goldie boat had won their race, too. With Cambridge victory, head coach Chris Nilsson and his light blue crew stopped the dark blues’ winning streak. More news and links about the Boat Race 2010 are soon to come…

Boat Race Info

Get all the information you need about today's Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge by clicking here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Boat Race Practice

Chivalrous old Lady (watching Boat-race practice), “Well, If That’s What You Call A Boat-Race, John, I Think It’s Distinctly Unfair.”
[From Punch, 18 March 1925]

Tomorrow it is time for the Boat Race on the Thames again. It can be hard to predict which boat is going to be the winner. But one thing is for certain, it is either Oxford or Cambridge!

(This is borrowed from the legendary BBC correspondent John Snagge, who during the 1949 Boat Race reported: “I can't see who's in the lead but it's either Oxford or Cambridge.”)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Have You Been Fooled Today?

Here in the U.S. ‘April Fools’ Day’, also called ‘All Fools’ Day’, is not a big thing. It is more commonly praticed in European countries where hoaxes and practical jokes are played on family members and friends. However, in some countries even the television and radio stations are the biggest ‘prankers’. For example, in the beginning of the 1960s the Swedish national tv had a long piece how the viewers could turn their b&w tv set into a colour tv by putting a lady’s nylon stocking in front of the tv screen. Another year, a Swedish radio station claimed that a famous Swedish music scholar, that everyone knew hated the accordion, had come up with a new invention, an ‘accordion filter’ that you could install in your radio to block out any accordion sound in a music piece played on the radio.

So, have there been any April Rowing Hoaxes? Not counting my own lame try a year ago, "New" Boat Type To Be Launched, the only one I can remember is in the 1990s when ARA’s magazine Regatta (or was it the British independent Rowing Magazine?) had an ad from the boat builders Aylings, who was going to sell their shells with an extra feature, a bow ball with a spring! The cox, or one of the rowers, would be able to push a button to release the bow ball, which would then shoot out from the bow and that way win a close race. I do not know if Aylings ever received any orders…