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!