Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Peter Finds A Publisher

The other day, I received an e-mail from rowing historian Peter Mallory of San Diego. He had some exiting news about his forthcoming book that I would like to share with you all. Peter writes,

“I am extremely pleased to announce that the publisher of The Sport of Rowing, Two Centuries of Competition will be the River & Rowing Museum of Henley-on-Thames in England. The Museum was opened in 1998 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the banks of the Thames near the course of the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta. The River & Rowing Museum is the international centre for rowing’s heritage, and I am honored and humbled for my book to be associated with such a fine institution.”

The good news continues: “I am also very pleased to announce that FISA President Denis Oswald has agreed to write a short introduction to the book,” Peter writes.

Read more on Peter’s website.

My warmest congratulations to Peter for landing such a distinguish publisher!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pictures From Boat Race Day

Before and on Boat Race Day Hélène Rémond shot some photographs of London waiting for the race to begin. You can watch her pictures in the slide-show on the right. Thank you, Hélène for sharing them with HTBS.

More Oxford-Cambridge Boat Races?

HTBS's Tim Koch has some final thoughts about this year's Boat Races. Tim writes:

The day following the 2011 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race saw the Oxford-Cambridge 'Henley Boat Races' at (not surprisingly) Henley on Thames. The history of the event is here. There were four races:

Oxford University Womens Boat Club v Cambridge University Womens Boat Club (heavyweight women). First raced in 1927, this year Oxford won by one length in 6.24. The score is now Oxford 25 wins, Cambridge 40. Some moving pictures from the first race:


Osisis (Oxford) v Blondie (Cambridge) (heavyweight reserve women). First rowed in 1973, this year Cambridge won on a disqualification. The score is now Oxford 15, Cambridge 23.

Oxford University Womens Lightweight Rowing Club v Cambridge University Womens Boat Club Lightweights. First rowed in 1984, in 2011 Cambridge won by one and a half lengths in 6.43. The score is Oxford 11, Cambridge 16.

Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club v Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club (men). First rowed in 1975, this year Oxford won by a canvas in 5.54. The score is Oxford 16, Cambridge 21.

The day before there were two slightly more publicised races on the Putney - Mortlake course:

Oxford University Boat Club v Cambridge University Boat Club (heavyweight men). First raced in 1829, this year Oxford won by four lengths in 17.32. The score is Oxford 76, Cambridge 80. Anyone with an internet provider address allocated to the UK can watch the BBC's two hour coverage of the race anytime on the BBC iPlayer internet TV and radio service until 1st April. [May not be available in all countries!]

Isis (Oxford) v Goldie (Cambridge) (heavyweight reserve men). First raced in 1965, Oxford won by six lengths in 17.38. The score is Oxford 18, Cambridge 29.

Finally, the day before the big one saw Oxford Veterans v Cambridge Veterans (mens heavyweight masters). First raced in 1995, Oxford won by four lengths in 7.24. The score is Oxford 6, Cambridge 10.

Thus the total 2011 score is Oxford 5, Cambridge 2.

Expressing a personal view, I am surprised that there is not more of a movement to have the Isis / Goldie event on Boat Race Day replaced with the heavyweight women's race currently held at Henley. Why see the second best men when we could see the best women? The reserve men's race cannot even claim that it is an ancient tradition - it only started in 1965. At the time, having the spare men race in preference to the best women would have made sense as female rowing was simply not good enough. Some evidence is of this is here.

Nowadays this is clearly not the case and it seems that a great chance to show the world a large part (half?) of our sport is wasted. Do the sponsors not realise the opportunity for even greater exposure that they are missing? They could bring pressure on the organisers to change or, more subtly, offer financial incentives. This would also have the effect of putting much needed money into Oxbridge women's rowing. The people in charge of the event clearly have their price as witnessed by their agreeing to call it the 'Xchanging Boat Race' and putting advertising on the racing kit.

I think that this is enough Oxford-Cambridge rowing for a while on HTBS.

Thank you Tim for excellent coverage of this year's Boat Races!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cheers, My Friends

Yesterday, two of HTBS's special correspondents met up at Auriol Kensington RC for The Boat Race and Pimm's, Hélène Rémond and Tim Koch. They are seen in the picture above toasting HTBS and yours truly, which was jolly kind of them, indeed. Tim tells me that they picked a perfect spot for the occasion: by the show case of Wally Kinnear's Olympic gold medal, tie, and cap. For everyone of you who do not know, Kinnear became Olympic Champion in the single scull at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. Of course, I wish I was there, too, but, alas, I was not. However, to still feel close to these festivities, I did have a glass of Pimm's. I have to be honest and say that it taste much better in England.

Still, CHEERS, my friends...

What Do The Newspapers Write About The Boat Race?

What are the newspapers writing about yesterday's Boat Race?

In The Daily Telegraph, Rachel Quarrell writes: "After victories in..."

In The Guardian, Barney Ronay writes: "Oxford won the 157th..."

In The Independent, Paul Newman writes: "Even in a two-horse..."

The London Evening Standard writes: "Oxford produced a storming..."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's Oxford!

Oxford, this year's underdogs, won the 157th Boat Race. A full report will follow soon!

The Gentlemen & Ladies Of The Press

The daily readers of HTBS have now for a few days enjoyed Martin's and Tim's tales of their adventures closely following the crews from Cambridge and Oxford on the Thames. I am both happy and proud that they are writing and taking photographs for HTBS. Unfortunately, I cannot always manage to get all their nice photographs up on this blog. Above you will see one picture showing the hard life of the gentlemen and ladies of the Press at the Hammersmith Bridge (please remember it is not always this sunny and nice when you are out on the launch).

To be able to broadcast The Boat Race to the million of TV viewers around the world, you need high tech equipment in each boat. Here is a photograph that Tim took of the cox-seat. The camera is on the left behind the coxswain.

The Mile Post

Today is Boat Race Day. Tim Koch, HTBS's special correspondent in London, writes:

Bernard Hempseed’s interesting item on Famous Scullers Monuments (HTBS 22nd March) prompts me to send some pictures of a rowing monument that 120 million people will hear about today, Saturday 26th March, but which few will see. It is the ‘Mile Post’, a stone obelisk which is sited exactly one mile from the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race start at Putney and which is the first official timing point in the race. The record time to here was set by Oxford in 1978 and repeated by Cambridge in 1993, 3 minutes and 31 seconds. The ‘Mile Post’ is more correctly called the Steve Fairbairn Memorial. A plaque below an oval profile of Fairbairn reads:


Steve Fairbairn (1862-1938) was an Australian who was responsible for popularising the ‘leg drive’ in British rowing. Sliding seats had been around since the 1870s but traditional British conservatism meant that they were not used to their full advantage and for fifty years after their invention crews in the UK used the stiff ‘orthodox style’ developed for fixed seat rowing where the back does most of the work. ‘Steve’ was also a great believer in the benefits of rowing long distances and to encourage this he developed the idea of winter time trials, that is ‘head racing’. At the time his ideas produced fierce debate (some even holding the idea that ‘It is better to look good than to go fast’) and they were never fully accepted until after the 1939-1945 War.

The other official Boat Race timing points are Hammersmith Bridge (record 6:20, CUBC 1998), Chiswick Steps (record 9:56, CUBC 1998), Barnes Bridge (record 13:32, CUBC 1998) and the University Stone at the finish (record 16:19, CUBC 1998). I think that these records will be safe this year.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Oxford Won The Masters

Oxford's veterans Jonny Searle on 7-seat and Matthew Pinsent on 6-seat.

HTBS correspondent: London, Friday 25th March, 2011, 16.30: Oxford has won. This might surprise you as you may have thought that the Oxford–Cambridge Boat Race was starting 24 hours later. Correct – this was the 16th Oxford–Cambridge Veterans’ (Masters) Boat Race. It is run on a short course, Putney to just beyond Hammersmith Bridge. The rules say that the crews must be selected from full graduates of the University or from full Rowing Blues without that qualification. The average age of the crew must not be less than 42. This year, for the first time, two Olympic Gold Medallists took part (Jonny Searle and Matthew Pinsent) though seven of the contestants competed at the Atlanta Games in 1996. Olympians are in bold type.

Cambridge: Neil West (Bow), Sean Gorvy, Peter Jacobs, Guy Pooley, Graham Smith, Matt Parish, Richard Smith, Marc Weber (Stroke), Kevin Whyman (Cox).

Oxford: Hugh Pelham (Bow), Joe Michels, Kingsley Poole, Daniel Johnson, Matthew Pinsent, Jonny Searle, Rupert Obholzer (Stroke), Martin Watts (Cox).

The crews were level until the end of Putney Embankment when Oxford (losers for the last seven races) started to take the lead. Umpire Boris Rankov was kept busy and there was some clashing around the Mile Post (which Oxford reached in 3 minutes 47 seconds). The Dark Blue lead opened out and resulted in a four length victory in 7 minutes 24 seconds. The Cambridge cox appealed over the clash but six times Boat Race winner Rankov held that the Light Blues were at fault. Some would suggest that the coxes’ interpretation of Tideway navigation rules put them both at fault - but that would be churlish. The score now stands at Oxford 6, Cambridge 10.

Cambridge passing the Mile Post.

Earlier in the day, I had followed the Cambridge morning outing from the Press Launch. If the Boat Race was a ‘paddling light’ competition, they would be that easy winners. However, the distinguished rowing historian and journalist, Chris Dodd, holds that this is almost always the case (a Cambridge friend once told me that rowing was better at the University because there was nothing else to do). Chris would not predict a result but Patrick Kidd of The Times newspaper says ‘Cambridge in under two lengths’. Perhaps the most predictable thing about race day is that the lovely weather we have been enjoying for the last few days will turn for the worst. It’s an English tradition even older than the Boat Race.

Cambridge's bow Mike Thorp is not hiding a secret but carrying a spare kit.

Cambridge passing Harrods.

Tim Koch

Tim Koch Interviews Alec Dent, OUBC

HTBS’s Tim Koch managed to get a brief interview with Alec Dent, OUBC, at Putney.

Tim Koch: Tell me about your French heritage.
Alec Dent: My Mother is French and my Father is British, I moved to Paris when I was one and lived there until I was ten. I have a large French family and go back there often for holidays.

TK: How did your rowing career start?
AD: When I was 10 I was at the Dragon School in Oxford where they had a sculling club. Later I went to Harrow School and they had a very small boat club but it was quite low level so really the only time I have rowed properly is at Oxford in the last three years.

TK: You are the elected President of Oxford University Boat Club. Can you explain what this means?
AD: On paper, the President can choose crews, coaches and so on but really he hands over power to the coach.... (because) while OUBC is still a student organization, it has got really big today......

TK: You resigned the Presidency for a time. Why was this?
AD: Because of an injury I had, I felt that I could not do a good job.....traditionally the President rows, he does not have to, but I do not think that you can be a particularly good President if you do not....

TK: Very noble. What qualities do you think you have that got you elected President by the various college boat clubs?
AD: (Embarrassed) I think I am seen as determined and always pushing myself (and sometimes that has been detrimental to my performance) .... but also I think I am pretty approachable and am the sort of guy who gets on with everyone in the club, so I feel that I can help bring people together.

Alec and his mother, Marie.

TK: I asked your mother what 'French qualities' and what 'English qualities' helped get you where you are today. What do you think they might be?
AD: I really am a mix of the two.... my French qualities, let me think......?

TK: Perhaps I am unfair, perhaps I should say the qualities that you get from your Father and the qualities you get from your Mother....she said that your sporty side was her and your stubbornness was from your father.
AD: Father would say 'anything is possible, just go for it', Mother's influence has helped me to get on and make really good friends with people in the club - which helps your performance, you enjoy it a lot more.... The first Frenchman to row in the race was Bastien Ripoll who stroked Oxford in 2006 but my French friends and cousins do not really ‘get it’, it’s a strange concept to them.... the idea of doing sport at school or university is not a priority for most people in France...... but now they will see the Boat Race on TV... they will still think I’m mad, but perhaps they will come to understand that it was worth it.

TK: Thank you for the interview.

Report From Putney

Here is a report from Putney by HTBS's own Tim Koch:

Hear The Boat Sing, HTBS, moves in some fairly distinguished circles these days as we have been given press accreditation for the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. On Wednesday 23rd March I went to Thames Rowing Club in Putney, almost opposite the race start, where the ‘Media Centre’ is situated. I felt a little fraudulent mixing with the rowing correspondents of the quality British newspapers but I was more relaxed after a good lunch provided by the PR company.

HTBS's Tim in the OUBC launch.

The routine in the week leading up to the race is that the crews go out twice a day for a fairly gentle paddle, some sharpening exercises and some starts. By this stage all the hard work is done and nothing too exhausting is undertaken. It is also a chance for guest ‘finishing coaches’ to make final suggestions. All this is done under the watchful eye of the press who follow one of the day’s outings in a launch.

Alas, there was no room in the press launch for me but the Oxford launch let me sit in, which was splendid but meant that I only saw the Dark Blues in action. Oxford’s most successful coach, Dan Topolski (on the right) was on board (of the fifteen Boat Races in which he was coach, Oxford won twelve including a run of ten victories between 1976 and 1985). I do not know what Topolski told coach Sean Bowden in the boathouse afterwards but I thought that several of the crew looked a little stiff and tense and that the timing was not always what would be expected of The Blue Boat.

At the weigh-in on 7th March, Rachel Quarrell, rowing correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, said that the week before the race may produce a more definite idea of the result on Saturday. I asked her if this was the case: "We saw Cambridge out against Goldie (Cambridge reserves) yesterday (Tuesday)..... they were a lot faster..... Oxford has not done an equal piece that we know of... The reserves look good.... a bit rough on the starts. The Blue Boats have only just started doing starts and pieces. Cambridge looked powerful yesterday but Oxford looked better when paddling. So, at the moment, its any-ones guess who will win."

So, as John Snagge said, "'s either Oxford or Cambridge".

"Old Blues"

Young Blues footwear

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Martin Has A Hunch: It's Cambridge!

Martin Gough, Assistant Editor of the BBC Sport Website, spent a lot of time on the Tideway today. He gives HTBS a report:

I spent almost 10 hours on the Tideway between Putney and Chiswick today, trying to work out who has the edge for Saturday’s Boat Race. I have little more proof than I had this morning, but my hunch remains.

With two days to go, the crews kept their outings light, covering less than half the course in their morning trips out, then practising starts off the stake-boats neat Putney Bridge for the first time on a sunny, clear afternoon with the light easterly wind that is expected on race day.
Of the six Tideway Weeks I’ve attended, going back seven years, Cambridge have usually looked better technically and that has not changed this year. Coached now by Steve Trapmore, who stroked a wonderfully drilled Great Britain eight to Olympic gold in Sydney 11 years ago, the light blues are in that mould: sitting tall, balancing beautifully through the second part of the recovery, catching crisply and sending powerfully, although there is a little lugging here and there.

Canadian Geoff Roth stands out in the six-seat, while Aussie Hardy Cubasch backs him well from four and there are no surrounding loose ends. Derek Rasmussen and George Nash, who sit either side of Roth, are fellow Blues – Boat Race veterans. Cambridge lack the lean-back that Trapmore’s predecessors Chris Nilsson and Duncan Holland instilled but they look powerful through that shorter drive phase.

Oxford, out on the water an hour later, took over two miles before they were rowing all eight, concentrating on outside-arm exercises rowing in fours and sixes. In contrast to Cambridge, they look scrappy, until the work goes on, at which point it clearly goes on. Of the six Boat Races I’ve attended, Oxford have won four in a manner much like this.

Oxford on the water.

Oxford’s stern pair may lack international experience but Simon Hislop and George Whittaker are Tideway veterans, having rowed under Trapmore at Putney-based Imperial College, and their experience shows. They are backed by Constantine Louloudis and Karl Huspith – the duo who beat world silver medallists Greg Searle and Tom Broadway in GB pairs trials recently. Former Eton College stroke Louloudis looks perfectly at home in the six-seat while Huspith appears awkward with every stroke, although his results prove his style is effective. Huspith and Ben Ellison sit in a dual rig on bow side at four and five – observers reckon this is the first time that arrangement has been used in a Boat Race since Dan Toploski’s winning crew of 1975.

Oxford's dual rigging.

The dark blues put in some powerful but messy practice starts in the morning and I was keen to see whether they would be able to add length later in the day, but I was disappointed as their longest piece in three off the Boat Race start lasted just 30 strokes. Their time over the first 15 was very similar to that of Cambridge – I reckon about a 10th of a second either way, using a manual stopwatch – although Cambridge had found a nice rhythm by stroke 20 while Oxford were still piling along rating 42.

Which leaves me with my hunch. The only time I’ve seen the full Oxford Blue Boat in action was in a fixture against Molesey Boat Club a month ago, when their rhythm looked good but their punch later in the piece seemed lacking (and one race ended with a boat-stopping clash just after Barnes Bridge). Use too much energy early and your opponent will find you out later, my theory goes. (See article here.)

Cambridge raced Molesey a fortnight later, with the margins in two pieces apparently pretty similar. One other factor adds to that gut feeling that Oxford will come up short: coach Sean Bowden lacks his usual air, one of confidence that just skirts the borders of arrogance. He could win his 10th race in his 17th attempt – four of which came with Cambridge in the 1990s – but his demeanour at the ceremonial weigh-in (when Oxford were marginally lighter) was not confident.

Race umpire Rob Clegg conceded he has not seen a huge amount of either crew but the evidence of those matches against Molesey was enough for him to say: “From seeing both crews against the same crew and their relative speeds I would say they've evenly matched.” Asked where clashes were most likely, he replied: “The hardest part is before and through Barnes Bridge – it’s a tight corner and a narrow bridge. If the two crews are neck-and-neck, there will be some work to do for the umpire.”

I’ll put my neck on the line: I expect Cambridge to win, making their mark just before that third bridge on the course, either by coming through or opening an unbridgeable gap. By then the crews will have been side by side for around 14 minutes, and it will be the last six months of hard work, rather than this last week of fine-tuning, that will really count.

Boat Race Media

HTBS will of course cover The Boat Race on Saturday, 26 March. Tim Koch, HTBS's special correspondent, is getting ready for the race, and is here giving us a little foretaste:

Following the progress of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race on 26th March has never been easier for the (alleged) 120 million people who watch the archaic private challenge between two amateur clubs which, in theory, has no place in the modern sporting world. The latest technology has always been used to get the result out as quickly as possible. In late Victorian times it was boasted that the result had reached many corners of the Empire within half an hour thanks to the new telegraph cable. Pathes ambitious multi camera coverage of the 1910 Boat Race (which even includes slow motion shots) shows how the new medium of film was soon used to show the event around the country within days (unfortunately these reels are out of order)!


‘Live’ coverage (arguably) started in the early 1920s when Whiteley’s Department Store in Bayswater, West London, would slowly raise a dark blue and a light blue flag on separate poles to show the respective positions of the two boats through the race. The BBC did the first live radio coverage of the event in 1927 (commentary by G.O. ‘Gully’ Nickalls and the first live television broadcast was in 1938. The BBC’s John Snagge commentated on the Boat Race from 1931 until 1980. He was most famous for saying in the foggy 1949 race, “I can’t see who’s in the lead but it’s either Oxford or Cambridge”. He presented the race with an 1829 (the year of the first race) gold coin that is used in the toss to decide stations.


Television coverage:
UK - BBC1 and BBC1 High Definition will broadcast 15:45 - 17:30 GMT.
USA - BBC America 12.30 EST.
Europe - Eurosport.
Africa - Supersport.
Italy - RAI.
Spain - TVE.
Asia - Eurosport Asia.
Worldwide - BBC World News 16:30 - 17:30 GMT.

Other media:
Radio - BBC ‘Radio 5 Live’
Live Twitter feed
Internet - (iPhone and iPad compliant)

Boat Race Day times (GMT):
Presidents toss a coin for stations 15:15.
Crews start to boat 16:10.
Isis - Goldie (the reserve crews) race 16:30.
Oxford - Cambridge race 17:00.

There is, of course, no substitute for watching from the banks of the Thames. One of the best spots is on Furnivall Gardens which is on the Hammersmith bend and has a giant TV screen and food stalls. It is also next to the Auriol Kensington Rowing Club Pimms Bar at 14 Lower Mall, selling the quintessential English drink, Pimm's at the quintessential English event (Göran - does HTBS accept advertising)? [We just did!]


Returning to the present, this is ‘Tideway Week’ for the Boat Race Crews. They are rowing from Putney (where the race starts) once or twice a day. My pictures show Oxford and Isis in practice on Tuesday 22nd March. The former have a tandem rig (bow four are on the opposite sides to normal). The Isis pictures are rather flattering; most of the shots I took showed poor timing. Any one who is in or near London may wish to watch the outings. Times are:

Thursday 24th - Cambridge 9:30 and 2:30, Oxford 10:00 and 3:00.
Friday 25th - Cambridge 9:30 and 3:30, Oxford 10.00 and 3:15.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Harry Clasper Monument

In a comment of yesterday's entry by Bernard about famous scullers' monuments, Greg Denieffe adds some other links. Greg writes,

There are some links showing details of Harry Clasper's death and grave/monument. Wikipedia has some external links to Harry Clasper, to go to them click here.

There are plenty of others on the web and of course in the books by David Clasper, Peter Dillon and Ian Whitehead. Ian Whitehead gave an interesting talk on the Tyneside Rowers at the Rowing History Forum at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley in 2007.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Famous Scullers' Monuments

Bernard Hempseed, author of Seven Australian World Champion Scullers (see entry on 26 February, 2011) writes about famous sculler's monuments:

Further to the post on the Ned Hanlan Monument on July 29, 2010 There are several other monuments to scullers, and in particular to World Champions of the professional era.

Bill Beach
The William Beach Memorial is situated in Cabarita Park which is on the banks of the Parramatta River in Sydney. This river was the site of several of Beach’s victories, and the place where many other races of the professional era were run. Beach lived from 1850 to 1935 and the monument was erected by his friends in 1938. A copy of the programme for the unveiling of the monument can be found here. A plaque on the monument describes Beach as the “Undefeated Champion Sculler of the World.” It then lists his seven opponents, the place of each race, and the year in which each race took place. Ned Hanlan is listed as “Hanlon” which was an alternative spelling of his name and was sometimes to be found in the newspapers of the day. Above the plaque is a bronze bas-relief of the face of Beach (see photo on top) with his rather prominent moustache. Separately at the foot of the monument is a modern stainless steel plaque which discusses rowing including Trickett’s win, Henry Searle, and other racing on the river and in Sydney.

The plaque on the Beach Monument.

Edward Trickett
Trickett became World Champion in 1876. After his death in 1916 he was buried in the Uralla cemetery (New South Wales.) There, a memorial to him was erected by public subscription in 1918. Of recent times the memorial has been removed and is now in the care of the McCrossin’s Mill Museum where Trickett’s achievements are commemorated.

Henry Searle
Searle became World Champion in 1888 after beating Peter Kemp in a race in Sydney. His next race was against Canadian William O’Connor which took place on the Thames in London which Searle won. On his way back to Australia Searle caught typhoid and passed away in Australia in late 1889. A crowd estimated at 170,000 packed Sydney for his funeral service. A memorial to Henry Searle was erected in 1891 on The Brothers rocks on the Parramatta River. It consists of a plinth on which is a broken column which symbolises a life taken young. Similar columns are sometimes found in Victorian era cemeteries. (The column was manufactured to appear broken rather than being broken after erection.) The Searle Monument became the traditional finishing post for sculling and rowing races on the Parramatta. On it is a plaque but I have never been able to get close enough to read it as I have only ever passed it on a ferry. The captains of ferries are not known for being accommodating to historians. Perhaps a Sydney person could get in a boat and get close to it and take a photograph.

Three earlier era scullers are commemorated by monuments. Robert Coombes was World Champion 1846–1851 and after he died in 1860 a large monument was erected over his grave. You can read about it here.

Another Robert, this time Chambers, also had a great monument raised over his grave and a picture can be seen by clicking here. Chambers was a Tynesider who was World Champion for two periods vis; 1859–1865 and 1866–1868. He was another to die young, aged 37, in 1868.

The other famous Tynsider to become World Champion was James Renforth who gained the title in 1868. Renforth famously died in 1871 shortly after competing in a four oared race in Canada. It seems that he had an undetected heart condition possibly connected to an epileptic condition. He was even younger than Chambers being only 29 at his death. You can read about the monument raised to honour him here, and a piece by Chris Dodd about the restoration of this monument here.

James Renforth collapsing in the arms of fellow oarsman Harry Kelly.

There are a number of streets in Tennison Point, Sydney named after scullers and also some in Surfer's Paradise. Last time I was in Sydney I got in a taxi and went around these streets and took photographs of the street name signs.

There may be other monuments to scullers around the world but these are the ones I am familiar with. All these scullers (and many others, and rowers too!) have an entry on Wiki if you want further information about any of them.

Many warm thanks to Bernard for sharing these interesting stories!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seeking A Younger Sculler With An Attitude

Earlier today, a fellow named Fred down in Florida sent a question to HTBS. I am afraid I do not know the answer to his question, nor did some rowing historians whom I passed the question on to. But someone out there reading this blog might have a clue, so here is Fred's question:

"Perhaps you could give me a lead on finding a charming short story that I heard years ago on NPR, but am not able to identify the author or name of the story. I recall that this story is in the first person of an older fellow from Boston sculling on the Charles River. In this story he finds himself sculling against a much younger rower with an attitude. The tale is colored by tradition and wisdom, and I often think about it as I row (especially as I age)."

I find the question very interesting, and I, too, would really like to get the answer. Although, in real life I have known many "younger rower with an attitude"...

Do We Give A Toss?

Although, I enjoyed reading Simon Briggs's piece "Boat Race, Grand National and London Marathon put the Spring into Silly Season Thanks to the BBC" in today's The Daily Telegraph, I think he is wrong when he thinks that only few people give a toss about who wins The Boat Race. Read his article by clicking here. I, for one, really, really care, it's either Oxford or Cambridge...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The 2011 British Rowing Season Has Started

The British rowing season has begun HTBS's Tim Koch reports:

The 17 March saw the first of the four 'head races' for eights over the Thames Championship Course in London that mark the real start of the British rowing season. These four 'heads' or time trials are:

The Schools' Head
which, this year, was on 17 March.
The Women's Head on 19 March.
The Eights (Men's) Head on 2 April.
The Veterans' (Masters) Head on 3 April.

The 'Championship Course' is the 4 mile 374 yard (6,779 metres) Mortlake to Putney course, most famously used in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race (but in the other direction). It has been used for boat racing since at least the mid nineteenth century as the 's' shaped course is as fair as one that is not straight can be. In 1999 the Amateur Rowing Association, ARA (now British Rowing) produced a video, 'Coxing a Tideway Head'. It makes interesting viewing and a lot of effort was put into its production but its random switching between 'safety' and 'steering' makes it difficult to follow if you are not already familiar with this part of the river.

The Schools Head of the River is the only one of these events that also allows quads and coxed fours. The 2011 entry was 192 eights, 78 coxed fours and 21 quads. The results are here. The top five eights were:

1 Abingdon 16:53
2 Eton 16:58
3 Shrewsbury 17:01
3 Radley 17:01
5 Shiplake 17:11

The top two positions are a reverse of last year when Eton beat Abingdon.

Eton and Abingdon.

By the 2nd lamppost.

As may be expected, parents turn out to give noisy, partisan and generally uninformed support. It is also a fairly 'social' occasion as most of the schools taking part are private, fee paying institutions. As my pictures show, one of the favourite viewing platforms is Hammersmith Bridge. Many people cluster around the famous 'second lamppost from the left of the Surrey buttress' as this is the one point that even the most incompetent coxswain knows that they have to aim for to get the fastest water.

Getting ready at Hammersmith for the 76th Women's Head of the River Race.

Marshalls' briefing before the start.

Two days later, 19 March, two hundred and ninety seven crews took part in the 76th Women's Head of the River Race. It was a warm, calm day and rowing conditions were good. The results are here and the top five were:

1 Leander Club 18:06
2 Durham Amateur / Gloucester / London / Marlow / Reading Uni. / Thames / Wallingford 18:40
3 Reading University BC 18:53
4 Imperial College / Sport Imperial 19:08
5 Tucano Urbano 19:20

The Leander crew. Photo: Giles Bedford.

The Durham composite (I think they were all Internationals) started at 214 (and so got the slower tide) while Leander went off first (with the fastest water) so there will be much debate on who is really the fastest but it is a strange spread of times for the top crews.

The first WHoRR was held in 1927, only a year after the (Men's) Head of the River Race started. The British Path site shows film of that first women's (two boat) race:


It took a long time for the event to become what it is today as can be seen from the short history of the WHoRR on their website.

At Hammersmith Bridge. Photo: Claire Waterworth.

I was kept busy driving one of the umpires' boats so did not manage to take any pictures during the race, but luckily I could rely on others, like Claire Waterworth and Giles Bedford.

Reports from the Men’s Head and Veterans’ Head will follow on 3 April.

David Biddulph, on the left, runs his own rowing web site. Take a look at

Great thanks to Tim for the report and to Claire Waterworth and Giles Bedford for allowing their photographs to be posted here on HTBS.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Art Of Being Well-Dressed

It happens now and then that you will find an entry on HTBS that only vaguely has something to do with rowing. I don't mind posting these entries, as long as they are interesting (and I, of course, decides what is interesting). Here is an e-mail that HBTS's Tim Koch in London sent this morning. Tim writes:

It's nothing to do with rowing but anyone interested in history generally or classic clothing in particular may like to know that the illustration you used in your item, Spring is Here, is probably by Laurence Fellows (1885-1964), the 'master of menswear illustration' who worked from the 1920s to the 1950s. I say 'probably' as he inspired a few imitators. He was born in Pennsylvania and studied art in the United States, Britain and France. There is a splendid article on him on by Bill Thompson, click here to read the whole article. Thompson says:

"... it was in the 1930s that Fellows found the niche that would shape the lives of dandies for the next 80 years: fashion illustration. Though he contributed to Vanity Fair, McClure’s, and The American Magazine, among other publications, it was men’s fashion where he was most in demand, and Apparel Arts, aimed at the tailoring trade, and Esquire were his showcases.

Fellows ..... could draw fabric, plain and simple. His fabric had weight, heft, drape, texture, and sheen. His flannels, worsteds, tweeds, and linens, his barathea and velvet and twill were all fabulous.

He also defined a very specific, very masculine world. Unlike today’s fashion magazines, Apparel Arts didn’t dictate fashion trends by using underfed models in unwearable suits. It showed what was already being worn by the well-heeled, trend-setting folk. Fellows’ genius as an illustrator lay in his ability to depict them in their everyday activities. Whether they were traveling the world, hosting dinner parties, hunting grouse, or just lounging around the penthouse or club, Fellows somehow made their rarified universe accessible. Ordinary folks could look at the
illustrations and say, “I could wear that.”

Strangely enough, Fellows is not to be found on Wikipedia, but if you 'google' him, you will get several hits. Illustrations by Fellows, or his replicators, are to be found on some HTBS's entries:

The Hierarchy of Blazers at Henley Royal (29 March, 2010)

...and a Dress Faux Pas (28 March, 2010)

Well-Dressed Oarsman (28 August, 2009)