Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cover Your Flanks...

Michiel Jonkman sent HTBS a link to an incredible ‘old’ race from 1990 that I must confess I have totally forgotten. Lesson to be learned? Don’t forget to cover the flanks! That goes for both the athletes and sport commentators. Over to the 1990 World Championships in Tasmania, men’s lightweight double sculls:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rowing History Footnote: HRR – Not a Water Picnic!

From The Graphic, 9 July, 1887.

In the report for the 1898 Henley Royal Regatta, the Henley Stewards expressed concerns about the ‘pleasure boats’ at the regatta. They wrote in their report:

‘The committee have to record, with great regret, that in several races the competitors were obstructed by a mass of boats protruding on the course, and in one instance by a punt drifting, through incompetent management, on to the course. The Committee feel that protection must be afforded to competitors, and, if necessary, the course must be boomed on both sides and pleasure-boats prohibited from going on the course during the Regatta. Such action would be reluctantly taken be the Committee, as it would curtail the pleasure of the majority who manage their boats efficiently, and with due regards to the best interest of the regatta, which exists for boat-racing, and not as a mere water picnic.’

For the 1899 Henley Royal Regatta, on 5-7 July, the Stewards had ordered there to be booms placed on each side of the race course to avoid pleasure boats and punts drifting out in front of the crews racing, which had in the past ruined the day for many good oarsmen. One of these unlucky oarsmen had been the young Guy Nickalls (then rowing for Magdalen College, Oxford), who, in 1887, raced in his first Diamonds event, in the final against James Cardwell Gardner of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Amongst the spectators that year was the Prince and Princess of Wales with a Royal party on a boat which got surrounded by small boats and punts (see on top). These crafts soon took over half the course on one spot, so the unfortunate Nickalls, racing on the Berks side, rowed right into the Royal enthusiasts and crashed his shell. He was not offered a re-start.

Sandow’s Magazine of Physical Culture, founded by Eugen Sandow, ‘the strong man’, reported that houseboat owners at Henley produced ‘a chorus of groans and complaints’ as they saw the new booms ‘as a bar to the success of the meeting [the regatta]’. However, there were some places were sliding booms allowed the pleasure boats to pass on and off the course between the races. The Field later reported that ‘the booms were a splendid success.’ The regatta set a record when it came to attendance as more than 12,000 people arrived by train for the last day’s races.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cross Pays Tribute to Nethercott

Photo: British Rowing
As has been mentioned earlier on HTBS, Acer Nethercott, successful GB Olympic and Oxford cox, died on Saturday, 26 January, 2013. Olympic gold medallist, fellow member of Molesey BC and rowing writer Martin Cross pay tribute to a truly remarkable man on Molesey BC’s website, here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tim Koch: A Local Loving Cup

Will Lunn’s prize - both were from Worcester.

Tim Koch, HTBS’s correspondent in London, writes,

Perhaps my favourite item in my small, eclectic collection of rowing memorabilia is a porcelain cup won by a member of Worcester Rowing Club in the intra-club races of 21 September, 1905. It appeals to me on at least two levels. Firstly, it is an attractive object, manufactured and hand painted by masters of their craft. Secondly, I have full provenance. I know who won the cup and where the cup itself was made. Pleasingly, both of them were local to Worcester.

The back – or is it the front – of the Royal Worcester Loving Cup.

Worcester today is a city of 100,000 people. It is situated on the River Severn in the county of Worcestershire in the English West Midlands, thirty miles south west of Birmingham. The rowing club dates its founding as 1874 but, as the history section of its website shows, W.R.C. is an amalgamation of several earlier clubs (some dating from the 1840s) and there are records of a local regatta held as early as 1845. The website claims ‘...organised rowing races occurred at Worcester some 210 years ago’ but gives no evidence of this. The city is arguably most famous as a centre of fine porcelain making between the years 1751 and 2009. It was so successful in producing classically English china that successive British Monarchs granted the title ‘Royal Worcester’. Over the years the industry employed some of the best and most innovative ceramics artists. These painters often specialised in different images such as birds, fruit, cattle or flowers. Latterly they would sign their works to distinguish them from cheaper versions that used transfer prints.

A regatta at Worcester in the early 1900s. The clubhouse, backed by the racecourse grandstand, is on the right. For some reason it is flying the flag of the Royal Navy.

My ‘pot’ is a 4 1/4 inch high loving cup made by Royal Worcester between June and September 1905 and painted and signed by the artist, Walter Powell. A ‘loving cup’ is a shared drinking container, usually with two handles, traditionally used in a complex ceremony at weddings and banquets but latterly more often used as a trophy. A stamp on the bottom clearly identifies the cup as made by Royal Worcester in 1905. It is also marked ‘Hadley Ware’, a name which was used between June 1905 and March 1906 for items produced at the factory in Diglis Road, Worcester.

Another regatta at Worcester from the same era but with a different view of the clubhouse and grandstand.

Walter Powell painted between 1900 and 1950 and became best known for his depictions of small British birds. On one side of the cup he painted the old Worcester Rowing Club boathouse, serenely nestled among the trees, club flag flying and the rear of the grandstand of Worcester Race Course poking out from behind. The other side of the cup has the name and arms of W.R.C. and the legend, ‘Club Races September 21st 1905’. It seems that this was not the only prize that the club commissioned from a local pottery. There is an even more splendid example from 1903 for sale here. The picture of the boathouse is not exactly the same on the two trophies but this is what you would expect from hand painted pieces. As a piece of rowing memorabilia, I would suggest that it is overpriced at £1,850 but this may be the going rate for good Royal Worcester. The seller says:

‘... the quality of the painting is superb, as would be expected for a special commission, and would have been entrusted to one of their best artists such as Walter Powell or Harry Davis.’

While the origin of the cup itself is of no doubt, we also know the identity of the winner – and even have a picture of him taken in 1906. His name was Will Lunn and he was a relative of the lady that I bought the item from. I know nothing more about Will, but the lady also provided information about another relative, Thomas Lunn (Will’s father?) who was also a successful rower with Worcester in the 1870s. He was a local pharmacist who sold '”...a wonderful pain killer, Lunn’s Electronic Embrocation, ‘electrical’ in its action on rheumatism, sciatica, neuralgia, chest colds, pleurisy and all nerve and muscular pains'”.

Perhaps this was the secret of the Lunn’s rowing success? Whatever the reason, the picture shows that Will amassed some splendid trophies. I like to think that he enjoyed the one(s) made a short walk away the most.

Worcester RC, 1906. Tom Cheesewright (left) and his cousin Will Lunn. The Loving Cup is at the front right, behind the bowl.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Acer Nethercott - GB Olympic Cox Dies Age 35

HTBS was reached with sad news from London this morning, where Tim Koch in a short e-mail writes about Olympic silver medal-winning cox and double Boat Race winner Acer Nethercott, who has died at the age of 35.

A spokesman for the Great Britain rowing team said: ‘Today we mourn his passing.’ Nethercott, who was from Essex, coxed the British men's eight to Olympic silver in Beijing in 2008.

Read more on BBC sport news here. You will also find his biography on British Rowing's website, here.

Update: Late in the day, Rachel Quarrell, the Daily Telegraph’s rowing correspondent, wrote that Nethercott died of an aggressive brain cancer ‘that he nevertheless fought off for several years.’ Read her article here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

With the Titan Over the Atlantic

The latest attempt to cross the Atlantic, from Gran Canaria to Barbados, is right now under way. Today the Titan, which is the lightest eight-man ocean boat ever, is on her twelfth day out on the open water. Her seven-man crew (!) is chasing the current record, 32 days, and is hoping to speeding across the Atlantic in under amazing 30 days. Read more about the boat, the brave crew and their record-breaking chase on their web site here.

Below is a short clip showing the Titan a year ago when another crew made an attempt to break the record over the Atlantic:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rowing is Passion

Here is a nice promotional video for youth rowing and sculling. Very nicely done...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mitchell & Kenyon – The Rowing Collection

Greg Denieffe writes,

Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon founded the firm of Mitchell & Kenyon in 1897. The company was one of the largest film producers in the United Kingdom in the 1900s, with slogans like “Local Films for Local People” and “We take them and make them”.

Between 1900-1913, filmmakers Mitchell & Kenyon roamed Northern England, Scotland and Ireland filming the everyday lives of people at work and play. For 70 years, 800 rolls of this early nitrate film sat in sealed barrels in the basement of a local shop in Blackburn. Rediscovered by local historian Peter Worden in the early 1990s and subsequently acquired by the British Film Institute in June 2000 this collection has been the subject of an ambitious four-year restoration and research project. (Gary W. Tooze of DVD Beaver).

The films were shot and shown, perhaps on the same day, in local halls and early cinemas. People would pay for the privilege of seeing themselves as others did. The results of the restoration were originally shown on BBC as a three-part series, The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon. The series was released on a DVD and followed up with three other DVDs – Electric Edwardians: The Films of Mitchell and Kenyon, Mitchell & Kenyon – Edwardian sports and Mitchell & Kenyon in Ireland.

Thankfully a number of short rowing clips are included as follows:

Mitchell & Kenyon – Edwardian Sports

Kingston Rowing Club at Practice (3 May 1902). This clip is 4:32 long and the opening commentary states that it takes place on the River Humber but it should more correctly state that it is the River Hull. Kingston-upon-Hull is a town in North East Yorkshire situated next to the Humber Estuary. Watch out for the sculler at the end of the clip, paddling along smoking a pipe!

Final of International Cup at Cork Regatta between Leander and Berlin (23 July 1902). This clip is only 2:32 long and was previously included in an earlier posting on HTBS called Royal Visits Benefit Irish Rowing.

The booklet accompanying the DVD has this to say about the rowing clips:

Rowing, too, was emerging in the Edwardian period as both a popular leisure pastime and a sporting occasion. Two films selected here illustrate both the amateur nature of the sport and the problems of shooting sporting events at the time. Final of International Cup at Cork Regatta, filmed at the Cork International Exhibition on 23 July 1902 features Leander from Henley-on-Thames and Berlin Rowing Club. Leander won the race but the film appears to be more of a series of spectator shots rather than action on the river. Kingston Rowing Club at Practice, shot in May 1902, emphasises the comic nature of the event as opposed to the sporting, with audience appreciation in the later showing of the film centring on the rowers falling into the river.

Mitchell & Kenyon in Ireland

There are three rowing clips on this DVD as follows: Two-oared Boat Race, Sundays Well, Cork (1902), Crews practicing on River Lee at Cork Regatta (20 July 1902) and Final of International Cup at Cork Regatta between Leander and Berlin (23 July 1902). They can be found together as one clip of 4.47 with the slightly misleading title of Mitchell & James Kenyon -1901-Rare Video of Ireland-Part 11.

The booklet with this DVD also has a short paragraph on the rowing clips as follows:

The Cork Exhibition was also a venue for some of the sporting titles shot in Ireland, rowing being one of several spectator events held during the summer. Two boat races took place in Cork during this period: the first International Gig Races of 21-23 July at Cork International Regatta, glimpses of which can be seen in Two-oared Boat Race, Sundays Well, Cork (1902); and the Final of International Cup at Cork Regatta between Leander and Berlin (1902) held on 23 July. Leander, who won the competition, was founded in Henley-on-Thames in 1818 and are the world’s oldest and most renowned club [sic].

As HTBS readers will know, Leander was indeed founded in 1818, but on the Tideway. There are at least three surviving rowing clubs older: Brasenose College Boat Club, Jesus College Boat Club and Westminster School Boat Club.

Sunday’s Well Boating and Tennis Club was founded in 1899 and in 2009 published a history researched by historian Kieran McCarthy and written by Irish Examiner sports journalist, Alan Good. The promo for the book reads:

Beautifully situated just west of Cork city centre on the banks of the Lee, the club emerged as a by-product of annual boating regattas at the Mardyke. Boating, with a high society classification in the 19th century, was a popular pastime on the river adjacent to Sunday’s Well. Due to limited revenue, boating events such as mini regattas were not organised every year, but the races are remembered for the Chinese lanterns and bunting that illuminated the gardens at the riverbank, as well as the balloon and firework displays at sundown. In 1899, inspired by a successful Sunday’s Well Regatta and Water Carnival held that July, the Sunday’s Well Boating and Tennis Club was founded. It was formed by a number of organisers of the regatta, several of whom were residents in Sunday’s Well.

I can’t remember Sundays Well Boat Club taking part in any IARU (Rowing Ireland) organised regatta and I have never seen their name in any old programmes, but some years ago I purchased an old postcard featuring them, as they do play a part in Irish rowing history.

Posted in Dublin, Ireland on 27 November 1903.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And the Winner is....

Dear readers of HTBS ~ It is with great delight I write that on this very morning ‘Hear The Boat Sing’ received the thrilling announcement that it had been chosen as the ‘Rowing History Blog of 2012’, an award which is handed out by the good people at To be honest, it is a humble experience, especially as HTBS was nominated in this category together with Peter Mallory’s Rowing Evolution. Peter, as you all know, is world famous for his 2,500-word masterpiece The Sport of Rowing.

Rowperfect’s Rebecca Caroe writes on her website about HTBS – ‘a blog that has grown in its reach and extent over the past year. It covers not only past history but also history-in-the-making such as Boat Race updates. Göran gives us regular updates and his diverse interests in many countries help show our sport around the world. The community is so strong that they organised to commission a silk tie for readers during the year. It includes lots of good photos and recently, poetry. The only downside is that there’s no way of subscribing by email (only RSS reader).’ *

Thank you, Becky!

The other winners of the different categories are:
Coxing blogs: The Coxswain Perspective
Athlete blogs: Girl on the River
Coaching blogs: Coaching the Cox
Ergo blogs: Caroline’s Rowing Blog
General news: Rowing Related

Please read about all the nominees on Rowperfect’s website here.

As you all loyal readers of HTBS know, HTBS is really not my blog, it belongs to all my wonderful co-workers and contributors around the world – Greg Denieffe, Tim Koch, Philip Kuepper, Louis Petrin and Hélène Rémond, and others who have sent contributions to HTBS during 2012 – it is with them I share this award. Without them there would not be a HTBS, nor, for that matter, would this blog exist if it hadn’t been for you, the readers of this blog. So, THANK YOU ALL!


*Just a little footnote to correct one small thing in Becky’s description of HTBS – of course, you readers can subscribe to this blog via e-mail. Please have a look on top of the green ’bar’ on the right.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Think Summer!

I know that summer seems far away, but I would like to think that reading about a summer activity might help us all to go through the bitter season we are in right now. Here is what R.P.P. Rowe and C.M. Pitman write in Rowing (1898; Badminton Library) about sculling for ‘the would-be sculler’:

‘First, don’t strap your feet in too tightly, as you may find it difficult to get them out if you have to swim for it. Secondly, hold on to both sculls and don’t let go, as you will  thus considerably lessen the problem of an upset. Thirdly, take very short strokes at first; you can reach out further as you gain confidence. Fourthly, if you give a big lurch and think that a spill is imminent, stop sculling, try to put your blades flat on the water, and get the handles of your sculls as near to one another as possible. Fifthly, make your first attempt in the summer, when the water is warm and pleasant to swim in. Sixthly, if you upset in the Cam, send your clothes to the wash.’


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Touching Distance

In one of its recent @Google Talks, Google hosted rowing champion and double Olympic gold medalist James Cracknell and his wife, TV presenter Beverley Turner. The two talked about their story before and after James's accident, which threatened to damage their lives. They have now published an autobiography Touching Distance. Read more about them here, read a review about their book here, and watch the almost one hour long chat below:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Grace, Grit and Glory...

Richard Butler, who is USRowing’s Inclusion Manager, writes and discusses hot topics related to diversity in rowing in a blog on USRowing’s website. Yesterday’s post had the title: “Grace, Grit and Glory – A Celebration of Women in Rowing” which also was the title for an event organised by Community Rowing, Inc.’ Read his blog post here, and do not forget to go to Facebook to check out some pictures from the event, here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rowing Apps for Free

FISA’s worldrowing website has just posted an article about rowing-related apps, and there is a list of free apps, too. Check it out by clicking here.

Of course, HTBS has already posted two entries on rowing apps earlier. Re-read them here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rowing History Footnote: Leave it to Sandow, the Strong Man...

Earlier on HTBS there was an entry about the crews who rowed in the 1897 Boat Race. The Dark Blues won, despite the high hopes the Light Blues had to overcome their antagonists. In September the same year, the satirical Punch, or the London Charivari published a funny illustration how the 1898 Cambridge crew would look if 'Sandow, the strong man' would be in charge of the Light Blues' training, using 'his own system'.

‘Sandow, the strong man’ was actually Eugen Sandow (1867–1925), who was born Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, a Prussian pioneer also known as the ‘father of modern bodybuilding’. He began his career as a circus athlete, but soon shifted over from lifting heavy obstacles to flexing his muscles. On it says: ‘Sandow’s resemblance to the physiques found on classical Greek and Roman sculpture was no accident, as he measured the statues in museums and helped to develop “The Grecian Ideal” as a formula for the “perfect physique.”’

Read more about Sandow here.

View a short clip on Sandow showing off his body art:

In the article "The Making of a Rowing Blue", published in The Tatler on 5 March, 1902, Walter 'Guts' Woodgate wrote: 'The Farnese Hercules would be a duffer in the boat; he has too much arm and shoulder and too light a loin in proportion. He would try to do all his work with arms, especially with biceps, and would be a bad choice for a torpid or lower division eight.'

Maybe this is why the Light Blues never asked Sandow to coach them? No, to be honest, Sandow did a lot to help rowing and other sports by publishing a paper, Sandow’s Magazine of Physical Culture, which had some very well-written articles on all kinds of different sports.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What the Rower Dreamed

What the Rower Dreamed

The rower slept deeply, then,
And saw
Push off from shore
Twenty-six shells,
In each a lone flame
Burning brightly
In the depths of dream.

Their oars broke the ghostly
Surface of the water,
The oars of the lone flames
Stroking away from shore,
And however far out they rowed,
Burned brightly
In the depths of dream.

From Newtown they had set out,
The lone flames rowing
Across the water, the lone flames rowing
Far out to where
The horizon keeps moving further away.
Yet they burned brightly
In the depths of dream.

Henceforth, from the shore of Newtown's torn heart
They rowed, the lone flames,
Burning brightly in the minds of the living,
The lone flames' lovely smiles
Smiles of the living,
Smiles burning brightly
In the depths of dream.

Their giggling laughter, shouts of joy,
Their tears, their insuperable
Beauty, their innocence,
Their bravery beyond comprehension,
All these impress the heart of memory,
Burning, burning brightly
In the depths of dream.

The the rower woke
And found the dream
Real in his memory,
The twenty-six lone flames rowing,
Unforgotten in eternity,
Twenty-six flames mending, with their lovliness,
The torn, torn hearts of the living,

In the depths of reality,
In the depths of us,
Twenty-six flames rowing
Their love to us,
Their insuperable love in us
Never to be forgotten.

Philip Kuepper
(15 December, 2012)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Euro Open - Indoor Rowing Championship 2013

On 26-27 January, the ‘Euro Open’, the European Indoor Rowing Championship, will be held in Essen-Kettwig, Germany. This is the second time the Euro Open is organised in Kettwig, which is a suburb to Essen. The organisers write on FISA’s World Rowing website: ‘The event will take place in the coliseum of THG School, which has been the venue of Germany’s number one indoor rowing event, the “NWRV Indoor-Cup”, for many years now.’ They continue to say, ‘Besides this very special sports event there are more reasons to come to this town in the Ruhr Area (“Ruhrgebiet”), wich has a large cultural diversity and is well worth a visit.’

To get more information about this competition, culture programmes, accommodations and information for spectators, etc, please click here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

More Rowing in T&C

On 10 September, 2012, HTBS wrote a piece about a short article on the Henley Royal Regatta published in the American monthly magazine Town & Country.

Flipping through some magazines at the newsstand yesterday – it’s a habit I have acquired since I was appointed the editor of a museum magazine  – I found another ‘rowing article’ in the T&C. This time it’s about last October’s Head of the Charles in Boston, MA. The writer of the article is T&C’s senior editor, Georgina Schaeffer. I don’t know if Ms. Schaeffer has ever hold an oar, but I think not, as she is not using the word ‘crew’ for ‘row’, or ‘crewing’ for ‘rowing’, which otherwise is an American custom, which, I would like to add, is little understood by us non-Americans.

Not only does T&C help spread the word about the Head of the Charles in this February issue of the magazine, in a feature article about the 50 top bachelors around the world, I found the famous two rowing twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss among them. Under the brothers ‘Likes’ the magazine writes: ‘Rowing; tech startups; stroking each other’s egos on Twitter; Brazilian models; suing people.’

So now you are warned, all you Brazilian models and you who plan to steal a social media network from them! Of course, I also wonder if there is a small typo in the text about them: ‘ergos’ is spelt with an ‘r’, not ‘egos’…

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Word, Spoken

The Word, Spoken

Words are crammed on the page,
Like boats in a habor,
The mind can sail, or not,
By reading them, or not.
The page is easily turned.

The blank page of water
Beckoned his thoughts,
Beckoned his thoughts to action.
Out on the water he became
A word, spoken.

Philip Kuepper
(December 2010)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Don't Miss...

Until March 2013 the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames is showing posters from the London Transport Museum. Don't miss this opportunity to see some beautiful art work with rowing motifs.

Read more here.

The River and Rowing Museum is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission £8.50/£6.50 (family ticket £22.50-£34). Follow the museum on Twitter @river_rowing

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Prop Blade?

Tim Koch writes from England,

I do not know if any of you HTBS readers saw the Antiques Roadshow on the BBC on 6 January? They showed an illuminated Oxford oar spoon from the 1938 Boat Race that had been found on a rubbish dump. The interest was that No. 2 was H.M. Young, one of the ‘Dambusters’. The expert identified it as the real thing but I have my doubts, I think it may be a prop from the 1955 film, The Dam Busters.

Firstly, the blades in the feature film and on the Roadshow seem exactly the same, look at the pictures taken from my computer screen (above and below). The film is on YouTube, a shot of the blade is 1 hour 56 minutes in:

The item on the Roadshow can be viewed until next Sunday on iPlayer and starts at 34 minutes 10 seconds in (I am sorry, you outside of the U.K. will not be able to view this).

I think this is the prop made for the film for two reasons. Even allowing for some fading, the blade was never ‘Oxford blue’ – however, it would be acceptable for a black and white film. Secondly, it is headed ‘Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race 1938’. While I expect that such blades were produced ‘unofficially’ and to no set pattern and usually only for ‘bumps’, I do not think I have ever seen a blade headed ‘Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race’. They usually say ‘Oxford / Cambridge University Boat Club’. As CUBC and OUBC only exist for the Boat Race it seems unnecessary to include the words ‘Boat Race’. In a film, however, you need to make things as clear as possible.

Incidentally, the film’s interiors were shot at Elstree Studios which is 30 miles from where the spoon was found at Bletchley. This does not prove anything but is interesting.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Painting of Oarsman Edward Hawks will be Auctioned by Bonhams

This 19th-century portrait of the oarsman Edward Hawks will be auctioned at Bonhams on 29 January. Image from Bonhams.

The good fellow Greg Denieffe has found a real gem in an auction catalogue from Bonhams, he writes, but first he mentions something about Fred Roffe, who HTBS wrote about on 4 January.

Greg writes,

It was sad to read about death of Fred Roffe. Of course I knew of the “The Fred Roffe Collection of Trophies, Medals and Memorabilia of Harry & John H. Clasper” but did not know anything about the man who donated the collection to the museum in Mystic. As is often the case, something that would have been of great interest to Fred Roffe has now come on the market and will be auctioned by Bonhams in London on 29 January.

What is going to be auctioned is a 19th-century portrait of the oarsman Edward Hawks with Durham Cathedral in the background.

Bonham writes in the description of this oil painting: ‘Edward Hawks is depicted here as a proud member of the Newcastle rowing crew who won the Champion of the World prize at the Thames Regatta in 1845. Known as Ned, he was the uncle of Susannah Hawks, wife of the famous rowing champion Henry (Harry) Clasper. The latter captained the winning boat, leading Edward Hawks along with three more Clasper brothers, Richard, Robert and William, to victory. Edward Hawks was a new recruit to the crew for this race due to the untimely death of another Clasper brother, also named Edward, who tragically drowned at the age of twenty five.’

Read more here.

Bonhams gives the following estimate of the painting: £8,000 – 12,000 (€9,900 – 15,000; US$ 13,000 – 19,000)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ergs don’t Float, unless they’re made of Wood!

Greg Denieffe writes from England,

In the November/December 2012 issue of Rowing & Regatta (the official magazine of British Rowing) there is an excellent article about ergometer evolution called “Magnificent men in their rowing machines...” It is a brief history of the rowing machine from 1871 when the first patent was filed by W. B. Curtis right up to the modern ergometers in use today. The article mentions that “rowing machines were used in the rehabilitation of soldiers wounded in the First World War”. This can be seen in a short British Pathé video showing "Queen Mary Opening the New Albert Dock Hospital".

The article was written by a friend and old crewmate of mine, the indomitable Jim Flood. Jim is a British Rowing and FISA Coach Educator and is author of Know the Game: Rowing and co-authored with Dr. Charlie Simpson of The Complete Guide to Indoor Rowing. He has also written three free e-books, The ergonomics of rowing , Balance and Coaching achieving the best results possible. These are all available on the Rowperfect website.

I know Jim from his time in Milton Keynes when he worked for the The Open University and rowed with me at Milton Keynes Rowing Club. One of our most memorable races was the 31 mile Boston (Lincolnshire, England) Marathon in 2002 which we completed in 3 hours, 59 minutes and 50 seconds (ten seconds can be very important!).

Boston Marathon 15 September, 2002, Jim (bow) & the MKRC Vet C 4+ (the article writer in 2 seat).

Jim has recently returned from Alexandria, Egypt, where he was running coaching clinics at the African Rowing Championships. Development of rowing in poorer countries is very close to Jim’s heart and perhaps this is something that should concern us all, as it is FISA’s (World Rowing) inclusivity policy that is keeping rowing on the Olympic programme.

Another programme that Jim has developed is ‘Openergo’ which is a project to develop a low-cost rowing machine which can be made using basic DIY skills for a cost of £25/$40. The Openergo website has all the details and a short video showing a wooden frame prototype in use. There is also an angle iron frame version and a longer video here on which Jim provides commentary.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Zealand's New Year’s Honours

Rowing historian Bernard Hempseed in New Zealand writes to HTBS:

In New Zealand we also have New Year’s Honours to recognize service to the community. We have awards for the Queen’s Birthday in June, but otherwise New Zealand has more or less done away with the old British awards of OBE and MBE, etc., and has our own Order of Merit of which there are several grades.

Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (above, left to right), who won gold in the Pairs at the London Games, are among several Olympians who have been recognized in the New Year’s Honours List. They have been made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit, together with fellow rowers Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen, who also won gold in London.

Read what The New Zealand Herald writes about these rowers, here.

(Other London Games gold medallist, Mahe Drysdale, was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit already in 2009.)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Rower Muses be the Winter Fire

A Rower Muses be the Winter Fire

'Might I, then, fool winter's hoary breath
With flashes of summery remembrance
When, past fields, wild with harvest,
I went to the river rib boning
Through the countryside.
Frightened mice alerted chipmunks
As I compromised their territory
With my presence.  They could not know
I meant no harm.  Man is, after all,
Alien to them.  Among the marsh grass,
Thick, next the river, an egret stood,
Still as the grass,
As it sensed the movement of darters
Just beneath the surface, terrified,
By the shadow of slender elegance.

'I slid my shell from shelter
Onto the river, setting off a pair of mallards
Quacking toward a clump of grass.
The jeweled feathers of the male glowed
As sunlight stroked them, tenderly.
The ribbon of river S'd before me,
Like the Universal Spiral.  I smiled
At the thought of the possibility
Of being an intergalactic rower
Spriraling across a star-crowed sky,
Though I rowed deep in the day.

'The egret stabbed its bill into the marsh
As I stroked the skin of the river with my oars.
The marsh grass shivered round where the egret stood.
The river purred at the touch of my oars.
Suddenly!, I was brought back
To the fire in the hearth, by the sound of my cat
Purring curled in my lap.
Winter's breath rasped on the window's glass
Where stars of crystal sparkled
In their sky of frost.'

Philip Kuepper
(December 2010)

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Passing of a Gentleman

On New Year’s Eve my family and I received some sad news. Our dear friend Fred Roffe had passed away on 29 December at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan after a brave battle with cancer.

I first met Fred in the summer of 2002 at Mystic Seaport. He happened to ask me if I knew any books still in print at that time about Harry Clasper, the English boatbuilder and professional oarsman. Instead of just giving him the title of David Clasper’s book Harry Clasper: Hero of North, which was published in 1990, I gave him an hour-long vocal essay on the professionals. Maybe it was to finally shut me up that he invited me and my wife and our 1-year-old daughter to his boat True Love which he had docked at the Museum. That same evening we showed up at True Love, we were invited aboard where Fred and his lovely wife, Fran, provided us with snacks and cocktails. And so started a beautiful friendship.

As a professional, Fred had been an engineer for Grumman Aerospace in Bethpage and he was the lieutenant commander and education officer for the Peconic Bay Chapter of the U.S. Power Squadron. Fred had not rowed at school, although he had done his share of messing about in boats ever since he was a kid, and he was a great friend of rowing history virtually by being a descendent of the famous Clasper family in England.

Each time the Roffes visited Mystic Seaport with True Love, which they motor-powered across Long Island Sound from Hampton Bays on Long Island (which happened once, twice or three times a year), we were invited on board their beautiful 40-foot boat. Barely had we step aboard, and I had a rum drink in my hand and with that, and Fred’s family background – I mean here you had in front of you a descendent of the famous boatbuilder who invented the outrigger – my family’s visits on board True Love always became a long happy affair. Our two children have cheerfully tumbled around on the deck of True Love ever since they were babies, sometimes with a playful Fred by their side.

But not only did Fred and Fran welcome you with open arms, they were tremendously generous in so many other ways.

Fred had in his home an incredible collection of rowing memorabilia which had belonged to Harry Clasper and his son, John Hawks Clasper, also a famous boatbuilder. After some drinks one night, Fred told me that he did not know what to do with his collection of rowing ‘stuff’. I suggested that he should donate it to the National Rowing Foundation, which Fred did a couple of weeks later. His unselfish and noble gesture meant that these historic artifacts could be shared with the public and available for rowing historians and scholars to study. Knowing Fred, I see this act as a true mark of a gentleman.

“The Fred Roffe Collection of Trophies, Medals and Memorabilia of Harry & John H. Clasper” can now be viewed in the exhibit of the Rowing Hall of Fame at Mystic Seaport. Take a look here.

Fred will be sadly missed by my family and me, but also by a large number of staff and volunteers of Mystic Seaport, whom he and Fran befriended during their many visits to the Museum. Our warm thoughts go to Fran, who has been Fred's wife for 51 happy years, and to their children and grandchildren.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rowing History Footnote: The Race that Ended with a Fight

Thames RC's William Fernie and ‘Bogie’ Bogle trying to row each other round while they are in the lead in the final of the 1898 Silver Goblets, where they easily beat ‘Old Hutch’ and Steve Fairbairn of Jesus College BC. A race that ended with a fist fight....

The Thames Rowing Club was founded in 1860 as the City of London Rowing Club. At a meeting in February 1862, the name of the club was changed to the Thames Rowing Club. In 1866, the Thames RC had acquired a boathouse at Putney which belonged to the boat builder William Styles of Isleworth. Manager for the boathouse was William East, Sr., William ‘Bill’ East’s father. The professional champion Bill East had strong connections to Cambridge University BC as he acted as their ‘waterman’, taking the Light Blue coxes in a boat for many years to show them how to steer on the sometimes unruly waters of the Thames with its tides and streams between Putney and Mortlake.

With Bill East around Thames RC, many of Cambridge’s rowers went to the club after they left the university and got a job in the city. This was what happened in 1898 when some Trinity Hall oarsmen, William Fernie, William Bieber and Hunting Howell, joined the club. Some ‘Hall’ rowers, including Richard Croft, were already members. Croft took the Colquhoun Sculls in 1893 and the Lowe Double Sculls in 1894 (together with Adam Bell), and he also rowed in the Hall’s first eight winning the Head in 1894 (with Fernie and Bieber) and in 1895 (with Fernie, Bieber and Howell). Also the Hall’s David Campbell-Muir, who got his Blue at the same time as Howell, would become a member of the club.

For the 1898 Silver Goblets at Henley, Fernie raced in the pair with A. ‘Bogie’ Bogle who was ‘a very difficult and aggressive crew member’ Geoffrey Page writes in his history book on the Thames RC, Hear The Boat Sing (1991). For some unknown reason Bogie was not on speaking terms with his partner in the boat on the day of the final, where they were going to race against A. M. Hutchinson ‘Old Hutch’ and Steve Fairbairn of Jesus College BC (yes, the famous coach to be). On the way to the start, Bogie and Fernie tried to pull each other round which they continued to do during the race. Old Hutch and Fairbairn took an early lead at a high rate which was doomed to fail. The Thames pair soon was in the front and won comfortably.

Page writes: ‘They did not stop at the line. Legend has it that they continued to Marsh Lock, where they got out and fought it out on the bank. It is not recorded who won the fight, but the boat was left for the boatman to collect.’

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Morning After the Boat Race...

For those of you who did not understand a thing about yesterday's entry, above you will have the opportunity to watch 8 minutes of the first episode of Jeeves & Wooster, the most entertaining TV-series ever.... It begins with the morning after the Boat Race...