Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Monday, June 30, 2014

The American Whaleboat of 2014

In 1978, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc., published The Whaleboat: A Study of Design, Construction and Use from 1850 to 1970 by Willits ‘Will’ D. Ansel, a shipwright and boat builder at the Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard. Ansel had been asked by Mystic Seaport to do research about the whaleboat, as by the beginning of the 1970s it was almost extinct. For many years this book was the ultimate source for anyone interested in the history of the American-built whaleboat. (To clarify one thing, the double-ended ‘whaleboat’ was the vessel lowered down from a whaleship and the watercraft from which the whale was hunted and killed. The whaleboat, with assistance from other whaleboats, would then sail or row back the dead whale to the whaleship where the whale was ‘refined’: cut to pieces, the blubber boiled in the tryworks and the oil kept in barrels. The oil was later used to light up the street lamps in all major cities in the country; whaling was a large and important industry in America during the 1800s.)

The best description of the content of this book is to name the different chapters: “Development of the Whaleboat to 1870”; “Performance and Use”; “Lines of the Whaleboat”; “Hull Structure”; “Fittings and Equipment”; “Sailing Rigs”; “Whaleboat Production”; “Building Methods”; “Painting, Repairs, and Maintenance of Whaleboats”; “The Whaleboats and Related Types”; and two appendixes: “Sail Plans and Rigs” and “Examples of Ten Whaleboats”.

Will Ansel’s The Whaleboat is a well-written, richly illustrated book – and some of the black & white photographs are taken by the author and many of the drawings are by him as well. Ansel has dug deep in old archives and sources, and this is truly a book for all wooden boat enthusiasts. A 2nd edition was published in 1983, but the book has been out of print for many years.

In 2008, while Mystic Seaport started restoring its flagship, the 1841 Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world, the Museum soon realised that it had neither the manpower nor the funds to build the whaleboats that were needed for the whaleship’s 38th Voyage – between 1841 and 1921, the Morgan made 37 whaling voyages across the globe – and it would truly not be a total restoration of the whaleship if the whaleboats were not aboard for her last voyage. The question went out to the maritime community if there was an interest in building whaleboats for the Morgan’s 38th Voyage. When she left Mystic Seaport to embark on her voyage, on 17 May this spring, nine companies along the east coast, in a project called the National Whaleboat Project, had built ten brand new whaleboats.

The same day, the Morgan left the Museum, the institution published the 3rd edition of The Whaleboat, now with a slightly different title, The Whaleboat: A Study of Design, Construction and Use from 1850 to 2014. Added to Will Ansel’s chapters were now two new chapters by Will’s son, Walter Ansel, and Walter’s daughter, Evelyn Ansel, who thereby is the third generation Ansel to be involved in narrating the history of the American whaleboat. Walter is a senior shipwright at Mystic Seaport and has worked on the Morgan’s restoration and a lot of other vessel restoration projects at the Museum. After finishing up her college studies at Brown University, Evelyn has also worked on the Morgan, as an apprentice. This year, however, she has been a Fullbright scholar at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm.

Walter’s chapter is about a whaleboat programme from 2002, when Will came back to Mystic Seaport to teach Walter and a few other shipwrights how to build a whaleboat. Evelyn’s contribution is about the National Whaleboat Project, a well-penned article, which also includes her photographs. Earlier she has published articles with some wonderful drawings of hers.

So, here we have three shipwrights who write very well, two of which also take marvellous photographs and draw and depict brilliant pictures – a very talented family, the Ansels.

Order your copy of The Whaleboat here ($24.95 plus postage).

At a book signing for The Whaleboat in the Mystic Seaport Bookstore during the 2014 WoodenBoat Show, Walter Ansel, Will Ansel and Evelyn Ansel.

Sunday, June 29, 2014



Watching the waves
caused him think
to whittle wood,
the pieces of wood
he had gathered on his walks
along the beach.  From whittling
he turned to carving,
crude replicas at first,
of sea life, otters, a trout.
He attempted a plover.
But the toothpick thin legs defeated him,
which drove him to attempt
more solid appearing things,
a rowing scull and oars,
and, with practice,
the rower himself.

Philip Kuepper
1 June 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Some Row Boats at the 23nd WoodenBoat Show

 A Rangeley Row Boat

The 23nd WoodenBoat Show is now in full swing at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. The weather was beautiful during Friday, and it is said to be equally wonderful during Saturday and Sunday. There are, of course, many water craft on display, and HTBS would like to present a few of them below - all being propelled by oars.

I have to confess, I do not see the charm with this kind of row boat, where the oars are propelled by your feet, unless you like to get some excises on the water while you are knitting...?

This row boat did not have a sliding seat, or a thwart, just a little stool, which really didn't look that comfortable. One could, however, adjust the stool as there were different holes to place the stool in; it didn't look like one could move the foot board, though.

This little '9 dinghy was originally built between 1941 and 1942 in the San Pedro area, California; designer and builder unknown. It had been used as a tender to a 1941 40' cruiser, and had been restored in 2012-2014. The original hull was stained cedar planks, with seats of mahogany. The fellow who had restored the boat had used steam-bent ash for frames and the transom top was mahogany. The oars were also ash, and in the stern was a 2 HP British Seagull, Forty Series. A beautiful craft!

A sturdy boat with two thwarts with back-rests, perfect for a river pic-nick - don't forget the Pimm's!

I am not really sure about this boat, built by Swanson Boat Company. It looks fast, but while the hull seems perfect for a speedy outing, the arrangement of the sliding seats seem 'weak', and so do the oars, which were thin with very small blades.

Above two types of shells with sliding seats.

A traditional 'dinghy'. In the background is the Museum's 1866 Connecticut 'smack', Emma C. Berry, built in Noank. This sloop is one of four National Historic Landmark vessels at Mystic Seaport.

What I did not see this year was a Thames skiff, which I have seen at the Show previous years.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The 23nd Annual WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport

Today is the start of the 23nd Annual WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, which, as usual, is a three-day event. More than 100 traditional classics and contemporary wooden boats of every type will be on display at this festival that celebrates the design and craftsmanship of wooden craft. This year’s event will honour three of N.G. Herreshoff’s most beloved designs: the 12 ½, Newport 29, and Buzzards Bay 25. All three were originally conceived in 1914 and turn 100 this year.

The WoodenBoat Show offers something for all wooden boat enthusiasts and marine history buffs. Wooden boats of every type – large and small, old and new, power, sail, oar and paddle – will be on display including cruising yachts, launches, runabouts, fishing boats, performance powerboats, daysailers, dinghies, rowboats, canoes, performance shells, multi-hulls and racing boats.

As usual, HTBS will try to concentrate its reports on rowing boats and shells. Read more here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Arts and Crafts

Photo: FISA

Arts and Crafts


The rowers sat waiting
in their sculls
to begin the race,
like tattoos drawn
on the skin of the river.


How like a sampler, the river,
on which the rowers
embroidered their race,
their oars, needles
sewing the watery
fabric with design.

Philip Kuepper
31 may 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Remembering Harry Parker

Today, 25 June, is exactly a year since the passing of Harvard Coach Harry Parker. Above is a short but fine tribute to Parker, produced by Harvard University.

Special thanks to Louis P.!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Birth of Modern Olympic Rowing

Greg Denieffe writes:

In July 2012, in a post called 1948 Olympics And The Thin Green Line, Part 2, I identified Terence Sanders as first man born in Ireland to win an Olympic rowing medal for Great Britain; he was the stroke of the British coxless four that won the gold medal at the 1924 Paris Games. It was also in Paris that the first Olympic rowing regatta was held in 1900, and it was at those Games that the first Olympic rowing medal was won by an Irishman. His name was William Carr and I will return to him later.

Had things gone to plan, the inaugural Games of the modern era, held in 1896, would have seen the first Olympic rowing champions crowned in Athens, but the weather intervened and the rowing events were cancelled. Peter Mallory touches on the subject in The Sport of Rowing (2011):

The rowers assembled, but rough water in Piraeus Harbor forced the postponement and eventual cancellation of the regatta. Therefore, rowing competition was not actually included until the second modern Games in Paris in 1900, and as a consequence, French became the language of international rowing from that time forward until quite recently.

Promotional Poster for the 1900 Paris Olympic Games – Genuine Antique or Fake?

In the poster/programme (above) the rowing events are listed under the heading Sports nautique and are shown as follows:

Un rameur: 2000 metres sans virage (Skiffs).
Deux rameurs de pointe: 2400 metres san virage (Outriggers).
Quatre rameurs de pointe: 2400 metres san virage (Outriggers).
Huit rameurs de pointe: 2400 metres san virage (Outriggers).

The regatta took place on the River Seine between Courbevoie and Asnières on 25 and 26 August 1900 and all the events were over a shortened course, believed to be 1,750 metres, and not as suggested in the Poster above. Throughout the regatta there was wrangling, protests, crew changes and the farce of two finals in the coxed fours event, both of which count in the official International Olympic Council (IOC) medal table.

Whilst the results of the regatta are readily available, books on rowing history only briefly mention the event and therefore this article is an attempt to put faces to the first Olympic rowing champions and gather the story of those two days in August 1900 into one place.

Un rameur (Skiffs)/Single Sculls
Twelve scullers entered, nine from France and one each from Great Britain, Italy and Spain. The four heat winners; Saint George Ashe (GBR), Hermann Barrelet (FRA), Louis Prével (FRA) and Georges Delaporte (FRA) were joined by the four runners-up in two semi-finals, with the first two in each semi advancing to the final. Barrelet won the first semi by ten seconds with André Gaudin (FRA) taking the second qualification spot. In the second semi, Prével had nearly as much to spare over Robert d’Heilly (FRA).

Ashe who had finished third in the first semi-final was eliminated but protested the result; Barrelet and Gaudin objected and refused to race if Ashe was allowed to take part in the final but they eventually relented and took their places in a five boat final. Read more about Ashe in Göran Buckhorn’s post from November 2012, The First Englishman....

Barrelet won the final beating Gaudin for the third time in two days. Ashe finished third, 40 seconds behind the winner! Prével failed to finish after falling in the water and of course protested but this time the protest was rejected. Perhaps good Anglo-French relations were the reason; the Entente Cordiale would be signed within four years.

Hermann Barrelet – Swiss born and 1900 Olympic Champion for France.

St. George Ash (sic) as portrayed by Ogden’s Cigarettes 1902. Ashe was born in Malta, which along with England has Saint George as their national saint.

Louis Prével European Champion in 1899 and 1900 but out of luck at the Olympics.

Deux rameurs de pointe/Senior Coxed Pairs
Only three countries entered for the coxed pairs event; France had five crews; Belgium and the Netherlands had one each, giving seven crews split into two semi-finals. Even today, not only rowing historians but sports historians and especially Olympic historians discuss the possibility that the youngest ever Olympic medallist took part in this event.

The French crew from Société Nautique de la Marne won the first semi-final beating the Dutch crew from Minerva Amsterdam who also qualified for the final. In the second semi-final Rowing Club Castillion (FRA) had an ‘easily’ verdict, beating Cercle Nautique de Reims (FRA) by 27 seconds!

The Dutch crew had been coxed by Hermanus Brockmann (60 kg) in their semi-final and had nine seconds to make up on their French conquerors in that race. They decided to copy their rivals and use a much lighter coxswain in the final and recruited a young French boy whom some believe to be that youngest ever Olympic medallist. The final was a very close affair but the change of coxswain made the difference with the Dutch crew (now with a French coxswain) reversing the result of the semi-final and winning by 0.2 seconds.

The finish of the pairs final next to Asnières Bridge. François Brandt and Roelof Klein (NED) just ahead of their French rivals Lucien Martinet and Waleff - both coxswains unknown.
The same scene through the eyes of Vincent van Gogh in 1877.

Anthony Th. Bijkerk has written two interesting articles about the Dutch pair, their substitute coxswain and the wonderful trophy, called ‘La Chanson’ that they received for their victory. The first in the Journal of Olympic History (Spring 1997) and the second in the Journal of Olympic History (Winter 2001).

This quote is from the latter:

Although the identity of the young French coxswain has never been detected, there does exist a photograph of him and it was published in a Memorial Book from the Dutch Student Rowing Club LAGA, in which François Antoine Brandt, in 1926, published his own story on the events in Paris.

The 1997 article contains an English translation by Bijkerk of Brant’s account of what actually happened in the coxed pairs event. The 2001 article has photographs of the Dutch pair with their French coxswain and another of the pair at Henley Royal Regatta in 1899. There are also two photographs of the trophy presented to them and bearing the inscription:

1er PRIX

François Brandt and Roelof Klein with the mystery coxswain, but how old was he?

Gold medals were not given at the 1900 Games; a silver medal was given for a first place and a bronze medal was given for second. The International Olympic Committee has retroactively assigned gold, silver, and bronze medals to competitors who earned first, second, and third place finishes respectively, bringing early Olympics in line with current awards.

Quatre rameurs de pointe/Senior Coxed Fours
French crews made up half the 10 entries with Germany providing three and both the Netherlands and Spain one each. The regatta jury ‘tore up’ their rule book following protests that crews eliminated in heats two and three had posted better times than the winner of heat one. They announced a further qualifying round but failed to notify all the crews. Despite the course having only four lanes they then announced that there would be a six-boat final. More protests followed and eventually two finals were raced; one for the winners of the three heats and one for the three crews involved in the original protest.

The winners of the three heats were as follows:

Ludwigshafener Ruder Verein (GER), time 6:14.0; Minerva Amsterdam (NED), time 6:02.0 and Germania Ruder Club, Hamburg (GER), time 5:56.2. These three crews should have been joined in the final by the runners-up to ‘Germania’ as this was a four-boat heat. 

The runners-up in the first heat, Réal Club Barcelona (SPA) posted a very slow time of 6:38.4 and therefore there had been no reason for ‘Ludwigshafener’ to push themselves to race any quicker. The runner-up in the second heat, Club Nautique de Lyon (FRA), time 6:06.2 and the third crew from the final heat, Favorite Hammonia (GER), time 6:03.0 did not see it that way and so the protests began.

Eventually the jury went with the option of two finals, perhaps the least satisfactory of all the options available to them.

The final for the losers with the three quickest times from the heats, took place on Sunday 26 August and was won by Cercle de l’Aviron Roubaix (FRA), time 7:11.0. They had finished second in the four-boat heat and were automatic qualifiers for the final by right if the original programme had been followed. ‘Lyon’ finished second and ‘Hammonia’ last.

Winning crew: Gustav Gobler, Oskar Gobler, Walter Katzenstein, Waldemar Tiegens & Carl Gobler (Cox).

The second final in this event was held over until the following day, Monday 27 August. The form of the crews in the heats was upheld with ‘Germania’ winning in a time of 5:59.0, ‘Minerva’ were four seconds behind and Ludwigshafener a close third in 6:05.0.

Bijkerk in his 1997 article includes a report by Dr. Meurer, the coach of the Dutch crews (participating under the patronage of Minerva Amsterdam). It was published in August 1900 in a Dutch sports magazine and it provides us with much valuable information about the organisation of the ‘Minerva’ crews, about the coxed fours event(s) and a reason why the ‘A’ final was held over until the following day: the original three prizes had been given to the crews in the first final and new prizes had to be supplied before the race could take place. Dr. Mauer did not mince his words when he expressed his opinion on the organisation of the regatta:

It is completely clear for me that the Netherlands should not any longer compete in rowing races in France; the conception of sport and the organization of races are more than 25 years outdated here!

There is a short slide show on the film website that shows the coxed-pairs and coxed-fours as they line up to race on the River Seine. View the 44 second clip here. Included is a picture of a coxswain with his arm raised. He certainly looks younger than the boy recruited by Brandt and Klein.

Huit rameurs de pointe/Senior Eights
Five crews from five countries raced two heats. The first two crews in each heat were to advance to a four boat final. Minerva Amsterdam (NED) won the first heat in 4:59.2; Club Nautique de Gand (BEL) were second, time 5:00.2 and Germania Ruder Club, Hamburg (GER), time 5:04.8, finished third of the three. In the second heat which was effectively a row-over Vesper Boat Club (USA) finished alone in a time of 5:15.4, Société Nautique de la Marne (FRA) failing to finish. ‘Germania’ was thus allowed to take the fourth place in the final. The times quoted (Wikipedia) are fast, even for a course of 1,750m.

The American Eight on the River Seine, Paris, 1900.

The final was won by the American crew in a time of 6:07.8. The Belgians finished second, time 6:13.8 beating the Dutch (6:23.0) and the Germans (6:33.0). Alfred van Landeghem (Cox) and Oscar de Somville were members the Belgian crew and you can read more about their exploits at Henley Royal Regatta (1906-09) and the 1908 Olympics in The Mysterious Affair of 'Les Braves Belges'.

The Dutch crew, Minerva Amsterdam, contained the winning coxed pair of Brandt and Klein. They were coxed by Hermanus Brockmann who lost his seat in the final of the coxed-pairs but was the coxswain of four that finished runner-up to ‘Germania’. As the IOC recognizes him as a winner in the pairs, as a runner-up in the fours and a bronze medallist in the eights, he is, without ever knowing it, the first multi-medallist in Olympic rowing.

Olympic Champions - Vesper Boat Club representing the USA. Missing from the photo is the coxswain, Louis Abell. Is that their trophy in the foreground?

The First Irishman …
In the four-seat of the victorious American crew was 24-year-old William John ‘Bill’ Carr. He was born on 17 June 1876 in Gortnagrace, near Castlefin, County Donegal, Ireland. He went to the United States in the 1890s where he worked initially as a carpenter, and later as a building inspector in Philadelphia. His parents were Robert Edmund McIlcar of Gortnagrace, Castlefin and Jane Doran of Alt, also near Castlefin; they were married when they were 20 and 21 years-old respectively at Melmount Catholic Church, Strabane, County Tyrone on 11 February 1873. It wasn’t unusual for immigrants to simplify or change their name on entering the United States.

In November 2000, Vesper Boat Club honoured this crew by hosting a celebration of their achievement a century before. Bill Lyon wrote a preview of the event in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 2 November 2000:

So there they sat, the nine of them in a wooden boat, bobbing about in the choppy waters of the River Seine, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, waiting for the start. Eight sturdy Philadelphians and a coxswain, come to Paris to represent America and the Vesper Boat Club, in the 1900 Olympics.

A fierce head wind raged at them, but they dug grimly in and after a dozen strokes opened a lead they would never yield. They covered 1 mile and 153 yards (1,750 meters) in 6 minutes, 7 4/5 seconds, six full seconds ahead of runner-up Belgium.

The crew of eight: John Exley, Henry de Baecke, James Juvenal, John Geiger, William Carr, Ed Hedley, Edward Marsh and Roscoe Lockwood. The cox: Louis Abell. The coach: Pat Dempsey, who took no salary. Rowing, in the minds of its devotees, is its own reward.

A full century later, descendants of the Vesper Olympic champions are gathering tonight, 72 of them, at the newly restored club on gleaming Boathouse Row. Great-grandchildren and great-nephews are coming, bringing with them mementos - a medal, statuary, even one of the original oars.

It is being billed as a history flashback. Not many reunions link 100 years.

Although Olympic rowing did not have the most auspicious start, the fact remains that it has been on the Olympic programme since Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympics, and rowing is the only Olympic team sport to be included in every modern summer Games.

Some historians and websites suggest that there were six events for rowing at the 1900 Olympics. This is not the accepted position by the IOC who recognize four events, albeit with two sets of prizes awarded in the coxed-fours category. The event that causes confusion is a coxless-pairs event won by Belgium. The eminent Olympic historian, Bill Mallon in his work The 1900 Olympic Games (1998) lists four criteria that should be considered in determining whether an event held during the Exposition Universelle of 1900 was an ‘Olympic’ event or one held in conjunction with the Exposition. The four criteria are: Amateur or Professional, International or National, Handicapped or not and Open or Restricted. He concluded that the single sculls, coxed-pairs, coxed-fours and coxed-eights were all Olympic events because the competitors were amateurs, the events were international, the races were not handicapped and these events were open to all. Four other events were raced at the regatta – three events for juniors; coxless-pairs, coxless-fours and coxed-eights and a coxless-fours event for novices. These four events failed the ‘openness’ criterion and therefore are not judged to be Olympic events by the IOC.

The coxless pairs event was won by Belgium; another Belgian crew was second with France in third place. The winners are given as Van Crombuge and De Sonville. Could they actually be Marcel Van Crombrugge and Oscar De Somville who raced in the Belgian eight that took the silver medal? Now there’s something for Poirot to ponder!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Results from World Cup II and Henley Women's Regatta

It was a busy weekend across the pond. The Marlow Regatta (nowadays at Dorney Lake) and the Henley Women's Regatta were held in England, while FISA World Cup II was organised on Lake Aiguebelette, France. Unfortunately, at the time of posting this blog post, the results from Marlow have not yet been posted on the regatta's website, therefore, below you will only find the results from the two other regattas:

Results at Henley Women's Regatta, here.

World Rowing Cup II in Aiguebelette, here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Women Racing at Marlow 95 Years Ago

Today, it was both the Marlow Regatta, held at Dorney Lake (this year only a one-day regatta), and Henley Women's Regatta at Henley, of course. We will hopefully put links up for the results tomorrow, but in the meantime enjoy a ninety-five-year-old little film from Marlow, where women of Newnham College, Cambridge University, met London School of Medicine.

Friday, June 20, 2014

2014 Henley Women’s Regatta Starts Today!


Today, the Henley Women’s Regatta starts and goes on until 22 June. Though living in the shade of the Henley Royal Regatta (which will be held in two weeks), the Women’s Henley is the largest regatta in England for women. This weekend more than one thousand six hundred women – on an international level, Senior and Intermediate level for clubs and universities, and race experience and development for Schools, Juniors and Under-16s – are expected to race. Crews are coming from all around Great Britain, Ireland, France, New Zealand and the U.S. From the latter country, I was happy to read that Bowdoin College, Maine, is sending two coxed fours. Bowdoin actually started their rowing programme (for men) already in 1858, but after a couple of decades the programme died, but was brought to life again in 1986.

Bowdoin’s Women’s Varsity 1 boat, called the Gibbons, with Katie Ross ’14, Emily Martin ’15, Courtney Payne ’15, Mary Bryan Barksdale ’15 and coxswain Sophie Berubé ’16 won the Reading Amateur Regatta last weekend.

Read more about Henley Women’s Regatta here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Olympic '56 Eight Reunion

A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of bumping into William ‘Bill’ Becklean, cox of the Yale crew who took the Olympic gold medal in the eights in 1956. We had a nice chat, and Bill mentioned that he and the others in the Olympic eight crew were soon to have their annual reunion. Yesterday, he sent along a photograph of the group, of which only five remain. Special guest at the reunion was Emory Clark, of the Vesper ‘64 Olympic eight, also an Olympic champion.

I would like to share the photograph of the group with you readers.

Left to right: [at the head of the table] Bob Morey, stroke; Tom Charlton, bow and captain; [white trousers] Bill Becklean, cox; Ann Esselstyn; Emory Clark, of the 64 Vesper Olympic crew; Dave Wight, #2; and Caldwell ‘Ess’ Esselstyn, #6 and host of the reunion, at his farm near Hudson, N.Y.

Bill writes: ‘Only five of us are left, Emory was added this year, so we didn't have to retell all the old rowing stories!’

Thank you, Bill, may there be many more reunions for your group to come!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Impressive International Range of Rowers at the World Rowing Cup II

In a press release the World Rowing Federation, FISA, announces a diverse field of entries for World Rowing Cup II in Aiguebelette, France, on 19-22 June, 2014. FISA writes:

Lake Aiguebelette will host nearly 700 athletes from 46 nations. Strong rowing countries like Australia and New Zealand are making the trip to Europe, as well as the United States and Canada. This means tough competition for last year’s World Cup overall winner, Great Britain.

A full schedule of racing includes Olympic, International and Para-rowing boat classes. China has entered all Olympic boat classes, with Great Britain and Germany the next biggest teams in this area. Of the five Para-rowing boat classes Poland, Ukraine and Russia have entered the most, with four boat classes each. 
The lightweight men’s double is the most popular boat class with 30 entries. This includes local favourites Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou (FRA). Delayre and Azou became European Champions earlier this month, but they will face World Champions Kristoffer Brun and Are Standli (NOR) in the quest for World Cup points.
The women’s double sculls has created a lot of interest with Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj (POL) looking to lead the way. Multiple World and Olympic Champion Ekaterina Karsten (BLR) is back in the boat, with Olympic and World medallist Yulia Bichyk, to form a formidable combination. Karsten, who just turned 42 years, is into her third decade of international competition.
Emma Twigg (NZL) won the women’s single sculls over Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova (CZE) at the World Rowing Cup I in Sydney and the two will meet again in Aiguebelette for some high intensity racing. In the men’s single sculls, Ondrej Synek (CZE) continues to look unbeatable. Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale (NZL) returns to international racing to challenge Synek along with top sculler Marcel Hacker (GER).

World and Olympic champions USA in the women’s eight and World Champion Great Britain in the men’s eights will add to an exciting finish to the regatta.
The regatta starts on the afternoon of 19 June with Para-rowing heats and continues to 22 June 2014. The heats on 20 June will be in time trials format in order to prepare all rowers for possible contingency scenarios at some point in the future. The rest of the races will follow the FISA progression system leading to the finals on 22 June.

Full entries and provisional timetable can be found at The World Rowing media centre includes a media guide for the event (online as of yesterday, 16 June 2014) at

Race reports, live results, live blogging, live race tracker and a photo gallery will be available on throughout the regatta.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Van Voorhis New Yale Captain

In a press release Yale announces that the team has elected a new captain for the 2014-15 Season. The press release reads:

Following the best varsity eight finishes in years at the Eastern Sprints and IRAs, the Yale heavyweights have elected Lyon Van Voorhis to lead the team to even better results as next year’s captain. The rising senior from Mattapoisett, Mass., is a history major in Branford College. He will take over leadership duties for the heavyweights from outgoing captain Zachary Johnson ’14.

“I am very honored to have been granted this responsibility”,  said Van Voorhis. “In my three years on the team, I have seen unbelievable growth in the program, and I am excited to keep moving it forward this coming year”.

Van Voorhis joined the heavyweight crew his freshman year as a novice to the sport. In his first year rowing, he sat four-seat in the 1F that had dual season wins over Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Penn and Princeton.

His sophomore year, Van Voorhis was a part of the crew that finished second in the Club Eight event at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston. He went on to row in the third varsity that beat Dartmouth and finished ninth at Sprints.

This past season, Van Voorhis rowed in the junior varsity, helping it to one of its most successful seasons in recent history. The boat went 3-3 in the regular dual-racing season, beating Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown. The boat went on to finish 12th at Sprints and 10th at IRAs.

Growing up in Mattapoisett, Van Voorhis attended Falmouth Academy, where he played varsity soccer, basketball and lacrosse. During his senior seasons in high school he made the All-League Team for all three. He began rowing during his first year at Yale.

This summer Van Voorhis will be training out of a rowing club and working in Berlin, Germany.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rowing in Basque

Rowing in Basque

In Basque country
fourteen men crew
a trainera,
rowed in competition,
fishing village against fishing village,

a competition evolving
out of the 12th century
when rowers would race one another
out into the rough
Atlantic to harpoon
whales sighted off the coast,

men powered by the survival of their culture,
men powered by the ocean,
men made men of
by the ocean, men
getting in touch with
the fish in their blood,
the ancestral fish
in all our bloods.

In Basque country, men
row their civilization.

Philip Kueeper
30 October 2013

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Go To Blazers

Tim Koch writes:

For over six months, HTBS has been dropping hints about a lavish book on rowing blazers that was in production. Even before some examples showing the quality of the photography and text crept out, the project already had great credibility as the person behind it, Jack Carlson, is a man steeped in rowing. This was not going to be something thrown together by a publisher out for a quick profit using stock pictures and hack text culled from the internet. I wrote about Jack very recently in my pieces on the Oxford Summer Eights (where he coached the crew that went Head of the River) and HTBS’s Greg Denieffe interviewed him last year and wrote this:

Jack Carlson has certainly had an annus mirabilis in 2013. A winner at this year’s Henley Royal Regatta and Canadian Henley Regatta, he was instrumental in bringing together a ‘Super 8’ made up of some of the world’s fastest women scullers to compete at last week’s Head of the Charles Regatta racing as Cambridge Boat Club in the Women’s Championship Eights, they started behind the USA national crew and rowed a remarkably well passed race to snatch victory by 1.2 seconds.

Previously he coxed at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School, was Captain of Rowing at Georgetown and was the co-creator of the iErg. In his spare time he is writing a PhD thesis at Oriel College, Oxford.

Clearly, Jack is someone who gets things done and done well. It was with great excitement therefore that I received the above invitation, my chance to see the book before its official publication date. I can tell you now that I was not disappointed. A full review will follow, it would be wrong to rush something when so much time (four years) and care had obviously been put into producing Rowing Blazers. The official website tells the story of how the book came about, shows some of the wonderful images and allows pre-ordering of copies. For now, here are some pictures of the London launch party. There are other launch events planned for Henley in July and New York and Boston in September-October.

Not the first dummy to wear a rowing blazer.

Jack and a fan.

Selfie 1

Selfie 2

This could be one of those books where an unsigned copy is worth more than a signed one.

The Ralph Lauren event was covered by many others, most not usually present at rowing events, including the ‘society magazine’, Tatler, The Times, and other blogs including boymeetsfashion, andrewcusack and preposity. Air kisses to you all, darlings.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lords v Commons Boat Race: Parliamentary Upset

Tim Koch writes:

What do members of the House of Commons do worse than running the country? After today some would say ‘rowing’ (though I think that may be a little unfair).

Their Lordships make their way to the start.

The All Party Parliamentary Rowing Group was established in 2006 to run an annual Lords v Commons boat race in order to raise funds for charity and to support the sport of rowing. After today the score is five wins to the Commons and three to the Lords. The event includes three other ‘two boat races’, one each for invited men’s and women’s clubs crews and one for two crews from London Youth Rowing. For the first time there was also an indoor rowing event for adaptive and special needs rowers.

Stroke of the Commons, Dan Byles MP and cox, Julia Headley.

The Commons crew were:
Stroke: Dan Byles MP
7: Andrew Cusack (A Parliamentary Researcher)
6: Matthew Offord MP
5: Aidan Burley MP
4: 'Last minute sub'
3: Luke Webster (A Parliamentary Researcher)
2: Sian Norris-Copson (An MP's Head of Office)
Bow: Graham Evans MP
Cox: Julia Headley (Vesta RC)

The stroke, Dan Byles MP was probably the man most suited to the day as his Wikipedia entry describes him as a ‘mountaineer, sailor, ocean rower and polar adventurer’. He has the smallest majority of all Conservative Members of Parliament (54) and so his rescue was no doubt greeted with relief by a Government keen to avoid a bye-election.

Both crews on the start.

The Lord’s crew (not in seating order) were:
The Lord Thomas of Gresford (Stroke)
The Lord Addington
The Earl of Courtown
The Lord Paddick
The Lord St John of Bletso
The Lord Redesdale
The Viscount Goschen
The Lord Bilimoria
Cox: Claudia Stocker (London RC)

Since 1999 few Hereditary Peers can sit in the Lords and this instantly cut off a fine supply of men who attended good rowing schools. In compensation their Lordships actually practised for this event, something the ‘Other Place’ did not manage to do. It showed in both cases.

In deference to their age, the Lords were given an eight second start. As it turned out, based on ability it was the Commons who should have been given the advantage. The Lords soon opened up a commanding lead and rowed on comfortably to win ‘easily’.

Mid-way through the race, the Lords have a comfortable lead.

The Commons seemed to find the worst water but appeared to be managing.

The Lords finish in fine form.

The finish point was where the Lord’s Terrace overlooking the river ended and the Commons Terrace began and the crews were greeted with polite applause from both sides. The Lords turned early and went in easily to disembark at ‘Black Rod’s Steps’, a landing spot especially built in the days when arrival by boat was a common way to enter Westminster. The Commons crew went above Westminster Bridge before they turned but seemed to be making their way back to Parliament without too much trouble, despite the rough water and the mostly novice crew. The cox, Julia Headley of Vesta RC, an experienced steers, takes up the story:

The Lord’s (eight second start) was probably a little too much but we came back at them... when the race had finished, because the tide was on the way out we were carried through the bridge and, unfortunately, on the other side of the bridge there were some large cruisers that were creating quite a lot of wash. We got trapped under the bridge... it was (like the) North Sea coming in over the boat... but everybody stayed with the boat and everybody did what they were told....

The Lords head back for afternoon tea.

Pictured very shortly before their upset, the Commons, having turned above Westminster Bridge, found the water very rough. Their personal safety boat can be seen shadowing them in the background and it was at their side in seconds when they capsized.

Luckily, it was a nice day for a swim, very warm.

One MP said that it was the most fun of any of the Parliamentary races that he had done as ‘up till now, we just finished and got out of the boat, which is kind of boring’. They seemed to have genuinely enjoyed the experience but it could have been very different were it not for the very elaborate (and as it turns out very necessary) safety precautions that the organisers had taken. If I had to end up in the tidal Thames at some event, this is the one that I would choose – and not only because you get tea and cakes on the terrace of the Palace of Westminster afterwards.

Safe on the Umpire’s launch, Day Byles, Andrew Cusack and Julia Headley greet their supporters on the Lord’s Terrace.

The Common’s crew, seemingly non the worse for their swim.

See also yesterday's blog post, here.