Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Daring German Rowing Book

In my little library of rowing books you will not only find works in English. A real gem is a thin book by Dr. Bernhard von Gaza (1881-1917), who was German champion in the single in 1907 and 1911, and in the double (with Carl Ekkehard Ernest) in 1907, 1908, and 1913 (pic. on the right). The latter year, the two oarsmen of RG Wiking Berlin also became bronze medallists in the European Championships. In 1908, von Gaza also took a bronze medal in the single scull in the Olympic Regatta in Henley-on-Thames.

It was the year before the Olympic Games were held, in 1907, he published Rudersport (Skullen und Training), book No. 17 in the series “Miniatur-Bibliothek für Sport und Spiel”. In the same series, von Gaza published Wanderfahrten im Rudder- und Paddelboot, book No. 49, and Rudersport (Riemenrudern und Training), book No. 59, which is the book I have. There is no printing year in the book, but his Foreword is written in 1914. I do believe, however, that my edition is of a later date.

Bernhard von Gaza shows in his little book that he has read some of the English ‘how-to-row’ books as he is quoting both W.B. Woodgate and R.C. Lehmann. The German rower and writer does bring up something in his chapter “Des Sportsmanns Lebensregeln” that none of the mentioned English oarsmen and writers do in their books, and, which must be added, is very daring to write at this time period. He writes:

Sexuelle Abstinenz ist während des eigentlichen Wettkampftrainings unbedingt erfoderlich; denn sexuelle Erregung und geschlechtlicher Genuss setzen die sportliche Leistungsfähigkeit herab, zumal Sportbetrieb die sexuelle Reizbarkeit vermindert.
(May you all excuse my rather clumsy and flaccidly translation): “Sexual restraint during the actual training for competitions is absolutely required; the sexual excitement and pleasure reduce the sport performance, especially since the process of the sport decreases the sexual petulance.”

I am not sure if I would agree with von Gaza on this ‘rule of a sportsman’, but you have to agree that it's a bold statement to have been written in 1914. Bernhard von Gaza probably died due to World War I, as I know he died in Belgium.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Going Royal...

As the Royal Wedding in London is going on right now, today HTBS is also going Royal. I don't know in which capacity there are any Royal Watermen around Prince William and Princess Catherine, but for sure there must be some of these gentlemen of this honourable trade around the wedding party.

Here is a video clip from 1953, Royal River Pageant, with some old Doggett winners, and some very interesting water craft.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

FISA Newsletter!

FISA's electronic World Rowing Newsletter for April just arrived in my e-mail box. It has some very interesting articles and news. If you are yet not subscribing to this electronic Newsletter, sign up by clicking here (it will take you to FISA's website). An article will then explain the funny picture on the right.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Tobacco Cards

Bernard Hempseed of New Zealand sent me an e-mail today about some of the tobacco cards he has in his collection. Bernard writes,

Further to the three cards you loaded on HTBS on 23 April. Here are some scans of several others that I have. The two from ‘Who’s Who in Sport’ (Major Goodsell; above) were issued in the UK and Commonwealth countries by Lambert & Butler in 1926, and there are 50 in the set.

The card from ‘Sports Champions’ (E.A. 'Ted' Phelps; on the left) was issued by Ardath in 1935 and again 50 in the set. The card from ‘Champions’ (Eric Phelps) was issued by Gallagher also in 1935.

The card from ‘Kings of Speed’ (Henry 'Bobby' Pearce) was issued by Churchman in 1939 which would have been one of the last sets issued before WWII which stopped most issues.

There may be other cards from other series and/or issuers but these are the ones I know of.

An earlier set were the ones from Allen & Ginter (USA) which was called ‘The World’s Champions’ and had the following: William Beach, John Teemer, Ned Trickett, Ned Hanlan, Wallace Ross, Jake Gaudaur, George Hosmer, John Mckay, Albert Hamm, and George Bubear. These were issued in 1887. They are hard to get but high quality copies exist on the net and can be downloaded. Hanlan, Beach, Gaudaur, and Teemer also feature on a set of ‘Old Judge’ cards, I guess issued about the same time. These can also be found on the net.

Thank you, Bernard! If you are getting interested in collecting cards of this kind, go to Bill Miller's web site, Friends of Rowing History, by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Old 'Furney' - A Victorian Eccentric

Dr Frederick James Furnivall in a scull on his 85th birthday, in 1910.

In my April column 'In this month' in the Rowing & Regatta magazine, published by British Rowing, I am mentioning Dr Frederick James Furnivall who founded the Hammersmith Sculling Club for girls in April 1896. Furnivall, who was born in 1825, was a real character, an eccentric Victorian philologist who for certain is worth a much longer article than the 400 words that forms my monthly little column. As a matter of fact, in 2003, Simon Winchester published his The Meaning of Everything: the Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, which gives an entertaining picture of old 'Furney', who co-founded this famous dictionary and who during his whole entire life founded literary societies and rowing clubs.

'Furney' coaching and coxing an octuple with eight young women.

Some years after the 71-year-old Furnivall had founded the Hammersmith Sculling Cub for girls, in 1901, the club also allowed young men to join as members. The club would later change its name to Furnivall Sculling Club.

Furnivall and some club members.

The good Tim Koch was actually in contact with the club when he heard that I was working on a small piece for my column. Furnivall Sculling Club very generously put some of their old photographs of Furnivall to my disposal, and I am sorry that my magazine column is running without any illustrations. But, luckily, here at HTBS there is always room for entries with illustrations, so please enjoy these nice old pictures of Frederick James Furnivall and 'his' pretty club members. Furnivall died in 1910.

All the photographs in this entry belongs to Furnivall Sculling Club and are posted with the courtesy of the club. My warm thanks goes to the club and to Tim for their help!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vivian Nickalls: A Successful Sculler

Two of the most famous rowing brothers in Britain are without doubt Vivian and Guy Nickalls. Of the two, Guy (1866-1935) got most attention by contemporary press, mainly because of his frank ways and for being outspoken, which would get him in constant trouble, both at home and abroad. Vivian Nickalls (1871-1947), who was the younger of the two brothers, was maybe not as successful as an oarsman, but through the years he would collect an extensive amount of medals, cups, and awards.

Vivian took the Diamond Challenge Cup at Henley in 1891. He also won the Wingfield Sculls in 1892, 1894, and 1895 (the latter year is when the photo above is taken). Vivian was very successful at Henley in the Silver Goblets and Nickalls' Cup, winning the Cup in 1892 and 1893 with William A.L. Fletcher, and with his brother Guy in 1894, 1895, and 1896. In 1895, to celebrate his two sons second win together in the Silver Goblets, Tom Nickalls donated the Nickalls' Challenge Cup.

Both Nickalls brothers would later in life go to the USA to coach rowing. While Guy would coach Yale - "Their paddling is bad, their rowing, worse." (about his 1916 crew) -, Vivian would coach the University of Pennsylvania and the Detroit Boat Club. Both Vivian and Guy returned to Britain to serve in the Army during First World War. They would also write to highly entertaining autobiographies, Vivian's Oars, Wars and Horses (1932) and Guy's posthumous published Life's a Pudding (1939). Link

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Three British Rowing Champions Of 1923

Here is a nice collection (although, not in a perfect condition) of three British Rowing Champions of 1923: on top, R.W. Phelps of Putney (No. 46), the winner of the Doggett's Coat and Badge Race; on the left, J. Beresford Jun of Thames RC (No. 32), winner of the Wingfield Sculls; and M.K. Morris of the London RC (No. 33), winner of the Diamond Challenge Cup at Henley.

As you can see these are cigarette cards from the tobacco company Callahers which was founded by Tom Callaher in Derry, Ireland, in 1857. Seventy-five cards of "British Champions of 1923" came out in 1924.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sporting Illustrations By Booth

Frontispiece by artist J.L.C. Booth in R.C. Lehmann's Sportsmen and Others.

Bryan Kitch of the eminent blog Rowing Related made a comment regarding the image I used for Wednesday's entry about R.C. Lehmann's Sportsmen and Others (1912). Bryan is asking if there are others like it in Lehmann's book. Yes, there is, but I believe I picked the nicest one to illustrate the entry. The illustrator of Lehmann's book was J.L.C. Booth, who, in 1898, came out with his own book Sporting Rhymes & Pictures.

Lehmann and Booth probably knew each other from the magazine Punch, where Booth now and then had illustrations published. Although, it is not easy to find information about Booth, he seems to have been a well-respected illustrator. In a review of Sportsmen and Others, the Evening Post of New Zealand writes on 11 May 1912 about the book: "Mr. Booth's fourteen or fifteen sporting and character sketches suggest (and correctly) a lively book of shrewd observations and wholesome humour."

In the story "A Putney Waterman" a lady "had a difference with her 'old man'", so she flung herself over the railing. "She'd mistook the tide, for the ebb was three-parts run out, and there warn't more than a foot or two of water where she jumped. [... She said:] 'Don't save me, sailor,' she sez when she see me comin', 'I've sworn to die.' 'So you shall, ma'am,' I sez, 'some other day."

"[...] it may be said of coxswains that they are not so much individual men as members of a tribe or secret society formed entirely of male human beings weighing on an average 8 stone. They have meeting-places where they come together to devise the torments which later on they inflict on their fellow-mortals. The have signs and passwords." In "Coxswains".

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fascinating Article!

The current issue of the WoodenBoat Magazine, May/June 2011 (No. 220), has a very interesting article by Abner Kingman, "Viking and Her Descendants: Carrying forward a San Francisco rowing tradition". The article is about the 'pulling boat' Viking which is owned by the Dolphin Club in Aquatic Park on San Francisco's northern waterfront. She was build around 1900, and donated to the club in the 1930s. The article covers the story about Jeremy Fisher-Smith building some replicas of Viking in the late 1970s and the 1980s, and then in 2010.

Fascinating article! Now, run out and buy your copy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Charming Book By Lehmann

There has been a lot about R.C Lehmann on HTBS lately, but I find the man fascinating, so I can not stop writing about him. We know him best as an authority on rowing and as a poet of light verse, while his contemporaries probably recognised him as an important contributor to Punch. It was in this magazine he wrote his parodies of Sherlock Holmes which later were collected in Adventures of Picklock Holes (1901).

Another book, which is not that easy to find nowadays, is called Sportsmen and Others. I have a copy without printing year, but one edition published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co came out in 1912. My edition is in the series called Bell's Indian and Colonial Library and was issued 'for circulation in India and the Colonies only' as it states in the book. Of the 24 short stories, five are about rowing: 'Two Boatmen', 'Mr Ed Plummer', 'A Putney Waterman', 'Coxswains', and 'A Bumping Correspondence'. The illustration on top is from the story 'Coxswains'.

Though, it is very light entertainment, it is a charming book.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Rowing Books Online

Talking about Tim Koch’s interesting entry about R.C Lehmann’s books online, Bernard Hempseed of New Zealand sent me an exciting link the other day where other old, and some very rare, rowing books can be found. Bernard writes,

“I was having a look around on the net the other day and found something I had not come across before. This site - - I have looked at before and they have quite a lot of books on rowing.

You can read these online or download them. A PDF file is usually available and this can be saved or printed out. The easiest to download is plain text but these have only been OCR’ed and there are lots of errors in them. However, sometimes this is useful as not all PDF’s are easy to print. If you print something out and bind it, you have yourself a rowing book.”

I have spent a thrilling time looking at these ‘goodies’ – thank you, Bernard for sharing!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Drinking & Rowing

In the entry on 14 April, R.C. Lehmann On-line, Tim Koch writes about Lehmann's Rowing from 1898 and some entertaining text parts in this book. Under 'Training and Diet' we can read about what and what not to drink if you are in training at the turn of the century. Lehmann writes,

Note—Once or twice during training there is a "champagne night," when champagne is substituted for beer or claret and water; but this only occurs when the crew have been doing very hard work, or when they show evident signs of being over-fatigued, and require a fillip.

And Tim rightly comment this, "The inclusion of alcohol at all is very strange by modern standards." However, to my big surprise, I found that 50 years later, the Cambridge coach, Raymond Owen, gives the same advise in his little book or pamphlet, Training for Rowing (38 pp.), which was published in 1952. Owen writes under the title 'Food; Alcohol':

"This should be limited completely to beer, claret, port and champagne. Beer - half a pint with lunch and one pint with dinner [...]; Claret - Not more than two glasses of claret can be allowed with dinner occasionally [...]; Port - Not more than two glasses of port should be allowed at dinner occasionally, and must be limited to certain occasions, such as the end of a hard week's rowing [...]; Champagne - This should be used even more occasionally than port, but is definitely helpful if given at certain times. It can be allowed at dinner following some particularly big effort, and especially if there is any sign of 'staleness.' "

Owen also adds, "It must be remembered that the only real value of alcohol to the body in training is a psychological one [...]"

In the Acknowledgments, Owen thanks the Cambridge crew of 1951, "who acted as guinea pigs." The 1951 Cambridge crew beat Oxford in The Boat Race with 12 boat lengths!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Buy Rowing Stuff!

Now and then, we look for something special to buy that has to do with rowing: new sculls, a fancy rowing tie, a new rowing book, a new rowing kit, etc. To help you out, I have added a new feature on the right, Buy Rowing Stuff, with links to different companies that are selling 'stuff' for rowers. More companies will be added after time. I would like to mention that none of these companies have in any way paid me or given me 'stuff' to be listed here. I have no association with any of them, and I will in no way take any responsibility for 'faulty' merchandise.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Memorial Service For Hart

Today a memorial service was held for Hart Perry at Kent School in Connecticut. Hart was among other things a rowing coach at Kent for more than 30 years. Kent School was very much Hart's school. At several occasions I have met old Kent rowers who had Hart as their coach, and it is touching to hear how much they truly loved Hart. I have also heard Hart telling stories about his crews at Kent, and how he loved his boys and girls who rowed for him, because I believe that they all rowed as much for Hart as the rowing for their school. I am sorry to say that I was not able to attend the service for Hart at Kent School.

In the May issue of Rowing News (which is already out) Andy Anderson - 'Doctor Rowing' - has a eminent piece about Hart, "Pure Hart", where he writes: "Hart Perry's life is a wonderful testament to what we all know about rowing - that we are in it together". Beautiful written, is it not?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

R.C. Lehmann Online

HTBS's Tim Koch writes from London:

The recent HTBS item quoting a poem by Rudy Lehmann (on 9 April, 2011) reminded me that two of his books on rowing are available to view online.

Some of you may already be familiar with Project Gutenberg. Over 33,000 free e-books can be downloaded to read on a PC, Mac, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android or other portable device. They are all digitized from ‘real’ US copyright free books by thousands of volunteers. No fee or registration is required but you can make a donation if you wish.

The only book on rowing that the Project has is Rowing by RC Lehmann, published in 1898. This is probably not as well known as Lehmann’s other book on the subject, The Complete Oarsman (1908) which is also available online at the University of California Digital Library. (I like the fact that the last page shows that the paper version was taken out of the library three times, in 1953, 1993 and 2003). I have not had the chance to read the Complete yet, so more about it another time.

Rudolph Chambers Lehmann (1856-1929) was a coach to Oxford, Cambridge, Leander, Harvard, Trinity College Dublin and Berlin Rowing Club. Born into a literary and academic family, he was a writer, notably for the humorous British magazine Punch, and produced music and poetry. In another part of his life, he was a Member of Parliament for four years.

Rowing has over 300 pages and many illustrations. Some of the advice given still holds good today, though much, as would be expected, is outdated (but still interesting). It is sometimes funny (as Lehmann intended) and sometimes unintentionally funny, particularly when the attitudes and idioms of the late Victorian ruling class are exposed.

The chapters and sub headings include ‘First lessons on fixed seats’ and ‘First lessons on sliding seats’, ‘Of ailments….’, ‘Of the necessity of having a butt’, ‘Swivel Rollocks’, ‘Sculling by Guy Nickalls’, ‘Are athletes healthy?’ and chapters on rowing at Oxford, Cambridge, and Eton and in Australia and the United States.

The following are some of my favorite extracts but if you read the book you will undoubtedly find ones of your own.

Introduction by the author

My object in the following pages will be not merely to give such hints to the novice as may enable him, so far as book-learning can effect the purpose, to master the rudiments of oarsmanship, but also to commend to him the sport of rowing from the point of view of those enthusiasts who regard it as a noble open-air exercise, fruitful in lessons of strength, courage, discipline, and endurance, and as an art which requires on the part of its votaries a sense of rhythm, a perfect balance and symmetry of bodily effort, and the graceful control and repose which lend an appearance of ease to the application of the highest muscular energy...

Well put. T.K.

On fixed seats

Fixed Seats: The Beginning of the Stroke.

Every oarsman must begin on fixed seats. This statement is to an English public school or University oar a mere platitude; but in America, and even in some of our English clubs outside the Universities, its force and necessity have been lost sight of…… For it is on fixed seats alone that a man can learn that free and solid swing which is essential to good oarsmanship on slides.

I am not sure we can return to fixed seat boats for beginners but I think it is true that novice rowers do not spend enough time ‘backstop rowing’ (no legs, arms and body only). T.K.

Training and Diet

Mr. H.G. Gold

For a Boat Race crew in training at Putney:
7:00 - Out of bed, and without bathing or washing dress immediately in flannels. A cup of milk and a biscuit.
7:15 - Out of the house. A brisk walk with one sharp run of 150 yards.
7:50 - Back to the house. Bath, etc.
8:30 - Breakfast: Fish, plainly cooked, without sauce. Soles, whiting, and smelts are best. Salmon is not allowed. Cutlets or beefsteaks, or grilled chicken. Eggs, boiled, or poached, or fried, sometimes scrambled. Mustard and cress, or water-cress. Toast. Limited amount of butter. Marmalade is allowed only during the last fortnight of training. Not more than a cup and a half of tea.
11:00 - At Putney, when the state of the tide permits it, exercise in the boat. It should be noted that the tide sometimes makes it necessary for the crew to do its rowing in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon. Occasionally work can be done both in the morning and afternoon.
1:00 - Lunch: Cold meat. Tomatoes plainly made into a salad with oil and vinegar. Toast. Small quantity of butter. Oatmeal biscuits. One glass of draught beer, or claret and water.
3or4 - Work in the boat.

6:30 - Dinner: Fish, as at breakfast. An entrée of pigeons, or sweetbread, or spinach and poached eggs. Roast joint (not pork or veal), or else chicken, with potatoes, mashed or boiled, and boiled vegetables. Stewed fruit with rice puddings. Sometimes jelly. Two glasses of draught beer, or claret and water. For dessert, figs, prunes, oranges, dry biscuits, and one glass of port wine.
9:50 - A glass of lemon and water, or a cup of water-gruel.
10:00 - Bed.
Note—Once or twice during training there is a "champagne night," when champagne is substituted for beer or claret and water; but this only occurs when the crew have been doing very hard work, or when they show evident signs of being over-fatigued, and require a fillip.

The inclusion of alcohol at all is very strange by modern standards. The impression given is that this is the minimum amount of strong drink that a man needs in a day and that such deprivation is a real sacrifice. The idea of Champagne for over-fatigued crews is a lovely one. The suggested diet is fine but what was the logic behind some of the exclusions? No pork, veal or salmon? Marmalade only during the last fortnight of training? These strange diet ideas were not confined to the 1890s. In the 1980s I had a coach who was convinced that if you ate cucumber before a race you would surely lose, but cream cakes guaranteed success. We never did find out why. T.K.

The Necessity of Having a Butt

Rowing Types No.3. First, let me insist on the necessity of having a butt in a crew….. I have seen eight healthy, happy, even-tempered young men go into training together for three weeks…... At the end of (that time) every man in that crew was the proud possessor of seven detested foes……. Why was this so? The simple answer is this, that the crew in question did not number among its members a butt. I doubt if the importance of a butt in modern boat-racing has been properly recognized…. the position of butt is a far more important and responsible one than that of stroke or No. 7. If you can find a good, stout, willing butt—a butt who lends himself to nicknames, and has a temper as even as a billiard-table and as long as a tailor's bill—secure him at once and make him the nucleus of your crew.. The butt must therefore be neither silent, nor slack, nor a drawler. Nature will probably have saved him from being a thinker or an orator. He must be simply good-natured without affectation, and ready to allow tempers made stormy by rowing and training to break upon his broad back without flinching.

This is absolutely true. We did not use the expression but we had ‘a butt’ in the two Henley Crews that I coxed and it was silently acknowledged that he was a very important part of the crew. T.K.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Rowers Of Vanity Fair

Some reflections by Tim Koch regarding a recent entry:

The charming Vanity Fair (‘Spy’) print of Henry Searle recently reproduced on HTBS (on 8 April, 2001) may have aroused interest in others in the series.

Vanity Fair magazine was published in Britain between 1868 and 1914 and so covered the ‘high water mark’ of the late Victorian/Edwardian age. It was a successful mixture of the serious and the trivial and covered political and economic news but also fashion and gossip plus literary and artistic comment. It is now remembered for the full page colour lithograph of a celebrity or dignity that appeared in each issue. Over two thousand different prints of sportsmen, politicians, actors, royalty, scientists, businessmen, academics, soldiers and clergymen appeared over 46 years. There is a full list of the caricatures here and a list of the various Vanity Fair artists here.

Incidentally, I think that the Searle picture, drawn in full profile, is uncharacteristic of ‘Spy’s’ style and reminds me of the ‘matchstick men’ of the Northern English artist, L. S. Lowry.

The rowing men who were featured in the magazine are brought together on the Wikibooks site, ‘The Rowers of Vanity Fair’.

The author, ‘Wat Bradford’ (Walter Bradford Woodgate), writes not only about the twenty five men who were featured because of their rowing achievements but also of thirty four others who appeared for other reasons but who had competed at Henley Regatta or in the University Boat Race. Bradford also includes an item of rowing history contemporary with each print featured. The pictures and their accompanying text are a delightful snapshot of an era that ended, like Vanity Fair itself, with the 1914–1918 War.

Tim is seen above at Auriol Kensington RC in London, where you can view him as a 'caricature', however, not by 'Spy'.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Among Chavs And Yobbos At HRR?

As the ladies on the left are not following the HRR dress code "with a hemline below the knee", they will not be admitted to the Stewards' Enclosure. They just have to get drunk with the chavs and yobbos along the riverbank.

Previous years there have been some problems with chavs during the days of the Henley Royal Regatta, if I understand an article right in yesterday’s Henley Standard. The Thames Valley Police would like to have increased powers to crackdown on these unruly elements, take the liquor away from them and fine them a hefty 500 quid. Not that I can work out where the yobbos would get that kind of money, unless they are stealing it from the poor people they are harassing. Although, I do, of course, applaud and support law enforcement’s eagerness to keep the regatta spectators safe, I am twisting my brain to see what the chavers have to do with the Henley Royal Regatta. Any person showing ill-behaviour and acting in a disorderly way is doing so outside the regatta’s enclosures and after the regatta has ended for the day, it seems. Therefore calling the article “Clampdown on regatta drunks” is more than a little misleading. Read the article in Henley Standard here.

I do remember reading something in The Daily Telegraph a couple of years ago that the Henley Stewards’ decided to ditch the fireworks at the end of the very last day of the regatta due to drunkenness and pugnaciousness among the crowd. It seems not to have helped, I am sorry to say. (By the way, I found the article in the Telegraph, so click here to read it.)

So, all of you who are going to this year’s Henley Royal, do all your drinking inside the regatta’s different areas, away from the mob! I have decided, that now, when I am actually going to Henley this year, I will keep my drinking to the bar in the Press Tent. If you are looking for me, I will be under the third table on the left.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Gibson Girl Goes To The Race

In 1894 (I am not sure which month), William A. Brooks published an article, "The Harvard and Yale Boat-Race: Observations of a Harvard Man" i Harper's New Monthly Review. As a medical student at Harvard, Brooks had rowed against Yale in three races on the Thames River in New London; once in the winning boat (in 1885) and twice in the losing boat (in 1886-1887). For certain, this made Brooks very suitable to write an article about the training and racing on the Thames. However, what is really interesting with this article is the five illustrations that came with it. They are all by Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), whose pen-and-ink sketches could be found in the major New York publications during this period.

In the time of Gibson's illustrations for Brooks's article, he had already become famous for his creation of the 'Gibson Girls' - an ideal of the young beautiful American woman. It is believed that it was Gibson's wife, Irene Langhorne and her lovely sisters that were models for Gibson's Girls. Irene was sister to the famous Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat as a Member of the British Parliament.

Gibson's illustration on top is called 'The Coach', while the illustration of the Gibson girl happily walking between the two Yale and Harvard rivals is called 'Going to the Race'.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Harlem's First Regatta

Jamieson, who is the owner of The Rowing Store in Florida, sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago with some questions regarding an old rowing medal that a friend of hers had come across. Jamieson writes,

The medal measures 2 3/4" diameter, has been made as a brooch, is 1/8" thick and of a silver coloured metal (could be silver?). There are no identifying marks on it, but it is in excellent condition. Engraving on the reverse: First/ Annual Regatta/ Harlem Rowing Association/ July 2 1873/ Four Oared Race/ Presented to/ A. W. Montgomery/ No. 3/ WINNER OF THE/ Grand Challenge Cup./ DISTANCE/ 1 MILE. TIME: 5.01.

What I have for you thus far follows: “The Harlem Regatta Association was started in 1873, and at that time comprised all the clubs on the Harlem River. The Regattas were held in the spring and fall. Clubs included Atalanta B.C., Nassau B.C., New York Athletic Club, New York R.C., Metropolitan R.C., Columbia College B.C., Union B.C., Nonpariel R.C.

The 1880 Executive Board included President, R. L. Neville; VP, C.G. Peterson; Sec. & Treas., J. T. Goodwin; G. McVickar, Jas. McCartney, W.G. Demarest, D. Roach; Referee, Richard Trimble; Timers, Lindsay Watson, A. Maehler. The course was generally from McComb’s Dam Bridge to Gate’s lumber dock, and was a 1 mile straight course.

A. Montgomery rowed for the New York Athletic Club and was considered one of the largest member in the club."

From The History of American Amateur Athletics and Aquatics by Frederick William Janssen (published in 1888?).

Jamieson has also contacted rowing historian Bill Miller of Friends of Rowing History, who had some more information about A.W. Montgomery and his medal. Bill replies, “I have the July 3 New York Times article copied and attached. It reports the results of the race. It lists A.W. Montgomery racing in the Nassau four and winning. The Nassau Club was one of the largest and well established rowing clubs in America and much larger than the recently formed New York Athletic ‘Athletics’. I hope this helps zero in on AWM. Cheers - Bill Miller, Friends of Rowing History.”

I honesty do not have that much to add. There is more information about this race in Fred J. Engelhardt’s The American Rowing Almanac and Oarsman’s Pocket Companion, which was published in 1874, see copy here. I find it very interesting to see in The New York Times article that many of the prizes in the Harlem Regatta has the same names as the 'Cups' at Henley.

If any of you, readers have more information that you would like to share with Jamieson, please send me an e-mail and I will forward it to her (or send her an e-mail through her store).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thank Godness Spring Is Here...

Thank goodness the spring month of April has begun. Weather-wise it started out badly, though. It has been grey, cold, and windy, and it felt like T.S. Eliot was right when he wrote his famous “April is the cruellest month,…”. Just the other day I read a piece in The Spectator (26 March, 2011) by Charles Moore where he mentions this line and that Eliot wanted “to make play” with the opening of Chaucer’s Tales, which sets out with,

Here begins the Book of the Tales of Canterbury
When April with his showers sweet with fruit

Today the weather was actually pretty good, so it almost felt like spring was here in the south-east corner of Connecticut. I though a nice poem would be appropriate on an April day like today, but of course Eliot’s - which still must be the most famous of poems about April nowadays – would not do, despite that both the Thames and ‘rowing’ are mentioned in the poem,

Elizabeth and Leicester
Beating oars
The stern was form
A gilded shell
Red and gold
The brisk swell
Rippled both shores

Admirers of Chaucer and Eliot have to excuse me, but I believe R.C. ‘Rudie’ Lehmann is my man for a poem about April. This is actually the title of Lehmann’s poem that I am thinking of, “April”. Although, it seems that Lehmann has also read the Canterbury Tales. His prose poem gets underway with “APRIL, the month of sunshine flecked with showers,”. And half-way in the poem, he writes about the famed race that happened a fortnight ago, “And oh ye men of dark blue or of light blue/ (whiche’er ye wear be sure it is the right blue)…/”.

At the end of his poem, Lehmann, known for his light verse, records:

At last, while crowd to crowd responsive roars, the
boats race by, a gleam of feathered oars. Far in advance
the very air is humming with shouts of “Now they’ve
started, now they’re coming.” Eight tortured oarsmen
straining for the led whom eight more strong or
fortunate precede; two arrow-ships for racing well
designed; four steamers lumbering tardily behind, a
shout, a flash-the vision disappears, and that is all one
either sees or hears.
Fill then the wine-cup and, with sparkling eyes,
drink to the race and all that it implies. Let whoso
will pursue for sordid pelf some pretty object, thinking
but of self. These men endured, like brother joined
to brother, each for his club and all for one another,
intent to be through every change of weather, not
eight mere units, but a crew together.

Happy Spring!

Friday, April 8, 2011

How SPY Saw Henry Searle

Let us continue with Henry Searle. On 7 September, 1889, Searle was immortalized by the British caricaturist Leslie Ward (1851-1922; on the right), known as ‘SPY’, in Vanity Fair. Ward drew many of his time’s most famous oarsmen, but a few things differentiate Searle from the others. He was not a British rower, nor had he ever rowed at Oxbridge. Instead, Searle became the only professional oarsman featured in Vanity Fair. Some of the men, who was depicted in Vanity Fair because they had distinguished themselves as ‘good oars’, also had a rowing attribute in the picture, an oar, an Oxbridge jacket or scarf, or, in the case of Raymond ‘Ethel’ Etherington-Smith, a Leander sweatshirt and Leander-coloured socks, or actually sat in a boat pulling an oar (Stanley ‘Muttle’ Muttlebury). The only thing that the well-dressed Henry Searle is holding in his hand is a walking-stick. Three months later, on 10 December, 1889, poor Searle died after he contracted typhoid fever. He was 23-years old.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Henry Searle's Monument

On 22 March, Bernard Hempseed wrote on HTBS about the professional World Champion sculler Henry Searle and the monuments that was erected on the Parramatta River in 1891 to honour him and his accomplishments during his rowing career that was cut short when he suddenly died in 1889. Bernard has never come close enough to the monument to get to read what it says on the plaque. In his entry, Bernard was urging that a "Sydney person" might be able to get in a boat and take a picture.

One nice fellow, Peter Miller, actually did oblige Bernard's request! On Monday, 4 April, Peter's photographs were posted on the good Chris Partridge's eminent blog, Rowing for Pleasure. Read Peter's/Chris's entry, "Monument to a great oarsman", by clicking here. Now, it is collaborations like this that help us to understand our history better. Bravo Chris and Peter & thank you!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Artist Nick Archer And His Rowing Art

HTBS’s Hélène Rémond, who has a warm interest for paintings and art work, has briefly talked to the British painter Nick Archer about his rowing paintings. Hélène writes,

British painter Nick Archer, born 1963, has been working on a sporting themes for some time, mainly based on film footage from the 2008 Olympic Games. He has actually worked with imagery of swimmers, cyclists and horse racing as well as rowing. “The main interest for me was to capture the movement, energy and atmosphere of the events”, Archer says.

One of these paintings - the photos attached are the studies (85 x 120 cm) of the larger paintings (153 x 183 cm) - is at the Hurlingham Clubhouse in London. The painting of the rowers at the Hurlingham was one in a series. The Hurlingham Club commissioned the large painting having seen the study. It was taken from film footage of a race between the Canadian boat and the British boat in the Olympics. “A main source of inspiration for the rowing paintings was a painting by the great American painter Thomas Eakins of a rower. I think it was called the ‘sculler’. It was the movement and how this reflected in the water which was my main interest. Also the geometric shapes created by the oars and reflected in the water which created patterns”, he explains.

You will find more about Nick Archer's work on these two websites:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rowing In The City

The Lord Mayors Locum Tenens with Hugh Robertson, MP, and British Rowing Chairman Di Ellis in Hyde Park.

HTBS received a press release today about an event that happened in Hyde Park, London this morning. It reads:

Against the backdrop of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, representatives from rowing enterprises and organisations in London gathered this morning, Tuesday 5th April, to showcase initiatives in the sport across the capital.

In this iconic Olympic venue for London 2012, the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP (seen on the right), was given the opportunity to see just how rowing was exploring all routes to a lasting legacy for the sport. The Minister heard about some of the innovative schemes and forward-thinking rowing clubs in London. The Serpentine Rowing Association has been working closely with the Royal Parks, Westminster School and London Youth Rowing in an exciting new partnership to provide an introduction to rowing for inner-city schools on the Serpentine.

The Minister said: “The bid for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was built on the promise that it would inspire a generation of people to take up sport. Initiatives like the Serpentine Rowing project, with the support of Sport England, British Rowing and London Youth Rowing, can help do exactly that and will capitalise on the excitement that one of our key Olympic sports will bring to London 2012.”

Rachel Haining, Chairman of the Serpentine Rowing Association, said: “Inner city children have been given the opportunity to try rowing on real water in the centre of London and are thriving on the experience. Having braved the ice and snow over the winter they are now reaping the rewards of their commitment and several children are progressing on to club rowing - a true testament to the fact that ‘you can’t beat the real thing’!”

At the heart of rowing’s legacy programme, ‘Explore Rowing’ is all about new boats, new thinking, new opportunities and new rowers. Organisations like London Youth Rowing are quite literally pushing the boat out with their Mobile Learn to Row programme, taking boats to communities in East London and the Olympic boroughs. “Explore Rowing is a project that fits very well with London Youth Rowing’s purpose; to open up the sport of rowing to those who wouldn’t normally have access to it. The Serpentine is a truly iconic site for us and we are thrilled to be here and to be able to offer young people the opportunity to get started in rowing in the heart of London,” said Jim Downing, Chairman of London Youth Rowing.

Chair of Sport England, Richard Lewis, said: “Explore Rowing will help more people to get involved in rowing in ways that suit them, and I’m delighted our investment is supporting this innovative programme. Great initiatives like this will help us to deliver a lasting mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

“Rowing isn’t all about the blood, sweat and tears we’ve all just seen in the annual Boat Race,” said Di Ellis, Chairman of British Rowing. “Rowing boats come in all shapes and sizes – just like people! Today we are seeing just a part of rowing for all and our commitment to laying down a legacy for years to come”. One year on from the launch of Explore Rowing by Sir Steve Redgrave this legacy initiative is gaining momentum right around the country.

My warm thanks to Wendy Kewley and Pippa Randolph of British Rowing.

The 2011 Head Of The River Race

This year's winner of HoRR, Leander I, passing the Ship & Mortlake Brewery.

HTBS's Tim Koch reports from the Thames, 2 April:
As reported in HTBS on 20th March, the British rowing season really starts with in late March/early April with various time trials for eights over the Mortlake to Putney Course. Last Saturday, 2nd April, saw the biggest of these, the (Mens) Head of the River Race, HoRR. Three hundred and ninety eight boats rowed the four and a quarter miles (6.8 km) of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Course, each setting off at ten second intervals on an ebb tide. Until the London Marathon was established in 1981, the HoRR was the largest participant event in Britain with over 3,500 competitors and is still the largest single boat type rowing race. The Head of the Charles in Boston, Massachusetts, has 8,000 competitors but the event is held over two days and has 55 different race events for various boat types.

University Post and Chiswick Bridge, which is the start of HoRR, and the finish line for the Boat Race.

A crew’s HoRR result tells it were it stands in relation to its peers. Almost every UK rowing club will put in at least one boat and entries from abroad increase every year. In 2011 there were crews from Czech Republic (2), Germany (26), Spain (6), Hungary (1), Switzerland (10), Portugal (1), France (1), Croatia (1), and the Netherlands (1). I cannot recall any entries from North America in past years but I suspect that any crews planning to make the long trip find Henley a more attractive destination.

The first ten finishers were:

1 2 16 50.75 Leander I
2 1 16 54.21 Molesey I
3 3 16 59.60 Czech Rowing Federation I
4 6 17 3.77 Leander II
5 20 17 7.53 Czech Rowing Federation II
6 4 17 11.93 Astillero (Spain)
7 8 17 15.58 Imperial College I
8 7 17 17.11 London I
9 33 17 22.21 Csepel (Hungary)
10 12 17 23.91 Molesey II

The full results are here.

2011 Chief Umpire, John Duff

If most people involved in rowing gave the matter any thought, they would imagine that winter ‘Heads’ have existed as long as the traditional side by side racing done in the summer months. In fact the concept was developed only in the mid-1920s by the hugely influential coach, Stephen Fairbairn (1862-1938), universally known as ‘Steve’. He was inspired by older ‘bump racing’ held at Oxford and Cambridge but this was a different event, originally with a different purpose - to mark the end of winter training and to encourage crews to train over long distances. Steve strongly believed in the benefits of distance training, ‘milage makes champions’ was one of his many adages. (See more here.)

He denied that the Head was really a race, he held that “ is merely a means of getting crews to do long rows”. In his A History of Rowing (1957), Hylton Cleaver says “Steve Fairbairn did not plan his idea as anything more than a target at which those who rowed through the winter could aim, so that at the end of a period of comparative drudgery they could find out who profited most”.

A few years after the first Head in 1926, the idea had spread to many other rowing courses both in Britain and abroad and there were time trials for every boat type. There is a nice newsreel film of the 1934 Tideway Eights Head here (70 seconds in) though these days there is a ‘rolling’ not ‘standing’ start. Some recognition should go to the organisers in the pre-computer age who worked out the results for four hundred crews with only analogue stopwatches, pencil and paper and mental arithmetic (none of which our younger readers would be familiar with). I remember that timekeeping for the Head of the River Fours in the 1980s was a dangerous business as they supplied you with pencils sharpened to a very fine point at both ends and there were several self stabbing incidents. No doubt one day soon all boats will be fitted with a Global Positioning System and the results will be instantaneous.

The trophy for the first placed ‘Head’ crew is a bust of Fairbairn sculptured by George Drinkwater (an Oxford Blue and writer on rowing) and it is usually kept in the Committee Room of the London Rowing Club [see above]. I was going to photograph it but found that it was on loan to the River and Rowing Museum at Henley for the exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of Thames Rowing Club. It amused me that, 85 years after ‘The Row’, Steve is back with Thames.

Steve would be surprised to know that now there are people who now train specifically for Heads and treat them, not as a means to an end, but as an end in themselves. He has many memorials but he would be surprised that Head Racing is, arguably, his most enduring legacy.

The Veterans’ (Masters) Head of the River was held on the day after the HoRR on Sunday 3rd April. Two hundred crews raced and the results are here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

... And Counting

Today, Monday 4 April, 2001, the sitemetre for HTBS passed 50,000 (and this is counting the visits made since 12 March 2010). I am taking this count as an indicator that we at HTBS is doing something right!

John Taylor, The King's Own Water Poet

Many years ago, when I studied literature at the University of Lund in the medieval town of Lund, in the south of Sweden, I took a course about William Shakespeare. For weeks I read many of the works of Shakespeare, about the Elizabethan theatre, and about some of Shakespeare's contemporary literary figures. One poet that was not mentioned at all, was John Taylor, known as the 'Water Poet'. The first time I heard about Taylor was in the beginning of the 2000s, when I happened to come across Bernard Capp's book The World of John Taylor, the Water-Poet, 1578-1653 (1994). In his brilliant book, Capp makes clear how it came to be that Taylor would never be as universally respected as, say Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Christopher Marlowe. Although Taylor's poems did gain him some respect during his life time, he was a hack writer.

The reason John Taylor is brought up in HTBS is that most of his life, he was a Thames waterman, working hard for the watermen's right, and, of course, writing about them, but also, mostly about himself. When he became one of the King's watermen, Taylor also proclaimed himself the King's own water poet, and he became somewhat famous after publishing his The Sculler, in which he writes,

Curse, exorcize, with beads, with booke, & bell
Poluted shauelings: rage and doe your worst:

Use conjurations till your bellies burst,

With many a Nigromanticke mumbling spell,

I feare you not, nor all your friends that fell

With Lucifer: ye damned dogs that durst

Devise that thundring treason most accurst,

Whose like before was never hatchd in hell:

Halfe men, halfe devils, who never dreamd of good,

To you from faire and sweetly sliding Thames,

A popomasticke Sculler war proclaimes,

As to the suckers of imperiall blood.

An Anti-Jesuit Sculler with his pen,

Defies your Babell Beast, and all his den.

The above poem is taken from an eminent blog post about the poet, John Talor - Water Poet, published on 13 April, 2010, by 'Dainty Ballerina' on her excellent blog Fragments: The World of Shakespeare.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Certain Summer Signs

HTBS's Tim Koch and friends enjoying last year's Henley Royal Regatta. Photo: Hélène Rémond.

The sun is shining over Connecticut today, or at least over the corner of the state where I live. However, this will not last for that long, as the rest of the week is going to be grey and rainy, so the weather fellows on TV have promised. So no real spring yet, and summer seems very far away. Nevertheless, HTBS’s Tim Koch has some summer signs to report from London, though. Tim writes,

We have had some lovely sunny days in London in the past week but, for me, the first real sign of summer is the arrival of the 2011 Henley Royal Regatta Stewards’ Enclosure Badge and the HRR Annual Report. Like many things at the Royal, there is a hierarchy of badges. The Rabbit’s Guide to Henley lists them in her own special way:


The 56 Stewards for 2010 are listed on the front of the report (including the late Hart Perry) and the twelve names marked with a cross or asterisk are members of the Committee of Management who undertake the planning and detailed organisation (double click on the pictures to read). They are listed in order of their appointment and are mostly accomplished rowers and scullers but they also include some long serving and successful administrators of the sport. It is their accumulated knowledge and experience that makes Henley a competitor’s regatta rather than a social event first and a rowing event second. Unfashionably, the Stewards are a self-electing body running a self financing regatta. As no sponsorship is required or sought, we are unlikely to see the ‘Ronald McDonald Royal Regatta’ at any time in the near future.

People who complain about things like too much corporate entertaining fail to understand the fact that the Stewards cannot control what happens on land they do not own. The good thing about this is that, if you do not like the Enclosure rules on dress or mobile telephones, there are several thousand metres of riverbank where the popular ‘teenage skateboarder’ look can be worn and loud and pointless phone conversations conducted.

As well as the 56 Stewards there are over 7,000 Members of the Stewards’ Enclosure. They have no voting rights or control over how the regatta is run but the Committee will give careful consideration to any suggestions that an individual member may make. Henley operates on the politically incorrect idea that some people know more about some things than others. The Committee does like to be ‘cussed’ at times but its way of doing things has produced a rather good event since 1839.