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Title: Rowing
Author: Lehmann, Rudolf Chambers
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *

    THE ISTHMIAN LIBRARY: A Series of Volumes dealing popularly with the
      whole range of Field Sports and Athletics.

    Edited by B. FLETCHER ROBINSON, and Illustrated by numerous Sketches
      and Instantaneous Photographs. Post 8vo, cloth, 5_s._ each.

    Vol. I. Rugby Football. By B. FLETCHER ROBINSON, with chapters by
      and H. B. TRISTRAM, and dedicated by permission to Mr. ROWLAND

    Vol. II. The Complete Cyclist. By A. C. PEMBERTON, Mrs. HARCOURT

    Vol. IV. Rowing. By R. C. LEHMANN, with chapters by GUY NICKALLS and
      C. M. PITMAN.

    Vol. V. Boxing. By R. ALLANSON WINN.

    _Other volumes are in preparation, and will be duly announced._



                           The Isthmian Library
                      Edited by B. Fletcher Robinson

                                  No. 4


                              R. C. LEHMANN

                          WITH CONTRIBUTIONS BY
                 GUY NICKALLS, G. L. DAVIS, C. M. PITMAN,
                 W. E. CRUM, AND E. G. BLACKMORE


                          A. D. INNES & COMPANY

         *       *       *       *       *

                     AS A SLIGHT TOKEN OF FRIENDSHIP

                           I DEDICATE THIS BOOK


                       MR. HERBERT THOMAS STEWARD,



My thanks are due to the proprietors of the _Daily News_ and of the
_English Illustrated Magazine_ for permission to include in this book
the substance of articles originally contributed to their columns. I
have not added to the Appendix any lists of winning crews, as these are
to be found very fully and accurately set out in the Rowing Almanack,
published every year at the office of the _Field_.

For the rest, I have endeavoured to make the rowing instructions which
will be found in this book as concise as was compatible with perfect
clearness, assuming at all times that I was addressing myself first of
all to the novice. No doubt other oarsmen will differ here and there
from my conclusions. Absolute unanimity on every detail of rowing is not
to be expected.

All I can do is to assure my readers that nothing has been set down here
the truth and accuracy of which I have not proved--at least, to my own

_The illustrations are reproduced from photographs by Messrs. Stearn, of
Cambridge; Messrs. Gillman, of Oxford; Messrs. Marsh, of
Henley-on-Thames; Messrs. Hills and Saunders, of Eton; Messrs. Pach
Brothers, of Cambridge (Mass.); and Mr. J. G. Williams, of East

                                                            R. C. L.
    _October, 1897._


  CHAPTER                                                    PAGE

     I. INTRODUCTORY                                            1

    II. FIRST LESSONS ON FIXED SEATS                           14

   III. FIRST LESSONS ON SLIDING SEATS                         38

    IV. COMBINED OARSMANSHIP IN EIGHTS                         55

     V. COMBINED OARSMANSHIP IN EIGHTS (_continued_)           72

    VI. COMBINED OARSMANSHIP IN EIGHTS (_continued_)           89

          STALENESS--OF DISCIPLINE--OF COACHING               109

          TIME--OF AQUATIC AXIOMS                             128


     X. SCULLING. _By_ GUY NICKALLS                           157

    XI. STEERING. _By_ G. L. DAVIS                            176


  XIII. COLLEGE ROWING AT CAMBRIDGE                           211

   XIV. ROWING AT ETON COLLEGE. _By_ W. E. CRUM               234

    XV. AUSTRALIAN ROWING. _By_ E. G. BLACKMORE               255

   XVI. ROWING IN AMERICA                                     270

          TRAINING OF OARSMEN                                 288

          THE A.R.A.; RULES OF THE C.U.B.C. AND
          O.U.B.C.                                            307


  THE OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE BOAT-RACE, 1894     _Frontispiece._
  FIRST HENLEY REGATTA PROGRAMME                 _To face_   6
  FIXED SEATS. NUMBER 1                                     20
       "          "   2                                     22
       "          "   3                                     24
       "          "   4                                     26
       "          "   5                                     30
  SLIDING SEATS. NUMBER 1                                   38
         "         "    2                                   40
         "         "    3                                   41
         "         "    4                                   42
         "         "    5                                   44
         "         "    6                                   45
         "         "    7                                   47
         "         "    8                                   48
         "         "    9                                   50
         "         "   10                                   52
         "         "   11                                   54
  SNAP-SHOTS--CREW IN MOTION. NUMBERS 1 AND 2               56
      "         "       "        "    3 AND 4               58
      "         "       "        "    5 AND 6               61
      "         "       "        "    7 AND 8               64
  MR. C. W. KENT                                            78
  MR. H. G. GOLD                                            81
  HENLEY REGATTA, 1897                                     130
  A BUMP IN THE EIGHTS                                     194
  A START IN THE EIGHTS                                    202
  THE GOLDIE BOAT-HOUSE                                    211
  COACHING ON THE RIVER HUDSON                             284
  ROWING TYPES. NUMBER 1                                   289
        "         "    2                                   298
        "         "    3                                   301
        "         "    4                                   303
        "         "    5                                   305




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.
Much has to be suffered and many difficulties have to be overcome
before the raw tiro, whose fantastic contortions in a tub-pair excite
the derision of the spectators, can approach to the power, effectiveness
and grace of a Crum or a Gold; but, given a healthy frame and sound
organs inured to fatigue by the sports of English boyhood, given also an
alert intelligence, there is no reason in the nature of things why
oarsmanship should not eventually become both an exercise and a
pleasure. And when I speak of oarsmanship, I mean the combined form of
it in pairs, in fours, and in eight-oared racing boats.

Of sculling I do not presume to speak, but those who are curious on this
point may be referred to the remarks of Mr. Guy Nickalls in a later
chapter. But of rowing I can speak, if not with authority, at any rate
with experience, for during twenty-three years of my life I have not
only rowed in a constant succession of boat-races, amounting now to
about two hundred, but I have watched rowing wherever it was to be seen,
and have, year after year, been privileged to utter words of instruction
to innumerable crews on the Cam, the Isis, and the Thames. If, then, the
novice will commit himself for a time to my guidance, I will endeavour
to initiate him into the art and mystery of rowing. If he decides
afterwards to join the fraternity of its votaries, I can promise him
that his reward will not be small. He may not win fame, and he will
certainly not increase his store of wealth, but when his time of action
is past and he joins the great army of "have-beens," he will find, as he
looks back upon his career, that his hours of leisure have been spent in
an exercise which has enlarged his frame and strengthened his limbs,
that he has drunk delight of battle with his peers in many a hard-fought
race, that he has learnt what it means to be in perfect health and
condition, with every sinew strung, and all his manly energies braced
for contests of strength and endurance, and that he has bound to himself
by the strongest possible ties a body of staunch and loyal friends whose
worth has been proved under all sorts of conditions, through many days
of united effort.

It has often been objected to rowing, either by those who have never
rowed, or by those who having rowed have allowed themselves to sink
prematurely into sloth and decay, that the sport in the case of most men
can last only for a very few years, and that having warred, not without
glory, up to the age of about twenty-five, they must then hang their
oars upon the wall and pass the remainder of their lives in an envious
contemplation of the exploits of old but unwearied cricketers. Judging
merely by my own personal experience, I am entitled to pronounce these
lamentations baseless and misleading, for I have been able to row with
pleasure even in racing boats during the whole period of nineteen years
that has elapsed since I took my degree at Cambridge. But I can refer to
higher examples, for I have seen the Grand Challenge Cup and the
Stewards' Cup at Henley Regatta either rowed for with credit, or won by
men whose age cannot have been far, if at all, short of forty years, and
of men who won big races when they were thirty years old the examples
are innumerable. But putting actual racing aside, there is in skilled
rowing a peculiar pleasure (even though the craft rowed in be merely a
fixed seat gig) which, as it seems to me, puts it on a higher plane than
most other exercises. The watermanship which enables a party of veterans
to steer their boat deftly in and out of a lock, to swing her easily
along the reaches, while unskilled youths are toiling and panting
astern, is, after all, no mean accomplishment. And in recent years
rowing has taken a leaf out of the book of cricket. Scattered up and
down the banks of the Thames are many pleasant houses in which, during
the summer, men who can row are favoured guests, either with a view to
their forming crews to take part in local regattas, or merely for the
purpose of pleasure-rowing in scenes remote from the dust and turmoil of
the city. Let no one, therefore, be repelled from oarsmanship because he
thinks that the sport will last him through only a few years of his
life. If he marries and settles down and becomes a busy man, he will
enjoy his holiday on the Thames fully as much as his cricketing brothers
enjoy theirs on some country cricket field.

Of the early history of boats and boat-racing it is not necessary to say
very much. It is enough to know that the written Cambridge records date
back to 1827, though it is certain that racing must have begun some
years previously; that Oxford can point to 1822 as one of the earliest
years of their College races; that the two Universities raced against
one another for the first time in 1829; and that Henley Regatta was
established in 1839, when the Grand Challenge Cup was won by First
Trinity, Cambridge. Opposite is a facsimile copy of the programme of
this memorable regatta.

Those who desire to go still further back, have the authority of Virgil
for stating that the Trojans under Æneas could organize and carry
through what Professor Conington, in his version of the "Æneid," calls
"a rivalry of naval speed." The account of this famous regatta is given
with a spirit and a richness of detail that put to shame even the most
modern historians of aquatic prowess. After reading how Gyas, the
captain and coach of the _Chimæra_--

    "Huge bulk, a city scarce so large,
    With Dardan rowers in triple bank,
    The tiers ascending rank o'er rank"

--how Gyas, as I say, justly indignant at the ineptitude and cowardice
of his coxswain, hurled him from the vessel, and himself assumed the
helm at a critical point of the race, it is a mere paltering with the
emotions to be told, for instance, that "Mr. Pechell, who owes much to
the teaching of Goosey Driver, steered a very good course," or that he
"began to make the shoot for Barnes Bridge a trifle too soon." How,
too, can the statement that "both crews started simultaneously,
Cambridge, if anything, striking the water first," compare with the
passage which tells us (I quote again from Professor Conington) how

            "at the trumpet's piercing sound,
    All from their barriers onward bound,
    Upsoars to heaven the oarsman's shout,
    The upturned billows froth and spout;
    In level lines they plough the deep--
    All ocean yawns as on they sweep."

It may be noted in passing that no one else seems to have felt in the
least inclined to yawn, for

    "With plaudits loud and clamorous zeal
      Echoes the woodland round;
    The pent shores roll the thunder peal--
      The stricken rocks rebound;"

which seems, if the criticism may be permitted, a curious proceeding
even for a stricken rock during the progress of a boat-race. Finally, a
touch of religious romance is added when we learn that the final result
was due, not to the unaided efforts of the straining crew, but to the
intervention of Portunus, the Harbour God, who, moved by the prayer of
Cloanthus, captain of the _Scylla_, pushed that barque along and carried
her triumphantly first into the haven--invidious conduct which does not
appear to have caused the least complaint amongst the defeated crews, or
to have prevented Cloanthus from being proclaimed the victor of the day.
Only on one occasion (in 1859) has Father Thames similarly exerted
himself to the advantage of one of the University crews, for during the
boat-race of that year he swamped the Cambridge ship beneath his mighty
waves, and sped Oxford safely to Mortlake. Lord Justice A. L. Smith,
amongst others, still lives, though he was unable to swim, to tell the
exciting tale.

Before I take leave of this Virgilian race, I may perhaps, even at this
late date, be permitted as a brother coach to commiserate the impulsive
but unfortunate Gyas on the difficulties he must have encountered in
coaching the crew of a trireme. Not less do I pity his oarsmen, of whom
the two lower ranks must have suffered seriously as to their backs from
the feet of those placed above them, while the length and weight of the
oars used by the top rank must have made good form and accurate time
almost impossible. A Cambridge poet, Mr. R. H. Forster, has sung the
woes of the Athenian triremists and their instructor--

    "Just imagine a crew of a hundred or two
      Shoved three deep in a kind of a barge,
    Like a cargo of kegs, with no room for their legs,
      And oars inconveniently large.
    Quoth he, 'παντες προσω' and they try to do so.
      At the sight the poor coach's brains addle;
    So muttering 'οιμοι,' he shouts out 'ἑτοιμοι,'
      And whatever the Greek is for 'paddle.'
    Now do look alive, number ninety and five,
      You're 'sugaring,' work seems to bore you;
    You are late, you are late, number twenty and eight,
      Keep your eyes on the man that's before you."

So much for the trireme. But neither the Greeks nor any other race
thought of adapting their boats merely to purposes of racing until the
English, with their inveterate passion for open-air exercise, took the
matter in hand. African war-canoes have been known to race, but their
primary object is still the destruction of rival canoes together with
their dusky freight. In Venice the gondoliers are matched annually
against one another, but both the gondola and the sandolo remain what
they always have been--mere vessels for the conveyance of passengers and
goods. The man who would make war in a racing ship would justly be
relegated to Hanwell, and to carry passengers, or even one "passenger,"
in such a boat is generally looked upon as a certain presage of defeat.
Consider for a moment. The modern racing ship (eight, four, pair, or
single) is a frail, elongated, graceful piece of cabinet work, held
together by thin stays, small bolts, and copper nails, and separating
you from the water in which it floats by an eighth of an inch of Mexican
cedar. The whole weight of the sculling-boat, built by Jack Clasper, in
which Harding won the Searle Memorial Cup, was only nineteen pounds,
_i.e._ about 112 pounds lighter than the man it carried. Considering the
amount of labour and trained skill that go towards the construction of
these beautiful machines, the price cannot be said to be heavy. Most
builders will turn you out a sculling-boat for from £12 to £15, a pair
for about £20, a four for £33, and an eight for £55. But the development
of the racing type to its present perfection has taken many years.
Little did the undergraduates who, in 1829, drove their ponderous
man-of-war's galleys from Hambledon Lock to Henley Bridge, while the
stricken hills of the Thames Valley rebounded to the shouts of the
spectators--little did they imagine that their successors, rowing on
movable seats and with rowlocks projecting far beyond the side would
speed in delicate barques, of arrowy shape and almost arrowy swiftness,
from Putney to Mortlake--in barques so light and "crank" that, built as
they are without a keel, they would overturn in a moment if the balance
of the oars were removed. The improvements were very gradual. In 1846
the University race was rowed for the first time in boats with
outriggers. That innovation had, however, been creeping in for some
years before that. Mr. Hugh Hammersley, who rowed in the Oriel boat
which started head of the river at Oxford in 1843, has told me that in
that year the University College boat, stroked by the famous Fletcher
Menzies, was fitted with outriggers at stroke and bow; and the bump by
which University displaced Oriel was generally ascribed to the new

In 1857 the University race was rowed in boats without a keel, and oars
with a round loom were used for the first time by both crews. At the
Henley Regatta of the preceding year the Royal Chester Rowing Club had
entered a crew rowing in this novel style of keelless boat for the Grand
Challenge and the Ladies' Cups. Her length was only fifty-four feet, and
her builder was Mat Taylor, a name celebrated in the annals of
boat-building, for it is to him, in the first instance, that our present
type of racing-boat owes its existence. "The Chester men," Mr. W. B.
Woodgate tells us in his Badminton book on boating, "could not sit their
boat in the least; they flopped their blades along the water on the
recovery in a manner which few junior crews at minor regattas would now
be guilty of; but they rowed well away from their opponents, who were
only College crews." They won, as a matter of fact, both the events for
which they entered.

One might have thought that with this invention improvements would have
ceased. But in course of time the practical experience of rowing men
suggested to them that if they slid on their seats, both the length and
power of their stroke through the water would be increased. At first
they greased their fixed seats, and slid on those. But it was found that
the strain caused by this method exhausted a crew. In 1871 a crew of
professionals used a seat that slid on the thwarts, and beat a crew that
was generally held to be superior, and from that moment slides, as we
now know them, came into general use. In 1873 the University crews
rowed on sliding seats for the first time. Since then the length of the
slide has been increased from about nine inches to fifteen inches, or
even more, a change which has made the task of the boat-builder in
providing floating capacity more difficult; but in all essentials the
type of boat remains the same. It ought to be added that the Americans,
to a large extent, use boats moulded out of _papier maché_, but this
variation has never obtained favour in England, though boats built in
this manner by the well-known Waters of Troy (U.S.A.) have been seen on
English rivers. The Columbia College crew won the Visitors' Cup at
Henley in 1878 in a paper boat, and she was afterwards bought by First
Trinity, Cambridge, but she never won a race again.


  _June 14th_, 1839.


  _Entrances for the_

    OXFORD.--BRASEN NOSE COLLEGE,--Blue Cap, with Gold Tassel; Rosette,
      yellow, purple, and crimson.

    CAMBRIDGE.--TRINITY BOAT CLUB,--Blue stripe Jersey and Trowsers;
      Rosette, French blue.

    OXFORD.--ETONIAN CLUB,--White Jersey, with pale blue facings;
      Rosette, sky blue.

    OXFORD.--WADHAM COLLEGE,--White Jersey, with narrow blue stripes,
      dark blue cap, with light blue velvet band, and light blue scarf.

  _Entrances for the_


  WAVE.--White Jersey, pale blue facings.

  DREADNOUGHT.--Blue Striped Shirt, blue Cap

  ALBION.--Blue Striped Jersey, crimson scarf.


       *       *       *       *       *



    The first trial heat will commence at FOUR o'clock precisely.

    The second trial heat will follow immediately.

    The final heat will take place at SEVEN o'clock precisely.

  The Race for the


  Will take place at SIX o'clock precisely.

    Previous to each Race, a Signal Gun will be fired at the Bridge to
    clear the course, another when the course is clear, a third at the
    Island when the Boats start, and a fourth at the Bridge to announce
    that the race is ended.

  Lithographic Drawings of the Cups,

  _Two Shillings per pair_,

  And the Henley Guide, Two Shillings,

  May be had of HICKMAN & KINCH, Post-Office.

  Hickman & Kinch, Typ. Henley.



If the tiro who aspires to be an oarsman has ever seen a really good
eight-oared crew in motion on the water, he will probably have been
impressed not so much by the power and the pace of it as by the
remarkable ease with which the whole complicated series of movements
that go to make up a stroke is performed. The eight blades grip the
water at the same moment with a perfect precision, making a deep white
swirl as they sweep through; the bodies swing back with a free and
springy motion; the slides move steadily; and almost before one has
realized that a stroke has been begun, the hands have come squarely home
to the chest and have been shot out again to the full extent of the
arms, the blades leaving the water without a splash. Then with a
balanced swing the bodies move forward again, the oar-blades all in a
level line on either side, and, _presto!_ another stroke has been
started. Nothing in these movements is violent or jerky; there are no
contortions--at least the tiro can see none, though the coach may be
shouting instructions as to backs and shoulders and elbows--and the boat
glides on her way without a pause or check.

What sort of spectacle, on the other hand, is afforded by a thoroughly
bad eight? The men composing it have chests and backs together with the
usual complement of limbs that make up a human being; they are provided
with oars; their ship is built of cedar and fitted with slides and
outriggers--in short, as they sit at ease in their boat, they resemble
in all outward details the crew we have just been considering. But watch
them when they begin to row. Where now are the balance, the rhythm, the
level flash of blades on the feather, the crisp beginning, the dashing
and almost contemptuous freedom of bodies and hands in motion, the even
and unsplashing progress of the ship herself? All these have vanished,
and in their place we see a boat rolling like an Atlantic liner, oars
dribbling feebly along the water or soaring wildly above it, each
striking for the beginning at the sweet will of the man who wields it,
without regard to anybody else; eight bodies, cramped and contorted
almost out of the semblance of humanity, shuffling, tumbling, and
screwing, while on eight faces a look of agony bears witness to such
tortures as few except Englishmen can continue to suffer without mutiny
or complaint. It is not a noble or an inspiring sight; but it may be
seen at Oxford or at Cambridge, on tidal waters, and even at Henley

What, then, is the main cause of the difference between these two crews?
It lies in good "style"--style which is present in the one crew and
absent from the other. And this style in the rowing sense merely sums up
the result, whether to individuals or to a crew, of long and patient
teaching founded upon principles the correctness of which has been
established ever since rowing became not merely an exercise, but a
science in keelless racing ships. And here one comment may be added. It
is the habit of every generation of rowing men to imagine that they have
invented rowing all over again, and have at last, by their own
intelligence and energy, established its principles on a firm
foundation. Within my own experience, five at least of these
generations believed that for the first time the virtues of leg-work had
been revealed to them, four thought they had made out a patent in the
matter of body-swing, and six were convinced that they had discovered
length of stroke and firmness of beginning. In the eyes of these young
gentlemen, the veterans whom they occasionally condescended to invite to
their practice were harmless and well-meaning enthusiasts, who might
have made a figure in their day, but who were, of course, utterly unable
to appreciate the niceties of rowing as developed by their brilliant and
skilful successors.[1] Amiable presumption of youth and innocence! The
fact is, of course, that the main principles of good rowing are the same
now as they have always been, on long slides or on short slides, or even
on fixed seats. And, personally, I have always found that the hints I
gathered from such men as Dr. Warre, Mr. W. B. Woodgate, Mr. J. C.
Tinne, or Sir John Edwards-Moss, whose active rowing days were over
before sliding seats came into use, were invaluable to me in the
coaching of crews.

  [1] I shall never forget the tone of kindly patronage in which the
  stroke of my college crew once observed to his coach, a man about
  fifteen years older than himself: "Ah, I suppose, now, they all used to
  row in top-hats in your day!"

How is a novice to be taught so that he may some day take his seat with
credit in a good crew? I answer that there is no royal road; he must
pass through a long period of practice, often so dull that all his
patience will be required to carry him through it. His progress will be
so slow, that he will sometimes feel he is making no headway at all; but
it will be sure none the less, and some day, if he has in him the
makings of an oar, he will realize, to his delight, that his joints move
freely, that his muscles are supple, that his limbs obey his brain
immediately--that, in short, the various movements he has been striving
so hard to acquire have become easy and natural to him, and that he can
go through them without the painful exercise of deliberate thought at
every moment of their recurrence.

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. Here and there may be found a
born oar, whose limbs and body do not require an arduous discipline; but
in the case of ordinary average men like the immense majority of us, it
is impossible, I believe, to acquire correct body movement without a
stage, more or less prolonged, of practice in fixed-seat rowing. 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 will, therefore, ask my novice reader to imagine that he is seated on
one of the thwarts of a fixed-seat tub-pair, while I deceive myself into
the belief that I am coaching him from its stern. My first duty will be
to see that all his implements are sound and true and correct, since it
is probable that faults are often due as much to the use of weak or
defective materials as to any other cause. I must satisfy myself that
his oar is stiff and of a proper length; that when pressed against the
thole in a natural position it can grip the water firmly and come
through it squarely;[2] that the stretcher is properly set, and that the
straps pass tightly over the root of the toes. I must also see that he
is properly dressed, and not constricted about the waist by impeding
buttons. A belt is never permissible. Now for instruction.

  [2] The breadth of beam of an ordinary in-rigged fixed-seat gig for the
  use of novices may be stated at 3 ft. 10 in. A line drawn horizontally
  across the boat, at right angles from the rowing thole, would be from
  11½ in. to 12 in. distant from the aft, or sitting edge of the
  thwart. Oars should measure 12 ft. over all, with an in-board length of
  3 ft. 5 in. to 3 ft. 5½ in. Breadth of blades 5½ in. to 5¾, not

(1) Sit erect on the aft edge of your seat, exactly opposite the point
at which your heels touch the stretcher. The feet must be placed firm
and flat upon the stretcher, the heels touching one another, and forming
an angle of about forty-five degrees. The knees must be bent to about
one-third of their scope, and set a shoulder's breadth apart. Shoulders
must be well set back, the chest open, and the stomach well set out.

(2) Now swing your body slowly forward as far as you are able _from the
hips_, without bending the back, being careful to let your head swing
with your body. Repeat this movement several times without holding the

(_Note._--The ideal swing is that which takes the whole unbending body
full forward till it is down between the knees. This, to a novice, is
impossible, and the coach must therefore be content to see the first
efforts at swing very short. It is better that this should be so than
that a man should prematurely attain length by bending his back,
doubling in his stomach, and over-reaching with his shoulders, faults
that, once acquired, it is extremely difficult to eradicate.)

[Illustration: FIXED SEATS.


(_This is a stationary photograph. In the movement of the swing the body
will come still further down._)]

The swing must be slow and balanced, for "the time occupied in coming
forward should be the body's rest, when the easy, measured swing, erect
head, braced shoulders, and open chest, enable heart and lungs to work
freely and easily, in preparation for a defined beginning of the next

  [3] From an article by Mr. S. Le Blanc Smith.

(3) Take hold of your oar, the fingers passing round it, thumbs
underneath, and the hands one hand's-breadth apart. The grip on the oar
should be a finger-grip, not the vice-like hold that cramps all the
muscles of the arm. It is important, too, to remember that, while the
arms are presumably of the same length, the outside hand (_i.e._ the
hand at the end of the oar) has, during stroke and swing forward, to
pass through a larger arc than the inside hand. The inside wrist should,
therefore, be slightly arched even at the beginning of the stroke, thus
shortening the inside arm, but without impairing its use during the
stroke. This arch, too, will give the inside hand a greater leverage and
ease for performing the work of feathering, which devolves mainly upon

(4) Draw your oar-handle slowly in till the roots of the thumbs touch
the chest, the elbows passing close to the sides, and the body
maintaining the erect position described above in instruction (1), but
slightly inclined beyond the perpendicular. I assume that the blade of
the oar is covered in the water in the position it would have at the
finish of a stroke.

(5) Drop your hands; in fact, not merely the hands, but the forearms and
hands together. This movement will take the oar clean and square out of
the water.

(6) Turn your wrists, more particularly the inside wrist, with a quick
sharp turn. This movement will feather the oar.

(7) Without attempting to move your body, shoot your hands sharply out
to the full extent of your arms, taking care to keep the blade of the
oar well clear of the water. Repeat these last three movements several
times, at first separately, then in combination.

[Illustration: FIXED SEATS.


(_Instantaneous Photograph._)]

(_Note._--These three movements are sometimes spoken of incorrectly as
the finish of the stroke. Properly speaking, however, the finish, as
distinguished from the beginning, is that part of the stroke which is
rowed through the water from the moment the arms begin to bend until the
hands come in to the chest. The movements I have described are in
reality part of the recovery, _i.e._ they are the movements necessary to
enable the oarsman's body to recover itself after the strain of one
stroke, and to prepare for the next. Smartly performed, as they ought to
be, they have all the appearance of one quick motion. As to the dropping
of the hands, the novice must practise this so as to get his oar square
and clean out of the water. It is, however, necessary to guard against
exaggerating it into the pump-handle or coffee-grinding style, which
merely wastes energy and time. Later on, when an oarsman is rowing in a
light racing ship, a very slight pressure will enable him to release his
oar, the movement and elasticity of the boat helping him.)

(8) You have now taken the blade out of the water, feathered it, and
have shot your hands away, the blade still on the feather, to a point
beyond the knees. In so doing you will have released your body, which
you must now swing forward slowly and at a perfectly even pace, in a
solid column from the hips, as described in instruction 2.

(9) Obviously, if you keep your arms stiff in the shoulder-sockets, you
will eventually, as your body swings down, force your hands against the
stretcher, or into the bottom of the boat, with the blade of the oar
soaring to the level of your head. To avoid this windmill performance
let your hands, especially the inside hand, rest lightly on the
oar-handle, and as the body swings down let the hands gradually rise,
_i.e._ let the angle that the arms make with the body increase. You will
thus, by the time you have finished your swing, have brought the blade
close to the water, in readiness to grip the beginning without the loss
of a fraction of a second.

(10) During the foregoing manœuvre keep your arms absolutely straight
from shoulder to wrist. Many oarsmen, knowing that they have to get hold
of the beginning, cramp their arm-muscles and bend their elbows as they
swing forward, the strain giving them a fictitious feeling of strength.
But this is a pure delusion, and can only result in waste, both of
energy and of time.

[Illustration: FIXED SEATS.


(_Stationary Photograph._)]

(11) As you swing, use the inside arm and hand to shove against the oar.
You will thus keep the button of the oar pressed up against the rowlock,
a position it ought never even for a moment to lose; you will help to
steady your swing, and you will go far towards keeping both shoulders
square. Most novices and many veterans over-reach badly with the outside

(12) While you are carrying out the last four instructions, your feet,
save for a slight pressure against the straps during the very first part
of the recovery (see instruction 23), must remain firmly planted, heel
and toe, against your stretcher. During your swing you should have a
distinct sense of balancing with the ball of your foot against the
stretcher. This resistance of the feet on the stretcher helps to prevent
you from tumbling forward in a helpless, huddled mass as you reach the
limit of your forward swing.

(13) As to taking the oar off the feather. Good oars vary considerably
on this point. Some carry the blade back feathered the whole way, and
only turn it square just in time to get the beginning of the stroke.
Others turn it off the feather about half-way through, just before the
hands come over the stretcher. For a novice, I certainly recommend the
latter method. Turn your wrists up and square your blade very soon after
the hands have cleared the knees. It will thus be easier for you to keep
your button pressed against the rowlock; your hands can balance the oar
better, and you will not run the risk, to which the former method
renders you liable, of skying or cocking your blade just when it ought
to be nearest the water, so as to catch the beginning. A good and
experienced waterman, however, ought certainly to be able to keep his
oar on the feather against a high wind until the last available moment.
The movement of returning the blade to the square position ought to be
firm and clean.

(14) As the body swings, your hands ought to be at the same time
stretching and reaching out as if constantly striving to touch something
which is as constantly evading them.

[Illustration: FIXED SEATS.


(_Instantaneous Photograph._)]

(15) When you are full forward, the blade of your oar should not be
quite at a right angle to the water, but the top of it ought to be very
slightly inclined over, _i.e._ towards the stern of the boat. A blade
thus held will grip the water cleaner, firmer, and with far less
back-splash than a blade held absolutely at right angles. Besides,
you will obviate the danger of "slicing" into the water and rowing too
deep. At the same time, I am bound to admit that I know only a few oars
who adopt this plan. One of them, however, is the present President of
the Oxford University Boat Club, Mr. C. K. Philips, as good a waterman
as ever sat in a boat. I am quite firmly convinced that the plan is a
sound one, and I believe if it were more generally followed, we should
see far less of that uncomfortable and unsightly habit of
back-splashing, which is too often seen even in good crews.

(16) I have now brought you forward to the full extent of your swing and
reach. Your back is (or ought to be) straight, your shoulders are firm
and braced, your chest and stomach still open, though your body is down
somewhere between your open knees. Your hands have been gradually
rising, and your oar-blade is, therefore, close to the water. Now raise
your hands a little more, not so as to splash the blade helplessly to
the bottom of the river, but with a quick movement as though they were
passing round a cylinder. When they get to the top of the cylinder the
blade will be covered in the water. At the same moment, and without the
loss of a fraction of a second, swing the body and shoulders back as
though they were released from a spring, the arms remaining perfectly
straight, and the feet helping by a sharp and vigorous pressure (from
the ball of the foot, and the toes especially) against the stretcher.
The result of these rapid combined movements will be that the blade, as
it immerses itself in the water, will strike it with an irresistible
force (a sort of crunch, as when you grind your heel into gravel),
created by the whole weight-power of the body applied through the
straight lines of the arms, and aided by all the strength of which the
legs are capable. This, technically speaking, is the beginning of the
stroke. The outside hand should have a good grip of the oar.

(17) Swing back, as I said, with arms straight. The novice must,
especially if he has muscular arms, root in his head the idea that the
arms are during a great part of the stroke connecting rods, and that it
is futile to endeavour to use them independently of the body-weight,
which is the real driving power.

(18) Just before the body attains the limit of its back-swing, which
should be at a point a little beyond the perpendicular, begin to bend
your arms for the finish of the stroke, and bring the hands square home
until the roots of the thumbs touch the chest about three inches below
the separation of the ribs. Here you must be careful not to raise or
depress the hands. They should sweep in to the chest in an even plane,
the outside hand drawing the handle firmly home without lugging or
jerking. As the hands come in, the body finishes its swing, the elbows
pass close to the sides, pointing downwards, and the shoulders are rowed
back and kept down. The chest must be open, but not unduly inflated at
the expense of the stomach, the head erect, and the whole body carrying
itself easily, gracefully, and without unnecessary stiffness.

(19) Do not meet your oar, _i.e._ keep your body back until the hands
have come in. If you pull yourself forward to meet your oar, you will
certainly shorten the stroke, tire yourself prematurely, and will
probably fail to get the oar clean out of the water or to clear your
knees on the recovery.

(20) Do not try to force down your legs and flatten the knees as if you
were rowing on a sliding seat. The mere movement of the body on the
back swing and the kick off the stretcher will cause a certain
alteration in the bend of the knees, but this tendency should not be
consciously increased. Remember that fixed-seat rowing is not now an end
in itself. It is a stage towards skilled rowing on sliding seats, and
its chief object is to give the novice practice in certain essential
elements of the stroke, and particularly in body-swing, which could not
be so easily taught, if at all, if he were to begin at once on sliding
seats. Swing is still, as it always has been, all important in good
rowing, and if a novice attempts to slide (for that is what it comes to)
on fixed seats he will begin to shuffle and lose swing entirely.

(21) Do not let your body settle down or fall away from your oar at the
finish. Sit erect on your bones, and do not sink back on to your tail.
The bones are the pivot on which you should swing.

[Illustration: FIXED SEATS.


(_Stationary Photograph. In movement the body would go a little further

(22) The blade of the oar, having been fully covered at the very
beginning of the stroke, must remain fully covered up to the moment that
the hands are dropped. If the oarsman, when he bends his arms during the
stroke, begins to depress his hands, he will row light, _i.e._ the blade
will be partially uncovered, and will naturally lose power. On the
other hand, if he raises his hands unduly, he will cover more than the
blade, and will find great difficulty in extracting it from the water
properly. The outside hand should control the balance of the oar, and
keep it at its proper level.

(23) As to the use of the stretcher-straps. Many coaches imagine that
when they have said, "Do not pull yourself forward by your toes against
the straps," they have exhausted all that is to be said on the matter. I
venture, with all deference, to differ from them. I agree that in the
earlier stages of instruction it is very useful to make men occasionally
row in tub-pairs without any straps, so as to force them to develop and
strengthen the muscles of stomach and legs, which ought to do the main
work of the recovery. But later on, when a man is rowing in an eight,
and is striving, according to the instructions of his coach, to swing
his body well and freely back, he can no more recover properly without a
slight toe-pressure against the straps--the heels, however, remaining
firm--than he could make bricks without straw. The straps, in fact, are
a most valuable aid to the recovery. Take them away from a crew and you
will see one of two things: either the men will never swing nearly even
to the upright position, and will recover with toil and trouble, or, if
they swing back properly, they will all fall over backwards with their
feet in the air. This slight strap-pressure just helps them over the
difficult part of the recovery; as the body swings forward the feet
immediately resume their balance against the stretcher. Indeed, if these
movements are properly performed, you get a very pretty play of the toes
and the ball of the foot against the stretcher, you counteract the
tendency of the body to tumble forward, and you materially help the
beginning from that part of the foot in which the spring resides.
Totally to forbid men to use their straps seems to me a piece of
pedantry. On this point I may fortify myself with the opinion of Mr. W.
B. Woodgate, as given in his "Badminton Book on Boating." I am glad,
too, to find that Mr. S. Le Blanc Smith, of the London Rowing Club, a
most finished and beautiful oarsman, whose record of victories at Henley
is a sufficient testimony to his knowledge and skill, agrees with me. In
an article published during a recent rowing controversy, he remarks, "I
think Mr. ---- will find that all men, consciously or unconsciously,
use the foot-strap more or less, to aid them in the first inch or two of
recovery. If he doubts this, let him remove the strap and watch results,
be the oarsman who he may." I need only add that this pressure should
never be greater than will just suffice to help the body-recovery. If
exaggerated, its result on slides will be to spoil swing by pulling the
slide forward in advance of the body.

I have now, I think, taken you through all the complicated movements of
the stroke, and there for the present I must leave you to carry out as
best you can instructions which I have endeavoured to make as clear on
paper as the difficulties of the subject permit. But I may be allowed to
add a warning. Book-reading may be a help; but rowing, like any other
exercise, can only be properly learnt by constant and patient practice
in boats under the eyes of competent instructors. Do not be discouraged
because your improvement is slow, and because you are continually being
rated for the same faults. With a slight amount of intelligence and a
large amount of perseverance and good temper, these faults will
gradually disappear, and as your limbs and muscles accustom themselves
to the work, you will be moulded into the form of a skilled oarsman.
Even the dread being who may be coaching you--winner of the Grand
Challenge Cup or stroke-oar of his University though he be--had his
crude and shapeless beginnings. He has passed through the mill, and now
is great and glorious. But if you imagine that even he is faultless,
just watch him as he rows, and listen to the remarks that a fearless and
uncompromising coach permits himself to address to him. And to show you
that others have suffered and misunderstood and have been misunderstood
like yourself, I will wind up this chapter with "The Wail of the
Tubbed," the lyrical complaint of some Cambridge rowing Freshmen.

    "Sir,--We feel we are intruding, but we deprecate your blame,
    We may plead our youth and innocence as giving us a claim;
    We should blindly grope unaided in our efforts to do right,
    So we look to you with confidence to make our darkness light.

    "We are Freshmen--rowing Freshmen; we have joined our college club,
    And are getting quite accustomed to our daily dose of tub;
    We have all of us bought uniforms, white, brown, or blue, or red,
    We talk rowing shop the livelong day, and dream of it in bed.

    "We sit upon our lexicons as 'Happy as a King'
    (We refer you to the picture), and we practise how to swing;
    We go every day to chapel, we are never, never late,
    And we exercise our backs when there, and always keep them straight.

    "We shoot our hands away--on land--as quick as any ball:
    Balls always shoot, they tell us, when rebounding from a wall.
    We decline the noun 'a bucket,' and should deem it--well, a bore,
    If we 'met,' when mainly occupied in oarsmanship, our oar.

    "But still there are a few things that our verdant little band,
    Though we use our best endeavours, cannot fully understand.
    So forgive us if we ask you, sir--we're dull, perhaps, but keen--
    To explain these solemn mysteries and tell us what they mean.

    "For instance, we have heard a coach say, "Five, you're very rank;
    Mind those eyes of yours, they're straying, always straying,
                                                           on the bank.'
    We are not prone to wonder, but we looked with some surprise
    At the owner of those strangely circumambulating eyes.

    "There's a stroke who 'slices awfully,' and learns without remorse
    That his crew are all to pieces at the finish of the course;
    There's A., who 'chucks his head about,' and B.,
                                                who 'twists and screws,'
    Like an animated gimlet in a pair of shorts and shoes.

    "And C. is 'all beginning,' so remark his candid friends;
    It must wear him out in time, we think, this stroke that never ends.
    And though D. has no beginning, yet his finish is A1;
    How can that possess a finish which has never been begun?

    "And E. apparently would be an oar beyond compare,
    If the air were only water and the water only air.
    And F., whose style is lofty, doubtless has his reasons why
    He should wish to scrape the judgment seat, when rowing, from the sky.

    "Then G. is far too neat for work, and H. is far too rough;
    There's J., who lugs, they say, too much, and K. not half enough;
    There's L., who's never fairly done, and M., who's done too brown,
    And N., who can't stand training, and poor O., who can't sit down.

    "And P. is much too limp to last; there's Q. too stiffly starched;
    And R., poor fool, whose inside wrist is never 'nicely arched.'
    And, oh, sir, if you pity us, pray tell us, if you please,
    What is meant by 'keep your button up,' and 'flatten down your knees.'

    "If an oar may be described as 'he,' there's no death half so grim
    As the death like which we hang on with our outside hands to 'him;'
    But in spite of all our efforts, we have never grasped, have you?
    How _not_ to use 'those arms' of ours, and yet to pull it through.

    "S. 'never pulled his shoestrings.' If a man must pull at all,
    Why uselessly pull shoestrings? Such a task would surely pall.
    But T.'s offence is worse than that, he'll never get his Blue,
    He thinks rowing is a pastime--well, we own we thought so too.

    "Then V.'s 'a shocking sugarer,' how bitter to be that!
    X. flourishes his oar about as if it were a bat;
    And Y. should be provided, we imagine, with a spade,
    Since he always 'digs,' instead of 'merely covering his blade.'

    "Lastly, Z.'s a 'real old corker,' who will never learn to work,
    For he puts his oar in gently and extracts it with a jerk.
    Oh! never has there been, we trow, since wickedness began,
    Such a mass of imperfections as the perfect rowing man.


    "So they coach us and reproach us (like a flock of silly jays
    Taught by parrots how to feather) through these dull October days.
    We shall never understand them, so we shouldn't care a dam[4]
    If they all were sunk in silence at the bottom of the Cam."

  [4] Dam--an Oriental coin of small value.



Let me assume (I am still addressing my imaginary novice) that you have
passed through the first few stages of your novitiate. If you are an
Oxford or a Cambridge freshman you will have been carefully drilled in a
tub-pair, promoted later to a freshmen's four or eight, and during the
next term may have been included in the Torpid or Lent-Boat of your
College. At any rate, I am assuming that you have by now rowed in a race
or a series of races for eight-oared crews on fixed seats. But I prefer
to leave the general subject of combined rowing, whether in eights or
fours, to a later chapter, while I attempt to explain the mysteries and
difficulties of the sliding seat.

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_Stationary Photograph._)]

The slide may be described as a contrivance for increasing the length of
the stroke (_i.e._ of the period during which, the oar-blade remaining
covered in the water, power is applied to the propulsion of the
boat), and for giving greater effect to the driving force of the
oarsman's legs. Long before the actual sliding seat had been invented
professional oarsmen and scullers had discovered that if they slid on
their fixed thwarts they increased the pace of their boats, and even
amongst amateurs this practice was not unknown. Mr. R. H. Labat has told
me that so far back as 1870 he and his colleagues fitted their rowing
trousers with leather, greased their thwarts, and so slid on them. In
1872 slides were used at Henley Regatta, and in 1873 the Oxford and
Cambridge crews for the first time rowed their race on slides, Cambridge
winning in 19 mins. 35 secs., which remained as record time until 1892.
This performance, though it was undoubtedly helped by good conditions of
tide and wind, served to establish slides firmly in popular favour, and
from that time onwards fixed seats were practically retained only for
the coaching of novices and, in eights, for the Torpids and Lent Races
at Oxford and Cambridge. Now, proceeding on the principle that rowing is
meant to be an exercise of grace, symmetry, and skill, as well as of
strength and endurance, I think I may lay it down as an essential rule
that it is necessary on slides to observe those instructions which made
fixed-seat rowing in the old days a pleasure to the eye. In the very
early days of slides, while men were still groping for correct
principles, this important axiom was too often neglected. It was
imagined that swing was no longer necessary, and accordingly the rivers
were filled with contorted oarsmen shuffling and tumbling and screwing
on their slides. Veteran oars and coaches, to whom "form" was as the
apple of their eye, were horror-struck, and gave vent to loud
lamentations, utterly condemning this horrible innovation, which, as
they thought, had reduced oarsmanship to the level of a rough and tumble
fight. "If both Universities," wrote the Rev. A. T. W. Shadwell in his
"Notes on Boat-building," published in the "Record of the University
Boat Race" in 1881, "would condescend to ask Dr. Warre to construct for
them, and if their crews would also either learn to use the sliding
apparatus effectively, or to discard it as pernicious and as an enemy to
real oarsmanship when not thoroughly mastered, then we should be treated
again to the welcome spectacle of boats travelling instead of
dragging, riding over the water instead of the water washing over the
canvas, combined with that still more-to-be-desired spectacle of
faultless form and faultless time--eight men ground into one perfect
machine. Nothing short of that result will satisfy those who know what
eight-oared rowing ought to be, and lament its decadence." Yet Cambridge
had produced the 1876 crew, Oxford the 1878 crew, both of them models of
style, unison and strength, and Leander both in 1875 and in 1880 had won
the Grand Challenge Cup with admirable crews composed exclusively of
University men. It would seem, therefore, as if Mr. Shadwell's
strictures were undeserved, at least by the better class of University
oars. The fact is that by that time, and for some years before that
time, the true principles of sliding had been acquired, and the more
serious defects of form had once more become the cherished possession of
inferior college crews. But then, even in the glorious old fixed-seat
days, College crews were not always remarkable for the beauty and
correctness of their form. I am not going to deny that the difficulty of
teaching good style has been increased by the addition of the sliding
seat; but there have been innumerable examples during the last quarter
of a century to prove that this difficulty can be faced and entirely
overcome. Four crews I have already mentioned. I may add to them, not as
exhausting the list of good crews, but as being splendid examples of
combined style and power, the London Rowing Club crew of 1881, which won
the final of the Grand from the outside station against Leander and
Twickenham; the Oxford crews of 1892, 1896 and 1897; the crews of
Trinity Hall, the Oxford Etonians, and the Thames Rowing Club in 1886
and 1887; the Cambridge crew and the Thames Rowing Club crew of 1888;
the London Rowing Club crew of 1890; the Leander crews of 1891, 1893,
1894 and 1896; and the New College and Leander crews of the present
year. It is fortunate that this should be so, for, the proof of the
pudding being in the eating, it is hardly likely that crews will abandon
a device which, while it has actually increased pace over the Henley
course by close on half a minute, has rendered skill and watermanship of
higher value, and has given an additional effect to physical strength.

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_As the recovery movements begin, the hands have been dropped and the
wrists have begun to turn over for feather. Instantaneous Photograph._)]

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_Arms have been sharply straightened out and the body has been released
for the swing._)

(_Stationary Photograph._)]

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_In movement the body would swing a little further forward, the chest
pressing against left knee._)

(_Stationary Photograph._)]

During my undergraduate days at Cambridge, and for some years afterwards
(say, up to about 1884), the slide-tracks in racing boats were
sixteen inches long.[5] This, allowing seven inches as the breadth of
the seat itself, would give the slide a "play," or movement, of nine
inches. The front-stop, which forms the limit of the forward movement of
the slide, was fixed so as to bring the front edge of the slide to a
point five inches from the "work," _i.e._ from a line drawn straight
across the boat from the back, or rowing, thole. At the finish of the
stroke, therefore, when the slide had been driven full back, its front
edge was fourteen inches away from the work. To put it in technical
language, we slid up to five inches from our work and finished fourteen
inches away from it. Since that time slides have become longer, and
there are but few racing boats in which the slide-tracks are less than
twenty-two or even twenty-three inches long, giving the slide a play of
fifteen or sixteen inches. The front edge of the slide now moves forward
(when I say "forward" I speak in relation to the movement of the body
and not in relation to the ends of the boat) to a point which is level
with the work. In other words, we now slide up to our work and finish
fifteen or sixteen inches from it. On these long slides, when the body
has attained the full reach, the flanks are closed in upon the thighs,
the knees are bent until the thighs come fairly close to the calves,
and, _ex necessario_, the ankle-joints are very much bent. It is plain
that great flexibility of hip-joints, knees, and ankles must be attained
in order that the slide may be used fully up to the last fraction of an
inch in coming forward. This flexibility very few novices, and not all
old stagers, possess. The muscles and joints at first absolutely refuse
to accommodate themselves to this new strain, and you will see a man as
he slides forward, taking his heels well off the stretcher in order to
ease the strain upon his ankles, and moving his shoulders back long
before his oar has gripped the water in order to relieve his hip-joints.
This results in his missing the whole of his beginning, striking the
water at right-angles to his rigger instead of well behind it, and
having absolutely no firmness of drive when it becomes necessary for him
to use his legs. In order, therefore, that matters may be made easier
for novices, and that they may be brought on gradually, I strongly
advise coaches to start them on slides much shorter than those now
in vogue. A slide with a play of eight inches, coming to a point six
inches from the work, is ample. A few days will make a wonderful
difference, and later on, when the first stiffness has worn off and the
movements have become easier, the slide can be gradually increased. At
Oxford and Cambridge the proper seasons for such preliminary practice
would be the Lent Term, when Torpids and Lent Races are over, and the
beginning of the October term, when many College clubs--at any rate at
Cambridge--organize Sliding-seat Trial Eights in clinker-built boats.

  [5] The Metropolitan rowing clubs had, I believe, lengthened their
  sliding some time before this.

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_Instantaneous Photograph. N.B.--Head inserted by engraver._)]

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_Stationary Photograph._)]

Two further points remain to be noticed. On fixed seats the ankles
hardly bend up as the body swings forward, and it is possible,
therefore, to use a stretcher fixed almost erect in the boat, the seat
being placed eleven or twelve inches from the work. But with slides, as
I have explained, the seat moves to a point which in racing boats is now
level with the work, and few ankles are capable of submitting to the
strain which would be involved if the stretchers were set up as erect
("proud" is the technical term) as they are with fixed seats. It is
necessary, therefore, to set the stretchers more off on an incline
(technically, to "rake" them). It will be found, I think, that,
assuming a stretcher to be one foot in height, a set-off of nine inches
will be amply sufficient for most novices, even on full slides.[6] I
have myself never found any difficulty in maintaining my feet firm on a
stretcher of this rake or even of less, and I have known some very
supple-jointed men, _e.g._ Mr. H. Willis, of the Leander Crews of 1896
and 1897, who preferred to row with a stretcher set up a good deal
prouder. But the average oar is not very supple-jointed, though his
facility in this respect can be greatly improved by practice. To make
things easier--and after all our object should be to smooth away all the
oarsman's external difficulties--I consider it advisable to fix
heel-traps to the stretcher. This simple device, by the pressure which
it exercises against the back of the heels, counteracts their tendency
to come away from the stretcher; but even with heel-traps, I have seen
stiff-jointed oarsmen make the most superbly successful efforts to bring
their heels away.

  [6] The angle made by the back of the stretcher and the kelson may vary
  from 43° to 53°. Personally, I prefer 50°. The prouder (up to a certain
  point) you set the stretcher the firmer will your leg-power be at the
  finish of the stroke.

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_The hands have still to come in to chest and a few inches of slide
remain for final leg-pressure._)]

The second point is this: With sliding seats you require an oar of
longer leverage (_i.e._ inboard measurement from rowing-face of
button to end of handle) than with fixed seats. For a fixed seat an oar
with a leverage of 3 ft. 5½ ins. should suffice. With long slides the
leverage of an oar should not be less than 3 ft. 8 ins., nor more than 3
ft. 8½ ins. For this I assume that the distance of the centre of the
seat from the sill of the row-lock is 2 ft. 7 ins. With regard to
leverage, there is a practical unanimity of opinion amongst modern
oarsmen. With regard to the outboard measurement of oars and the proper
width of blade, they differ somewhat, but I can reserve this matter for
the next chapter, merely premising that in any case it is not advisable
to start your novices in gigs with oar-blades broader than 5¾ ins.

Let me imagine, then, that my pupil is seated in the gig, his stretcher
having been fixed at a point that will enable him, when his slide is
full back, and he is sitting on it easily without pressing, to have his
knees _slightly_ bent.

And now to the business of instruction.

1. Remember and endeavour to apply all the lessons you have learnt on
fixed seats. Slides add another element to the stroke. They do not alter
the elements you have previously been taught.

2. BEGINNING.--Get hold of this just as you would on a fixed seat, with
a sharp spring of the whole body, which thus begins its swing-back
without the loss of a fraction of time.

    (_a_) The natural tendency of a tiro will be to drive his slide away
      before his shoulders have begun to move. This must at all costs be
      avoided. In order to secure the effectual combination of
      body-swing and leg-work, it is essential that the swing should
      start first.

    (_b_) It is equally reprehensible to swing the body full back before
      starting the slide; you thus cut the stroke into two distinct
      parts, one composed of mere body-swing, the other of mere
      leg-work. Therefore:

(2) When the body-swing backwards has started, but only the smallest
fractional part of a second afterwards--so quickly, indeed, as to appear
to the eye of a spectator almost a simultaneous movement--let the slide
begin to travel back, the swing meanwhile continuing.

    (_a_) Remember what was said in fixed-seat instructions as to the
      use of the toes and the ball of the foot at the beginning of the
      stroke. On slides this is even more important.

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_Overreach with shoulders, head left behind._)]

(3) Body and slide are now moving back in unison, the feet pressing with
firm and steady pressure against the stretcher, _and the arms perfectly
straight_. As the slide moves, the leg-power applied must on no account
diminish. If anything it ought to increase, for the body is beginning to
lose its impetus, and the main part of the resistance is transferred to
the legs, the blade all the time moving at an even pace through the

(4) The body must swing a little further back than on a fixed seat.

(5) Body-swing and slide-back should end at the same moment.

(6) As they end, the knees should be pressed firmly down so as to enable
you to secure the last ounce of leg-power from the stretcher.
Simultaneously with this depression of the legs, the hands (and
particularly the outside hand, which has been doing the main share of
the work of the stroke all through) must bring the oar-handle firmly
home to the chest, sweeping it in and thus obtaining what is called a
firm hard finish. As the knees come finally down, the elbows pass the
sides, and the shoulders move back and downwards.

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_Overreach with shoulders, back doubled over, arms bent, hands heavy on
handle. A position entailing great labour and resulting in a short weak

    (_a_) Mr. W. B. Woodgate, in the Badminton book on "Boating," says:
      "Many good oarsmen slide until the knees are quite straight. In
      the writer's opinion this is waste of power: the knees should
      never quite straighten; the recovery is, for anatomical reasons,
      much stronger if the joint is slightly bent when the reversal of
      the machinery commences. The extra half-inch of kick gained by
      quite straightening the knees hardly compensates for the extra
      strain of recovery; also leg-work to the last fraction of a second
      of swing is better preserved by this retention of a slight bend,
      and an open chest and clean finish are thereby better attained."

    If Mr. Woodgate means that the legs are _not_ to be pressed down as
      the stroke finishes, but are to remain loosely bent, I differ from
      him, though, considering his high authority, with hesitation and
      regret. As a matter of fact, the front edge of the thwart catches
      the calves of the legs at the finish, when the legs are pressed
      down, and prevents the knees from being _absolutely_
      straightened. But I am certain that unless an oarsman assures his
      legs in the firm position that I have explained, he will lose most
      valuable power at the end of the stroke, and will materially
      increase his difficulty in taking his oar clean out of the water
      and generally in getting a smart recovery. This final leg-pressure
      not only supports the body in a somewhat trying position, but
      enables the hands to come home to the chest without faltering. As
      on fixed seats, it is essential that the body should not be pulled
      forward to meet the oar. And it is equally essential that it
      should not sink down or fall away from the hands, thus rendering
      an elastic recovery impossible.

    (_b_) The blade, as on fixed seats, must be kept fully covered to
      the finish, and there must be power on it to the last fraction of
      an inch. If a man takes his oar out of the water before he has
      fairly ended his stroke, and rows his finish in the air, or if he
      partially uncovers his blade and rows "light," he commits in
      either case a serious fault. In the former case his whole
      body-weight, which ought to be propelling the boat, not only
      ceases to have any good effect, but becomes so much dead lumber,
      and actually impedes her progress. In the latter he can only exert
      half, or, it may be, one quarter of his proper power during an
      appreciable part of the stroke.

(7) The drop of the hands, the turn of the wrists, the shoot-out of the
hands, and the straightening of the arms must be performed precisely as
on a fixed seat, but the legs, meanwhile, are to remain braced, so that
knees may not hamper hands. As soon as ever the hands have been shot
out, and _immediately_ after the start of the forward swing, the slide
comes into play, and the knees consequently begin to bend outwards and
upwards. It is very important not to pause or "hang" on the recovery.

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_Body lying much too far back, elbows sticking out. From such a
position a smart and elastic recovery is impossible._)]

(8) The recovery movements ought to release the body smartly, but care
must be taken not to hustle the body forward with a rush before the arms
are straightened. The body _begins_ to swing _from the hips_ as soon
as the hands release it, but the swing is to be a slow one.

    (_a_) Do not begin to slide forward before you swing. Let your swing
      just have the precedence, and let it then carry your slide with

(9) The pace of the swing forward must be slow and unvarying, and the
slide, therefore, must also move slowly. The time occupied by the swing
should be the body's rest.

(10) Remember the fixed-seat instructions as to balance against the
stretcher with the feet during the swing forward, and especially during
the latter part of it. The fault of tumbling forward over the stretcher
is far too common, and can only be avoided or corrected by maintaining
the pressure on the stretcher. In fact, never let your body get out of
control. You ought to feel and to look as if at any moment during the
swing forward you could stop dead at the word of command. Swing and
slide should practically end together, the body "snaking out," as I have
heard it expressed, in the final part of the swing, but without
"pecking" over the front-stop. There must be no over-reach with the

(11) When the body is full forward the knees should be opened to about
the breadth of the arm-pits, the flanks closed in against the thighs.
The knees should bend steadily and gradually into this position, and at
the moment of beginning they must maintain themselves there and not fall
loosely apart. Such a movement entails a great loss of power at the
beginning of the next stroke. Nor, on the other hand, ought the knees to
be clipped together as the stroke begins.

(12) Remember, finally, that grace, erectness, straightness of back and
arms, and a clean precision, balance and elasticity of all movements are
as important now as they were on fixed seats. A man who on slides rounds
his back, humps up his shoulders, and hollows his chest _may_ do good
work, but it will be in spite of and not because of these serious
disfigurements. Only by carefully observing fixed rules and by prolonged
practice will you be able to attain to the harmonious ease and elegance
by which a comparatively weak man can so economize his strength as to
outrow and outlast some brawny giant who wastes his power in useless

[Illustration: SLIDING SEATS.


(_Body doubled up over handle of oar, elbows sticking out. With the body
in this position heart and lungs get no chance of working properly._)]



The novice, having passed successfully through his period of
apprenticeship, is by this time ready, let us suppose, to be included in
an eight-oared, sliding-seat crew, either for his college or for the
rowing club to which he may happen to belong. He will marvel at first at
the fragile and delicate fabric of the craft in which he is asked to
take his place. One-eighth of an inch of cedar divides him from the
waters that are to be the scene of his prowess. In stepping into the
boat he must exercise the greatest care. The waterman and the coxswain
are firmly holding the riggers, while the oarsman, placing a hand on
each gunwale to support himself, steps cautiously with one foot on to
the kelson, or backbone of the ship. Then he seats himself upon his
slide, fits his feet into the stretcher-straps, and inserts his oar in
the rowlock, finally getting the button into its proper place by
raising the handle, and so working at it until the button comes in under
the string that passes from thole to thole, and keeps the oar from
flying out of the rowlock. His seven companions having performed the
same feats, the boat is now shoved out from the bank, and the work of
the day begins.



[Illustration: NO. 2.--FULL REACH.

("_Reach out and row!_")]

The oarsman who thus takes his first voyage in a racing-ship, built, as
all racing-ships are, without a keel, must remember that her stability,
when she contains her crew, is obtained merely by the balance of the
oars. Remove the oars, and the boat would immediately roll over to one
side or the other, and immerse her crew in the water. With eight bodies
and oars in a constant state of movement, the problem of keeping the
boat upon an even keel is not an easy one. It can only be solved
satisfactorily in one way: There must be absolute harmony in every
movement. The hands must come in and out at the same moment and at the
same level, and the oar-blades must necessarily be maintained, on the
feather and throughout the swing, at the uniform level prescribed for
them by the harmonious movement of eight pairs of hands. The bodies must
begin, continue, and end the swing together; the blades must strike
the water at precisely the same moment; all the bodies must swing back
as if released from one spring; the slides must move together; the arms
bend as by one simultaneous impulse; and the eight oar-blades, having
swept through the water in a uniform plane, must leave it as though they
were part of a single machine, and not moved by eight independent wills.
When this unison of movements has been attained by long and persevering
practice, marred by frequent periods of disappointment, by knuckles
barked as the boat rolls and the hands scrape along the gunwale, and by
douches of cold water as the oars splash, then, and not till then, may
it be said that a crew has got together.

The above details concern the harmony and unison of the crew. It is
obvious, however, that the eight men who compose it may be harmonized
into almost any kind of style, and it is important, therefore, to settle
what is the best style--the style, that is, which will secure the
greatest possible pace at the smallest cost of effort. In the first
place, then, you must remember and endeavour to apply all the
instructions I have laid down in the two previous chapters. These were
framed upon the supposition that you were trying to qualify yourself to
row eventually in a light racing-ship. Summing these up generally, and
without insisting again upon details, I may say that you are required to
have a long, steady, and far-reaching body-swing; you must grip the
beginning of the stroke well behind the rigger at the full reach forward
without the loss of a fraction of a second, with a vigorous spring back
of the whole body, so as to apply the body-weight immediately to the
blade of the oar. As your body swings back, your feet are to press
against the stretcher and drive the slide back, in order that, by the
combination of body-swing and leg-drive, you may retain the power which
you have applied at the beginning evenly throughout the whole of the
stroke. It is essential that the body should not fall away at the
finish, but maintain an easy, graceful position, so that, with a final
pressure of the legs, the swing of the elbows past the sides, and a
rowing back of the shoulders which opens the chest, the hands may be
swept fair and square home, the oar-blade being meanwhile covered, but
not more than covered, from the moment it enters the water until it is
taken clean out. The hands must then leave the chest as a
billiard-ball rebounds from the cushion, in order that you may have a
smart and elastic recovery. This swift motion of the hands straightens
the arms, and releases the body for its forward swing. The body-swing
forward, as I cannot too often repeat, must be slow, especially during
its latter part; in fact, during that swing, a perfect balance must be
maintained, the feet being well planted against the stretcher. When a
man rows in this style with seven other men, in absolute time and
harmony with them, he will find a rhythmical pleasure and a delightful
ease in movements which at the outset were cramped and difficult. Then,
as he swings his body, grips the water and drives his swirling oar-blade
through, he will feel that every ounce of strength he puts forth has its
direct and appreciable influence upon the pace of the boat. Not for him
then will it be to envy the bird in its flight, as, with all his muscles
braced, his lungs clear, and his heart beating soundly, he helps to make
his craft move like a thing of life over the water.



[Illustration: NO. 4.--SLIDES BEGINNING TO MOVE.]

That is the ideal. Let us come down to the actual. I will imagine myself
to be coaching an average crew in a racing-ship.

I must first of all assure myself that the boat is properly rigged, and
that the men have a fair chance of rowing with comfort. The thole-pins
should stand absolutely straight from the sill of the rowlock. If the
rowing-pin is bent outwards towards the water in the slightest degree,
the oar will have a tendency to "slice," and a feather under water will
be the result. The actual wood of the rowing-pin, however, should be
slightly filed away at the bottom, so as to incline a very, very little
towards the stern of the boat. Care must be taken also to have a
sufficient width between the thole-pins to prevent the oar from locking
on the full reach. The rowlock-strings must be taut. They must have a
sufficient pressure on the oar to prevent the button being forced out of
the rowlock. For these and other details, the table of measurements
given at the end of this chapter should be consulted.




("_Sit Up No. 3!_")]

In this crew I will suppose that five of the members have already had
experience in lightship rowing. The three others--bow, No. 3, and No.
4--are quite new to the game. I point out to these three, to begin with,
the importance of balancing the boat by having their arms rigidly
straight as they swing forward, so as to be able, by the slightest
amount of give and take from the shoulders, to counteract any tendency
to roll, by sitting firmly on their seats, and not shifting about to
right or to left, and by keeping their feet well on the stretchers. That
done, the words of command will come from the cox. "Get ready all!" (At
this command, the oarsmen divest themselves of all unnecessary
clothing.) "Forward all!" (The oarsmen swing and slide forward to within
about two-thirds of the full-reach position, the backs of the blades
lying flat upon the water.) "Are you ready?" (This is merely a call to
attention.) "Paddle!" (At this the blades are turned over square, and
immediately grip the water, and the boat starts.) During the progress of
this imaginary crew, I propose to invest them individually and
collectively with certain faults, and to offer suggestions for their
improvement, just as if I were coaching them from the bank or from a

(1) "Stroke, you're tumbling forward over your stretcher. Keep the last
part of your swing very slow by balancing against the stretcher with
your feet as you swing forward. That's better. You got a beginning twice
as hard that time."

(2) "Seven, you're feathering under water. Keep pressure on to the very
finish of the stroke, and drop your hands a little more, so as to get
the oar out square and clean. Use the legs well at the finish."

(3) "Six, you're very slow with your hands. Consequently, your body
rushes forward to make up for lost time. Shoot the hands away quickly,
with a sharp turn of the inside wrist. Then let the body follow slowly."

(4) "Five, you slide too soon and fall away from your oar at the finish.
Get your shoulders and the whole of your body-weight well on to the
beginning, so as to start swinging back before you drive your slide
away. At the finish keep your shoulders down and sit up well upon your

(5) "Four and three, your blades are coming out of the water long before
any of the others. This is because you are afraid of reaching properly
forward. You therefore get your oars in scarcely if at all behind the
rigger, and consequently there is not enough resistance to your oar in
the water to enable you to hold out the stroke fully to the finish.
Swing, and reach well forward, and let your oars strike the beginning at
the point to which your reach has brought it. You may splash at first,
but with a little confidence you will soon get over that. Three, you're
late. As you come forward you press heavily on the handle of your oar,
the blade soars up, and is coming down through the air when the rest
have struck the water. Keep your hands, especially the inside one, light
on the handle of the oar, and let them come up as the body swings

(6) "Two, your arms are bending too soon. Try to swing back with
perfectly straight arms. Don't imagine that you can row your stroke
merely by the power of your arms. Also try and keep your shoulders down
at the finish and on the recovery."

(7) "Bow, swing back straight. Your body is falling out of the boat at
the finish. Use the outside leg and hand more firmly through the stroke,
and row the hands a little higher in to the chest; also arch the inside
of the wrist a little more to help you in turning the oar on the

So much for individuals. Now for the crew.

(1) "The finish and recovery are not a bit together. I can almost hear
eight distinct sounds as the oars turn in the rowlocks. Try and lock it
up absolutely together. There ought to be a sound like the turning of a
key in a well-oiled lock--sharp, single, and definite."

(_Note._--This is a very important point. On the unison with which the
wrists turn and the hands shoot away depends the unison of the next
stroke. When once, in coaching, you have locked your crew together on
this point, you will greatly decrease the difficulty of the rest of your

(2) "Don't let the boat roll down on the bow oars. Stroke side, catch
the beginning a little sharper. Bow side, when the roll of the boat
begins, do not give in to it by still further lowering your hands. Keep
your hands up." (The same instruction applies, _mutatis mutandis_, when
the boat rolls on the stroke oars. Apart from individual eccentricities,
a boat is often brought down on the one bank of oars by the fact that
the opposite side, or one or two of them, grip the water a little too

(3) "You are all of you slow with your hands. Rattle them out sharply,
and make your recovery much more lively. Steady now! don't rush forward.
Keep the swing slow and long. You are all much too short on the swing,
and consequently get no length in the water."



[Illustration: NO. 8.--A LURCH ON TO BOW-SIDE.]

[(4) "...] Watch the bodies in front of you as they move, and mould
yourself on their movement."

(5) "You have fallen to pieces again. Use your ears as well as your
eyes, and listen for the rattle of the oars in the rowlocks. Whenever
you fall to pieces, try to rally on that point. Also plant your feet
firmly on the stretchers, and use your legs more when the boat rolls."

These, I think, are a fair sample of the faults that may be found in
almost any crew, and to their eradication coach and oarsmen have
patiently to devote themselves.


For purposes of convenience, I have taken the following measurements
from a boat built by Rough for Leander, in 1891. In that year she
carried a very heavy crew, who won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley in
record time. She repeated her Grand Challenge victory in 1892 and 1893,
with crews very differently constituted from the first one:--

                                                      ft.  ins.

  (1) Length over all                                  60   3

  (2) Beam amidships, under gunwale                     1  11

  (3) Depth    "        "      "                        1   1

  (4) Height of thwarts above skin of boat              0   7⅛

  (5)   "       seats     "         "                   0   9⅛[7]

  (6)   "       rowlock sills above seat                0   6⅞

  (7)   "       heels above skin of boat                0   1¼

  (8) Position of front edge of slide in relation to
        rowing-pin when well forward                    level

  (9) Length of movement of slide                       1   4

  (10) Distance from rowing-pin, measured horizontally
         and at right angles to boat, to centre of seat 2   7

  (11) Distance from wood of one thole-pin to wood
         of the other                                   0   4⅞

This boat, like nearly all English Eights, was "side-seated," _i.e._ the
centre of the seat, instead of being over the kelson, was set away from
it, and from the outrigger. Bow's and stroke's seats were 2½ ins.
from centre, No. 5's 3½ ins. Nearly all Fours and Pairs in England
are now centre-seated, as are Eights in America. Of course, with
centre-seating, assuming that you want the same leverage, you require a
longer outrigger. Otherwise, the only difference between the two systems
would seem to be that with centre-seating you naturally align the bodies

  [7] A few very short-bodied men have to be "built-up," _i.e._ their
  seats have to be raised even higher than this to enable them to clear
  their knees and to swing. This, however, should not be done unless
  absolutely necessary, as it tends to make the boat unsteady.

Since 1891 boat-builders have somewhat increased the length of the boats
they build, and it is not uncommon now to find boats with a measurement
of 63 feet and a few inches over all. The boat whose measurements I have
given had, if I remember rightly, a slightly wider beam at No. 3
stretcher than she had amidships. I have noticed, and my experience in
this respect confirms that of Mr. W. B. Woodgate, though it is entirely
opposed to the Rev. A. T. Shadwell's theories, that a boat with a full
beam somewhere between No. 4 and No. 3 is always a fast one. A boat
should never dip her head, but should always maintain it free.


On this matter there is now a great divergence of opinion amongst rowing
men. From 1891 inclusive up to the present year, the Leander crews have,
with trifling divergences, rowed with oars built on the following

                                                             ft.  ins.

  (1) Length over all                                         12   0

  (2) Length in-board, _i.e._ measured from rowing face
        of bottom to end of handle                             3   8

  [_Note._--In some cases an extra half-inch was
      added, which would make the length over all             12   0½]

  (3) Length of button from top to bottom, measured
        in a straight line                                     0   3¼

  (4) Length of blade measured over the arc of the
        scoop                                                  2   7

  (5) Breadth of blade                                         0   6

[_Note._--These are what are called square blades, _i.e._ the widest
part came at the end. Barrel blades are those in which the widest part
comes about the middle. In 1893 an extra half-inch was added out-board.
In 1896 the length of the Leander oars over all was only 11 ft. 11⅛
ins., the in-board measurement being 3 ft. 8 ins. With these oars the
Leander crew defeated Yale, and in the next heat, after a very severe
struggle, rowed down and defeated New College, who were rowing with oars
three inches longer out-board. Here are the measurements of the oars
with which the Eton crew won the Ladies' Plate in 1885--

                                            ft.  ins.

  Over all                                  12    6

  In-board                                   3    7½

  Length of blade                            2    5

  Breadth of blade near shank                0    6⅜

     "         "   at end                    0    5

(These blades were "coffin"-shaped on a pattern invented by Dr. Warre.)]

_Measurement of Oars of Oxford Crew, 1890._

                                ft.  ins.

  Over all                      12    3⅛

  In-board                       3    8½

  Length of blade                2    7

  Greatest breadth               0    6½

  (These were barrel blades.)

In 1896 the Oxford crew rowed with oars measuring 12 ft. 2 ins. over
all, with a leverage of 3 ft. 8¼ ins., and blade 6 ins. broad. With
these, it will be remembered, they rowed down and defeated Cambridge,
after a magnificent struggle, by two-fifths of a length, Cambridge using
oars measuring some 3 ins. longer out-board. It will thus be seen that
short oars have a very good record to support them--especially over the
Henley course. This year, however, a reaction took place at Oxford in
favour of longer oars with narrower blades. The Oxford Eight of this
year rowed with oars measuring 12 ft. 6 ins. over all, the extra length
being, of course, out-board, and their blades were cut down to a breadth
of 5½ ins. They were, by common consent, a very fine crew, but were
unable to command a fast rate of stroke, and in the race against an
inferior crew they hardly did themselves or their reputation justice.
This pattern of oar was used by New College at Henley, the blades,
however, being further cut down to 5¼ ins. In the final heat of the
Grand Challenge Cup, they met Leander, who were rowing with 12-ft. oars.
Leander, rowing a considerably faster stroke, at once jumped ahead, and
led by a length in three minutes. New College, however, came up to
them, still rowing a slower stroke, then picked their stroke up, and,
after rowing level with Leander for about 250 yards, finally defeated
them by 2 ft. The result of this race cannot be said to have settled the
question as between long oars and short. In the Stewards' Fours, on the
other hand, Leander, rowing with oars measuring 12 ft. ½ in. over all,
and blades 5¾ ins. in breadth, defeated New College, rowing with 12
ft. 6 ins. oars, and blades of 5½ ins., the leverage in both cases
being 3 ft. 8½ ins. The advocates of the long oar maintain that they
secure a longer stride, and are thus able to economize strength by using
a slower rate of stroke. Those who favour the shorter ones believe that
the extra lightness of their implement enables them to row a faster
stroke without unduly tiring themselves. Personally, I found, after
trying the experiment several times, that Leander crews I have coached
invariably rowed better and commanded more speed in practice with 12 ft.
to 12 ft. 1 in. oars than with oars 3 ins. or 4 ins. longer.[8]

  [8] Mr. S. Le B. Smith informs me that, to the best of his recollection,
  the oars used by the London Rowing Club, up to 1878, measured--for
  Eights, 12 ft. 2 ins. all over, and for Fours, 12 ft., the inboard
  measurement being 3 ft. 6½ ins. My impression is that they used
  riggers shorter by 2 ins. than those now in use. Their blades were not
  quite 6 ins. broad.

It must be remembered, finally, that men, as well as measurements, have
something to do with the pace of a crew, and that style and uniformity
count for a good deal. The advocates of long or short oars will always
be able to explain a defeat sustained by one of their crews by alleging
causes that are totally unconnected with the measurement of the oars. On
the other hand, such is their enthusiasm, they will attribute the
victory of their crew entirely to their favourite pattern of oar.



Now that the novice has been safely launched in his racing-ship, we may
hark back for a space and consider some important points connected with
the organization and management of an eight-oared crew. And first as to
its selection and arrangement.

As a general rule, it may be laid down that two middle-weights (men
ranging from 11 st. 5 lbs. to 11 st. 10 lbs. or even to 12 st.) will be
best at stroke and No. 7; three heavy-weights (12 st. 4 lbs. and
upwards) will suit for No. 6, No. 5, and No. 4; then with two more
middle-weights at No. 3 and No. 2, and a light-weight (10 st. to 11 st.
3 lbs. or so) at bow, your crew will be complete. This sounds easy
enough, but in practice the matter is complicated by a hundred
difficulties, such as (_a_) a superfluity or (_b_) a total absence of
good heavy-weights; (_c_) the absence of any good middle-weights
possessing the peculiar qualities necessary for stroke and No. 7; and
(_d_) the inability of good oars to row on one side or the other of the
boat, for you may find that of six valuable oars whom you may want to
include in a crew, every one will tell you that he can only row on the
stroke side or the bow side, as the case may be. In theory, of course,
every man ought to be able to row equally well on both sides. In
practice it will be found that most men, apart from any conscious
preference on their own part, do better work on one side than on the
other, while some are absolutely useless if shifted from the side they
prefer. This last class is, however, not nearly so numerous as it used
to be; and if, for instance, you consult the list of victorious Oxford
crews from 1890 up to the present year, and compare it further with
lists of Leander crews and Oxford College crews, you will see that a
very large number of men have rowed and won races on both sides of the
boat. I may mention specially Mr. Guy Nickalls, Mr. C. W. Kent, Mr. W.
A. L. Fletcher, Mr. R. P. P. Rowe, Mr. W. F. C. Holland, Mr. H. B.
Cotton, Mr. M. C. Pilkington, Mr. C. D. Burnell, Mr. T. H. E. Stretch,
Mr. C. K. Philips, Mr. C. M. Pitman, and Mr. H. G. Gold. On the other
hand, I cannot remember--to take only two instances of excellent
heavies--that Mr. E. G. Tew or Mr. W. Burton Stewart ever rowed except
on the bow side.

All such difficulties the captain and coach of a crew must overcome as
best they can. In any case they will find it advisable to put their
lighter men in the stern and the bows, dumping down their heavies in the
waist of the boat, where they will have more room, and where it will be
easier to correct the clumsiness which is often associated with great


For stroke I like a man of not more than twelve stone. A few good
strokes, _e.g._ the late Mr. J. H. D. Goldie, have topped this weight by
a few pounds. But a real heavy-weight is almost invariably slow and
lacking in initiative when placed at stroke, although, in the middle of
the boat, with another man acting as fugleman for him, he may be able to
row perfectly well at any rate of stroke that may be set to him. A
long-backed, supple-jointed man is of course best, for the
short-backed, long-legged man invariably has trouble in clearing his
knees, and consequently develops faults of style which it is hard to
eradicate or even to reduce when he has no model in front of him. These
faults will therefore exercise a very deleterious influence on the rest
of the crew. As to temperament, I should select a good fighter, a man,
that is, who would rather die than abandon the struggle, and whose fiery
determined nature does not exclude perfect coolness and mastery over
himself when a crisis calls for resource. Let me cite some examples.

I may begin my list with Mr. H. P. Marriott and Mr. C. D. Shafto, the
Oxford and Cambridge strokes of 1877, the dead-heat year. It is rare
indeed to find two such splendid performers matched against one another.
Mr. L. R. West, the Oxford stroke of 1880, 1881, and 1883, was as good a
stroke as ever came to the University from Eton. He only weighed eleven
stone, but his style was simply perfect. The finest demonstration of his
racing judgment was given when he took his crew off at the start in
1883, and left Cambridge, on whom odds of three to one had been laid,
struggling hopelessly in the rear. More familiarly known to me was the
rowing of Mr. F. I. Pitman. In the University Boat Race of 1886 both
crews started at a very fast rate, and rowed little under thirty-eight
to the minute all the way to Hammersmith Bridge, which was passed by
Cambridge with a trifling lead. Immediately afterwards a strong
head-wind and a rough sea were encountered; the rate of stroke in both
boats dropped to about thirty-two, and Oxford began to forge steadily
ahead, until at Barnes Bridge they led by nearly two lengths. Here the
water was again smooth, and Mr. F. I. Pitman, the Cambridge stroke,
nerved himself for a supreme effort. With a wonderful spurt he picked it
up, and in the first half-minute after Barnes, actually rowed twenty-one
strokes, and in the full minute forty. The result of the race in favour
of Cambridge is a matter of history; but, even had Cambridge lost, the
merits of that wonderful spurt would have remained as striking.

[Illustration: MR. C. W. KENT.]

Mr. C. W. Kent, of Oxford and Leander fame, is another remarkable
instance of a born stroke. He rarely rowed as much as eleven stone, and
his general appearance outside a boat hardly gave promise of his
marvellous vigour and endurance in a race. He is a loose-limbed,
long-armed man, with no superfluous flesh, and with very little muscle.
In any purely gymnastic competition he would stand no chance whatever.
Yet it is not too much to say that as stroke of an Eight or a Four no
man has ever been of greater value, none has a more brilliant record of
victories secured by his own courage and resource after desperate
struggles. He was not a very easy man to follow in the early stages of
practice, but when once he had got his crew together behind him, he had
the most absolute control over them, and could always get the last
possible ounce of work out of them, and yet leave himself with
sufficient vigour to wind them up to a final extra spurt if the
necessity arose. His crew behind him became a single living entity, on
which he could play as a musician plays on an instrument over which he
has perfect command. He seemed to have a sort of intuitive knowledge,
not merely of the capacity of his own crew, but also of the capacity of
his opponents, at any given moment in a race. And he had, moreover, the
gift--inestimably valuable in a stroke--of taking his men along at their
best pace while economizing his own strength, thus always leaving
himself with a margin to put in extra work and pace when a close finish
required them. For there is no crew, however hard the men may have
worked, and however greatly they may be exhausted, that cannot screw
itself up to follow if only their stroke will give them a lead. Mr.
Kent's record of brilliant achievements begins in 1889, when, as stroke
of the Brasenose crew, with Mr. W. F. C. Holland at No. 7, he maintained
his boat at the head of the river against the repeated attacks of a
considerably stronger and faster New College crew. In 1890 he was stroke
of a Brasenose four at Henley. In one of the preliminary heats of the
Stewards' Cup, this crew defeated a strong Leander Four by two feet. In
the final heat they had to meet the Thames Rowing Club. At Fawley Court,
the halfway point, Thames had secured a lead of two lengths, and were
apparently rowing well within themselves. From here, however, Mr. Kent
began an extraordinary series of spurts. With a relentless persistence,
his crew rowing as one man behind him, he drove his boat inch by inch up
to the Thames boat, drew level with them about 300 yards from the
finish, and then, reinvigorated by the sight of his rivals, sailed
past them and won the race by something more than a length. In 1891, as
stroke of the Leander Eight he still further distinguished himself.
Rowing from the unsheltered station against a strong "Bushes" wind, he
just managed by a final effort to avert defeat at the hands of the
Thames Rowing Club, and made a dead heat of it. On the following day,
there being no wind, Leander beat Thames by two lengths, and in the
final heat beat the London Rowing Club by a length. Again, in the final
heat of the Grand Challenge Cup in 1894, he won another terrible race
from the worse station by half a length against the Thames Rowing Club.
No one who saw that extraordinary race can forget the wonderful
succession of efforts put forth both by Mr. Kent and by the Thames
stroke, Mr. J. C. Gardner, a very fine and powerful oar, who had stroked
Cambridge to victory in '88 and '89. Time after time did Mr. Gardner
force his boat almost level with Leander, and time after time Mr. Kent
just stalled him off and reasserted his crew's lead, until at the last
he went in with horse, foot, and artillery, and won the furious contest.
I cannot forbear citing another instance which shows merit as great,
though of a different order, in this remarkable stroke. In 1891 he
stroked the Oxford Eight, a crew of very heavy metal, but not well
arranged, and containing one welter-weight, who, in consequence of a
severe attack of influenza during the earlier stages of training, could
not be depended upon to last at top pressure over the whole of a course
of four miles and a quarter. In fact, Oxford, considering their
material, were unaccountably slow, and Cambridge, admirably stroked by
Mr. G. E. Elin, were as unaccountably fast. The race, it will be
remembered, was a very close one, and was won by Oxford by only half a
length. During its progress there were many temptations to Mr. Kent, a
man whose favourite rate of stroke was as a rule not less than forty, to
increase the pace. He saw the Cambridge crew hanging doggedly on to him,
and there were not wanting voices from his own crew to urge him to pick
it up. But Mr. Kent knew the capacity of his crew, and knew that, though
a fast spurt might give him a temporary advantage, it would leave him in
all probability with a completely exhausted heavy-weight on his hands to
struggle hopelessly against Cambridge's next effort. So he resolutely
kept the stroke slow until he got to Chiswick, where he made his only
effort, a slight one, it is true, but just sufficient to give him a
margin on which he could win the race.

[Illustration: MR. H. G. GOLD.]

I have dwelt at some length on Mr. Kent's performances, because I think
that he showed in the highest degree all the qualities that make a man a
good stroke in spite of the absence of mere brute strength. Mr. C. M.
Pitman, who as a freshman stroked Oxford in 1892, was a worthy successor
to Mr. Kent. The three Oxford crews stroked by him won with comparative
ease, a result of which the credit in a very large share must go to Mr.
Pitman, who proved his judgment and coolness, not only in the races, but
during practice against scratch Eights. Mr. H. G. Gold's remarkable
victories are too recent to require any comment beyond the statement
that they stamp him as one of the company of really great strokes.

Of non-University strokes, the best I have seen have been Mr. J. Hastie,
of the Thames R.C.; Mr. F. L. Playford, of the London R.C.; Mr. J. A.
Drake-Smith, of the Thames R.C.; and Mr. G. B. James, of the London R.C.
The three last of these possessed, in addition to considerable natural
strength and endurance, a rhythmical ease and finished elegance which
made their rowing a pleasure to the eye, and rendered it easy for a crew
to shake together behind them. Mr. Hastie had enormous power and perfect
judgment, and no man ever knew better exactly how and when to crack up
an opposing crew.

NO. 7.

This position is every whit as important as that of stroke. Indeed, I
have known many crews that were made by a good No. 7, in spite of an
inferior or an inexperienced stroke. Of the converse I cannot at this
moment remember any instances. No. 7 is the keystone of the crew. If he
fits perfectly into his place, the whole fabric remains firm; if he fits
badly, it will crumble to pieces at the first shock.

It is the duty of No. 7 to weld the two sides of the crew into harmony,
to transmit to the rest of the crew the initiative of the stroke-oar, to
be ever on the watch to make stroke's task an easy one by following him
implicitly and immediately. But, more than this, a good No. 7 can
control and manage an inexperienced stroke, can check him when he
attempts to hurry unduly, can inspirit him and renew his energies when
he shows signs of flagging. The style and elegance of a crew depend even
more upon No. 7 than they do upon stroke. Therefore select for this
position a man whose movements are graceful, rhythmical and easy, who
can show style in his own rowing, and thus instil it into the rest of
the crew. It is important for No. 7 that he too should be able to
economize his power in a race. I do not mean that he is to be a
"sugarer" (a word we use to indicate a man who may show style, but who
never works honestly), but he must row with judgment. I have seen many
very big men row well at No. 7, but I should always prefer a man of the
stamp of the late Mr. H. E. Rhodes, the late Mr. T. C. Edwards-Moss, Mr.
R. P. P. Rowe, and Mr. W. E. Crum. These were all born No. 7's, though
the reputation of the first was chiefly gained at stroke. Still, I
consider that his best rowing was shown in 1876, when he rowed No. 7 of
the Cambridge crew behind Mr. C. D. Shafto. Those who can recall the
marvellous flexibility and adaptable ease of Mr. T. C. Edwards-Moss, and
who have seen similar qualities exhibited by Mr. Rowe and Mr. Crum,
will realize what I mean when I insist upon the importance of grace,
rhythm, and elegance, in a word, of style in a No. 7. You can rarely, of
course, count upon such a paragon for your No. 7, but at any rate get a
man who approaches more nearly than the rest to this ideal.

NO. 6.

This, again, is a very important place; for your No. 6 must back up
stroke, and must, by genuine hard work, take as much as possible of the
burden off stroke's shoulders. Choose for the position a man who
combines great weight and power and endurance with a large share of
experience, a man who can row every stroke hard, and by his swing can
help to keep it long. Mr. S. D. Muttlebury, in the Cambridge crews of
1886 and 1887, was such a No. 6. Such, too, was Mr. W. A. L. Fletcher,
in the Oxford and Leander crews of a later date, and such is the veteran
Mr. Guy Nickalls at the present time. It must be an inspiration to the
rest of the crew to have the broad back of this iron oarsman swinging up
and down with an untiring vehemence, and slogging at every stroke as if
he had no thought whatever of the strokes that had to come after. But
then Mr. Nickalls is equally at home at No. 5 in an Eight; and as
stroke-oar of a Four or pair--a position from which he invariably steers
the boat--he is to my mind unapproachable. He would not himself assert
that he was a model of elegance, but for power and endurance, and for
the knack of infusing these qualities into the rest of the crew, no man
has ever, in my experience, surpassed, and very few indeed have
equalled, him.

NO. 5 AND NO. 4.

These two are places which require weight and power. The details of
elegance and polish are not here so important, though it is, of course,
well to secure them if you can. A No. 5 who swings long and steadily is
of the utmost value, and the same may be said of No. 4. For instance, no
small part of the merit of the Oxford and Leander crews in which he
rowed was due to Mr. W. B, Stewart, their No. 5. A very tall,
well-built, and extremely powerful man, he rowed, I think, with the
longest swing I have ever seen. It was for this quality that we picked
him out of his college crew, when he was a comparative novice, and gave
him No. 5's seat in the Leander crew of 1893, and his rowing in that
crew and in others subsequently proved the correctness of our judgment.
The late Mr. T. H. E. Stretch, too, was a remarkable No. 5, a position
in which, however, he only rowed once, viz. in the Leander crew of 1896.
He was then certainly, for style and power combined, the best
heavy-weight oar at Henley Regatta. Mr. Broughton, of the Thames Rowing
Club, was another fine example of what a No. 5 ought to be--a really
slashing oar of wonderful power. I might use the same words to describe
Mr. R. S. Kindersley, of the Oxford crews of 1880, 1881, and 1882.
Amongst good No. 4's, I should specially select Mr. S. Swann, in the
Cambridge crew of 1884; Mr. C. B. P. Bell, of the Cambridge crews of
1888 and 1889; and Mr. F. E. Robeson, of the splendid Oxford crew of

NO. 3 AND NO. 2.

Of these positions little need be said. Weight here ceases to be of
great importance compared with briskness and liveliness of movement. Yet
instances are not wanting of genuine heavy-weights who rowed at No. 3 in
fast crews. Mr. E. F. Henley, in the Oxford crew of 1866, rowed at 12
st. 13 lbs.; Mr. P. W. Taylor, in the Oxford crew of 1885, and Mr. W. B.
Stewart, in the Oxford crew of 1894, were placed at No. 3 in spite of
their weighing well over 13 st.; and Mr. Vivian Nickalls, in the Leander
crew of 1891, was little short of this weight. But where these cases
have occurred, they were generally due to the fact that the authorities
had at their disposal a great number of really good heavy-weights, and,
rather than lose one of them, they placed him at No. 3.


Bow should be light, alert, compact, springy and cat-like, and a good
waterman. Such discomforts as may exist in a boat seem to concentrate
themselves at bow's seat. He has less room than any other man in the
boat, and any unsteadiness affects him more. I can recall a long list of
good bows, but none better than Mr. W. A. Ellison of Oxford, Mr. R. G.
Gridley of Cambridge, Mr. C. W. Hughes of the Thames R.C., Mr. W. F. C.
Holland and the late Mr. H. B. Cotton of Oxford, and Mr. C. W. N.
Graham of Leander fame. The last two rarely rowed as much as ten stone,
but their work was remarkable. In their respective college crews, they
proved that they could row at stroke just as well as at the other end of
the boat.

Finally, a captain of a crew must remember, if with these great examples
before his eyes he feels inclined, as he runs over his list of available
oars, to despair of getting together a good crew, that wonderful results
have been achieved by college captains who had to draw their men from a
comparatively narrow field, and were often forced by the exigencies of
the case to fill places in their boats with men who were far removed
from ideal perfection.



From the hints given in the preceding chapter it will have been gathered
that good oarsmen are of all sizes and weights. But it must not be
forgotten that no small part of the motive-power of a crew comes from
heavy men. By weight I do not, of course, mean that which results from
mere adipose deposit; but weight, as it is usually found amongst young
men, that depends on the size of the frame and the limbs, and on their
due covering of muscle and sinew. I cannot, therefore, too strongly
advise a captain or a coach to spare no labour and no patience in
endeavouring to teach big men how to row. There will be disappointments.
Every one who has experience of rowing must remember at least one
massive and magnificent giant who failed to learn, in spite of infinite
pains on his own part and on the part of those who had to teach him.
Out of a boat he may have looked the very model of what a heavy-weight
oarsman should be--erect, strong, well-proportioned, supple, and active.
But put him in a boat, and at once he suffered a river change. His
muscles turned into pulp, his chest became hollow, his arms and legs
were mere nerveless attachments, and his whole body assumed the
shapelessness of a sack of potatoes. In the end, after many days, the
hopeless effort had to be sadly abandoned, and the would-be oarsman
returned to the rough untutored struggles of the football field, or the
intoxicating delights of lawn-tennis and golf. But, on the other hand,
there are innumerable instances to prove that a big man who has never
touched an oar before he came to Oxford or Cambridge, or joined one of
the Metropolitan clubs, may, by care and perseverance, be turned into
the pride and mainstay of his crew. Therefore, I say, persist with big
and heavy men, in spite of occasional discouragements; for there is more
advantage to a crew in one rough thirteen-stoner who really works and
swings than in two light-weights polished _ad unguem_.

In the shapes of oarsmen, again, every kind of variety may be found, not
merely in minor details, but in the whole physical characteristics of
their bodies. Bob Coombes, the professional champion of 1846, 1847, and
1851, has recorded his opinion that the best physical type of oarsman is
the man who is, amongst other things, deep-chested and straight and full
in the flanks; who, in other words, has no waist to speak of. To this
type Mr. S. D. Muttlebury and Mr. Guy Nickalls conform, and there can be
no doubt that it is the best. But I have known oarsmen who varied from
it in every detail, and yet did magnificent work in a crew. I have
already mentioned Mr. C. W. Kent, and I may add another example in Mr.
H. Willis, of the Leander Club, a very finished and valuable oar, who
has given his proofs not only in an Eight, but also as No. 3 of the
winning Stewards' Four at Henley Regatta this year. Mr. Willis is tall
and loose-jointed. He is not furnished with any great quantity of
muscle, and his modesty will not resent my adding that, though he has a
well-framed chest, he also possesses a very distinct waist. I might
multiply such instances; but they may all be summed up in the statement
that a really good oarsman is never of a bad shape--for rowing. The
ultimate test is to be found not in the examination of his muscle or the
measurement of his frame, but in the careful and patient observation of
his work while he is actually engaged in rowing. A mere weed, of course,
cannot row to advantage; but I have seen more than one instance of
so-called weeds who eventually developed under the influence of the
exercise into solid and capable oars. And, as a rule, there is more
promise in the comparative weakling than in the gymnast whose tight
binding of muscles impedes the freedom and alertness of his limbs.

We may now consider how the practice of an ordinary eight-oared crew
should be conducted. There is a certain amount of difference of opinion
as to how long a crew should remain in their tub--that is, in their
clinker-built boat--before taking to the racing-ship. Most college
captains, I think, keep their men in the heavy boat too long. Four or
five days are, I think, an amply sufficient period. Experienced oars are
none the better for rowing in a heavy boat, and novices who have much to
learn in watermanship, and want a long period for the learning, can be
taught the requisite lessons only in a light ship. The difficulties of
sitting such a ship are, as a rule, much exaggerated; and the young oar
who watches the scratch crews rowing against a University crew, or sees
a Leander Eight setting out for the first time, is apt to be surprised
when he notes how eight men, who have never rowed together before, can
move along with uniformity and steadiness. There are, no doubt,
difficulties of balance and quickness in light ship rowing; but the
sooner these are faced the better for all concerned. I am assuming, of
course, that the novice has been already drilled in the manner described
in previous chapters.

As to the total length of the period of practice from the start to the
day of the race, that must, and does, vary according to circumstances. A
University crew practising for a long race will be at work generally
from about the middle of January until towards the end of March, some
ten weeks in all. Cambridge college crews have six weeks, Oxford college
crews only about four, for the college races. A London, Thames, or
Kingston crew can command at least seven weeks for the practice of its
Henley crew. On the other hand, no winning Leander crew that I have
known has ever practised for more than three weeks as a combination;
though individual members of it, who had not been at work since the
previous year, may have been taking rowing exercise on their own account
for some little time before the eight got to work. As a typical example,
I may take the remarkable Leander crew of 1896. Five members of this
crew--Mr. Guy Nickalls, Mr. J. A. Ford, Mr. C. W. N. Graham, Mr. T. H.
E. Stretch, and Mr. H. Willis--had had no rowing exercise for a year;
one, Mr. W. F. C. Holland, had not worked, except for a casual regatta
in Portugal, since the final of the Grand Challenge Cup in 1893; the
other two, Mr. H. Gold and Mr. R. Carr, had been in regular practice at
Oxford or at Putney since the previous October. Two weeks before
practice in the Eight began, Messrs. Holland, Ford, Stretch, and Graham
began work in a Four, with Mr. Graham, the eventual bow of the Eight, at
stroke. Mr. Willis had half this period of preliminary practice in a
pair. Mr. Nickalls had for some weeks been working at Putney in a Four
and a pair. Just three clear weeks before the first day of Henley
Regatta the Eight was launched; but it was not until three days after
this that Mr. Nickalls was able to come into the boat, and the crew for
the first time rowed in its final order, the advent of Mr. Nickalls
resulting in four changes in its arrangement. And yet this crew defeated
Yale University, who had been practising for months, and other crews,
composed of good material, that had been together for six or seven
weeks. I have in my mind, too, another crew, a combination of three
Oxonians, two Cantabs, two Etonians, and one Radleian, who, on one
week's practice, managed to beat over a one-mile course the Eights of
the London and Thames clubs, in spite of their ten or eleven weeks of

I do not wish to have it inferred from the foregoing facts that in my
opinion those crews are likely to turn out best which practise together
for a very short time. Still, the qualities of skill, keenness of
enthusiasm, strength, condition, and racing ability, are factors in
success even more important than length of practice. It ought, of
course, to be true that if you could get two crews equally matched as
regards these qualities that which had had the longer period of practice
should win because of its greater uniformity. Moreover, in most cases
extra length of practice _up to a certain point_ ought to imply
superiority of condition. Beyond that point a crew, though it maintains
its outward uniformity and style, will fall off in pace, because
overwork will have dulled the edge of its energies, and robbed it of the
brisk animation that marks the rowing of men trained to the very
needle-point of perfect condition. And on the whole, taking condition
and the risks of staleness into account, I should prefer to take my
chances for an ordinary race with a crew that had practised from four to
five weeks, rather than with one that had been at it for ten or eleven.
I leave out of account the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race, both because
of the length of the course over which it is rowed, and on account of
the frequent changes to which the authorities generally find themselves
compelled to resort. And even for this race, if a president could at the
outset be absolutely certain as to the general composition of the crew,
he would find, I think, that a period of seven weeks at the outside
would be fully sufficient for him and his men. The whole matter amounts
to this, that a captain or a coach must consider carefully all the
circumstances of his case--the skill, the condition, the experience and
the strength of his men, and the distance over which they have to race,
and must decide on the period of practice accordingly. I cannot on paper
lay down any fixed general rule for his guidance, but can only bring
before him a few detached considerations which may be useful to him as
food for reflection. For my own part, I may add that I have never found
the least difficulty, even after a year's rest from rowing, in getting
into very good racing condition on three or four weeks of work.


Let the real hard work be done in the earlier stages of practice. You
thus accustom your men to one another, and you grind them into a
uniformity which makes all their subsequent work easier. This plan has
been very successfully followed by Oxford crews. Before they get to
Putney they will have rowed over the long course of four miles some ten
times. As a result, the men are hard and row well together; and during
their stay at Putney it is found possible to ease them in their work,
so as to bring them fresh and vigorous to the post on the day of the
race. Supposing you have five weeks for practice, you ought, I think,
during the first fortnight to row your crew over the racing course at
least four times. During the next ten days one full course will be
sufficient. The work of the last ten days must vary according to the
condition of the men, but two half courses and one full course at a
racing stroke will probably be found sufficient. Save for the rare case
of an exceptionally long row, a practice of about an hour and a half
every day is enough. At Henley all crews practise twice a day, but I do
not think they spend more than two hours, if so much, on the water every


The practice rate for paddling ought not in the early stages to be less
than twenty-eight to the minute, which you may raise two points when
rowing hard. Later on, when your men are doing their rowing work at
thirty-six or more, and when they are, or ought to be, well together,
you may drop the rate of paddling to twenty-six or twenty-five, in order
to give them periods of rest, and to instil into them that steadiness
of swing which they are apt to neglect when engaged in the effort of
working up the stroke to racing pace. For a course of a mile to a mile
and a half, a crew should be able to start at forty, continue at
thirty-eight, and, if necessary, finish at forty in the race. Even for
the Putney to Mortlake course a crew ought to be able to command forty
at a pinch. As a rule, however, over a four-mile course a crew will go
quite fast enough if it starts for not more than a minute at
thirty-seven to thirty-eight, and continues, in the absence of a
head-wind at an average of thirty-five.[9] At Henley most crews will
start off at forty-one to forty-two for the first minute, and continue
at thirty-nine. Anything higher than this is dangerous, though on a
course of two-thirds of a mile I have known a Four to row forty-six in
the first minute with advantage.

  [9] Against a head-wind the rate of stroke must be slower. A coach's
  instructions would be, "Swing down and reach out well, and swing hard
  back against the wind." A following wind makes a crew very unsteady,
  unless they remember that, since the pace of the boat is increased by
  the wind, they must catch the beginning sharper, to prevent the boat
  running away from them, and take their oars out even quicker and cleaner
  than before, in order to prevent the boat catching them up, as it were.
  Above all, they must keep the swing slow when they have a following

These instructions are intended to apply to light racing ships. For the
clinker-built fixed-seat boats that are used at Oxford and Cambridge for
the Torpids and Lent races, a racing rate of thirty-seven ought to be
high enough, seeing that the crews are mainly composed of young oars.
The second division crews of the Cambridge "May" races row with slides,
but in heavy, clinker-built boats. The advantages of this arrangement
are not obvious. Still, these crews ought to be able to race at
thirty-six to thirty-seven. As a rule, however, when I have seen them
practising a minute's spurt, nearly all of them seem to have imagined
that thirty-two strokes were amply sufficient for racing purposes.


Paddling should be to rowing what an easy trot is to racing speed on the
cinder-path. A crew when paddling is not intended to exert itself
unduly, but to move at a comfortable pace which excludes any sense of
fatigue, and enables the men to give their best attention to perfecting
themselves in style, and to harmonizing their individual movements with
those of the rest. In paddling men do not slash at the beginning so
hard, nor do they grind the rest of the stroke through with the same
power as when rowing. Less violent energy is put into the work, and the
stroke consequently does not come through so fast. The rate of paddling
must therefore be slower than that of rowing, since each stroke takes a
longer time for its completion. As a rule, too, the blade is in paddling
not quite so deeply covered, and cannot make the same rushing swirl
under water. During the earlier stages of practice paddling is merely
easier rowing; it is not so sharply distinguished from hard rowing as it
becomes later on. At the outset it is necessary to make your crew both
paddle and row with a full swing, in order to get length ineradicably
fixed in their style. But later on a coach may tell his men, when he
asks them to paddle, not only to use the easier movements prescribed
above, but also to rest themselves additionally by using a somewhat
shortened swing. Then, when they are to row, he must call on them to
swing forward and reach out longer; to swing back harder and longer,
with a more vigorous beginning; and to put more force into their
leg-drive. A very useful plan, especially for the purpose of getting a
crew finally together, is to make them do long stretches of paddling
varied here and there by about a dozen or twenty strokes of rowing, care
being taken, however, not to allow the paddling to get dead and dull,
and a special point being made of getting the rowing not only hard, but
very long.

Paddling is a difficult art to learn, and only the very best crews
paddle really well with balance, rhythm, and ease. Many a time I have
seen a good crew and an inferior one paddling along the course together,
and almost invariably the good crew, which had mastered the trick of
paddling at a slow stroke and with perfect ease, was distanced. Yet a
moment afterwards, when they ranged up alongside, and started together
for a two minutes' burst of rowing, the good crew would leave its
opponents as though they were standing still.


There comes a time in the history of every crew when, having been
plodding along comfortably at thirty-four, they suddenly realize that
the race is barely a week off, that if they are to have any chance of
success they must raise the stroke, and that they don't know how on
earth it is to be done, seeing that they have usually felt pretty well
cleaned out after rowing even a half course at their present rate.
However, they generally do manage _tant bien que mal_ to get it done,
and find in the end that thirty-eight is not really much more difficult
for men in good training than thirty-four.

The best plan, I think, is to devote the greater part of an afternoon's
practice to short rows of half a minute and a minute at, say,
thirty-seven, and to wind up with three minutes of this. On that day
there will probably be at first a terrible amount of rushing and
splashing. On the following day you will find that things have settled
down, and you will be able to row for five minutes at the faster rate.
On the third day practise short pieces again at thirty-eight,
thirty-nine, forty; and on the fourth day row your full course at as
fast a rate as you can command. A coach should impress upon his crew
that a fast stroke is to be secured not by rushing forward with the
bodies, but by rattling away the hands quicker and by increasing the
force employed in forcing the oar through the water. The pace of the
bodies on the forward swing, though, of course, it does increase, should
feel as if it were slower. _Relatively to the rate of stroke used_, it
is, in fact, slower at a fast than at a slow stroke. The best
stroke-oars have been men who fully realized this, and who, either in
breaking from a paddle into a row, or in spurting during a hard piece of
rowing, gave their crew a delightful sense of steadiness and balance,
which enabled them to put their utmost energies into every stroke.


During the week preceding the race a coach should devote a great part of
his attention to the task of getting his crew quick off the mark. If a
crew starts in a brisk and lively manner, and gets pace on its boat
immediately, it is far more likely to continue well, so long as its
strength and condition last, than a crew that ponderously drags its boat
off, with the notion that it can put pace on later. At the end of half a
minute the lively crew would be well ahead--no small moral advantage
where two crews are evenly matched. The best position for the first
stroke is a little more than half forward with the body and three parts
forward with the slide. The mind, as well as the muscles, must be intent
on the effort. At the word "Go" at once cover the blade deeply, spring
the body on to the work, use the arms vigorously on this occasion only,
and, above all, drive, drive, drive with the legs, wrenching the stroke
fully home with outside hand.[10] Then make a special point of rattling
hands out like lightning, and get hold of the second stroke when the
hands are over the stretcher. Again a lightning rattle, followed by a
longer swing. The fourth stroke should be a full one. During the first
two strokes the crew should watch stroke's blade, and take their time
from that.

  [10] The simplest and easiest plan is to have the back of the blades
  flat on the water while you are waiting for the word. In rowing _with_ a
  strong tide it may sometimes be advisable to have the top of the blades
  turned over towards the stern and to square blades at the "Are you
  ready?" But this requires a lot of practice, and even then generally
  causes unsteadiness.


I hold it to be absolutely necessary that during practice men should
learn thoroughly to row themselves out. If they do not, they need never
expect to become properly fit for the hard strain involved in a race. If
men will only consent to put their best and hardest work into a practice
course, so that they may feel at the end of it that they have neither
wind nor strength left, I will guarantee that all the subsequent work
will become infinitely easier for them, and the race itself will be a
pleasure instead of a pain. I hate to see a crew finish a practice row,
no matter how short it may be, in perfectly fresh trim. That is a sign
that they must have shirked their work. Yet I have often read in
newspaper reports of the practice of crews some statement like the
following:--"The boat travelled well all through, and the time
accomplished was fast; but when it was over most of the men were much
distressed"--as if this were a reproach instead of a compliment. Such
"distress" is one of the necessary stages through which crews must pass
on their way to good physical condition and perfect racing power. If a
crew never tires itself in practice, it will never row fast in a race.


This can only be done properly by watching both the movements of the
body and the action of the blade in the water. It may be assumed that if
the blade strikes the water fairly at the full reach, is covered at
once, produces a deep boiling swirl _under_ the water, and remains
covered to the end of the stroke, the oarsman who wields it must be
working, in spite of many possible faults of form. Again, if the body
moves well, and with a vigorous briskness through the stroke, it may be
found that the swirl of the blade through the water does not show
properly, because the blade is put in too deep. This, of course, is a
fault, for the oarsman is giving himself too much work, and the effect
on the propulsion of the boat is smaller; but, at any rate, there is
honesty of intention. On the other hand, a man may make a great show of
form with his body, and a great splash in the water, by merely covering
half his blade through the stroke, or by missing his beginning and
rowing light at the finish; or he may seem to be swinging his body on to
his work, and yet by some subtly contrived disconnection between body
and arms and legs, produce no effect on the water. For all this a coach
must be on the look out. If he has once done hard rowing himself, and
watched it in others, he will never mistake the sham article (the
"sugarer") for the genuine, though possibly clumsy, worker.


Practice in the tub-pair is one of the greatest possible aids towards
the consolidation of an eight-oared crew. A coach or captain should
never omit during the early stages of work to take out his men two by
two in a tub. Sitting at ease in the stern, he can lecture them to his
heart's content, and can devote himself with far better effect than when
his crew are in the Eight to eradicating individual faults and drilling
the men into one uniform style. During the latter part of training,
however, the tub-pair is, with rare exceptions, an unnecessary burden.
The crew then require all their energies for the work of the Eight, in
which they ought to be learning the last important lessons of
watermanship and uniformity every day. To drag them into tub-pairs at
such a time can only weary them.




I may preface what I have to say about ailments by stating, as
emphatically as it can be stated, that every man who proposes to take
part in a race ought, before he begins practice, to be thoroughly
overhauled by a medical man. I do not believe that any man whose heart
and lungs and general constitution are sound can be injured by rowing.
On the contrary, I have seen scores and scores of instances in which
sound but imperfectly developed youngsters were formed and solidified
and made into robust men by the exercise. But if a doctor reports of an
apparently powerful man that his heart is weak and his circulation
defective, or that the state of his lungs is unsatisfactory, no power on
earth would induce me to include him in my crew. Race-rowing is one of
the severest strains to which a man can submit himself, and only a
perfectly sound man can go through it without taking harm.

Coaches are sometimes ridiculed for the excessive care they take of
their men; and there are not wanting those who draw the inference that
rowing men are peculiarly liable to illness, and suffer, when attacked
by it, more than others. Nothing can be further from the truth. If we
are anxious, it is because we know that for the special strain involved
in racing a man must be in specially good condition, and we desire,
above all things, to avoid anything that may keep him back in his
training and his work. Moreover, even a slight illness may entail
temporary retirement from the crew, and thus necessitate changes in its
order which will prevent the men from getting together.

In rowing hard a man should keep a good colour. If you see him turning
green and yellow, you may be sure that something is wrong with him, and
you must pack him off to the doctor at once. It may turn out that his
digestion is in fault, and that a careful attention to diet is all that
is necessary to cure him. I have seen only two men actually faint
during a race. One of them was a distinguished Oxford Blue, who
collapsed during a heat of the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley; the other
was a college oar rowing in the Cambridge Fours. With regard to him, we
discovered afterwards that he had overtaxed his strength by working in
the Cambridge engineering workshop for about six hours every day. Both
these cases took place a good many years ago, and in neither has any
permanent injury resulted. I have, of course, seen hundreds of men
absolutely rowed out at the end of a race; but, with hardly an
exception, they were perfectly fit a few minutes afterwards and,
possibly, in the course of a few hours they might be seen rowing in
another severe race with unimpaired strength and vitality.

With regard to ailments generally, I cannot do better than quote Mr.
Woodgate in the Badminton book: "A crew should be under strict orders to
report _all_ ailments, if only a blister, _instantly_ to the coach. It
is better to leave _no_ discretion in this matter to the oarsman, even
at the risk of troubling the mentor with trifles. If a man is once
allowed to decide for himself whether he will report some petty and
incipient ailment, he is likely to hush it up, lest it should militate
against his coach's selection of him. The effect of this is that
mischief which might otherwise have been checked in the bud, is allowed
to assume dangerous proportions for want of a stitch in time. An oarsman
should be impressed that nothing is more likely to militate against his
dream of being selected than disobedience to this or any other standing
order. The smallest pimple should be shown forthwith to the
coach"--verily the coach is not only διος, but πολυτλας--"the slightest
hoarseness or tendency to snuffle reported, any tenderness of joint or
sinew instantly made known."

To these golden words I would merely add that in all more serious cases,
such as boils, colds, coughs, severe diarrhœa, or strains, it is best
for the coach not to attempt any amateur doctoring, but to send his
oarsman at once to a qualified doctor. In nearly every large rowing
club, and at the Universities, there are to be found doctors who have
either rowed themselves, or have had long experience of treating the
ailments of rowing men; and it is far better to take their advice,
which, as a rule, does not incline to molly-coddling, than to run the
risk of losing a valuable oar out of the crew through one's own


Blisters are a common accompaniment of the early days of practice. They
are ordinarily innocuous enough if well treated; but a neglected blister
may result in a raw hand, and lead to blood-poisoning. The best plan is
to prick a blister at its side with a clean needle before going to bed,
and on the following day or two to row with a glove and a pad of
cotton-wool over the blister. The skin very soon hardens into a


These are a sure sign that the blood is in a bad condition, due probably
to over-eating. They afflict novices much more often than old oars, who
have learnt by experience to diet themselves. A mild dose of Eno's Fruit
Salt before breakfast may be recommended. The quantity of beef and
mutton eaten must be largely reduced. Fish and the dark meat of poultry
should be the staple articles of diet, and not too much of those. Nor
must the mistake be made of making up for the decrease of meat by
over-loading the stomach with immense masses of vegetables, though in
moderation vegetables are excellent. Having thus done his best for the
patient's inside, the coach must send him to a doctor to have the boil
treated externally.


Cut off fruits of all kinds; reduce meat; give an extra glass of port,
and if the complaint continues, send the afflicted to a doctor.


Ordinary muscular strains generally yield to a good rubbing with an
embrocation. For wrist-strains a leather band may be recommended.
Abdominal strains must be seen to by a doctor.


The best remedy for a severe cold is to give your man at least one day's
complete rest, and make him keep his room. Indeed, with most ailments a
day's rest will work wonders; and it is far better for a coach to make
up his reluctant mind to grant it, than to run the risk of losing a
valuable man altogether by keeping him chained to his oar when he is
unfit to work. However, no man who takes proper care of himself, and
always makes a point of wrapping up when his crew easies, ought to catch
a cold.


The rules of training and diet should be the rules of common sense,
applied to cases in which the body has to prepare itself, by severe work
and perfectly simple, healthy living, for an exceptional effort or
series of efforts. Rules there must be, if only on account of the
advantage that comes of being able to make exceptions to them. But the
chief points must be regularity and simplicity--a regularity, that is,
which shall not entail an unvarying and wearisome monotony, and
simplicity which shall not exclude occasional little luxuries that act
as a stimulus to a man's jaded energies.

I shall give here two tables showing the hours and the dietary of an
Oxford crew training during a little more than five weeks for the race
against Cambridge, and of a Leander crew training for nearly three
weeks for the Grand Challenge race at Henley Regatta.

    I. _Oxford Crew._

       7    A.M. Out of bed, and without bathing or washing dress
                 immediately in flannels. A cup of milk and a

       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     "   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    P.M. 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.

      3 or 4 "   (according to tide). 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 P.M. A glass of lemon and water, or a cup of water-gruel.

      10     "   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.)

    II. _Leander Training at Henley._

       7 to 8.30 A.M. Same as in previous table.

       8.30 A.M. Breakfast.--Same as in previous table, save for
                 the frequent absence of meat. Marmalade
                 allowed. Strawberries or peaches without
                 sugar; no cream.

      10.30 or 11, or 12 P.M. Out on the water.

       1.30 P.M. Lunch.--Same as in previous table.

       4.45 " Cup of tea with a slice of bread and butter, or a

       5.30 or 6 P.M. Out on the water.

       7.30 or 8  "  Dinner.--Same as in previous table.

       9.50 P.M. Same as in previous table.

      10.15  "   Bed.

    (_Note._--With most Leander crews, which are composed of experienced
    oarsmen, it has been found possible to abolish restrictions on the
    amount of liquor, and to allow the men to take what they want to
    satisfy their thirst, which at Henley time is naturally more severe
    than it is in the early spring at Putney. With a college crew of
    younger and less experienced oars such liberty of action is not to
    be recommended; but a trainer ought, during hot weather, to tell his
    men that if they really want an extra half-glass or so, they are not
    to hesitate to ask for it. Men in training will, however, generally
    find that if they exercise a little self-control during the first
    few days of training, when the restriction on their drink seems
    specially painful, their desire for drink will gradually diminish,
    until at last they are quite content with their limited allowance.
    If, on the contrary, they perpetually indulge themselves, they will
    always be wanting more. On this point I may cite the authority of
    the following remarks extracted from a recent article in the
    _British Medical Journal_:--

    "Among the various discomforts entailed upon us by the hot weather
    is thirst, which leads to many accidents. First and most especially
    is the danger arising from the ingestion of ices and cold drinks,
    which so many people fly to directly they feel hot. Difficult as it
    may be to explain in precise physiological terms the evil
    consequences which so often follow the sudden application of cold to
    the mucous membrane of the stomach when the body is over-heated,
    there is no doubt about the fact, and people would do well to
    remember the risk they run when they follow their instinct, and
    endeavour to assuage their thirst by huge draughts of cold fluids.
    There can be but little doubt that the profuse perspiration which is
    the cause of so many dangers is greatly aggravated by drinking, and
    especially by drinking alcoholic fluids. No one can watch a tennis
    match without noticing how the men perspire, while the girls hardly
    turn a hair. Some, perhaps, will say that the girls play the feebler
    game; but, game or no game, they exert themselves. The same also may
    be seen at any dance. The secret is that the men follow their
    instinct and slake their thirst, while the girls simply bear it. It
    should be remembered that thirst is the result of want of fluid in
    the blood, not want of fluid in the stomach, and that a pint or more
    may be drunk before a single ounce is absorbed. Any attempt, then,
    to assuage thirst by rapid drinking must of necessity lead to far
    more being taken than is wanted, the moral of which is that if we
    must drink, at least let us drink slowly."

    Besides asking his men to drink slowly, a coach will do well to see
    that they take no drink at all before they have eaten a certain
    amount of food. Between meals, except as set out in the tables given
    above, no drink of any kind should be allowed.

    Over-eating, too, is a very common danger, especially in the case of
    youngsters, and a coach must warn his crew severely against it.)

A captain ought to be specially strict in insisting on getting his men
out of their beds at a fixed time, and in seeing that they do not stay
up too late at night. Absolute punctuality all round ought to be rigidly
enforced. If, however, anybody should resent the severities entailed by
this dietary, and pine for freedom, he may be recommended to try what I
may call the Ouida system. It is fully set out in "Under Two Flags,"
from which, in a spirit of humble admiration, I venture to give an

"'Beauty don't believe in training. No more do I. Never would train for
anything,' said the Seraph, now pulling the long blonde moustaches that
were not altogether in character with his seraphic cognomen. 'If a man
can ride, let him. If he's born to the pig-skin he'll be in at the
distance safe enough, whether he smoke or don't smoke, drink or don't
drink. As for training on raw chops, giving up wine, living like the
very deuce, and all as if you were in a monastery, and changing yourself
into a mere bag of bones--it's utter bosh. You might as well be in
purgatory; besides, it's no more credit to win then than if you were a

"'But you must have trained at Christ Church, Rock, for the Eight?'
asked another Guardsman, Sir Vere Bellingham--'Severe,' as he was
christened, chiefly because he was the easiest-going giant in existence.

"'Did I! Men came to me; wanted me to join the Eight. Coxswain came,
awful strict little fellow, docked his men of all their fun--took plenty
himself, though! Coxswain said I must begin to train, do as all his crew
did. I threw up my sleeve and showed him my arm;' and the Seraph
stretched out an arm magnificent enough for a statue of Milo. 'I said,
There, sir, I'll help you thrash Cambridge, if you like, but train I
_won't_ for you or for all the University. I've been captain of the Eton
Eight; but I didn't keep my crew on tea and toast. I fattened 'em
regularly three times a week on venison and champagne at Christopher's.
Very happy to feed yours, too, if you like--game comes down to me every
Friday from the Duke's moors; they look uncommonly as if they wanted it!
You should have seen his face! Fatten the Eight! He didn't let me do
that, of course; but he was very glad of my oar in his rowlocks, and I
helped him beat Cambridge without training an hour myself, except so far
as rowing hard went.'

"And the Marquis of Rockingham, made thirsty by the recollection, dipped
his fair moustaches into a foaming seltzer.

"'Quite right, Seraph!' said Cecil. 'When a man comes up to the weights,
looking like a homonunculus after he's been getting every atom of flesh
off him like a jockey, he ought to be struck out for the stakes, to my

The obvious inference from this is that if we want to avoid looking like
"homonunculi" we must acquire dukes as fathers, and get fattened on
venison and champagne.


There are no smokes in training.


In the practice of almost every crew there comes a period, generally
about half way through training, when they begin to show the effects of
hard work by a certain lassitude and loss of vigour. This, in fact, is
not genuine staleness, but is the half-way house to perfect condition.
An experienced coach can always detect the signs of it amongst his men.
Their tempers will be short, they will begin to mope about the room, and
their general manner will betray languor and listlessness, instead of
that brisk cheerfulness that one has a right to expect. Their appetite
will decrease, and at meals they will dally with their food instead of
consuming it with a hearty zest. If a coach is blind to these signs, and
pursues, in spite of them, the scheme of work and diet which he may have
laid down at the first, he will probably bring to the post a crew as
stale and lifeless as London shrimps. If, however, he grants certain
indulgences to those who are most affected; if he lets them lie in bed
of a morning, adds a basin of soup to their lunch or dinner, gives them
extra liquor, or champagne in place of their ordinary liquor, and eases
the work of the crew all round, he will probably find that within three
days they will be perfectly brisk and fit again. I remember the case of
an Oxford crew which showed the worst symptoms of staleness on a Friday.
Saturday to Monday they spent in Brighton, and returned so
reinvigorated, that on the following Wednesday they were able in the
race to row Cambridge down at Chiswick and win by a length. For extreme
cases of what I call genuine staleness, I do not think there is any
remedy except complete rest for a period more or less prolonged. I have
seen instances of this at Henley amongst University oarsmen, who had had
practically no rest since the previous October.


Not the least important point in the management of a crew lies in the
preservation of strict discipline. While they are in the boat and
engaged in rowing, no man, except the captain or the cox, should speak a
word, unless he is appealed to by the coach. A wise captain, too, when
he has a coach in whom he trusts, will content himself with saying very
little indeed. To be constantly cursing his crew, or to be shouting
directions to them from the boat, not only irritates the other men, but
increases all the difficulties of a coach. To "answer back" a coach is a
capital offence, which ought to lead to immediate removal from the crew.
I can only remember one instance of it in all my experience, and that
was promptly followed by a humble apology. Silence, prompt obedience,
absolute subordination of the individual self to the collective good of
the crew, a quick and hearty willingness in endeavouring to carry out
orders or instructions, a cheerful temper when things are going awry,
and a constant keenness whether in rowing or paddling--these are model
qualities which will go far to make a man a valuable oar. Nothing has so
bad an effect upon a crew as the display of moroseness or sullenness on
the part of one of its members. If that member should chance to be the
captain, the baneful effects are increased tenfold. There are times of
inattention and slackness when a coach does well to be angry, and to
bring his men sharply back to a knowledge of their duty.


I cannot deal with this subject at any length, for good coaching is a
matter of temperament, sympathy, tact, and intelligence--qualities that
cannot be taught. The man who has these necessary qualities, and adds to
them a wide experience of rowing, can never go very far wrong in
coaching a crew. If a man can once establish between himself and his
crew that subtle bond which comes of their conviction that their welfare
and success are his chiefest desire, and that everything he says is
absolutely right, the rest will be comparatively easy. A few simple
hints may, however, be given.

(1) Never nag at your crew, or at an individual. Point out his fault;
explain to him as clearly as you can how he ought to correct it, and
then leave him alone for a bit. Never weary your men with an incessant
stream of talk. Periods of complete silence on your part are very
valuable, to you and to the crew.

(2) If you see signs of improvement in a man whom you have been
correcting, never fail to tell him so. A little encouragement of this
kind has more effect than heavy loads of objurgation.

(3) Rebuke any carelessness very sharply, but always keep strong
measures, such as taking a crew back to the start, for really serious

(4) Show no partiality, and make as little difference as you can between
man and man. It is useful to begin by coaching old hands with some
severity. New hands are encouraged by feeling that even a Blue or a
Grand Challenge winner is liable to error, and that a coach is not
afraid to tackle these eminent men.

(5) Make a gallant effort never to lose your temper with an individual,
though loss of temper with a crew as a whole need not always be avoided.
When things go wrong in a crew, impress upon each and every man that he
is individually responsible for the defects. Every man is probably doing
something wrong, and in any case a determined and united attempt to row
better can do no harm.

(6) Never tell your men that they are rowing "well," or " better," when
these statements are contrary to the truth. The men in the boat can
generally feel what is happening as well as you can see it from the bank
or the launch, and they are apt to lose confidence in a man who talks
smooth things when everything is rough.

(7) Never confuse a man by telling him more than one thing at a time
while he is rowing. When the crew has easied you can lecture him and
them more at length.

(8) Remember Dr. Warre's rule, that general exhortations, such as
"Time," "Beginning," "Smite," "Keep it long," and the like, are to be
given at the right moment, not used as mere parrot cries.

(9) Vary the tone of your voice as much as possible.

(10) Vary, if possible, the expressions you use in pointing out and
correcting faults.

(11) Always insist on your crew putting on their wraps when they easy
after rowing hard.

(12) Never allow men during summer training to stand, sit, or lie about
in the full blaze of the sun.

(13) Teach by example as well as by precept. The coach should be able to
take his seat in a gig pair, and to show his men practically the style
he wishes them to row in, and how their faults may be corrected.

(14) Always remember, while paying attention to the form of individuals,
that your main object is to secure uniformity in the crew. Never fail,
therefore, to correct faults of time instantly.




On this tremendous day, towards which all their efforts for weeks past
have been directed, the coach will find that all his crew are suffering
from that peculiar nervousness to which rowing men have given the name
of "the needle." It is a complaint against which no length of experience
can harden a man, and the veteran of a hundred races will feel it as
acutely as the boy who is engaged in his first struggle. A sort of
forced cheerfulness pervades the air. Men make irrelevant remarks about
their oars, their stretchers, or the notorious incapacity of their
rivals, while they are reading the newspapers or discussing the politics
of the day. Even a coach is seized with the universal affection,
however gallantly he may strive against it, and endeavour to entertain
the crew with all his best stories of triumphant victories, of defeats
averted by brilliant spurts, or of the last sayings of some well-known
aquatic humourist. Old oars drop in, and for a few moments divert the
conversation, only to flow back with it into the one absorbing topic
that occupies all men's minds. The feeling goes on increasing until at
last, oh joy! the time comes for getting into the boat. With his
faithful oar in his hand, and his feet fixed to the stretcher, a man
regains his confidence, and when the word is given he will find that the
only effect that the needle has had upon him has been to brace his
energies to their highest pitch. The duty of a coach on such an occasion
is clear. He must try to keep his men cheerful, and prevent them from
brooding over the race that is to come. Visits from old oars should be
encouraged, for it is often a relief and an amusement to a youngster to
find that some solid oar of the past is even more agitated than he is
himself. One thing must not be omitted, and that is the preliminary
spin, which should take place about two hours before the race, and
should consist of two sharp starts of ten strokes each and one hard row
of a minute. This has an invaluable effect in clearing the wind. I have
always felt, when I have rowed more than one race in a day, and I think
my experience will be confirmed by most other oarsmen, that I have been
able to row better, harder, and with less distress, in the second race
than in the first. An hour and a half before the race a man will be all
the better for a biscuit and a hot cup of strong meat soup, with perhaps
a dash of brandy to flavour it, but this must depend upon the hour at
which the race is rowed, for if you have lunched at one and have to race
at half-past three you will want nothing between times to stay your
stomach. The early morning sprint should be taken as usual.

[Illustration: HENLEY REGATTA, 1897.

(_New College_ v. _Leander_. _Won by New College by 2ft._)]


"I shall say, 'Are you ready?' once; if I receive no answer, I shall
say, 'Go!'" It is the voice of the umpire addressing us from the
steam-launch in which he will follow the race. He must be a man dead to
all feeling, incapable of sympathy, for he actually turns to one of his
fellow-passengers and makes a jesting remark, while our hearts are
palpitating and our minds are strung up to face the stern actualities of
the race. The other crew look very big and strong, and fit and
determined. We shall have to row our hardest, and we all know it. "Get
the top of your shorts properly tucked in," says our captain, "so as not
to catch your thumbs; and mind, all of you, eyes in the boat, and when
cox shouts for ten strokes let her have it. Come forward all."

"Touch her gently, bow" (it is the cox who speaks, and his voice sounds
thin and far away and dream-like). "One more. That'll do. Easy, bow. Now
we're straight."

"Are you ready?" from the umpire. Great heaven! will he never
say----"Go!" he shouts. There is a swish, a leap, a strain, a rattle of
oars, a sense of something moving very swiftly alongside, a turmoil of
water, a confused roar from the bank: we are off!

We started splendidly. For half a minute I am a mere machine; thoughts,
feelings, energies--all are concentrated into one desire to work my
hardest and to keep in time. Then my mind clears, and I become conscious
once more of myself and my surroundings. Have we gained? I _must_ steal
a look. By Jupiter, they're leaving us! "Eyes in the boat, four,"
screams the cox; "you're late!" Be hanged to cox! he's got eyes like a
lynx. Yes; there's no doubt of it--I can see, without looking out of the
boat, out of the corner of my eye. They're gaining still. Now their
stroke is level with me; now he has disappeared, and for a few strokes I
am conscious of a little demon cox bobbing and screeching alongside of
me. Then he, too, draws away, and their rudder is all I can see. At last
that also vanishes, and a sense of desolation descends on us. Nearly two
minutes must have gone; I know that by the landmarks we have passed.
Surely we ought to spurt. What can stroke be up to? Is he going to let
us be beaten without an effort. Ugh! what a shower-bath that was. It's
six splashing, as usual. Well, if we're beaten, we must just grin and
bear it. We shall have to congratulate the other ruffians. Hateful!
Somebody must get beaten. But we're not beaten yet, hang it all! Three
minutes. What's this? Cox is shouting. "Now, ten hard strokes together;
swing out, and use your legs!" He counts them out for us at the top of
his voice. Grand! We're simply flying. That's something like it. And
I'm not a bit done yet. We're none of us done. The boat's going like
smoke. "Nine!" yells the cox. "Ten! Now, don't slack off, but keep her
going. You're gaining, you're gaining! On to it, all of you." He is
purple in the face, and foaming at the mouth. Glorious! Their rudder
comes back to me; I see their cox. We _are_ catching them. Now for it! A
few strokes more and the boats are running dead level, and so they
continue for half a minute. Stroke has now, however, taken the measure
of his foes. We are steadying down and swinging longer, and I am
conscious that the other crew are rowing a faster stroke. It is now our
turn to leave them. Foot by foot we creep past them; their bows come
level with me, and then slowly recede. I can see the back of their
bowman. His zephyr has come out from his shorts; the back of his neck is
very pale. There can't be more than two minutes left now, and I'm still
fit, and my wind is all right. We are winning; I'm sure of it. No;
they're spurting again, and, by Jove! they're gaining! Spurt, stroke,
spurt! We mustn't get beaten on the post. But stroke, that wary old
warrior, knows what he is about. Unmistakable signs prove to him that
this effort is the last desperate rally of his enemies. He sees their
boat lurch; their time is becoming erratic; two of them are rolling
about in evident distress. His own crew he has well in hand; we are
rowing as one man, and he feels that he has only to give a sign, and our
restrained eagerness will blaze forth and carry us gloriously past the
post. Let us wait, he seems to say, a very few seconds more, until the
opposing spurt fades out to its inevitable end; so he rows on
imperturbably. But isn't he running it too fine? Not he. He gives a
quick word to cox, rattles his hands away, and swings as if he meant to
strike his face against the kelson of the boat. "Pick her up all!"
screams the cox. "Now then!" comes in a muffled gasp from the captain.
We feel that our moment has come, and, with a unanimous impulse, we take
up the spurt and spin the ship along. In a flash we leap ahead; we leave
the other crew as if it was standing still. We are a length ahead; now
we are clear; half a length of open water divides us from them. To all
intents and purposes the race is over. The crowd grows thicker; the
shouts from the bank become a deafening din. Enthusiasts scream futile
encouragements to pursuer and pursued, and in another moment the flag is
down, the cox cries, "Easy all!" and with triumph in our hearts we
realize that we have won. The captain turns round to us--he is rowing
No. 7--his face glowing with pleasure. "Well rowed indeed, you men!" he
pants. "You all did thundering well! And as for you, stroke----" but
words fail him, and all he can do is to clap his delighted stroke on the
back. Then, having duly exchanged the customary "Well rowed!" and its
accompanying rattle of oars in rowlocks with our gallant enemy, we
paddle home to the raft, where our exultant coach and our perspiring
partisans receive us with hand-shakings and embraces and fervently
epitomized stories of the struggle. "I knew you had got 'em all the
way!" says the coach. "Did you hear me shout when you got to the
half-way point?" "Hear you shout?" we reply in a chorus of joyful
assent. "Of course we did. That's why we spurted." Of course, we had
heard nothing; but at this moment we almost think we did hear him
plainly, and in any case we are not going to be so churlish as to
detract from anybody's joy over our victory.

And so the struggle is ended, and we have won. Pleasant though it is to
know that training is over, there is not one of us who does not feel a
sense of sorrow as he realizes that these days of toil and hardship and
self-restraint, of glorious health and vigorous effort are past. All the
little worries under which we chafed, the discipline that at times was
irksome, the thirst, the fatigue, the exhaustion, the recurrent
disappointments--all these become part of a delightful memory. Never
again, it may be, shall these eight men strike the sounding furrows
together. The victory that has crowned us with honour has at the same
time broken up our companionship of labour and endurance; but its
splendid memory, and the friendships it knit together--these remain with
us, and are a part of our lives henceforth wherever we may be.


Let me turn now to lighter matters, for there are lighter matters
connected with rowing. And first let me insist on the necessity of
having a butt in a crew. It appears strange at first sight that the
system of training--that is to say, of diet, of early hours, of healthy
exercise, and of perfect regularity in all things, which has so
admirable an effect upon the condition of the body, should sometimes
impair the powers of the mind, and absolutely shatter the temper. I have
seen eight healthy, happy, even-tempered young men go into training
together for three weeks. They were all the best of friends. Tom had
known Dick at school, and both had been inseparable from Harry ever
since they had gone up to the University. With these three the other
five were closely linked by a common pursuit and by common interests.
Each one of them was a man of whom his friends could say, he was the
easiest man to get on with you could possibly meet. Yet mark what
happened. At the end of three weeks every man in that crew was the proud
possessor of seven detested foes. They ate their food in morose silence;
they took no delight in the labour of the oar, and each one confided to
his outside friends his lamentable opinions about the seven other
members of the crew. Even now, though years have passed away, no one who
rowed in that crew can look back without horror on those three terrible
weeks. 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.
Speaking from an experience of many years, I should affirm
unhesitatingly, if I did not remember what I have written in previous
chapters, that in an ordinary crew, composed, as ordinary crews are, of
men and not of angels, 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. There
may be difficulties, of course, if he should happen to be a heavy weight
without a notion of oarsmanship, but these defects can easily be
mitigated by good coaching, and in any case they cannot be allowed to
count against the supreme merit of keeping the rest of the crew in good
temper. Salient characteristics are apt to be a rock of offence to a
training crew. To be a silent thinker does not give rise to happiness in
the seven who watch you think. It is an even deadlier thing to be an
eloquent gabbler or a dreary drawler. There is nothing an ordinary
rowing man detests so much as windy eloquence, unless it be perhaps the
miserable indolence which is known as slackness. 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.
Your true butt is always spoken of as "old" So-and-so, and, as a rule,
he is a man of much sharper wits, with a far keener insight into
character, than most of those who buffet or tease him. Among eminent
butts may be named Mr.----, but on second thoughts I refrain.


It seems a mere platitude to say that a man who can occupy his spare
moments in writing or reading is likely to be happier and more
even-tempered than one who is never seen with a book or a pen in his
hand. Yet it is a platitude of which not many oarsmen realize the force;
and, indeed, it is not an uncommon sight to see most of the members of
a crew sitting about listlessly in armchairs or talking the stale
futilities of rowing shop when they might with more solid advantage be
engaged, let us say, in following Mr. Stanley Weyman's or Dr. Conan
Doyle's latest hero through the mazes of his exciting adventures. At
Oxford or Cambridge, of course, a man has his lectures to attend, his
fixed tale of work to get through. But at Putney or at Henley this is
not so. There a man is thrown back on his own resources, a companionship
which he does not always seem to find particularly cheerful or
attractive. A billiard table, of course, is a valuable adjunct to
training quarters, but this is scarcely ever found at Henley, and not
always at Putney. Besides, most of us, after a short time, cease to take
any pleasure whatever in a game in which we are not qualified to shine.
The joy of reading the sporting reporter's account of your doings, and
of proving conclusively that he knows nothing about rowing, lasts but a
short time every morning. I may, therefore, offer the oarsman a piece of
advice which is, sound, in spite of its copybook flavour, and that is,
that he shall cultivate a habit of reading, and, if possible, of reading
good literature. Many moralists might recommend this habit on the
common ground that good literature tends to improve the tone of a man's
mind; and even a coach who is not a moralist will find it useful in
distracting the thoughts of his men. Besides, it is quite pleasant in
after life to recognize a well-worn quotation in a newspaper article,
and to remember, probably with complete inaccuracy, where it originated.
A little attention to writing and spelling might also prove valuable.
Oarsmen who had devoted themselves, say for ten minutes a day, to these
simple tasks, would have been saved from perpetrating the following
correspondence, which I quote _verbatim et literatim_ from letters in my


"It has been reported to me that you broke training last night you were
seen smoking not only a few wiffs but a whole pipe I have therefore
decided to turn you out of the boat.

                    "Yours, etc."

Answer to the above--


"I am in reciet of your letter it is true that I smoked two whifs (not
"wiffs" as you say) out of another man's pipe but that's all however I
don't want to row in your beastly boat.

                    "Yours, etc."


I may add here some axioms which have been printed before,[11] but which
I may venture to repeat in a treatise on rowing. The years that have
passed since they were first set down have not weakened my conviction
that they are accurate. I still believe myself justified in stating--

(1) That if two crews row a course within ten minutes of one another,
the wind is always more violent and the stream more powerful against the
crew in which you yourself happen to be rowing.

(2) That it is always right to take off at least five seconds from the
time shown on your stop-watch in timing your own crew, and to add them,
by way of compensation, to the time shown on the same watch when timing
a rival crew.

(3) That your own crew is absolutely the only one which ever rows the
full course right out or starts at the proper place.

(4) That if your crew is impeded while rowing a course you must allow
ten seconds; but if any other crew is impeded you must allow only two

(5) That if you row a slow course, No. 5's stretcher gave way, or his
slide came off.

(6) That you could always knock a quarter of a minute off when you row a
faster stroke, but that--

(7) You never do, as a matter of fact, row a faster stroke.

(8) That your crew always rowed a slower stroke than the rest.

(9) That you are sure to do a faster time to-morrow.

(10) That your private opinion is, that if everybody in the crew did as
much work as you do yourself your crew would be many lengths faster,

(11) (and last) That you always lose by the steering of your coxswain
three lengths, which all other crews gain by the steering of theirs.

  [11] In "In Cambridge Courts."



A good coxswainless four-oared crew represents skill and watermanship,
as distinguished from mere brute strength, in their highest development.
I may lay it down as an axiom that any man who can row well in a
coxswainless Four will row equally well in an eight-oared crew. The
converse of this is, however, by no means true. A man may do good work
in an Eight, and yet be incapable of doing himself justice in a Four,
or, indeed, of helping the pace of the boat in any way. Rowing of a more
refined order is requisite for a Four. Greater power of balance is
needed, and a more perfect sense of that rhythm which goes far to secure
uniformity in rowing. You may have in your Eight a clumsy heavy-weight,
who at No. 5 can use his strength to wonderful advantage, in spite of
various aberrations from correct form. But if you put this man at No. 3
in a Four, the results are sure to be disastrous. An easier style of
movement is required for a Four. A strenuous application of all the
body-weight at the beginning of the stroke is still, no doubt,
necessary. The beginning must, of course, be gripped, and that firmly;
but the best four-oared rowing I have seen always gave me the impression
that a sort of "oiling" method of progression, in which steady
leg-pressure plays a prominent part, was best suited to a Four which is
not encumbered with the weight of a coxswain. Over and over again have
Eights been defeated at Henley for the Grand Challenge Cup, and yet
Fours, selected from their members, have been able to beat all comers in
the Stewards'. From 1868 to 1878 the London Rowing Club won the Grand
five times. In the same period of eleven years their Four was only once
defeated for the Stewards', proving, if any proof were needed, that an
inferior Eight (I use the term merely relatively) may contain a
first-class victorious Four. On the other hand, from 1891 to 1897, a
period during which Leander won the Grand five times, they were able to
win the Stewards' only once, and that was this year, when their Eight
was defeated. Instances of this kind might be multiplied.

But besides skill in oarsmanship, another element, which adds greatly
both to the difficulties and pleasures of a Four, has to be considered.
This is the necessity that one of the oarsmen should not only row, but
also guide the course of the boat by steering with his foot. It is
evident that watermanship of a very high order is needed for this feat.
The steerer must know the course and all its points perfectly. The
ordinary oar often finds it difficult to keep time when his eyes are
glued on the back of the men in front of him, but the steerer in a Four
has to keep time and regularity, even though he may be forced to look
round in order to ascertain the true direction of his boat. An oarsman
in an Eight has both his feet firmly fixed; a steerer of a Four must
keep one foot constantly ready for movement. And all this he has to do
without making the boat roll, or upsetting the harmony of his crew.
These difficulties, no doubt, are great; but when once they have been
overcome, and the crew has shaken absolutely together, there can be few
pleasures in the world of exercise comparable to that of rowing in a

During a long period the London Rowing Club had almost a monopoly of
good Fours. Their crews showed a degree of watermanship which in those
days University oarsmen despaired of attaining to. Gulston, Stout, A. de
L. Long, Trower, and S. Le B. Smith were not only names to conjure with,
but showed in their rowing that perfection of apparently simple ease
which lies at the root of success in four-oared rowing. Who that ever
witnessed it can forget the sight, once well-known at Henley, of Mr. F.
S. Gulston as he rowed and steered his Four to victory? As a recent
Cambridge versifier said of him--

    "They can't recall, but ah, I can,
       How hard and strong you looked, sir;
     Twelve stone, and every ounce a man,
       Unbeatable, uncooked, sir.
     Our French friends, had they seen your rude
       Vast strength had cried, '_Ah quel beau
     Rameur, celui qui arque le coude_'--
       That is, protrudes his elbow.

    "Your ship could run like Charley's Aunt,
       And you, demure as Penley,
     Knew all the wiles that might enchant
       The river nymphs at Henley.
     No piles had yet marked out the way
       Forbidding men to try on
     The tricks that found round every bay
       The short cuts to the 'Lion.'

    "Each inch of bay you knew by heart,
       You knew the slackest water;
     All foes who faced you at the start,
       You beat, and beat with slaughter.
     To 'form' a stranger, yet your style
       The kind that much endures was.
     I never saw--forgive the smile--
       A rounder back than yours was.

    "But round or straight, when all dismayed
       Your rivals lagged in trouble,
     Still with a firm, unfaltering blade
       You drove the swirling bubble.
     With you to speed the hours along
       No day was ere spent dully,
     Our stalwart, cheerful, matchless, strong,
       Our undefeated Gully."

As a matter of record it may be stated that Mr. Gulston won five Grand
Challenge Cup medals and ten Stewards' Cup medals, Mr. A. de L. Long
five Grand Challenge Cup medals and eight Stewards' Cup medals, and Mr.
S. Le B. Smith four Grand Challenge Cup medals, and seven Stewards' Cup
medals. No oarsman of the present day can boast of anything like such a
record in these two events.

The art of four-oared rowing, then, was brought to perfection by the
crews of the London Rowing Club many years ago; but there is no danger
that it will be forgotten by oarsmen of the present day. Indeed, the
rowing of the Leander Four that won the Stewards' Cup this year was
about as good as four-oared rowing can be. They were absolutely
together, they rowed with most perfect ease, and in the race they beat
record time by seven seconds, and might have beaten it by still more,
had they not easied a length or two from the finish. Their weights were
as follows:--

  Bow. C. W. N. Graham                   10 st. 2 lbs.
    2. J. A. Ford                        12 st. 1 lb.
    3. H. Willis                         11 st. 12 lbs.
       Guy Nickalls (stroke, and steers) 12 st. 7 lbs.

From the above remarks it will be gathered that the great points to be
insisted upon in four-oared rowing are uniformity, and again uniformity,
and always uniformity. A coach should insist, if possible even more
strenuously than he insists in an Eight, on bodies and slides moving
with a faultless precision and perfectly together. Let him devote his
energies to getting the finish and recovery locked up all through the
crew, and let him see to it that the movements of their bodies shall be
slow and balanced on the forward swing, and strong and not jerky on the
back swing. More it would be difficult to add.

When a Four is practising for a four-oared race alone--that is to say,
when its members are not rowing in an eight-oared crew as well, their
course of work should be similar to that laid down for an Eight. But
when, as often happens at Henley, a Four is made up out of the members
of an eight-oared crew, it will always be found better to allow its
members to do the bulk of their work in the Eight, and to confine
themselves in the Four principally to long and easy paddling, varied by
short, sharp bursts of rowing. It may be necessary for such a Four to go
over the full course once at top speed, but that ought to be enough.
Their work in the Eight should get them into condition; all that they
really need in the Four is to be able to row perfectly together. The
Brasenose Four that won the Stewards' in 1890 had never rowed over the
full course before the day of the race. Their longest piece of rowing,
as distinguished from paddling, had been a burst of three minutes. Their
men acquired fitness by working in the Eight, and proved their
condition by the two desperate races they rowed.

As to steering, it used to be said that anybody might steer in a Four
except stroke, but Mr. Guy Nickalls has proved that a stroke can steer
as well as row. He has won four Stewards' Cup medals, has stroked and
steered in every race, and his boat has always been kept on a faultless

In the case of the ordinary oar, however, the old saying, I think, holds
good. Bow naturally is the best place to steer from, not only because in
turning his head he can obtain a clear view of the course, but also
because he has a considerable advantage in leverage, and ought to be
able to control the direction of his boat merely by relaxing or
increasing the power applied to his oar. The best part of the stroke for
looking round is, I consider, towards the finish. A turn of the head,
accompanied by an outward movement of the outside elbow to suit the
slightly altered position of the body, while keeping pressure on the
oar, is all that is necessary. Yet I have seen Mr. Guy Nickalls look
round in the middle of his forward swing without apparently disturbing
the equilibrium of the boat. In any case, the best thing a steerer can
do is to learn his course by heart, so that he may be able to steer for
the most part without looking round at all, judging the direction she is
taking by her stern and by well-known objects on the bank as he passes
them. Personally I prefer, and I think most men prefer, to steer with
the outside foot. The captain of a Four should always look carefully to
his steering-gear to see that the wires and strings are taut, and that
they move properly and without jamming over the wheels. I have seen more
than one race lost by accidents to the steering-gear that might have
been avoided by a little preliminary attention.


This, too, is a very pleasant form of rowing, both with a view to racing
and merely for casual amusement. The main elements for success are
similar to those laid down in the case of Fours. In pair-oared rowing,
however, there is one important point which distinguishes it from all
other forms of rowing. It is absolutely essential that the two men
composing a Pair should not row "jealous," _i.e._ neither of them must
attempt to row the other round in order to prove his own superior
strength and ability. Such a course of action not only makes progress
circuitous and slow, but also ends by entirely destroying the tempers of
both oarsmen. In a Pair, even more than in a Four, the bow oar has a
considerable advantage in leverage, whence it comes that a lighter and
less powerful man can often row bow in a Pair with a strong and heavy
stroke. The most surprising instance of this occurred in the Oxford
University Pairs of 1891, which were won by the late Mr. H. B. Cotton,
rowing bow at 9 st. 12 lbs., to the stroke of Mr. Vivian Nickalls, who
weighed close on 13 st. An instance to the contrary was afforded by the
winners of the Goblets at Henley in 1878. These were Mr. T. C.
Edwards-Moss, bow, 12 st. 3 lbs., and Mr. W. A. Ellison, stroke, 10 st.
13 lbs. The Goblets at Henley have been won six times by Mr. Guy
Nickalls, and five times by his brother Vivian.


There has been, during the past year, a movement in favour of using
swivel rowlocks, not only in sculling-boats, but also in Pairs, Fours,
and Eights, though the majority of English oarsmen, even when inclined
to use them in Pairs and Fours, set their faces against them for
Eights. The advocates of swivels contend that by their use the hands are
eased on the recovery, and the jar that takes place when the oar turns
on a fixed rowlock is absolutely abolished. These advantages seem to me
to be exaggerated, for, though I have carefully watched for it, I have
never seen an Eight or a Four retarded in her place for even a fraction
of a second by the supposed jar due to the turning of the oar on the
feather in fixed rowlocks. On the other hand, I am convinced that for an
ordinary eight-oared crew the fixed rowlock is best, and for the
following reasons:--

The combined rattle of the oars as they turn constitutes a most valuable
rallying-point. The ears are brought into action as well as the eyes.
This advantage is lost with swivels. In modern sculling-boats a man must
use swivels, for the reach of the sculler extends to a point which he
could not reach with fixed rowlocks, as his sculls would lock before he
got there. As he moves forward he is constantly opening up, his arms
extending on either side of his body; but in rowing, one arm swings
across the body, and unless you are going to screw the body round
towards the rigger, and thus sacrifice all strength of beginning, you
cannot fairly reach beyond a certain point, which is just as easily and
comfortably attained with fixed rowlocks as with swivels. Moreover--and
here is the great advantage--you have in the thole-pin of a fixed
rowlock an absolutely immovable surface, and the point of application of
your power is always the same throughout the stroke. With a swivel this
is not so, for the back of the swivel, against which your oar rests, is
constantly moving. To put it in other words, it is far easier with a
fixed rowlock to get a square, firm, clean grip of the beginning, and
for the same reason it is easier to bring your oar square and clean out
at the end of the stroke. A really good waterman can, of course, adapt
himself to swivels, as he can to almost anything else in a boat, but his
task will not be rendered any easier by them. For average oars, and even
for most good oars, the difficulties of rowing properly will be largely
increased, without any compensating advantage, so far as I am able to
judge. In the case of novices, I am convinced that it would be quite
disastrous to attempt to make them row with swivel rowlocks.

_Measurements of Racing Four built by J. H. Clasper._

(In this boat Leander won the Stewards' Cup, 1897.)

                                                 ft. ins.
  Length over all                                42  3
  Greatest breadth of beam, exactly amidship      1  8⅜
  From centre of seat to sill of rowlock          2  8½
  Length of play of slides                        1  3⅞
  Height of sliding-seat above skin of boat          8⅞
  Height of heel-traps above skin of boat            1⅝
    (This would make the heels about one inch
        above skin of boat.)
  Height of sill of rowlock above seat               6¾
  Depth forward                                      6⅛
  Depth aft                                          5

_Measurements of Oars used._

  Length over all                                12  0½
  Length in-board                                 3  8½
  Length of blade                                 2  8
  Breadth of blade                                   5¾

This boat is some three feet shorter than the average of Fours nowadays.

The oars used by the New College Four measured over all 12 ft. 6 ins.;
in-board, 3 ft. 8½ ins.; breadth of blades, 5½ ins.

_Measurement of a Pair Oar built by Sims, of Putney._

(In this Pair Mr. H. G. Gold, and Mr. R. Carr won the University Pairs
at Oxford, their weights being 11 st. 10 lbs. and 12 st. 8 lbs.

                                                 ft. ins.
  Length over all                                37  1
  Greatest breadth                                1  3¾
  Length of slide play                            1  4
  Distance from sill of rowlock to centre of seat 2  8½
  Height of seat above skin of boat                  8⅛
  Height of heels above skin of boat                 1¼

[Illustration: HENLEY REGATTA.

(_A Heat for the Diamonds._)]



_By Guy Nickalls._

In writing an article on sculling, a sculler must of necessity be
egotistical. He can only speak of what he himself feels to be the
correct way of doing things, and cannot judge of how a different man
feels under the same circumstances. I therefore put in a preliminary
plea for forgiveness if in the course of these remarks the letter "I"
should occur with excessive frequency. Sculling is so entirely an art by
itself, that a man might just as well ask a painter how he produces an
impression on a canvas as ask a sculler why he can scull, or how it
comes that so many good oarsmen cannot scull. Ask an ordinary
portrait-painter why he cannot sketch a landscape, and ask an ordinary
oarsman to explain why he cannot scull, and to the uninitiated the
answer of both will have the same sort of vagueness. Sculling differs
so vastly from rowing that no man who has not tried his hand at both can
appreciate how really wide apart they stand; and the fact that sculling
depends to such a great extent on one's innate sense of touch and
balance, makes it extremely hard for a man who has tried his hand with
some success at both sculling and rowing to explain to the novice, or
even to the veteran oarsman, wherein the difference lies. There is as
much difference between sculling and rowing as there is between a single
cyclist racing without pacemakers, steering and balancing himself and
making his own pace, and a man in the middle of a quintette merely
pedalling away like a machine at another man's pace, and not having the
balance or anything else solely under his control. The difference in
"feel" is so great that one might liken it to the difference between
riding a light, springy, and eager thoroughbred which answers quickly to
every touch, and pounding uncomfortably along on a heavy, coarse-bred
horse, responding slowly to an extra stimulus, and deficient in life and

To scull successfully one must possess pluck, stamina, and a cool head,
and must, above all, be a waterman. A man may _row_ well and
successfully, and yet possess none of these qualities. Nothing depresses
a man more when he is sculling than his sense of utter isolation. If a
spurt is required, he alone has to initiate it and carry it through;
there is no cheering prospect of another strong back aiding one, no
strenuous efforts of others to which one can rally, no cox to urge one
to further effort. You feel this even more in practice than in actual
racing, especially when going against the clock. You are your own
stroke, captain, crew, and cox, and success or failure depends entirely
and absolutely upon yourself. No one else (worse luck) is to blame if
things go wrong.

The pace of a sculling-boat is strictly proportionate to the quality of
its occupant. A good man will go fast and win his race; a bad man
cannot. A good man in an Eight cannot make his crew win; and a bad man
in an Eight may mar a crew, but he can also very often win a race
against a crew containing better men than himself.

People have often asked me why a first-class oar should not of necessity
be a good sculler. This, although a hard matter to explain, is partly
accounted for by what I have said above, in that sculling is so greatly
a matter of delicate touch and handling. Even good oars are as often as
not clumsy and wanting in a quick light touch. Very few really big men
have ever been fine scullers. This is partly accounted for by the fact
that so few boats are built large enough to carry big weights, and
consequently they are under-boated when practising. Many big weights,
_e.g._ S. D. Muttlebury and F. E. Churchill, have been good and fast
scullers at Eton, but two or three years afterwards are slow, and get
slower and slower the longer they continue. This, I think, is a good
deal owing to the muscle which a big man generally accumulates,
especially on the shoulders and arms, and he therefore lacks the
essential qualities of elasticity, lissomeness, and quickness with the

Big, strong men also generally grip with great ferocity the handles of
their sculls, and these being small, the forearm becomes cramped, and
gives out. Many good oarsmen have never tried to scull, and those who
have generally give it up after a first failure, which is more often
than not due to want of attention to detail. What passes for good
watermanship in an Eight is mere clumsiness in a sculling-boat, and, as
a matter of fact, there are far fewer really good watermen than the
casual observer imagines.

I asked three of our best modern heavy-weight oarsmen to tell me the
reason why they could not scull. The Thames R.C. man said the only
reason why he had never won the Diamonds was because he had never gone
in for them. This was straightforward, but unconvincing to any one who
had watched this gentleman gambolling in a sculling-boat. The Cambridge
heavy-weight affirmed solemnly that he could scull, and was at one time
very fast. He subsequently admitted that he could never get a boat big
enough, and, secondly, his arms always gave. The Oxford heavy-weight
replied much to the same purpose, without the preliminary affirmation.

Many men can scull well and slowly, but few can really go fast, and
this, I think, is due to the fact that they do not practise enough with
faster men than themselves, and so do not learn by experience what
action of theirs will best propel a boat at its fastest pace. Nothing is
more deceptive than pace; when a man thinks he is going fastest he is
generally going slowest. He gets the idea that he is going fast because
his boat is jumping under him, and creating a large amount of side-wash;
but an observer from the bank will notice that although the sculls are
applying great power, that power is not being applied properly, and his
boat will be seen to be up by the head and dragging at the stern, and
bouncing up and down instead of travelling.

The first and foremost thing, then, to be attended to for pace is
balance, _i.e._ an even keel, and to obtain this your feet should be
very firm in your clogs. As those supplied by the trade are of a very
rough and rudimentary character, they will nearly always require padding
in different places. You should be able to feel your back-stop just so
much that when leaning back well past the perpendicular you can push
hard against it with a straight leg. You are then quite firm, and can
control your body in the event of your boat rolling. Although when a man
has become a waterman he will find the back-stop unnecessary, it is
safest for the novice to have it, so as to be able to press against it;
otherwise, having nothing to press against at the finish of his stroke,
he may acquire the bad habit of relying entirely on his toes to pull him
forward. In such a position he is unstable, and if his boat rolls he has
no control over his body.

Having got your balance, the next thing to be thought of is the stroke.
Reach forward until the knees touch either armpit; put the sculls in
quite square, and take the water firmly (be most careful not to rush or
jerk the beginning); at the same time drive with the legs, sending the
slide, body and all, back; the loins must be absolutely firm, so that
the seat does not get driven away from underneath the body. If you allow
the loins to be loose and weak you will acquire that caterpillar action
which was to be seen in several aspirants to Diamond Sculls honours last
year, and which ruined whatever poor chance they ever possessed. This
diabolical habit of driving the slide away, although common to many
professionals, cannot be too severely condemned, as it relieves the
sculler from doing any work at all except with the arms, which, if thus
used, without swing and leg-work to help them, cannot, unless a man is
enormously muscular in them, hold out for any great length of time. The
firm drive will start the swing of the body, which may be continued a
fraction of time after the slide has finished. You will find that when
you have driven your slide back your body will have swung well past the
perpendicular (and in sculling you may swing further back than you are
allowed to in rowing). When in that position a sculler is allowed to do
that which an oarsman must not, viz. he may help to start his recovery
by moving his body slightly up to meet his sculls as they finish the
stroke. Thus by keeping his weight on the blades in the water as long as
possible, instead of in his boat, he strengthens the finish and prevents
his boat burying itself by the bows. The stroke from the beginning
should go on increasing in strength to the finish, which should be firm
and strong, but, like the beginning, not jerked or snapped. Strength
applied to the finish keeps a boat travelling in between the strokes.

The finish is by far the hardest part of the stroke, and is most
difficult to get clean and smart. The position is naturally a far weaker
one than that of the oarsman, as the hands are eight inches or so
further back, and at the same time six inches or so clear of the ribs.
In this position nine out of ten scullers fail to get a really quick
recovery with the sculls clean out and clear of the water, the hands
away like lightning and clear of the knees, and the body at the same
time swinging forward. As soon as the hands have cleared the knees they
should begin to turn the blade off the feather, so that by the time you
are full forward the blades are square and ready to take the water.
Professionals recommend staying on the feather until just before the
water is taken, but this is apt to make the novice grip his handles
tightly, and press on them almost unconsciously when he should be very
light. He will thus make his blade fly up and miss the beginning. In
order to ensure both hands working perfectly level and taking and
leaving the water exactly together, a man should watch his stern, and by
the turn given either way he can easily detect which hand is not doing
its right amount of work. Which hand you scull over or which under makes
little or no difference. Personally, I scull with the right hand under.
In holding a scull the thumb should "cap" the handle; this prevents you
from pulling your button away from the thowl even the slightest bit, and
makes your grip firmer and steadier. If in steering you must look right
round, do so shortly before you are full forward, as soon as the hands
have cleared the knees, but generally steer by the stern, if you can,
without looking round, and almost unconsciously by what you notice out
of the corner of either eye as you pass.

Modern professionals, with very few exceptions, scull in disgracefully
bad form. W. Haines, Wag Harding, and W. East, at his best, are perhaps
the only exceptions I know to this rule. English professionals, owing to
the manual labour with which most of them start life, become abnormally
strong in the arms, and trust almost entirely to those muscles. Their
want of swing, their rounded backs, and "hoicked" finish they carry with
them into a rowing-boat. Nothing shows up their bad form in rowing so
much as sandwiching a few pros. in a goodish amateur crew--"by their
style ye shall know them." They have acquired a style which does not
answer, and which they cannot get rid of, and they consider an Eight can
be propelled in the same manner as a sculling-boat. Nothing is more
erroneous. They cannot assimilate their style to the correct one. Two
pros. sometimes make a fair pair, because they may happen to "hoick"
along in the same style. Professional Fours are a little worse than
Pairs, and their Eights disgraceful. I am of opinion (and I fancy most
men who know anything about rowing will agree with me) that England's
eight best amateurs in a rowing-boat would simply lose England's eight
best pros. over any course from a mile upwards. This inability to
assimilate one's style to that of another man, or body of men, may be
the reason why some excellent amateur scullers proved inferior oars, or
it may be that they can go at their own pace and not at another man's. I
myself have often felt on getting out of a sculling-boat into an Eight
great difficulty and much weariness at being compelled to go on at
another man's pace, and only to easy at another's order. If you are
practising for sculling as well as rowing there is nothing like being
_captain_ of an Eight or stroke of a Pair or Four.

The novice, if he has toiled so far as this, is no doubt by now saying
to himself that I am only repeating what he knows already, and that what
he especially requires are hints as to rigging his boat, size and shape
of sculls, and various measurements, the pace of stroke he ought to go,
etc., Of course, the smaller the blade the quicker the stroke, and _vice
versâ_. It should be remembered that even 1/16 of an inch extra in the
breadth of a blade makes a lot of difference. Blades, I think, should
vary according to the liveliness of water rowed on, and according to the
strength of the individual. For myself, I am rather in favour of smaller
blades than are generally used. My experience leads me to believe that
racing sculls should be from 9 ft. 8½ ins. to 9 ft. 9½ ins. in
length all over; in-board measurement from 2 ft. 8¼ ins. to 2 ft. 9
ins., but, of course, this entirely depends on how much you like your
sculls to overlap. When they are at right angles to the boat, my sculls
overlap so much that there is a hand's-breadth of space in between my
crossed hands. The length of blade should be about 2 ft.; breadth of
blade, from 5¾ ins. to 6¼ ins. Even on the tideway sculls should
be as light as a good scull-maker can turn them out, so long as they
retain their stiffness. Do not, however, sacrifice stiffness to
lightness. It is rather interesting to compare these measurements with
those of a pair of sculls hanging over my head as I write; these were
used in a championship race eighty years ago, and have a heavy square
loom to counteract their length and consequent weight out-board. The
measurements are--8 ft. 8 ins. in length over all, 1 ft. 9 ins.
in-board; length of blade, 2 ft. 5 ins.; breadth of blade, 3⅛ ins. I
give below roughly what should be the measurements of a boat according
to the weight of the sculler. For a man of--

                 9 stone.   12 stone.      13 stone.
  Length        30 ft.       31 ft.       31 ft. 3 ins.
  Width         9 ins.       10½ ins.     11½ ins.
  Depth         5¼ ins.       5½ ins.      5¾ ins.
    "  forward  3¼ ins.       3½ ins.      3⅝ ins.
    "  aft      2½ ins.       2½ ins.      2⅝ ins.
  Weight        24 lbs.       28 lbs.      34 lbs.

As to slide, I hold that a man should slide to a point level with his
rowing-pin--never past it, lest the boat should be pinched instead of
being driven at the beginning of the stroke. The clogs should be fixed
at an angle of 55° to the keel (_i.e._ an angle measured along the back
of the clogs). If the angle is much smaller, the feet and legs lose
power when the sculler is full back, and the drive at the finish is
weakened. If the angle is greater, the difficulty of bending the
ankle-joints sufficiently as the slide moves forward becomes very
serious. The distance of fifteen inches from the heel of the clogs to
the edge of slide when full forward may be slightly reduced, but only
slightly. For instance, if reduced, as is sometimes done, to ten inches,
the body comes too close to the heels in the forward position to enable
the sculler to get a strong, direct, and immediate drive, and the boat
is pinched.

A very old sculling-boat of mine--and perhaps the best that Clasper ever
built--was built for Mr. F. I. Pitman in 1886. She owed her pace to the
fact that she was very long aft, and consequently never got up by the
head; her cut-water was always in the water, even when her occupant was
full forward; and the most marvellous thing was that, low as she was,
she did not bury her nose, considering that she had to endure a weight
of 170 lbs. or so, shifting its position fore and aft to the extent of
sixteen inches. She is a marvel of the boat-builder's art, and was built
of exceptionally close-framed cedar, which takes a long time to get
water-soaked, and indeed should never do so if properly looked after.
Her dimensions were: Length, 31 ft. 2 ins.; length from edge of sliding
seat when forward to stern-post, 14 ft. 6½ ins.; width, 11¼ ins.;
depth forward, 3¼ ins.; depth aft, 2⅝ ins.; depth amidships, 5½
ins.; from heels to back edge of slide when back, 3 ft. 5¼ ins.;
leverage, _i.e._ measurement from thowl to thowl across, 4 ft. 9 ins.;
from heels to edge of seat when forward, 15¼ inches. She won the
Diamond Sculls in 1886, 1888, 1889, 1890; the amateur championship in
1886, 1887, 1888, 1889, 1890; besides the Metropolitan Sculls and
several minor races.

It is a great mistake to try and get a boat too light. The eagerness a
man will display in cutting down everything to lessen the weight of his
craft, until he is sitting on the water on a weak bit of nothing, is
really astounding. Three or four extra pounds often make all the
difference, whether a boat is stiff and keeps on travelling, or whether
she jumps, cocks her head, and waggles about generally.

As to the pace of stroke, from twenty-two to twenty-six strokes a minute
is a fair practice paddle, twenty-four to twenty-eight for sculling
hard, and in racing, even for a minute, never attempt anything over
thirty-eight. I once sculled seventy-eight strokes in two minutes, and
felt more dead than alive at the end of it. It is harder work to scull
thirty-eight strokes in a minute than it is to row forty-four in the
same time. If you do start at thirty-eight, drop down as soon as
possible to thirty-four, thirty-two, or even thirty, according to
circumstances of wind and weather, etc. My best advice to the novice is
to go just fast enough to clean out his opponent before the same thing
happens to himself, or, even better still, to get his opponent beaten,
and leave himself fresh. But always remember if you are at all evenly
matched, that however bad you feel yourself, your opponent is probably
in just as bad a plight. Talking of pace reminds me of how soon even the
best scullers tire. In sculling a course against time at Henley, a good
man may get to Fawley, the halfway point, in about the same time as a
Pair, and yet will be half a minute slower from that point to the
finish; and for the last quarter-mile the veriest tiro can out-scull a
champion, provided the latter has gone at his best pace throughout. In
scull-racing the advantage of the lead is greater than in rowing, as a
sculler can help his own steering by watching the direction of the
other's craft. Yet you should never sacrifice your wind to obtain the
advantage, for recollect that in sculling you can never take a blow or
an easy for even a stroke. If you are behind, never turn round to look
at your opponent, as by doing so you lose balance and pace, and many a
good man has lost a race by so doing. Keep just so close up to your man
as to prevent him giving you the disadvantage of his back wash.

Training for sculling requires more time and practice than training for
rowing. If it takes an Eight 6 weeks to get together and fit to race, it
takes a Four 9 weeks, a Pair 12 weeks, and a Sculler 15 weeks. If a man
is training for both rowing and sculling at the same time, and racing in
both on the same day, it takes lengths and lengths off his pace, for
rowing upsets all that precision so necessary in sculling. If a man
sculls and rows at Henley, and does both on the same day, and practises
for the same daily for a month beforehand, I should think it would make
him from six to eight lengths slower on the Henley course. Otherwise,
train as you would for rowing, the only difference being that a little
more time should be spent in the actual sculling than is spent in the
actual rowing.

Having attended Henley Regatta since 1883, and having raced there for
twelve years in succession, I have met with various scullers. Mr. J. C.
Gardner, taking him all round, was the finest I have ever seen of
amateurs. He was quite the best stripped man I have ever seen, his
muscles standing out like bars of steel all over his body; he was a very
neat, finished sculler, the only fault I could find with him being a
tendency to a weak finish. W. S. Unwin, a light weight, was extremely
neat, but his style was rather spoilt by a roundish back. F. I. Pitman,
his great rival, was perhaps a better stayer, and had a more elegant
style. Vivian Nickalls, for a long man, was a fine sculler, handicapped
by an awkward finish and handicapped also by the fact that he never
entirely gave his time up to sculling only--his chief characteristic
being a fine, healthy, long body swing. M. Bidault, a Frenchman, who
rowed in the Metropolitan Regatta some years ago, was 7 ft. 4½ ins.
high; he weighed 17 stone; his boat weighed 50 lbs., was 35 feet long,
had a 5 ft. leverage; his sculls were 11 ft. 10 ins. long. Compare with
him Wag Harding, with a boat 19½ lbs. in weight, weighing 9 stone
himself, and you will see in what different forms and shapes men can
scull. And M. Bidault was a fast man for a quarter of a mile. The
fastest sculler for half a mile I have ever seen was Herr Doering, who
sculled for the Diamonds in 1887. The slowest man I have ever seen
was---- Well, I won't mention names, as he might go in for the Diamond
Sculls again. Rupert Guinness, although not what I should call a born
sculler, obtained his great proficiency in sculling by dint of a very
long and careful preparation, by months and months of continual
practice, and by not hampering his sculling by entering and practising
for rowing events at the same time--in fact, by making a speciality of




_By G. L. Davis_,

Cox of the Cambridge Eight, 1875-79; Cox of Leander, 1880-85.

Many people think that any one, provided he be of the proper weight, is
fitted to fill the post of coxswain.

Nobody, however, knows better than the actual rowing man what an amount
of useless labour and irritation a crew can be saved by possessing a
good man in the stern, not to mention the assistance he can afford both
directly and indirectly in getting a crew together. Certainly a mere
tiro, having acquired the elementary knowledge that if he pulls the
right rudder-line he will turn his boat to starboard, _i.e._ to the
right, and that if he pulls his left line he will turn her to port,
_i.e._ to the left, may be able to guide a boat sufficiently well for
ordinary purposes; but even in the period of training a crew, and still
more so in the race, there is undoubtedly plenty of scope for a clever
coxswain to distinguish himself. There is no royal road to good
steering. Pains and perseverance are necessary, as in every other branch
of athletics. The attainment of perfection in steering is not all that
is requisite; there are many other qualities added to this skill which
combine to make a coxswain worthy to be reckoned in the front rank--a
position which all coxswains should aim for.

In the days of Tom Egan the steerer had to act as coach to his crew, but
nowadays he is no longer called upon to do so. He is, in the first
place, chosen on account of his light weight; but eligible though he may
be in this respect, he is too often quite incapable in other ways of
performing his duties. Should this be the case, a crew would be well
advised in carrying a few more pounds, or even a stone or two extra, if
by so doing they manage to gain an able and experienced coxswain. There
are certain qualities which are absolutely essential in the right sort.
He should have light hands, judgment, a cool head, and plenty of nerve
to enable him to keep his presence of mind in the face of a sudden
predicament or unforeseen danger. There are numberless occasions both in
practice and during races when risks are run. A boat laden with
pleasure-seekers may suddenly pop out from the bank into the course. The
coolness of the coxswain may avert very much more serious consequences
than the loss of a stroke or two, such as a broken rigger or an injury
to an oarsman, by a touch of the rudder and a ready appeal to his crew
to mind their oars.

During a University Boat Race, in which I was steering the Cambridge
Boat, a waterman's wherry, with two or three occupants, was suddenly
pulled out from the Surrey shore at a short distance above Hammersmith
Bridge. The course at this point lies somewhat near to the bank, and the
Oxford Boat was nearly level with mine. The wherry was directly in my
way, and, as far as I could make out, those who were in it seemed to be
in doubt as to whether they should row still further out or make for the
shore. If I went to the right, a foul was imminent with the Oxford Boat;
if to the left, I should have got into slack water and lost ground by
the _détour_. There was no time for those in the wherry to waste in
making up their minds, so I promptly made straight for them with the
object of driving them out of my course. The desired effect followed.
They got sufficient way on in the direction of the shore to enable me to
steer straight on and clear them. My action involved the ticklish
question of judgment of distance and of pace, namely, should I reach the
spot before the wherry was clear; and this anecdote illustrates my
point--that quickness in making up the mind, and, when it is made up, in
acting, is _essential_ to a coxswain.

The duties of a coxswain consist of many and varied details. To make a
smart crew, attention should be paid to discipline both in and out of
the boat, and he can and ought to further this object to the utmost of
his power, thereby saving the coach or captain a great deal of trouble.
If the coxswain of a light eight-oared racing ship has been ordered to
get her into the water, he ought to be there to superintend the order
being carried out. He should bid his crew "stand by" their riggers, and
see that each man is in readiness to lift and carry her to the water's
edge. There is generally a waterman at hand, but whether there is or
not, the coxswain should be ready, if necessary, to remove any stool
upon which the ship may have been resting, so as to prevent any
stumbling on the part of his men. His place is near the rudder (unless
she is launched stern foremost, when, of course, it would be
impossible), to prevent any injury happening to it, until the boat is
safely in the water. He will then get the oarsmen into her in an orderly
manner. There is necessity for this, for otherwise the boat's back may
be strained. This might occur by allowing stroke and bow to get in
first, owing to a boat of such length and lightness of build being
supported in the centre and at the same time weighted at each end. The
best order for the men to take their places is, 4, 5, 3, 6, 2, 7, bow,
and then stroke. The coxswain should call out their numbers one by one,
holding the boat firmly whilst they take their seats, and on no account
allow more than one man to get in at the same time. In disembarking, it
is part of his duty to see that the crew leave the ship in the reverse
order. The coxswain seats himself in the aftermost thwart perfectly
upright, with his legs crossed tailor-fashion, and takes up the
rudder-lines one in each hand; and, before he gives any command, should
see that his steering gear is in proper order. It is a common and useful
custom for the purpose of preventing the hand from slipping, to have
attached to each line a piece of wood of about three to four inches in
length, and one and a half in circumference, called a tug. These the
coxswain clasps tightly, one in each hand. Some coxswains hold their
rudder-lines in front of the body, others behind; but in my opinion the
best place to hold them is by the side, with the hands resting one on
each gunwale. The coxswain, by thus supporting himself, can better
preserve a firm and steady seat. He should never slip about on his seat,
but always keep his body as nearly as possible erect, and balanced from
his hips. He must on no account roll with the boat, and should endeavour
to prevent himself being moved to and fro by the action of the rowers.
Often a narrow strip of wood is nailed to the seat the better to enable
him to sit firm. The lines must be kept taut, and tied together in front
of him, lest by any accident he should lose one or both overboard. After
having shoved off and paddled into position, he should see that the
bows of his boat point straight for the course he wishes to steer. He
will then start his crew by calling upon them to "get ready," when they
will divest themselves of any superfluous clothing and make any other
necessary preparations. He will then say "Forward!" or "Forward all!"
for them to come forward in readiness for the first stroke. He should
now take care that his boat is level, and should tell the oarsmen on the
side to which she may list to raise their hands, or call upon the crew
to get her level. After that he asks, "Are you ready?" as a final
warning, and lastly cries, "Row!" or "Paddle!" as may be required. Some
other forms are employed, but this is as good as any, and better than
most, and the same words should always be used when once adopted. In the
event of a crew making a bad start, they should be at once stopped and
restarted. If the coxswain be desirous for his crew to stop rowing or
paddling, "Easy all!" is the term to use, and this order should be given
almost immediately after the commencement of a stroke, to prevent the
rowers coming forward for the next one. In case it may be necessary to
bring his boat up sharp, he will say, "Hold her up all!"[12] and if (at
any time) there is any danger of the oars touching anything, he should
cry, "Mind your oars, bow side," or "stroke side," as the case may be.
The boat is ordinarily turned on the port (left) side by calling upon
bow and No. 3 to paddle, and stroke and No. 6 to back water, or back,
for brevity; and on the starboard (right) side by calling upon Nos. 2
and 4 to paddle, and Nos. 5 and 7 to back. In each case the coxswain
naturally assists with the rudder. When turning a racing ship, for fear
of weakening her, the paddling and rowing should not take place

  [12] This is the term used at Cambridge, where "Hold her" is also used
  with the same meaning. At Oxford, "Hold her up" means "Paddle on
  gently;" and "Hold her all," or "Stop her all," would be the order if a
  sudden stoppage were required. To carry out such an order the rowers
  turn the blades flat on the water, and raise their hands quickly, thus
  burying blades in the water.

Whatever the coxswain addresses to his crew should be spoken clearly and
distinctly, so that all may hear without difficulty. The preceding
instructions comprise most of the everyday terms that a coxswain should

Now let me turn to his functions of a semi-coaching character, of
keeping his crew in time. Whether the crew are rowing or paddling, he
must carefully watch the time of the oars, both as they catch the water
and leave it. If the oarsman catches the water too soon, he should be
told not to hurry; if too late, he should be told, "You're late." If he
leaves it too soon, or, as it is called, clips his stroke at the finish,
he should be told to finish it out, etc. (but if an oarsman finishes it
after the stroke, I cannot advise the coxswain to take notice of it).
All these semi-coaching remarks, if I may so call them, should be
prefaced with the number of the crew to whom they are addressed, for the
purpose of calling his attention, and must be used with judgment and
tact, for nothing can be more aggravating, not to say maddening, to an
oarsman at any time, more especially when fagged in a race, to hear
incessantly the possibly high-pitched and monotonous tones of a
coxswain. There is only one fault that will excuse him shouting himself
hoarse, if he be so disposed, and it is the fault, or rather vice, of
one of the crew looking out of the boat; and he should at once cry,
"Eyes in the boat!" and continue to do so until he is obeyed. There are
certain acts of watermanship which an efficient coxswain will not
neglect to carry out, namely, when turning to come down-stream, to swing
his boat round by pulling her head outwards into the current; and, on
the other hand, when turning to proceed up-stream, to thrust her nose
into the slack water inshore, and allow her stern to come round in the
same manner; and always to bring his boat in to the raft or
landing-stage with her head pointing up-stream.

There is no need for me to set out the rules of the road for a coxswain
to follow, as they can be read at any time in the Rowing Almanack, which
comes out annually, and is published at the _Field_ office.

To steer a straight course, a coxswain should fix upon a high and
conspicuous object some distance ahead, and endeavour to keep the nose
of his boat dead on it; and when learning his course, he should remember
to choose objects of a permanent nature, or in the race he will be in
difficulties. Now, the keeping of a straight course is not so simple as
it appears; in fact, it is a most difficult thing to do properly, and
there is no case in which the advantage of a coxswain with light hands
is better displayed. It will be noticed that such a one leaves scarcely
a ripple in his wake, whilst another will leave a considerable wash. The
reason of it is this: that whilst the former uses practically no rudder,
the latter, by first pulling one line and then the other, causes the
stern of his boat to swing from side to side, until, as the sailors say,
she becomes wild--that is to say, so unsteady that the further she
travels the more rudder she will require to prevent her bows from yawing
and to keep her course. He should never steer for a curve in the bank or
for other projections--as, for instance, the buttress of a bridge--in
such a manner as to be compelled to sheer out to clear them. He should
approach a sharp corner as wide as possible, in order to reduce the
acuteness of the angle at which he will have to take it, and should have
the boat's head round by the time that the axis or pivot, if I may use
the term, on which the boat swings, and which in the eight-oared boats I
steered was usually trimmed to be somewhere between the seats of Nos. 4
and 5, is off the most prominent point.

The difficulty of taking this sort of corner is increased when the
course lies up-stream, according to the strength of the current; for not
only does the current acting on the bows tend to prevent the boat
coming round, but also to drive her head towards the opposite bank. When
the Cam at Cambridge is in flood, "Grassy" and Ditton are corners of
this character, but usually that river runs sluggishly. But even then
these corners present many difficulties. "Grassy" is on the right bank
of the river, and therefore on the coxswain's left; Ditton is on his
right. The former is the harder to manipulate properly, by reason of the
river becoming a narrow neck shortly before the corner is reached.

In taking "Grassy," the coxswain should keep close to the tow-path bank
until he commences to make the turn. It is impossible to explain on
paper the exact spot when he should do so. The common fault is to begin
too soon. Practice and experience only can teach him when to time his
action correctly; but having acquired this knowledge, he will get his
boat round with but a moderate amount of rudder, especially if he call
upon bow and No. 3 for a little extra assistance.

Some years ago, during the Lent Term Bumping Races at Cambridge, the
coxswain of one of the boats, with the intention of cutting off the
preceding one as it was being steered round in the correct way, took
this very corner close to the inside bend at its very commencement, and
in so doing acted contrary to the principle of giving a sharp corner a
wide berth at the first part. The consequence was that, having failed to
calculate the pace at which the other was travelling, and having missed
his bump, he found it impossible to bring his boat round, ran high and
dry on to the opposite bank, and was, of course, himself bumped.

Ditton should be approached as wide as the coxswain can manage, by
hugging the opposite bank until he begins to bring the boat's head
round, which, as in the case of Grassy, should not be done until as late
as possible. Here, too, Nos. 2 and 4 may be called upon to help her
round. The rudder should be put on between the strokes as a rule,
gradually, and not with a jerk, which has a tendency to cause the boat
to roll. It should be used as lightly as possible, and never under
ordinary circumstances put hard on. The effect of a cross wind is to
drive the stern of a boat to leeward, and to bring her bows up into the
wind. This should be counteracted by the coxswain steering to windward
of his usual course, and by lee rudder to meet her: how much can only
be learnt by experience, and must be regulated by the strength of the
wind. The fin, which is a thin plate of metal fixed slightly abaft the
coxswain's seat on her keelson, is of great assistance in keeping the
boat straight under such circumstances.

The coxswain should pick up information relating to his course by
observation, inquiries, and in every way he can, and, previous to a
race, he should take careful stock of the direction and force of the
wind, and shape his course accordingly. It is a good plan to be taken
over the course either in a row-boat or launch, by some one acquainted
with it, for the purposes of instruction. He can gain a general idea of
the Putney to Mortlake course by watching the barges which float up and
down the river with the tide, and are kept in mid-stream by long sweeps.
But every coxswain should learn to scull; he can then not only get his
weight down by exercise, if required, but familiarize himself with the
set of the stream, flats, and other peculiarities of a course by actual
experience. Training for the purpose of reducing the weight of the
coxswain is a questionable expedient; but if practised with moderation,
and if natural means are employed, the object, if worth it--which I very
much doubt--may be attained, and little harm done; but weakness, the
result of excessive wasting, is not unfrequently accompanied with an
impaired judgment and loss of nerve, the absence of which may lead to
serious consequences. Moreover, a coxswain not only requires a certain
amount of physical strength to manage a boat of the length of an
eight-oar, but, to do himself justice, should come to the post feeling
full of energy and determination. In level races the coxswain of the
leading boat should never take his opponents' water, unless reasonably
certain that he cannot be overtaken, for a sudden sheer out involving
loss of pace and ground at a critical time has before now lost a race;
and when alongside, and in close proximity, he should avoid watching the
other boat, otherwise he will in all probability steer into it, such is
the apparent force of attraction exercised over a coxswain by the
opposing crew. One coxswain should not "bore" the other. Boring is the
act of one coxswain steering closer and closer to another until he
gradually succeeds in pushing him out of his own water. This cannot
take place when both coxswains engaged are equally skilful, and equally
well acquainted with the course, for neither will give way. At the best
it is not sportsmanlike, and there is no desire on the part of the
majority of rowing men to win a race by the trickery of the coxswains.
At the annual University Boat Race Dinner, when the old Blues and other
friends assemble to do honour to the two crews, it is the time-honoured
custom to drink the health of the coxswains. On one of these occasions,
a well-known Oxford coxswain, who, in the fog that prevailed at the
start of the race, had been pressed out of his course by the opposing
crew, in returning thanks made a witty allusion to the subject in these
words: "I have been," he said, "very much interested in this race, but I
have also been very much bored." It was a speech meant for the occasion,
and was received with the applause it deserved; but it was not meant
seriously, nor was it taken so by his equally well-known Cambridge

I may at this point give a word of advice to a coxswain in a Bumping
Race. He should, throughout the race, keep his true course, and not
follow any vagaries of the boat in front of him, except with the
immediate object of making his bump; he must never shoot for his bump
when going round a corner, and ought always to make sure of his position
before making a shot, so as not to waste the energy of his men by
missing time after time, and zigzagging across the river. When he has
been bumped, or has made a bump, he should at once clear out of the way
to make room for the boats following. In all races he should encourage
his crew at intervals with such expressions as, "Now, you fellows! Well
rowed! On to it!" etc. But an incessant flow of language not only sounds
ridiculous, but must be a nuisance to the crew themselves. In a
ding-dong race, however, when neither crew can get away from the other,
he will naturally urge them more strenuously to further exertions. He
should watch the time as carefully as in practice, and call upon his
crew to "Reach out," or "Keep it long," if he notices that they are
getting short and scratchy; and he may quietly keep the stroke posted up
in the doings of the opponents, telling him how they are rowing, how far
ahead they are, and so on. In training quarters, especially if the crew
are despondent, the more depressed they are, the more he should
endeavour to cheer them up and inspire confidence in them.

Finally, let me advise coxswains when steering to wear warm and
waterproof clothing in cold and wet weather, and thus possibly save
themselves much suffering from rheumatism and other complaints in



_By C. M. Pitman,_

New College; President O.U.B.C. 1895.

If we try to examine the causes of success or failure, of a run of good
crews or bad crews from one University or the other, it is impossible to
overestimate the importance of good organization, good management, and
friendly rivalry in the college boat clubs. In the long run, the success
or failure of the University Crew depends in no small measure upon the
amount of trouble taken and the amount of keenness shown by the various
colleges in practising for their different races during the year. It is
only by very careful coaching and assiduous practice in his college
Torpid and Eight, that a man who has not rowed before going up to the
University can ever hope to attain to a place in the University Crew;
and it is only by trying to apply his learning to advantage in
college races during the year that one who has just gained his blue can
hope to be of greater value to the University in the following spring.

[Illustration: A BUMP IN THE EIGHTS.]

Only a small number of the men who take up rowing at the University
attain to a seat in the Trial Eights, and fewer still, of course, get
their blue. It is by rowing for their college, then, in Eight or Torpid,
that the majority of University men gain their experience, and so it is
but natural that even more interest is usually manifested in the
practice of the Eights than in that of the University Crew itself.

Most of the colleges at Oxford have now what is known as an "amalgamated
club," which supplies the finances of all the various branches of
athletics. That is to say, every undergraduate member of the college
pays a fixed subscription to the amalgamated club fund, and the money
thus collected is allotted proportionately to the different college
clubs. The money thus allotted, with the addition in some cases of small
sums received as entrance fees for college races, forms the income of
the college boat club; and out of this income is paid a capitation fee
to the University Boat Club, which varies according to the number of
undergraduates on the college books, the rest of the money being devoted
to providing boats, oars, etc.--the ordinary expenses, in fact, for
carrying on the college boat club.

A freshman, when he first comes up to Oxford, has, as a rule, made up
his mind to which particular branch of athletics he intends to devote
himself. If he intends to play football, and does not happen to have
come up with a great reputation from his public school, he finds it
somewhat hard at first, however good he may be, to make himself known;
but if he makes up his mind to row, he finds everything cut and dried
for him.

At the beginning of the October Term, a notice is put up for the benefit
of freshmen and others, that those desirous of being coached must be at
the barge on and after a certain day, at 2.30. The coaching is
undertaken by any of the college Eight of the preceding term who are in
residence, and any others whom the captain of the boat club may consider
qualified. The men are taken out at first in tub-pairs or heavy fours;
and grotesque, to say the least of it, are the movements of the average
freshmen during the first few days of his rowing career. The majority of
men who get into a boat for the first time in their lives seem to
imagine that it is necessary to twist their bodies into the most
uncomfortable and unnatural it positions, and is hard at first to
persuade them that the movements of a really good oar are easy, natural,
and even graceful. It is not long, however, as a rule, before a
considerable improvement becomes manifest, and, at the end of the first
fortnight or so of the term, most of the novices have begun to get a
grasp of the first principles of the art.

About the end of the second week of the term the freshmen are picked up
into Fours. These crews, which row in heavy tub-boats, practise for
about three weeks for a race, which is rowed during the fifth or sixth
week of the term. After a day or two of rest, the best men from these
Fours are taken out in eights. No one who has not rowed in an eight with
a crew composed almost entirely of beginners can imagine the discomfort,
I might almost say the agony, of these first two or three rows. One of
the chief causes of this is that the boats used on such occasions are
usually, from motives of economy, very old ones, the riggers being often
twisted and bent by the crabs of former generations, and the boats
themselves heavy and inclined to be waterlogged.

During the last day or two of the term, the captain, with a view to
making up his Torpids for the next term, generally tries to arrange one
or two crews selected from the best of the freshmen and such of the old
hands as are available; and justly proud is a freshman if, having got
into a boat for the first time at the beginning of the term, he finds
himself among the select few for the first Torpid at the end of it.

At the beginning of the Lent Term the energies of the college boat clubs
are entirely devoted to the selection and preparation of the crews for
the Torpids. The smaller colleges have one crew and the larger ones two,
and in some cases three, crews each. No one who has rowed in his college
Eight in the races of the previous summer is permitted to row in the
Torpid, so the crews are generally composed partly of men who rowed in
the Torpid of the preceding year, but who were not quite good enough to
get into the Eight, and partly of freshmen; the boats used must be
clinker built of five streaks, with a minimum beam measurement of 2 ft.
2 in. measured inside, and with fixed seats.

Although I do not propose here to say anything about the general subject
of training, I cannot refrain from making one remark. It is in
practising for the Torpids that freshmen generally get their first
experience of strict training, and for this reason there is no crew more
difficult to train than a Torpid. Most of the men after their first
experience of regular work have fine healthy appetites, and, as a rule,
eat about twice as much as is good for them, with the result that, even
if they escape violent indigestion, they are painfully short-winded, and
find the greatest difficulty in rowing a fast stroke. The Torpids train
for about three weeks before the races, which take place at the end of
the fourth and the fifth weeks in term. They last for six nights, and
are bumping races, the boats starting 160 ft. apart. A hundred and sixty
feet is a very considerable distance to make up in about three quarters
of a mile, and at the head of a division a crew must be about fifteen
seconds faster over the course to make certain of a bump.

Of performances in the Torpids that of Brasenose stands by itself. They
finished at the head of the river in 1885, and remained there for eleven
years, until they were displaced by New College in 1896.

The only other race in the Lent Term is the Clinker Fours. This race is
rowed in sliding-seat clinker-built boats, and the crews consist of men
who have not rowed in the Trial Eights or in the _first_ division of the
Eights in the previous Summer Term. For some occult reason there is
never a large entry for the Clinker Fours, although the race affords an
excellent opportunity of seeing how the best of the Torpid men row on
slides, and should thus be a great help to the captain of a college boat
club in making up his Eight for the next term. With so small an entry
for the Clinker Fours, most of the college captains devote their time
after the Torpids, for the rest of the term, to coaching their men in
sliding-seat tubs, the time at the beginning of the Summer Term being so
short that it is absolutely necessary to get the men who have been
rowing on fixed seats in the Torpids thoroughly accustomed to slides by
the end of the Lent Term, and also to have the composition of the
next term's Eight as nearly as possible settled.


At the beginning of the Summer Term, time, as I have said, is rather
short, and consequently it is the custom at most colleges to make the
Eight come into residence about a week before the end of the vacation.
The _esprit de corps_ and energy which are shown during the practice
are, perhaps, the most noticeable features of college rowing at
Oxford--a circumstance to which may be attributed the fact that the
crews turned out by the colleges at the top of the river are often
wonderfully good, considering the material out of which they are formed.
The Eights are rowed at the end of the fourth week and at the beginning
of the fifth week in term, six nights in all. They start 130 ft.
apart--that is to say, 30 ft. less than the Torpids. About the same
number of boats row in a division in the former as in the latter, the
bottom boat starting at the same place in each case; consequently the
head boat in the Eights has a slightly longer course to row than the
head Torpid.

The start of a boat race is always rather nervous work for the crews,
but the start of a bumping race is worse in this respect than any. A
spectator who cares to walk down the bank and look at the crews waiting
at their posts for the start cannot fail to notice that even the most
experienced men look extremely uncomfortable.

[Illustration: A START IN THE EIGHTS.]

The start is managed thus: at the starting-point of each boat a short
wooden post is driven firmly into the ground. These posts are exactly
130 ft. apart, and to each is attached a thin rope 60 ft. long with a
bung at the end, while by each post a punt is moored. About twenty
minutes or a quarter of an hour before the appointed time, the crews
start from their barges and paddle gently down to their respective
starting-places, where they take up their positions alongside of the
punts. Five minutes before the starting-time the first gun is fired as a
sort of warning. These guns are fired punctually to the second, and by
the first gun the men who are going to start the different crews set
their stop-watches. The duty of these "starters" is to keep the crews
informed of the exact time, by calling out, "One minute gone," "Two
minutes gone," etc. The second gun goes one minute before the start, and
as soon as it is fired, the waterman slowly pushes the boat out from
the side of the punt by means of a long pole pressed against stroke's
rigger, the coxswain holding the bung at arm's-length in his left hand,
with the cord taut so as to counteract the pressure of the pole, and
"bow" and "two" paddling very gently so as to keep the boat at the very
furthest extension of the rope. "Thirty seconds more," calls the
starter; "fifteen," "ten," "five," "four," "three," "two," "look
out"--Bang! and, except for those who are doomed to be bumped, the worst
is over till the next night. Directly a bump is made both the boat which
has made the bump and the boat which is bumped draw to one side, and on
the next night the boat which has made the bump starts in front of its
victim of the preceding evening. The Eights are the last event of the
season in which the colleges compete against one another on the river,
and the interest and excitement of the college in the doings of its crew
generally find their final outlet, in the case of a college which has
made five or six bumps or finished head of the river, in a bump
supper--an entertainment of a nature peculiar to Oxford and Cambridge,
which is, perhaps, better left to the imagination than described in

It is a curious fact that, although the ideal aimed at by each college
is the same, different colleges seem to adhere, to a very considerable
extent, year after year to the same merits and the same faults. One
college gets the reputation of not being able to row a fast-enough
stroke; another, of being ready to race a week before the races and of
getting worse as the races proceed, and, try as hard as they like, they
do not seem to be able to shake off the effect of the reputation of
their predecessors. So, again, one college gets the reputation of rowing
better in the races than could possibly be expected from their form in
practice, or of always improving during the races. The most notable case
of late years, perhaps, was the traditional pluck of Brasenose. For
eleven years in the Torpids and for three years in the Eights their
certain downfall was predicted, but year after year, sometimes by the
skin of their teeth and sometimes with ease, they managed to get home.
The best performances in the Eights, as a matter of mere paper record,
are those of Trinity and Magdalen, who have each rowed head of the river
for four years in succession, the former in 1861, 1862, 1863, and 1864,
and the latter in 1892, 1893, 1894, and 1895. Magdalen can also boast
of not having finished lower than third in the Eights for some fifteen
years. Brasenose have finished head of the river fourteen times since
the races were started in 1836; University nine times, and Magdalen
seven times. The best performance in any one year is that of New College
in the season 1895-96, when they completely swept the board, being head
of the river in Eights and Torpids, and winning the University Fours,
Pairs, and Sculls. The only other college race besides those I have
described is the Fours. This race is rowed in coxswainless racing-ships
during the fourth week of the October Term. It is a "time" race, the
crews, which row two in a heat, starting eighty yards apart, the
finishing-posts being, of course, divided by the same distance. A time
race is a very unsatisfactory affair compared with an ordinary "breast"
race, but it is rendered necessary by the narrow winding river, for
there is not room between Iffley and Oxford for two boats to row
abreast. Oxford College crews, undoubtedly excellent though they often
are, have been singularly unsuccessful at Henley. The Grand Challenge
Cup has only been won by a college crew from Oxford twice within the
memory of the present generation (_i.e._ by Exeter, in 1882, and by New
College in the present year). Wadham, it is true, won it in almost
prehistoric times (1849), and the tradition is handed down that they
took the light blue in their colours from those of the crew which they
defeated--a tradition which I need hardly say the members of the sister
University always meet with a most emphatic denial.

It may, perhaps, seem that so far I have described college rowing as if
its organization were so perfect that there is little or no difficulty
in managing a college boat club successfully. This is by no means the
case. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, even though it be merely
that of the captaincy of a college boat club.

In the first place, it is not always as easy as might be imagined to get
men to row. Men who cannot be induced to row when they come up to the
University may be divided into two classes--those who refuse because
they do not wish to take up any branch of athletics, and those who will
not row because they wish to do something else. The former class (_i.e._
those of them who, after a moderate amount of persuasion, will not come
down to the river) are not, as a rule, worth bothering about. They are
generally weak, soft creatures, whose highest ambition is to walk
overdressed about the "High," and, if possible, to be considered
"horsey" without riding--the class, in fact, generally known as
"bloods." Or else they belong to that worthy class of beings who come up
to the University to read and only to read, and imagine that it is
therefore impossible for them to row. The "blood" is, or should be,
beneath the contempt of the rowing authorities, and the "bookworm" is
generally impervious to argument, in spite of the fact that he would be
able to read much harder if he took regular exercise.

With regard, however, to those men who refuse to row because they want
to go in for something else, a little diplomacy and a little personal
trouble on the part of the college captain, such as coaching men at odd
hours, once or twice a week, when it suits their convenience, will often
work wonders. Instances of this may be seen in the fact that many
colleges have of late years been materially assisted by a sturdy
football player in the Torpid or Eight, and in the fact that Rugby
football blues have rowed in the University Eight during the last three
years. Another great difficulty which the captains of the smaller
college boat clubs have to face is that of procuring good boats with
very limited finances. The usual practice is to save up money for
several years to buy a new eight, and to continue to row in her long
after she has become practically useless, and, indeed, positively
incompatible with good rowing. This is a difficulty which can to a great
extent be got over by getting second-hand boats. These can be bought for
about half price when they have only been used one or two seasons by the
University, or by one of the larger (and therefore richer) college boat
clubs, which can afford to get a new boat as often as they want one. By
this means a college boat club, however poor, can always have a boat
which, if not quite new, is at least comparatively modern, instead of
being a water-logged hulk some eight or ten years old, such as one often
sees wriggling along at the tail end of the Eights.

Yet another obstacle is there which it is not easy to overcome. It is
often almost impossible to find a trustworthy coach. There is nearly
always some one in residence who is considered capable of looking after
the college Eight, but the ignorance of college coaches is often only
too manifest from the arrant nonsense they may be heard shouting on the
bank. There is only one remedy I can suggest. Let the college captain
secure some member of the University Crew, or any one else who knows
what he is talking about, to take the crew for a couple of days, and
_make the College coach accompany him_. He will thus learn something of
the rowing of the crew, and you will hear him the next day pointing out
the _real_ faults to which his attention has thus been called.

In conclusion, I must add that, keen though the rivalry between the
various colleges always is, it is a rivalry which, by the encouragement
it gives to rowing, confers good and good only upon the interests of the
O.U.B.C., and never degenerates into a jealousy which might be
prejudicial to the success of the University as a whole. The college
captains elect as president of the O.U.B.C. the man whom they consider
to be best fitted for the post, to whatever college he may belong, for
they know that the president will select his crew absolutely
impartially, will never think of unjustly preferring men who belong to
his own college, but will always do his best to serve the interests of
the University.[13]

  [13] For further details of college rowing at Oxford and Cambridge, the
  reader is referred to the extracts from the rules and regulations of the
  two University Boat Clubs printed in the appendix to this book.




The casual visitor would scarcely imagine that Cambridge resembled
either Macedon or Monmouth in the possession of a river. He sees in The
Backs what looks rather like a huge moat, designed to keep marauders
from the sacred college courts, and filled with discoloured water,
destitute seemingly of all stream. This he knows cannot be the racing
river. The innumerable bridges forbid the notion, although Ouida has, in
one of her novels, sprinkled it with a mixture of racing Eights and
water-lilies. He wanders on from college to college, and nowhere does he
come across the slightest sign of the river of which he has heard so
much. Indeed, a man may stroll on Midsummer Common within about a
hundred yards of the boat-houses without suspecting the existence of the
Cam. I can well remember convoying to the river an enthusiastic
freshman who had just joined his college boat club. At every step I was
asked whether we were yet approaching the noble stream. I answered
evasively, and with an air of mystery which befits a third-year man in
the presence of freshmen. At length we turned on to the common, which is
bounded by the Cam; on the further bank stand the boat-houses. There
were crowds of men busy in the yards, there were coaches riding on the
nearer bank, but of the river itself there was no indication. We were
still about two hundred yards away when a Lady Margaret Eight passed,
the heads of the crew in their scarlet caps being just visible above the
river-bank as they swung backwards and forwards in their boat. I felt my
freshman's grip tightening on my arm. Suddenly he stood stock still and
rubbed his eyes. "Good heavens!" he said in an awestruck voice, "what on
earth are those little red animals I see running up and down there?
Funniest thing I ever saw." I reassured him, and in a few moments more
we arrived at the Cam, crossed it in a "grind," and solved the puzzle.
Distance, therefore, can scarcely be said to lend enchantment to the
view, since at anything over one hundred yards it withdraws the Cam
altogether from our sight. It is not easy, indeed, to see where the
attractions of the Cam come in. It has been called with perfect justice
a ditch, a canal, and a sewer, but not even the wildest enthusiasm would
have supposed it to be a running stream, or ventured at first sight to
call it a river. Yet this slow and muddy thread of water has been for
more than seventy years the scene of excitements and triumphs and
glories without end. Upon its shallow stream future judges and bishops
and Parliament-men--not to speak of the great host of minor celebrities
and the vaster army of future obscurities--have sought exercise and
relaxation; to its unsightly banks their memory still fondly turns
wherever their lot may chance to be cast, and still some thousand of the
flower of our youth find health and strength in driving the labouring
Eights and Fours along its narrow reaches and round its winding corners.
It may well excite the wonder of the uninitiated that, with so many
natural disadvantages to contend against, the oarsmen of Cambridge
should have been able during all these years to maintain so high a
standard of oarsmanship. Time after time since the year when First
Trinity secured the first race for the Grand Challenge have her college
crews carried off the chief prizes at Henley against all competitors,
until, in 1887, Trinity Hall swept the board by actually winning five
out of the eight Henley races, other Cambridge men accounting for the
remaining three. The record of Cambridge rowing is thus a very proud
one; but those who know the Cambridge oarsman and his river will find no
difficulty in accounting for it. The very disadvantages of the Cam all
tend to imbue the man who rows upon it with a stern sense of duty, with
the feeling that it is business and not pleasure, hard work and not a
picnic, that summon him every day of the term to the boat-houses and
urge him on his way to Baitsbite. We are forced to do without the
natural charms that make the Isis beautiful. We console ourselves by a
strict devotion to the labour of the oar.

The man who first rowed upon the Cam was in all probability a lineal
descendant of the daring spirit who first tasted an oyster. His name and
fame have not been preserved, but I am entitled to assume that he
flourished some time before 1826. In that year the records of Cambridge
boat clubs begin. There is in the possession of the First Trinity Boat
Club an old book, at one end of which are to be found the "Laws of the
Monarch Boat Club," with a list of members from 1826 to 1828, whilst at
the other end are inscribed lists of members of the Trinity Boat Club,
minutes of its meetings, and brief descriptions of the races in which it
was engaged from the year 1829 to 1834. The Monarch Boat Club was by its
laws limited to members of Trinity, and, I take it, that in 1828 the
club had become sufficiently important to change its name definitely to
that of Trinity Boat Club. At any rate, it must always have been
considered the Trinity Club; for in the earliest chart of the Cambridge
boat races--that, namely, of 1827--in the captains' room of the First
Trinity Boat-house, "Trinity" stands head of the river, and no mention
is made of a Monarch Club. These ancient laws form a somewhat Draconian
code. They are twenty-five in number, and eight of them deal with fines
or penalties to be inflicted upon a member who may "absent himself from
his appointed crew and not provide a substitute for his oar," or who may
"not arrive at the boat-house within a quarter of an hour of the
appointed time." There were fines ("by no means to be remitted, except
in the case of any member having an _ægrotat_, _exeat_, or _absit_, or
having been prevented from attending by some laws of the college or
University") for not appearing in the proper uniform, for "giving orders
or speaking on a racing day, or on any other day, after silence has been
called" (exception being made in favour of the captain and steerer), and
for neglecting to give notice of an intended absence. To the twelfth law
a clause was subsequently added enacting "that the treasurer be
chastised twice a week for not keeping his books in proper order."

From the minutes of the Trinity Boat Club I extract the following
letter, dated Stangate, December, 1828, which shows that even at that
early date the first and third persons carried on a civil war in the
boat-builder's vocabulary:--

"Rawlinson & Lyon's compliments to Mr. Greene wish to know if there is
to be any alteration in the length of the set of oars they have to send
down have been expecting to hear from the Club, therefore have not given
orders for the oars to be finished should feel obliged by a line from
you with the necessary instructions and be kind enough to inform us of
the success which we trust you have met with in the New Boat.

                    we remain Sir
                        Your ob^t Servts
                            RAWLINSON & LYON."

In 1833 it is curious to read, "towards the end of this Easter term six
of the racing crew were ill of influenza, etc., when the boat was bumped
by the Queens', which we bumped next race, but were bumped again by
them, and next race owing to a bad start the Christ's boat bumped us
immediately being nearly abreast of us at the bumping-post." Was this
the _grippe_, I wonder? In the Lent Term, 1834, it is stated, "The
second race we touched the Christ's after the pistol was fired the first
stroke we pulled, and lost our place to the Second Trinity for making a
foul bump." By the way, in the oldest minute-book belonging to the
University Boating Club, extending from 1828 to 1837, I find the Second
Trinity boat occasionally entered on the list as "Reading Trinity." It
continued to enjoy this bookish reputation up to 1876, when a debt
which continued to increase while its list of members as constantly
diminished, brought about its dissolution. Its members and its
challenge-cups were then taken over by First Trinity.

In an old book belonging to First Trinity is preserved a map of the
racing river, which explains much that would be otherwise inexplicable
in the various entries. In those days the races began in the short reach
of water in which they now finish. A little below where Charon now plies
his ferry were the Chesterton Locks, and in the reach above this
starting-posts seem to have been fixed for the various boats. When the
starting-pistol was fired the crews started rowing, but apparently no
bump was allowed before the bumping-post, fixed some little way above
the first bend where the big horse-grind now works. Any bump before this
was foul, and the boat so fouling appears to have been disqualified.
This post once passed, the racing proper began and continued past
Barnwell up to the Jesus Locks. It must be remembered that the Jesus
Locks were not where they are now, but were built just where the Caius
boathouse now stands, there being a lock cut in the present bed of the
river, and the main stream running quite a hundred yards south of its
present course, and forming an island, on which stood Fort St. George.
This was altered in 1837, when the Cam was diverted to its present
course, and the old course from above Jesus Green Sluice to Fort St.
George was filled up.

A few more extracts relating to the first beginnings of college
boat-races may be of interest. In 1827 there were six boats on the
river--a ten-oar and an eight-oar from Trinity, an eight-oar from St.
John's, and six-oars from Jesus, Caius, and Trinity, Westminster. In
1829 this number had dwindled to four at the beginning of the races on
February 28; but in the seventh race, which took place on March 21,
seven crews competed, St John's finishing head of the river, a place
they maintained in the following May. Usually from seven to nine races
appear to have been rowed during one month of the term, certain days in
each week having been previously fixed. Crews were often known by the
name of their ship rather than by that of their college. I find, for
instance, a _Privateer_, which was made up, I think, of men from
private schools, a _Corsair_ from St. John's, a _Dolphin_ from Third
Trinity (which was then, and is still, the Club of the Eton and
Westminster men), _Black Prince_ from First Trinity, and _Queen Bess_
from the Second or "Reading" Trinity. The following regulations, passed
by the University Boat Club on April 18, 1831, will help to make the old
system of boat-racing quite clear:--

"1. That the distance between each post being twenty yards will allow
eleven boats to start on the Chesterton side, the length of the ropes by
which they are attached to the posts being ten yards.

"2. That the remainder of the boats do start on the Barnwell side at
similar distances, but with ropes fifteen yards in length.

"3. That there also be a rope three yards long fixed to the head of the
lock, which will be the station of the last boat, provided the number
exceed twelve."

These arrangements allowed thirteen boats to start at once, and special
provision was made for any number beyond that. Obedience to the properly
constituted authorities seems from an early period to have
characterized the rowing man. I find that in 1831 a race was arranged
between the captains of racing crews and the rest of the University, to
take place on Tuesday, November 29. On Monday, the 28th, however, there
arrived "a request from the Vice-Chancellor, backed by the tutors of the
several colleges, that we should refrain from racing on account of the
cholera then prevailing in Sunderland. We accordingly gave up the match
forthwith, and with it another which was to have been rowed the same day
between the quondam Etonians and the private school men." The secretary,
however, adds this caustic comment, "It is presumed that Dr. Haviland,
at whose instigation the Vice-Chancellor put a stop to the race,
confounded the terms (and pronunciations?) 'rowing' and 'rowing,' and
while he was anxious to stop any debauchery in the latter class of men,
by a _slight_ mistake was the means of preventing the healthy exercise
of the former."

The umpire for the college races seems never to have been properly
appreciated. Indeed, in 1834, the U.B.C. solemnly resolved "that the
umpire was no use, ... and accordingly that Bowtell should be
cashiered. In consequence of this resolution, it was proposed and
carried that the same person who had the management of the posts, lines,
and starting the boats should also place the flags on the bumping-post,
and receive for his pay 4_s._ a week, with an addition of 2_s._ 6_d._ at
the end of the quarter in case the starting be well managed, but that
each time the pistol misses fire 1s. should be deducted from his weekly

In 1835, in consequence of the removal of the Chesterton Lock, the
U.B.C. transferred the starting-posts to the reach between Baitsbite and
First Post Corner, and there they have remained ever since.

Side by side with the college boat clubs, formed by the combination of
their members for strictly imperial matters, regulating and controlling
the inter-collegiate races, but never interfering with the internal
arrangements and the individual liberty of the college clubs, the
University Boat Club grew up. With two short but historical extracts
from its early proceedings, I will conclude this cursory investigation
into the records of the musty past. On February 20, 1829, at a meeting
of the U.B.C. Committee, held in Mr. Gisborne's rooms, it was resolved
_inter alia_ "That Mr. Snow, St. John's, be requested to write
immediately to Mr. Staniforth, Christ Church, Oxford, proposing to make
up a University match;" and on March 12, on the receipt of a letter from
Mr. Staniforth, Christ Church, Oxford, a meeting of the U.B.C. was
called at Mr. Harman's rooms, Caius College, when the following
resolution was passed:--"That Mr. Stephen Davies (the Oxford
boat-builder) be requested to post the following challenge in some
conspicuous part of his barge: 'That the University of Cambridge hereby
challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London,
each in an eight-oared boat, during the ensuing Easter vacation.'"

Thus was brought about the first race between the two Universities. Mr.
Snow was appointed captain, and it was further decided that the
University Boat Club should defray all expenses, and that the match be
not made up for money. It is unnecessary for me to relate once again how
the race was eventually rowed from Hambledon Lock to Henley Bridge, and
how the Light Blues (who, by the way, were then the Pinks) suffered
defeat by many lengths. The story has been too well and too often told
before. Each crew contained a future bishop--the late Bishop of St.
Andrew's rowing No. 4 in the Oxford boat, whilst the late Bishop Selwyn,
afterwards Bishop of New Zealand, and subsequently of Lichfield,
occupied the important position of No. 7 for Cambridge. Of the remainder
more than half were afterwards ordained.

So much, then, for the origins of College and University racing.
Thenceforward the friendly rivalry flourished with only slight
intermissions; gradually the race became an event. The great public
became interested in it, cabmen and 'bus-drivers decorated their whips
in honour of the crews, sightseers flocked to the river-banks to catch a
glimpse of them as they flashed past, and their prowess was celebrated
by the press. It is not, however, too much to say that without the keen
spirit of emulation which is fostered by the college races both at
Oxford and Cambridge, the University boat-race would cease to exist.
Truly a light blue cap is to the oarsman a glorious prize, but there are
many hundreds of ardent enthusiasts who have to content themselves with
a place in the college boats in the Lent or the May Term. Want of form,
or of weight, or of the necessary strength and stamina may hinder them
from attaining to a place in the University Eight, but they should
console themselves by reflecting that without their patient and earnest
labours for the welfare of their several colleges it would be impossible
to maintain a high standard of oarsmanship, or to form a representative
University Eight. Let me, therefore, be for a page or two the apologist,
nay, rather the panegyrist, of the college oarsman, with whom many of my
happiest hours have been spent.

Before entering upon the serious business of life as a freshman at
Cambridge, the youth who is subsequently to become an oar will in all
probability have fired his imagination by reading of the historical
prowess of past generations of University oars in races at Henley or at
Putney. Goldie who turned the tide of defeat, the Closes, Rhodes,
Gurdon, Hockin, Pitman the pluckiest of strokes, and Muttlebury the
mighty heavy-weight, are the heroes whom he worships, and to whose
imitation he proposes to devote himself. A vision of a light blue coat
and cap flits before his mind; he sees himself in fancy wresting a
fiercely contested victory from the clutches of Oxford, and cheered and
fêted by a countless throng of his admirers. With these ideas he becomes
as a freshman a member of his college boat club, and adds his name to
the "tubbing list." He purchases his rowing uniform, clothes himself in
it in his rooms, and one fine afternoon in October finds himself one of
a crowd of nervous novices in the yard of his college boathouse. One of
the captains pounces on him, selects a co-victim for him, and orders him
into a gig-pair, or, to speak more correctly, "a tub." With the first
stroke the beautiful azure vision vanishes, leaving only a sense of
misery behind. He imagined he could row as he walked, by the light of
nature. He finds that all kinds of mysterious technicalities are
required of him. He has to "get hold of the beginning" to "finish it
out," to take his oar "out of the water clean" (an impossibility one
would think on the dirty drain-fed Cam), to "plant his feet against the
stretcher," to row his shoulders back, to keep his elbows close to his
sides, to shoot away his hands, to swing from his hips, under no
circumstances to bend his back or to leave go with his outside hand,
and, above all, to keep his swing forward as steady as a rock--an
instruction to which he conforms by not swinging at all. These are but a
few points out of the many which are dinned into his ears by his
energetic coach. A quarter of an hour concludes his lesson, and he
leaves the river a much sadder, but not necessarily a wiser man.
However, since he is young he is not daunted by all these unforeseen
difficulties. He perseveres, and towards the end of his first term reaps
a doubtful reward by being put into an Eight with seven other novices,
to splash and roll and knock his knuckles about for an hour or so to his
heart's content. Next term (the Lent Term) may find him a member of one
of his college Lent boats. Then he begins to feel that pluck and
ambition are not in vain, and soon afterwards for the first time he
tastes the joys of training, which he will be surprised to find does not
consist entirely of raw steaks and underdone chops. Common sense, in
fact, has during the past fifteen years or so broken in upon the foolish
regulations of the ancient system. Men who train are still compelled to
keep early hours, to eat simple food at fixed times, to abjure tobacco,
and to limit the quantity of liquid they absorb. But there is an
immense variety in the dishes put before them; they are warned against
gorging (at breakfast, indeed, men frequently touch no meat), and though
they assemble together in the Backs before breakfast, and are ordered to
clear their pipes by a short sharp burst of one hundred and fifty yards,
they are not allowed to overtire themselves by the long runs which were
at one time in fashion. Far away back in the dawn of University rowing
training seems to have been far laxer, though discipline may have been
more strict, than it is now. Mr. J. M. Logan (the well-known Cambridge
boat-builder) wrote to me on this subject: "I have heard my father say
that the crews used to train on egg-flip which an old lady who then kept
the Plough Inn by Ditton was very famous for making, and that crew which
managed to drink most egg-flip was held to be most likely to make many
bumps. I believe the ingredients were gin, beer, and beaten eggs, with
nutmegs and spices added. I have heard my father say that the discipline
of the crews was of an extraordinary character. For instance, the
captain of the Lady Margaret Boat Club used to have a bugle, and after
he had sounded it the crew would have to appear on the yard in high hats
and dress suits with a black tie. The penalty for appearing in a tie of
any other colour was one shilling. The trousers worn on these occasions
were of white jean, and had to be washed every day under a penalty of
one shilling. The wearing of perfectly clean things every day was an
essential part of the preparation."

All this, however, is a digression from the freshman whom we have seen
safely through his tubbing troubles, and have selected for a Lent Boat.
I return to him to follow him in a career of glory which will lead him
from Lent Boat to May Boat, from that to his college Four, and so
perhaps through the University Trial Eights to the final goal of all
rowing ambition--the Cambridge Eight. He will have suffered many things
for the sake of his beloved pursuit; he will have rowed many weary
miles, have learnt the misery of aching limbs and blistered hands,
perhaps he may have endured the last indignity of being bumped; he will
have laboured under broiling suns, or with snowstorms and bitter winds
beating against him; he will have voluntarily cut himself off from many
pleasant indulgences. But, on the other hand, his triumphs will have
been sweet; he will have trained himself to submit to discipline, to
accept discomfort cheerfully, to keep a brave face in adverse
circumstance; he will have developed to the full his strength and his
powers of endurance, and will have learnt the necessity of unselfishness
and patriotism. These are, after all, no mean results in a generation
which is often accused of effeminate and debasing luxury.

A few words as to our scheme of boat-races at Cambridge. Of the Lent
races I have spoken. They are rowed at the end of February in heavy
ships, _i.e._ fixed-seat ships built with five streaks from a keel.
Thirty-one boats take part in them. Every college must be represented by
at least one boat, though beyond that there is no restriction as to the
number of boats from any particular college club. No man who has taken
part in the previous May races is permitted to row. In fact, they are a
preparatory school for the development of eight-oared rowing. Next term
is given up to the May races, which are rowed in light ships, _i.e._
keel-less ships with sliding seats. No club can have more than three or
less than one crew in these races. In this term the pair-oared races
are also rowed, generally before the Eights. The Fours, both in light
ships and, for the less ambitious colleges whose Eights may be in the
second division, in clinker-built boats, take place at the end of
October, and are followed by the Colquhoun, or University Sculls, and
next by the University Trial Eights, two picked crews selected by the
President of the University Boat Club from the likely men of every
college club. The trial race always takes place near Ely, over the three
miles of what is called the Adelaide course. Besides all these races,
each college has its own races, confined to members of the college. But
of course the glory of college racing culminates in the May term. Who
shall calculate all the forethought, energy, self-denial, and patriotic
labour, all the carefully organized skill and patient training which are
devoted to the May races; for so they are still called, though they
never take place now before June? Every man who rows in his college crew
feels that to him personally the traditions and the honour of his
college are committed. The meadow at Ditton is alive with a brilliant
throng of visitors, the banks swarm with panting enthusiasts armed with
every kind of noisy instrument, and all intent to spur the energies of
their several Eights. One by one the crews, clothed in their blazers,
with their straw hats on their heads, paddle down to the start, pausing
at Ditton to exchange greetings with the visitors. In the Post Reach
they turn, disembark for a few moments, and wander nervously up and down
the bank. At last the first gun is fired, the oarsmen strip for the
race. Their clothes are collected and borne along in front by perspiring
boatmen, so as to be ready for them at the end of the race. The men step
gingerly into their frail craft and await the next gun. Bang! Another
minute. The boat is pushed out, the coxwain holding his chain; the crew
come forward, every nerve strained for the start; the cry of the careful
timekeepers is heard along the reach, the gun fires, and a universal
roar proclaims the start of the sixteen crews. For four "nights" the
conflict rages, bringing triumph and victory to some, and pain and
defeat to others; and at the end comes the glorious bump-supper, with
its toasts, its songs, and its harmless, noisy rejoicings, on which the
dons look with an indulgent eye, and in which they even sometimes take
part for the honour of the college.

Happy are those who still dwell in Cambridge courts and follow the
delightful labour of the oar! For the rest of us there can only be
memories of the time when we toiled round the never-ending Grassy
corner, spurted in the Plough, heard dimly the deafening cheers of the
crowd at Ditton, and finally made our bump amid the confused roar of
hundreds of voices, the booming of fog-horns the screech of rattles, and
the ringing of bells. What joy in after-life can equal the intoxication
of the moment when we stepped out upon the bank to receive the
congratulations of our friends, whilst the unfurled flag proclaimed our
victory to the world?

To such scenes the mind travels back through the vista of years with
fond regret. For most of us our racing days are over, but we can still
glory in the triumphs of our college or our University, and swear by the
noblest of open-air sports.



_By W. E. Crum_,

Captain of the Boats, 1893; President O.U.B.C. 1896, 1897.

In most books that have been published on rowing matters, a chapter has
been devoted to rowing at Eton. But these accounts have been mainly of a
historical nature, and have not, I think, dealt sufficiently with the
career of an Eton boy, from the time when he passes through the ordeal
of the swimming examination up to the proud moment when he wears the
light blue at Henley, representing his school in the Ladies' Plate.

Before any boy is allowed to go on the river at all, he is obliged to
satisfy the authorities of his ability to reach the banks of the river
safely if he should upset while boating. This swimming examination is
held about once a week after bathing has commenced in the summer half
at the two bathing-places, Cuckoo Weir and Athens, which are reserved
for the use of the boys alone.

On the Acropolis, a mound raised some ten feet above the water for
diving purposes, sit the two or three masters whose duty it is to
conduct the "passing." On one side a punt is moored, from which the boys
enter the water head first as best they can. They have to swim a
distance of about twenty yards, round a pole, and return, showing that
they can swim in good style, and can keep themselves afloat by "treading

When a boy has successfully passed this examination, he is at liberty to
go on the river. As it is probably well on in the summer half before he
has passed, and it is more than likely that he has never before handled
an oar, we will suppose that he does not enter for the Lower Boy races
that year, but has to learn by himself, with no coaches to help him, the
rudiments of rowing and sculling on fixed seats. Always on the river,
whenever he has an hour to spare from his school duties, the Lower Boy
soon acquires that knowledge of "watermanship" for which Etonian oarsmen
are famous.

By the end of the summer half, he can sit his sculling-boat in
comparative safety, and has learnt, perhaps, at the cost of several
fines, the rules of the river, which are considered sacred by all Eton

The ensuing winter terms are devoted to football and fives, rowing not
being allowed; and we may pass on to the next summer, when our Lower Boy
will probably enter for both Lower Boy sculling and pulling (_i.e._
pairs). These two races are rowed in boats almost peculiar to Eton. That
used for the Lower Boy pulling is called a "perfection," of which the
design is due to the Rev. S. A. Donaldson; it is an open, clinker-built,
outrigged boat, which recalls the lines of the old Thames wherry. That
used for the Lower Boy sculling is known as a "whiff," an open clinker
boat with outriggers. On an average about a dozen competitors enter for
these events, five or six boats being started together, the first and
second in each heat rowing in the final. The course, which is about two
miles long, begins opposite the Brocas, extending for a mile upstream,
where the competitors turn round a ryepeck, and then down-stream to the
finish, just above Windsor Bridge.

If fairly successful in his school examinations, the boy whose career we
are considering will, after his second summer, have reached the fifth
form, a position which entitles him to be tried for the boats. He
probably does not succeed in obtaining the coveted colour at the first
attempt; and it is, say, in his third summer, that he first comes under
the eye of a coach.

For the last month of the summer half, as many as ten or a dozen eights
are taken out by members of the Upper Boats every evening, and four
crews are selected from these, put into training, and carefully coached,
and after about a fortnight's practice race against each other from
Sandbank down to the bridge, a distance of about three-quarters of a
mile; the race is called "Novice Eights," and each crew is stroked by a
member of the Lower Boats. Every boy who rows in this race may be sure
that he will get into the boats on the following 1st of March; and
having reached this important point in an Eton wetbob's career, I must
endeavour to explain the meaning of the term "The Boats," which I have
already frequently used.

The Boats are composed of one ten-oared, and nine eight-oared crews,
presumably made up of the eighty-two best oarsmen in the school; the
boats are subdivided into two classes, Upper and Lower Boats.

The Upper Boats comprise the ten-oared _Monarch_, and the two eights,
_Victory_ and _Prince of Wales_; the Lower Boats are more numerous,
consisting of seven eights, which have characteristic names, such as
_Britannia_, _Dreadnought_, _Hibernia_, and _Defiance_. Each of the
Upper Boats has a distinctive colour just like any other school team,
whereas all members of the Lower Boats wear the same cap.

At the head of the Eton wetbob world there reigns supreme the Captain of
the Boats, who is always regarded in the eyes of a small Eton boy as
next in importance only to the Prince of Wales and the Archbishop of
Canterbury. He is captain of the _Monarch_, and after him, in order of
merit, come the captains of the other boats, who act as his lieutenants;
these captains are practically appointed by the first captain of the
previous year, and were probably all members of the Upper Boats in that

At the beginning of each summer term the Captain of the Boats calls a
meeting of his other boat captains; he has by him a list of all those
who were already members of the boats the year before, and he knows
pretty correctly the form of every one of them; thus, with his
lieutenants' help he can assign to each oarsman the boat in which he
considers him worthy to row.

The first boat to be made up is the _Monarch_. Though nominally the
first of the boats, the _Monarch_ is actually composed of those who,
from their place in the school, or from their prowess at other games,
deserve some recognition; in fact, I may best designate the members of
the "ten," as good worthy people, who have tried to row well and have
not succeeded.

The next boat is the _Victory_, and here we find the pick of the
previous year's Lower Boats. Though junior, and in order of precedence
below all the captains of the various boats, these eight have just as
much chance of rowing in the eight at Henley as any of the captains; for
the younger oar, whose faults can easily be cured, is often preferred to
his stronger senior, whose faults are fixed and difficult to eradicate.

Similar to the _Victory_, though of rather a lower standard, is the
_Prince of Wales_, or "Third Upper;" and this is composed of the
remnants of the previous year's Lower Boats who are not quite good
enough for the _Victory_. The great distinction in the present day
between Upper and Lower Boats is that all those in the former may row in
any boat on sliding seats, while to those in the latter only fixed seats
are allowed.

Having completed his Upper Boats, the captain has now to fill the seats
in the seven Lower Boats. A few of the refuse, one may almost call them,
of the year before are still left; refuse, because it is rarely the case
that a boy who is more than one year in Lower Boats develops into a
really good oar. To these are generally assigned the best places in the
Lower Boats, and after them come, in order of merit, as far as possible,
all those who rowed in the previous summer in the "Novice Eight" race.

Thus, just as the _Victory_ is always better than the _Monarch_, so the
_Dreadnought_, the second Lower Boat, is often better than the
_Britannia_, which may be composed of old "crocks."

On the 1st of March and the 4th of June in each year the boats row in
procession, in their order, each boat stroked by its captain, up to
Surley Hall, where, on the 4th of June, a supper is held. But I will
leave a description of the 4th of June till later, and will return to
where I left our successful Etonian, who has just received his
Lower-Boat colours.

During his first summer half in the boats he is practically never out of
training. As soon as he has rowed one race he must begin practice for
the next. The first race of the season is "Lower Eights." Four crews are
chosen from among members of the Lower Boats, are coached for three
weeks by members of the Upper Boats, and then race for a mile and a
half. After this follow "Lower Fours," in which, again, four crews take
part, chosen from the best of those who have raced in Lower Eights.
These two races are rowed in order that those in authority may see how
their juniors can race, and also that the said juniors may profit by
efficient coaching. No prizes are awarded; they simply row for the
honour of winning. After these come Junior Sculling and Junior Pulling,
two races again confined to the Lower Boats. They are rowed in light,
keelless, outrigged boats, with fixed seats, no coxswain being carried
by the pairs. And here, again, much watermanship is learned, for the
Eton course is a difficult one to steer, and only those who steer well
can have any chance of a win. As many as fifty entries are sometimes
received for Junior Sculling, for though an Eton boy may have no chance
of winning a race, he will start, just for the sport of racing and
improving his rowing, a proceeding which might well be imitated at
Oxford or Cambridge. Each boy who starts in one of these races has to
wear a jersey trimmed with a distinctive colour, and carry a flag in his
bows; and it is extraordinary what ugly combinations some of them choose
and think beautiful.

These four races have taken our young friend well on into the summer
half; but after Henley is over, he will probably have to represent his
House in the House Four race. Perhaps at his tutor's there may be one or
two who have rowed at Henley in the Eight, and with these, and possibly
another boy in Lower Boats, he has to train for another three weeks to
row in what has been called, in a song familiar to Etonians of late
years, "_the_ race of the year." It is an inspiriting sight for any one
who wishes to get an idea of an Eton race to see the crowds of men and
boys, masters and pupils, wetbobs and drybobs, running along the bank
with the race, some so far ahead that they can see nothing, some with
the boats, some tired out and lagging behind, but all shouting for a
particular crew or individual as if their lives depended on it.

In the last few years another race has been established for the Lower
Boats; but it has not met with the approval of many Old Etonians. It is
a bumping race, similar to those at Oxford and Cambridge, rowed by the
different Lower Boats--_Britannia_, _Dreadnought_, etc. It is claimed
that by practising for this race many of those who would not otherwise
get much teaching are coached by competent people, and thus the standard
of rowing is raised; but the opponents of the measure object, and as I
think rightly, on the grounds that the average oar in the Lower Boats
has quite enough rowing and racing as it is, and that even if more
racing were needed, a bumping race is the very worst that can be rowed.
It is necessary at the Universities, on account of the narrowness of the
rivers, to hold these races, for two boats cannot race abreast; but they
must tend to make crews rush and hurry for two or three minutes, and
then try to get home as best they can.

So much for the Lower Boat races. And there is only one more point to
add concerning the Lower Boats: at the end of each summer half a list is
published called "Lower Boat Choices," comprising about twenty of the
Lower Boat oarsmen; to these also is given a special colour; and it is
in the order of these choices that places in the Upper Boats are
assigned in the following spring.

Having, therefore, in the next year, risen to the dignity of the Upper
Boats, our Etonian has before him almost as many races as when he was in
Lower Boats. His first is "Trial Eights." This takes place at the end of
the Lent term, between two eight-oared crews, rowing on sliding seats,
and chosen by the Captain of the Boats. It is from these two crews,
picked from the Upper Boats and the boat captains, that the Henley Eight
has to be chosen; and it is, therefore, the object of the first and
second captains of the boats to equalize them as far as possible, so
that they may have a close race, and that the rowing and stamina of
individuals at high pressure may be watched. In the summer half come the
School Pulling and Sculling, similar to junior races, but rowed on
sliding seats, and confined to the Upper Boats. The winner of a school
race, besides getting his prize, is entitled to wear a "School
Shield"--a small gold shield, on which are engraved the Eton arms, and
the name and year of the race won. To secure a "School Shield" is one of
the greatest ambitions of every ambitious Etonian.

These two races being over, practice for the Eight which is to row at
Henley begins. Every day the Captain of the Boats, aided by one or two
masters, who have probably represented their Universities at Putney in
their day, has out two crews, composed of the best of those who are in
Upper Boats. These crews are gradually weeded out till, perhaps, only an
eight and a four are left; and then, at last, the Eight is finally

It is difficult to say who should be pitied most while this process of
choosing the crew is going on--the captain or those who are striving for
their seats; the captain always worried and anxious that he should get
the best crew to represent his school, the crew always in agony lest
they should be turned out, and should never be able to wear the light
blue. Of course, the captain has the advice of those much more
experienced than himself; but if there is a close point to settle, it
is on him alone that the responsibility of the choice falls.

Once safely settled in the boat, there follows a period of five or six
weeks of mixed pleasure and pain, for every crew, however good, must
pass through periods of demoralization when for a few days they cease to
improve, and periods of joy when they realize that, after all, they have
some chance of turning out well.

For the last three weeks of this Henley practice the Eight is in strict
training; but training for Eton boys is no great hardship. The days of
"hard steak and a harder hen" are over. The Eton boy is always fit, and
the chief point he has to observe is regularity.

His meals are much the same as usual--breakfast at eight, lunch at two,
a light tea at five, supper together at eight in the evening, and bed at
ten. There is no need to pull him out of bed in the morning, as at the
Universities, for he has to go to school every morning at seven o'clock;
he does not usually smoke--or, at any rate, is not supposed to by the
rules of the school, and it is rarely that this rule is broken--and he
does not indulge in large unwholesome dinners, after the manner of many

Every evening at six o'clock he goes down to the river, and is probably
tubbed in a gig-pair before rowing down the Datchet reach in the Eight.
About twice a week the crew rows a full racing course, and is taken in
for the last three minutes by a scratch crew, which goes by the name of
"duffers," composed of five or six Old Etonians and masters, and one or
two Eton boys, who are kept in training as spare men. The crew is
coached from a horse by one of the masters--of late years Mr. de
Havilland, who is certainly as keen for his crew to win as any boy in
the school.

For the last five years the crew has taken a house at Henley for the
days of the regatta, and gone to Henley by train the afternoon before
the races. Though much wiser, this departure from Eton is not as
impressive as in older days, when the crew used to drive to Henley for
each day's racing; when, filled with pride and shyness, the young
oarsman used to issue from his tutor's, wearing for the first time his
light-blue coat and white cap, and walk to Mr. Donaldson's or Dr.
Warre's house, where waited the brake which was to convey the crew,
with the cheers of the crowd, along the hot, dusty road to Henley. In
1891, the last year that this drive was taken, the crew, before the
final of the Ladies' Plate, had to drive no less than seventy-five miles
in three days. They were only beaten by a few feet, and there is little
doubt that but for this most tiring drive they would have won. Once at
Henley, all is pleasure. No crew is more popular, none more cheered, as
it paddles down the course to the starting-point and as it arrives first
at the winning-post. The scene of enthusiasm, not only among Etonians,
but among the whole rowing world, when an Eton crew wins the Ladies'
Plate after a lapse of several years, is past description.

After Henley come House Fours; and then the list of Upper Boat choices
is made up by the Captain of the Boats. The captain, by this means,
appoints his successor for the following year, for he arranges these
choices in order of merit, just as Lower Boat choices are arranged, and
the highest choice remaining at Eton till the next year becomes captain.
Thus the power of the captain is absolute; he can appoint whomever he
likes to be his successor, and it is seldom that the choice falls on
the wrong boy. Besides being the sole authority in these matters, the
captain has to arrange all the money matters of the E.C.B.C.; over five
hundred pounds pass through his hands in a year, and this gives an extra
responsibility to his post. Of course all his accounts are carefully
audited by one of the masters, and the experience gained, not only in
looking after money, but also in arranging dates of races, in choosing
and in captaining his crew, and in judging disputed points, is well
worth all the trouble and worry entailed.

Our Eton Lower Boy has now reached the position of Captain of the Boats,
and here I will leave him to go on either to Oxford or Cambridge and
represent his University at Putney. A few words, however, may still be

There is a great difference between teaching a boy of sixteen and a man
of twenty to row, and this difference lies in the fact that it is much
easier, and perhaps even more important, to teach your boy to row in
good form. By good form, I mean the power to use all his strength
directly in making the boat move so that no energy is wasted in making
the body pass through the extraordinary contortions and antics often
seen in an inferior college crew.

It is easier to teach the boy of sixteen to row in good form, because
his muscles are not yet formed, and his body still lithe and supple; it
is more important to teach him, because he is not so strong as his
elders, and consequently has not as much strength to waste.

A description of best how to use your strength would be out of place
here, for it will be found set forth in another part of this volume. Let
me, therefore, pass on to a subject which lately has caused considerable
discussion--the subject of the length of the course for the Junior and
School races. All these races are held over a course of about three
miles in length, and take some twenty minutes to row. They start
opposite the Brocas, and continue up-stream round "Rushes," and then
down-stream to Windsor Bridge. The contention of many is that the length
of these races is too great, and that the trial put on boys of perhaps
fifteen years of age is too severe. From this view of the matter I
differ, for to any one who has rowed over both the Henley and Putney
course it will be evident that the forty strokes per minute for a mile
and a half would be more trying to a young boy than the thirty-four per
minute for four miles.

A short note on the proceedings of the wetbobs on the 4th of June, the
great day of celebration at Eton, may have some interest.

As I have said, a procession of all the boats takes place on this day.
About five o'clock they start in order from the Brocas, and row to
Surley Hall, where, in tents on the grass, a supper is prepared. After
supping, they return to the rafts in time for a display of fireworks,
the crews standing up in their boats and tossing their oars, whereby a
very pretty effect is obtained. The dresses worn by the crews are quaint
and old-fashioned on this great day. All are dressed in white ducks, a
shirt of the colours of their boat, a dark-blue Eton jacket trimmed with
gold or silver braid, and a straw hat covered with various emblems of
their boat. The coxswains of the Upper Boats wear naval captain's
clothes, while the Lower Boat coxswains represent midshipmen.

So much for Eton rowing; and, in finishing, I must pay a slight tribute
to three old Etonians, to whom the success of Eton rowing is mainly
due. They are Dr. Warre, the Rev. S. A. Donaldson, and Mr. de
Havilland; and I feel sure that out of these three, who have all done
yeomen service for their school, I may single out Dr. Warre, and yet
give no offence to his two successors. Before Dr. Warre came to Eton as
a master, in the early sixties, the masters had taken little interest in
the proceedings on the river; consequently the traditions of rowing,
learnt mainly from the riverside watermen, were not of a very high
standard. Eton had never rowed in any races, except against Westminster,
and it was due to Dr. Warre's efforts that competition for the Ladies'
Plate was first allowed. From this date till the middle of the eighties,
Dr. Warre was always ready to coach when asked, but never till asked,
for he believed, and still believes strongly, in allowing the boys to
manage their own games as far as possible.

How well he kept his principles of rowing up to date is shown in his
pamphlets on rowing and coaching, for probably no one but he could have
written so clear and concise a description as he has given.

Besides being an eminent coach, he understands thoroughly the theories
of boat-building, his ideas being well exemplified of late by the boats
which won for Eton in '93, '94, '96, and '97.

When the duties of head-master became too engrossing to allow him to
devote as much time to the Eight as formerly, his place was taken, and
well filled, by Mr. Donaldson. Mr. Donaldson was always a most keen and
patient coach, and followed closely on the head-master's lines; and his
cheery voice at Henley--clear above all the din of the race--once heard,
could never be forgotten. He was very successful with his crews, and
helped them to win the Ladies' Plate several times.

In 1893 Mr. de Havilland first coached the Eight, and, since this date,
has had an unbroken series of wins. In the first year of his coaching,
fifteen-inch slides, instead of ten-inch, were used, and this, aided by
his excellent advice, helped to produce one of the fastest Eights that
Eton has ever sent to represent the school. Mr. de Havilland has that
wonderful knack, possessed by some good coaches, of training his crew to
the hour, and it is surprising with what speed his crews always improve
in the last week or so of practice.

I can only hope, in conclusion, that I have to some extent succeeded in
explaining to the uninitiated the mysteries of the career of an Eton
wetbob during the five or six happiest years of his life spent at the
best of schools.



_By E. G. Blackmore._

A country which has produced such scullers as Beach and Searle, not to
mention Trickett, Laycock, Kemp, Nielson, Stanbury, and many others of
less calibre, may well claim a place in a work treating of the science
and art of rowing. In the limits of a chapter it is scarcely possible to
give an exhaustive account of Australian oarsmen and oarsmanship, and as
the performances of the leading Colonial scullers are sufficiently well
known, from their having competed on English waters, this record will be
almost entirely confined to amateur rowing, as practised in Australia.

That large continent, with the island of Tasmania, consists of six
colonies, in all of which the art is cultivated, with more or less

The first record we can find of anything like boat-racing occurs in
1818, when ships' gig races were rowed in the Sydney Harbour, while the
first regatta was held in the same place in 1827. In 1832 an
Australian-born crew, in a locally built whale-boat, beat several crews
of whaling ships. Passing over a series of years, in which nothing of
more than local and momentary interest occurred, we find that in 1858,
in the first race rowed on the present Champion course, the Parramatta
River, Green beat an English sculler, Candlish, in a match for £400. I
am inclined to regard this as the real foundation of New South Wales
professional sculling, which afterwards culminated in the performances
of Beach and Searle. The mother colony is the only one of the group
which has produced a professional sculler of any class. Amongst amateurs
none has yet appeared who could be placed in the first rank.

In all the Colonies there are rowing associations which regulate and
control amateur rowing. Of these, New South Wales alone has attempted to
maintain the amateur status on English lines. The other associations
recognize men who would not pass muster at any regatta in the United
Kingdom where the regulation definition obtains. To the New South Wales
Association about ten clubs are affiliated. Under its auspices regattas
are held in the harbour of Sydney, and one on the Parramatta River. The
former water is utterly unfit for first-class racing, as it is
exceedingly rough, exposed to sudden winds, and hampered with steam
traffic of all sorts. In September--regarded as the commencement of the
rowing season--there is an eight-oar race, the winners of which rank as
champions for the ensuing year, and fly the "Premiership Pennant." On
January 26 is held the Anniversary Regatta, which, founded in 1834, has
been an annual event since 1837.

The Parramatta River course, on which champion events are decided, and
which Hanlan, Beach, and Searle have made classic ground, is 3 miles 330
yards. It is practically straight, with a strong tide, the set of which
is very difficult to learn. At times it is so affected by wind, as to
render rowing impossible. The most perfect water is that of the Nepean
River. Here a straight 3¼ miles course can be found, perfectly calm,
and with no current. It was on this river that Beach beat Hanlan in

The Victorian Rowing Association holds three Championship events in the
year--sculls, fours, and eights rowed in best boats on the Lower Yarra,
and an annual regatta on the Albert Park Lake, though in former years it
has taken place on the Upper and the Lower river. Important meetings are
also held at Ballarat, Geelong, Warrnambool, Bairnsdale, Colac,
Nagambie, and Lake Moodemere. The length for Intercolonial and
Championship races is 3 miles 110 yards, with the tide, which may be set
at three miles an hour.

The South Australian Association holds an annual regatta on the river
Torrens, and has champion races for eights, fours, and sculls, on the
Port River. The city course is one mile, that for the champion races,
three miles. The Torrens is at the best an inferior river for rowing,
while the Port Water is a broad tidal stream, exposed to south-west
winds, and at times exceedingly rough.

Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia, like their sister Colonies,
have associations, and hold regattas.

The great event of the year is the Intercolonial eight-oar race, rowed
alternately in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Western Australia is
now (1897) entering the field, but her crew is composed almost entirely
of former Victorian oarsmen. In the past the rowing of Victorian crews
has been generally far superior to that of the other Colonies, and in
1894 the Victorian combination was the nearest approach to English form
that has yet been attained. South Australia has not so far been
represented. Speaking generally, none of the picked eights of the
Colonies have ever shown form or pace within measurable distance of the
best college crews at Oxford and Cambridge, or the eights which may be
seen at Henley. There is no approach to that systematic rudimentary
teaching, coaching, and training, which proves so successful on English
waters, and without which no crew can ever become that perfect human
machine which a finished eight should be.

_Public School Rowing._


The principal rowing schools in New South Wales are the Church of
England Grammar School, North Shore, the Sydney Grammar School, and St.
Ignatius College. Under the "Athletic Association of the Great Public
Schools" an annual regatta is held on the Parramatta River in May. The
events are--"Schools Championship," Maiden Fours, Junior Eights, and a
June Handicap Sculling Race. The association has fixed the distance at
1¼ miles. The races are rowed in string test gigs; and 8 mins. 15
secs. is considered good time for school crews, whose age, it must be
remembered, does not equal that of English schoolboys. The boathouses of
the two grammar schools are at Berry's and Woolloomooloo Bays, in the
harbour; and they are at a disadvantage compared with St. Ignatius
College, which, at Lane Cove River, has a splendid course and smooth
water. The ten days of the Easter vacation are spent by the two former
schools in "Rowing Camp," _i.e._ they migrate to the Parramatta River,
where there are better opportunities of systematic work and coaching.
Each club, notably St. Ignatius, has a good set of boats, those of the
North Shore School being fitted with convertible fixed or sliding seats,
carried on frames. The form of the two grammar schools is decidedly
good, and conforms to the English standard much more nearly than that of
most of the clubs.


There are five schools approaching, as nearly as circumstances allow,
the great public schools of England, viz. in the capital, the Church of
England Grammar School, the Scotch College, Wesley College, St Patrick's
College, and the Church of England Grammar School at Geelong.

Two races are rowed annually, for first and second crews, each school in
turn having the choice of course, which is either on the Upper or Lower
Yarra, the Albert Park Lagoon, or the Barwon at Geelong. For first crews
the distance is 1¼ miles, for second a mile, the boats being string
test gigs, fixed seats. Of all the schools none has a record equal to
that of Geelong, where rowing, in comparison with other sports, occupies
the same position as at Eton. To the Cambridge Eight it has contributed
four oars, including the well-known heavyweight S. Fairbairn; while in
the memorable race of '86, when Pitman made his victorious rush on the
post, the school had an "old boy" in each boat--Fairbairn rowing for the
Light Blues, and Robertson, whose father had been in Hoare's famous '61
crew, for Oxford. In the Cambridge Trial Eights seven "old Geelongs"
have rowed; in the Oxford Trials only one; while the school has also
been represented in the Grand Challenge and other races at Henley.

The Public Schools' Race for first crews was established in 1868, and
for second in 1878. Geelong first rowed for the former in 1875, since
when it has twelve wins to its credit, and the same number in the minor

The Boat Club was established in 1874, and at the present date has a
roll of fifty-six members, an excellent boathouse, and nineteen boats.
It holds an annual school regatta in June.

Rowing at the other schools is very spasmodic, mostly confined to a few
weeks' training for the above races.

_South Australia._

There are only two schools in South Australia which merit the
designation of public schools in the English sense, viz. St. Peter's
Collegiate School and Prince Alfred College, both in the immediate
neighbourhood of the city.

Adelaide is bisected by the river Torrens, where, by reason of a dam, a
mile and a half of water is available for rowing. But the course is so
tortuous that racing is limited to a mile. The accumulation of silt is
so great, and the growth of weeds and rushes so rapid, that for some
five months in the year the river is kept empty for necessary
operations; and at the best of times the water is slow and sluggish. At
the annual regatta, under the Rowing Association, the rivals have often
competed in a special race; but they ran the chance of being drawn to
row private schools. In order to make rowing as important a part of
school athletics as cricket and football, the present writer, who was
then chairman of the Rowing Association, instituted in 1893 an annual
race between these schools for a challenge shield, to be rowed on the
tidal river at the Port, over a straight mile course. The boats used are
half-outrigged, clinker, keelless fours, fixed seats, with a
twenty-six-inch beam. The crews practise on the home water, and finish
their preparation on the scene of the contest. So far, St. Peter's
College has won each event in the easiest style. A race has also been
established with the Geelong school. Of three, each of which has been of
the closest, Geelong has won once, St. Peter's twice. The boats used are
full outrigged clinkers, with sliding seats.

In spite of the inferior water, rowing at St. Peter's is becoming almost
as popular with the boys as cricket and football. To this state of
things their success against Prince Alfred and Geelong crews has
materially contributed, as well as the institution of school regattas.
The club has a good boathouse, with the right class of boats for
teaching and coaching, viz. steady, roomy, half-outrigged, clinker
fours, with keels, convertible as fixed or sliders.

_University Rowing._

There are three Universities of Australia--those of Sydney, Melbourne,
and Adelaide. Racing was first instituted when Sydney and Melbourne met
on the water of the latter in string test gig fours over a three and a
half miles course. In the following year they met on the Parramatta.
Melbourne won on both occasions. The race was then discontinued, but in
1885 the Sydney University Boat Club was founded, and in 1888 the three
Universities mutually agreed to establish the race as an annual event in
eights, to be rowed in turn on the Parramatta, the Yarra, and the Port
Adelaide rivers, over a three mile course. Of nine races rowed--in two
of which Adelaide, and in one of which Sydney, did not compete--Sydney
has won four times, Melbourne thrice, and Adelaide on two occasions. The
presentation by Old Blues of Oxford and Cambridge of a magnificent cup,
to be held by the winners, has given a great stimulus to the race, and
invested it with an importance which otherwise would not have attached
to it. It has served to establish the continuity of the contest, and to
connect the local Universities with their more famous elder sisters of

The Sydney U.B.C. undoubtedly takes the lead in prosecuting rowing. It
promotes annual races for Freshmen, and intercollegiate fours between
the three colleges of St. John's, St. Andrew's, and St. Paul's. Since
their inauguration, in 1892, St. Paul's has won on every occasion except
in 1894. In 1895 and 1896 the U.B.C. won the Rowing Association
Eight-oar Championship.

There is an annual race in eights between Ormond and Trinity Colleges of
the Melbourne University, besides a few other less important events, but
the rowing spirit is not in such evidence as in Sydney and Adelaide. The
latter is simply a teaching and examining University, with members so
few that it is rather a matter of finding eight men to put in a boat
than of picking or selecting a crew from a number of aspirants. Its
success and enterprise are the more remarkable.

Speaking generally of University form in Australia, it is far inferior
to that of a good college eight. Nor is the reason far to seek. There is
no such recruiting ground as, for instance, Eton or Radley, not to
mention other rowing schools, nor are there the opportunities for making
oars such as the college clubs at the two great Universities present,
with the successive stages of the Torpids and Lent races, the May and
Summer Eights, Henley, and the Trial Eights. Coaching, as in England,
from the tow path or a fast steam-launch, is practically impossible, and
the number of those who have a scientific knowledge of oarsmanship, and,
what is rarer still, the gift of imparting it to a crew, individually
and collectively, is small indeed. Coaching in Australia is done from
the stern, or from another boat, or by an occasional view from the bank,
sometimes from a launch seldom fast enough to keep up, or range abeam.
Pair-oar tubbing is of course utilized. Sydney University rowing is,
however, far superior to non-University oarsmanship. The men sit up, use
their backs and legs well, understand the knee work at the end of the
slide, and do not rush their recovery. They are somewhat deficient in
fore and aft swing, have a tendency to sky the feather, and rarely
catch their water at the first. Melbourne rowing is wanting in body
work, and conspicuous for absence of length. The men apparently are
taught to discard on slides every approach to fixed-seat form, instead
of to retain as much as possible. Thanks to a strong Oxford inspiration
in Adelaide, and a belief in fixed-seat form as the foundation of good
rowing on slides, an Adelaide school or University crew is conspicuous
for length, reach, and swing. The pace of the eights is far behind
English standard.

_Boatbuilding in Australia._

It was the opinion of Hanlan that in the matter of boats and sculls he
had never been so well served as by Donnelly and Sullivan of Sydney, a
judgment as regards sculls endorsed by Beach and Searle. Chris. Nielsen,
the sculler, has brought out a boat which he claims to be faster than
the ordinary wager boat, with, against, or without tide, in rough water
or smooth. The dimensions for an 11½ stone man are--length, 23 ft.;
beam, 16 ins.; depth, 7 ins.; for'ard, 6 ins.; aft, 5½ ins.; full
lines throughout; height of seat from heel plates, 7 ins.; height of
work from seat, 5¾ ins.; needs no fin, steers well, very light off
hand; weight without fittings, 14 lbs. Riggers are bicycle tubing
fittings, ordinary Davis gate; Colonial cedar, pine, and hickory
timbers. The Australian-built boats are probably, so far as lines,
general design, and workmanship, quite equal to the best English craft.
For pairs, fours, and eights the Melbourne builders, Fuller, Edwards,
and Greenland, are of the first class. They use a skeleton frame for the
slides, built with angle pieces. This has all the rigidity of Clasper's
more solid style, is lighter and stronger, and when the boat is being
emptied allows the free escape of water. A Colonial eight is certainly
lighter than those sent to Australia by Clasper or Rough. Probably the
English builders have overestimated the weight of Australian eight-oar
crews, which do not scale anything approaching a 'Varsity eight. Seating
down the middle is generally preferred, which the present writer thinks
has everything in its favour. The great drawback from which local
builders suffer is the want of seasoned cedar. From this cause their
boats do not last as long as English ones.


I am not disposed to place much reliance on time as a test of a crew or
a sculler, as conditions can never be so identical as to make comparison
a safe guide. Still a certain interest attaches to records. It is
contended that the Parramatta is a fifth slower than the Thames. The
best trial with the tide that I know of is for a mile, 5 mins. 20 secs.
with a four; 4 mins. 47 secs. with an eight. Over the whole course, 3
miles 330 yards, an eight has put up 17 mins. 12 secs., one mile of
which was compassed in 4 mins. 52 secs. On the Yarra the Victorian Eight
of 1889 is said to have rowed two measured miles in 10 mins. 2 secs. At
Brisbane, in 1895, the Sydney International Eight, with a strong stream,
compassed three miles in 15 mins., but the distance is doubted. On the
Nepean course, 3 miles 440 yards, Sullivan beat Bubear in 19 mins. 15
secs., no current.



The sport of rowing, as I gather from Mr. Caspar Whitney's well-known
book,[14] was in its infancy in America when it had already taken a
prominent place amongst our amateur athletic exercises in England. The
Detroit Boat Club, established in 1839, was the first rowing
organization in America. Next came Yale University, which established a
Boat Club in 1843, and was followed by Harvard University in 1846. The
first boat-race between Harvard and Yale took place in 1852 on Lake
Winipiseogee, New Hampshire, in eight-oared boats with coxswains. Other
meetings between these two followed at intervals until 1859, when a
College Union Regatta was instituted. This took place at Worcester
(Mass.), on Lake Quinsigamond, in six-oared boats without coxswains, the
bow oar invariably steering, and was continued, with an interruption of
three years during the Rebellion, until 1870, when the course was
changed to the Connecticut River. Up to this time two Universities only
had competed besides Yale and Harvard; but in 1872 the number increased
considerably, and in 1875 no less than twelve different Universities
were represented in one race. These were, in the order in which they
finished, Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, Dartmouth (Hanover, N.H.),
Wesleyan (Middletown, Conn.), Yale, Amherst (Mass.), Brown (Providence,
R.I.), Williams (Williamstown, Mass.), Bowdoin (Brunswick, Maine),
Hamilton (Clinton, N.Y.), and Union (Schenectady, N.Y.). The most
eventful of these big regattas was that of 1874 at Saratoga, when nine
boats entered. Harvard and Yale, having adjoining stations,
unfortunately became engaged in a dispute as to "water," and were left
disputing by several boats. Harvard got away from the entanglement
first, leaving Yale with her rudder and one oar broken, and went in
pursuit of the others; but in spite of the most heroic efforts, were
beaten by Columbia and Wesleyan, who finished respectively first and
second. In 1876 Harvard and Yale decided to withdraw from these crowded
meetings, and in this and the following year they rowed a private match
at Springfield in Eights with coxswains, and in 1878 on the Thames at
New London, where they continued their annual contest up to and
including 1895.[15] In that year there took place a break in the
athletic relations between these two Universities, and in 1896 Harvard
took part in a "quadrangular" race with Cornell, Columbia, and
Pennsylvania Universities. This was won by Cornell, Harvard being
second, and was rowed on a perfectly straight four-mile course at
Poughkeepsie on the River Hudson, where Cornell, Columbia, and
Pennsylvania had decided some previous contests. In the present year,
however, the differences between Harvard and Yale were happily adjusted,
and a race was rowed at Poughkeepsie between them and Cornell, in which
Cornell came in first, Yale defeating Harvard for second place. Harvard,
Yale, Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Cornell possess at the present day
the most important University rowing organizations, and at all of them
the sport is practised with that intense keenness which characterizes
the young American in everything that he undertakes. Especially is this
the case with Harvard and Yale. Their rivalry has continued for many
years, and a meeting between them in rowing, or in any other sport,
evokes among their members an eagerness and an enthusiasm of which an
Englishman can have little conception. Most of the Universities that
took part in the contests of the seventies seem to have dropped
altogether out of the rowing world. Last year saw a new arrival in the
shape of the University of Wisconsin. These Westerners, in spite of
their difficulties of climate, were able to form a very good freshman
crew, which defeated the Yale freshmen in a two-mile race. This year the
Wisconsin University Eight rowed a two-mile race against the Yale
University Eight, but were unable to make much of a show against them.
The United States Naval Academy at Minneapolis can also put a very fair
crew on the water, though the course of their studies allows them but
little leisure for practice. This year they were defeated by Cornell in
a two-mile race. The chief rowing school of America is undoubtedly St.
Paul's, at Concord, New Hampshire. It is divided into two boat-clubs,
the Halcyon and the Shattuck, and the teaching and training of the boys
are looked after by Mr. Dole, a man of great knowledge and experience in
rowing matters. They practise on a large lake situated close to the
school buildings, and show on the whole very fair form, though in this
respect they cannot equal an Eton crew. Rowing recruits from this school
are eagerly sought after by Harvard and Yale, in whose contests old St.
Paul's boys have a very brilliant record. At Groton School, in
Massachusetts, the boys row in Fours on the river Nashua, their coach
being Mr. Abbot, a graduate of Worcester College, Oxford. Rowing,
however, at Groton has not yet assumed the importance it has at St.
Paul's, baseball being considered of the first importance, and the
captain of baseball having the right to claim rowing boys for his team.
Not a few Groton wet-bobs have, however, done well in Harvard and Yale
crews. Besides these two rowing-schools, there is also the High School
of Worcester (Mass.), whose Eight this year--the first, I believe, in
its rowing history--rowed a severe but unsuccessful race against the
Harvard freshmen on Lake Quinsigamond, and later in the summer won the
race for Intermediate Eights at the National Regatta held on the River
Schuylkill at Philadelphia.

  [14] "A Sporting Pilgrimage" (published in 1895 by Messrs. Osgood,
  McIlvaine & Co.), one of the best all-round accounts of English sport
  that it has ever been my good fortune to read.

  [15] For many of these details I am indebted to an article by Mr. J. A.
  Watson-Taylor in the _Granta_.


To an English reader, with his experience of Henley Regatta, it will
seem strange that the Universities in America should take little or no
part in any rowing contests except their own private matches, and should
have no voice, and apparently no wish to have any voice, in the general
management of the sport outside the Universities. But such is the case.
The National Association of Amateur Oarsmen of America has more than
sixty clubs affiliated to it, but neither Harvard nor Yale nor Cornell
is amongst the number. The National Association holds a successful
regatta every year in August, but no really representative Eight from
Harvard or Yale has ever, I believe, taken part in it. With that
exception, this Association corresponds to our Amateur Rowing
Association, and in its constitution states its object to be "the
advancement and improvement of rowing amongst amateurs." By Article III.
of the Association an amateur is defined as "one who does not enter in
an open competition; or for either a stake, public or admission money,
or entrance fee; or compete with or against a professional for any
prize; who has never taught, pursued, or assisted in the pursuit of
athletic exercises as a means of livelihood; whose membership of any
rowing or other athletic club was not brought about, or does not
continue, because of any mutual agreement or understanding, expressed or
implied, whereby his becoming or continuing a member of such club would
be of any pecuniary benefit to him whatever, direct or indirect;[16] who
has never been employed in any occupation involving any use of the oar
or paddle; who rows for pleasure or recreation only, and during his
leisure hours; who does not abandon or neglect his usual business or
occupation for the purpose of training, and who shall otherwise conform
to the rules and regulations of this Association (as adopted August 28,
1872, amended January 20, 1876, and July 18, 1888)."

  [16] This clause is intended especially to prevent any so-called amateur
  oarsmen being surreptitiously compensated for rowing, as, for instance,
  by being furnished lucrative employment in sinecure positions.

"Any club which shall issue or accept a challenge for the purpose of
holding a professional race, shall be for ever debarred from entering an
individual or crew in the Regattas of the Association, and such club, if
connected with the Association, shall be expelled."

In point of strictness, it will be noticed this Rule does not suffer by
comparison with that of our own Amateur Rowing Association.[17] Indeed,
in some respects it is both fuller and stricter. Practically the only
difference is that whereas we disqualify as an amateur one who has been
employed in manual labour for money or wages, or who is or has been by
trade or employment for wages a mechanic, artizan, or labourer, or
engaged in any menial duty, this exclusion finds no place in the
American Amateur definition. The Laws of Boat-racing adopted by the
Association are practically the same as our own.

  [17] See Appendix.

It may be interesting to contrast the organization and management of
rowing at an American University with the systems that a long tradition
has consecrated at Oxford and Cambridge. In our Universities, in the
first place, each particular sport is entirely independent of all
others. Each has its own club, its own funds, derived from the
subscriptions of its members, and each manages its own affairs and
arranges its own contests, except occasionally in the matter of
convenience of date, without any reference whatever to the others. A don
is usually treasurer of these clubs, but he has no special authority or
control merely because he is a don. His experience and greater knowledge
are placed at the disposal of undergraduates in matters of finance; that
is all. Certain general University rules as to time of residence, etc.,
have to be observed, but beyond this the dons assume absolutely no
authority at all in the sports of the undergraduates. The undergraduates
themselves, through undergraduate officers, elected by themselves, make
all their own arrangements as to dates, matches, and everything else
connected with their competitions; and a don would as soon think of
flirting with a barmaid as of interfering with these matters in virtue
of his donship. This point is really of capital importance. The
responsibility of everything connected with the sports of the University
thus falls upon the proper shoulders--those, namely, of the
undergraduates who take part in them. The full glory of the victory is
theirs, and a defeat they must feel is due to them alone. They cannot
shift the blame to any don or committee of dons, and, as they must
acknowledge themselves responsible, so the necessity of taking steps to
restore the fortunes of their club is the more strongly brought home to
them. The captain of a Boat Club is its absolute autocrat as regards
work and discipline and the selection of his crew. The coach whom he
asks to instruct them may possibly be old enough to be his father, but
the coach, none the less, defers with an almost filial respect to the
captain, through whom all executive orders are issued. In practice, of
course, the wise captain is guided in most matters by his coach, but,
should a serious difference arise between them, it is the coach who must
give way to the authority of the captain. This uncontrolled management
of their sports by the undergraduates is, it seems to me, no unimportant
part of a University education; and a man may learn from it even more
valuable lessons in conduct, self-control, and the treatment of his
fellow-men, than from all the books, papers, and examinations of his
University curriculum.

At an American University a very different situation exists. I will take
the case of Harvard, not merely because it is more familiar to me, but
because it is typical in its general features, though not, of course, in
all its details, of the position taken up by the authorities at most
American Universities with regard to the sports of the undergraduates.
From the earliest days of athletic exercises the Faculty, or Governing
Body, of the University has kept a very tight control over them. It has
issued rules and ordinances, allowing or forbidding certain
competitions, deciding not only the number, but the date and place of
matches in which it was allowable to take part, and regulating and
controlling the conduct of those undergraduates who took part in
athletics. This system, no doubt, originated at a time when the numbers
at Harvard were comparatively small, and when the men entered College at
an age considerably younger than is usual in England. But the numbers at
Harvard have increased by leaps and bounds, and the age of
undergraduates is now on an average the same as at Oxford and Cambridge.

In recent years, indeed, a slight change has been found advisable. The
control of all athletics, whether rowing, baseball, football, or track
athletics, is vested in what is called an Athletic Committee, composed
of three professors (_Anglicé_, dons), three graduates of the
University, and three undergraduates. These nine, who are not selected
on any representative system, promulgate laws, conduct negotiations,
settle dates, and generally perform those details of business which in
England are left entirely to the undergraduates. For instance, the
negotiations for a resumption of athletic relations with Yale University
were on the Harvard side managed by and through the Athletic Committee.
Moreover, the Athletic Committee has in its hands the appointment of
coaches for the crew, and for the football, baseball, and athletic
teams. The captain of a crew or a team is, to be sure, elected by the
undergraduates themselves, the established system being that the crew
should, before disbanding itself, elect the captain for the ensuing
year. But no election of this kind is valid until it has been confirmed
by the Athletic Committee. From the above account, in which I have
confined myself to facts, and have not attempted to criticize, it will
be seen how profound are the differences between athletic organizations
at English and American Universities.

But there are further differences which have nothing to do with the
system of control and management. An English University is composed of
many colleges, each entirely independent, so far as the management of
its affairs are concerned. An English University Boat Club is organized
on the same principle. It is made up of representatives of all the
College Boat Clubs, and combines these autonomous institutions for what
may be termed Imperial purposes. College rowing at Oxford and Cambridge
foments a keen and healthy rivalry, and to no small extent helps to keep
up the standard of University rowing. In America, on the contrary, the
University is one, and apparently indivisible. There are no colleges,
and, therefore, there is no aggregation of College Boat Clubs such as we
have at home. The want of this element is, no doubt, a serious
disadvantage to an American University Boat Club. The only element of
rivalry comes from the competition of the four different classes (_i.e._
years, as we should call them--freshmen; second-year men, or
"sophomores;" third-year men, or "juniors;" and fourth-year men, or
"seniors") against one another in an eight-oared race in the spring.
Beyond this there has been hitherto no internal competition between
members of the University Boat Club. Compare this single race with the
long series of contests in which an English University oarsman takes
part. He may begin in October with the Fours, row in the University
Trial Eights in December, and in the University crew in the following
March. Then come the College eight-oared races in May or June, followed
by Henley Regatta in July, to say nothing of pair-oar races, and
sculling races, and College Club races, or of the various Thames
regattas, in which he may take part during what remains of the summer.
He thus gains invaluable lessons, both in watermanship and in racing
experience, which are not open to his American cousin.

For this absence of competitions in an American University Boat Club,
the severe American winter, which closes the rivers from about the
middle of December until early in March, is only partly responsible.
During October and November the rivers are open; but up to the present
very little advantage has been taken of these valuable months. At
Harvard there has hitherto been no race or series of races for Fours or
Pairs or Scullers, and freshmen, during their first term, have been
exercised on a rowing machine, when they might, with infinitely greater
profit, have gained instruction on the water.

Early in January, when the undergraduates have returned from their short
Christmas vacation, a "squad" for the University crew has generally been
formed and sent to the "training-table," and the men composing it have
been put into regular exercise, consisting of running varied by
occasional skating, and of rowing practice every day in the tank. When
the ice breaks up in March an Eight appears upon the water, and
practises regularly from that time until towards the end of June, when
its race against the rival University takes place. This long period of
combined practice has many obvious drawbacks, which will at once strike
an experienced oarsman. I believe better results might be obtained by
allowing members of the University "squad" to take part in the Class
races, and then, after a period of rest, selecting the University crew.


Notwithstanding, however, all these disadvantages, rowing at American
Universities has reached a high standard--a result due to the
extraordinary earnestness and enthusiasm of those who take part in it.
The American University oarsman is in every respect as strong and as
well-developed in physique as the average Englishman. All he lacks is
the prolonged racing experience, which makes the Englishman so
formidable and robust an opponent. There are men amongst the old oars of
Harvard, Yale, and Cornell, who have made skilled rowing their special
study, and whose knowledge of all points of the game is fully as great
as that of our English oars. Yale, in particular, has, during the last
ten years, been able to turn out some wonderfully fine and powerful
crews; but the tendency amongst the American University oarsmen, during
recent years, has been to sacrifice body-swing to the mere piston action
of the legs on a very long slide. There is now, however, a reaction, due
to the visits paid by Cornell and Yale to Henley in 1895 and 1896, and
the long body-swing and general steadiness, which are marked features of
English rowing, are now being very successfully cultivated in America.

At the five chief rowing Universities--Harvard, Yale, Columbia,
Pennsylvania, and Cornell--it is also customary to train a freshman crew
every year, not merely for the local class races, but for competition
against one another, the races taking place a few days before those in
which the University crews compete. This year Yale defeated Harvard by
something more than a length, Harvard being about three-quarters of a
length ahead of Cornell. The race--a two-mile one--was very severe, and
the crews, considering their material, showed, on the whole, better form
than that displayed by the University crews. A week later the Cornell
freshmen defeated those from Pennsylvania and Columbia over the same
course. It is surprising to see what good results can be obtained from
these freshmen crews. The men composing them have, for the most part,
not rowed before coming to the University; they have had no graduated
system of instruction on fixed seats. Up to March, all their rowing has
been done on hydraulic machines in the gymnasium. They then launch a
sliding-seat Eight and practise for the Class races at the beginning of
May. After that they are carefully taken in hand, and trained for their
race in June against the other Universities. It is from this freshman
crew, and from the older hands, who may have been rowing in the Class
races, that the 'Varsity crew of the following year will be recruited.

The number of students at American Universities is thus stated in Mr.
Caspar Whitney's book: Harvard, 3100; Yale, 2400; Pennsylvania, 2500;
Columbia, 1600; Cornell, 1800; as against about 2400 at Oxford, and 2800
at Cambridge.

I ought to add that the use of swivel rowlocks is almost universal in
America, and that all their Eights are built with the seats directly in
a line in the centre of the boat. Boats of _papier maché_ have had a
great vogue, their builder being Waters of Troy; but there is now a
reaction in favour of cedar boats, as being stiffer and more durable.
The Harvard and Yale boats this year were built by Davy of Cambridge
(Mass.), and were beautiful specimens of the art. American boats,
however, cost at least twice as much as English boats. T. Donoghue, of
Newburgh, N.Y., makes most of the oars that are used in first-class
racing. They are lighter by a full pound than our English oars, and are
every bit as stiff. It is a real pleasure to row with them.



It would not be right, I think, to send forth a new book on rowing
without referring to the controversy that has recently been carried on
in the columns of the _St. James's Gazette_ under the general title of
"Are Athletes Healthy?" The discussion, which concerned itself mainly
with oarsmen, is naturally of very deep interest, not only to them, but
to the fathers and mothers who are anxious about the welfare of their
energetic sons, and who, if the charges alleged against rowing can be
proved, will, of course, do their best to dissuade their offspring from
indulging in this pernicious exercise. I should have preferred to
discuss the matter in the earlier chapters of this book, but the
printing was already so far advanced as to render this course out of
the question, and I am therefore compelled to deal with it somewhat out
of its place in this final chapter.

[Illustration: ROWING TYPES.

NO. 1.]

It would be idle to deny that there was some reason for beginning this
discussion. Within the past two years three magnificent young oarsmen,
Mr. H. B. Cotton, Mr. T. H. E. Stretch, and Mr. E. R. Balfour, have
died; the first after an illness of six months' duration, the other two
after being ill for less than a fortnight. They were all Oxford men, had
rowed in victorious races both at Putney and at Henley, and two of
them--Mr. Cotton and Mr. Balfour--had been actually rowing and racing
till within a short time of the attack that proved fatal to them. Mr.
Stretch had not raced, except in scratch Eights at Putney, since the
Henley Regatta of 1896, some ten months before he died.

It has been asserted that these three untimely deaths were due directly
to the severe strain undergone both in preparation for racing and in the
actual races in which these oarsmen took part, and that had they been
content with unathletic lives they might have lived on for many years.
Can that be proved? I admit that I do not wish to think the allegation
capable of proof, for these three were my familiar friends. I had
coached and trained them all; with two of them I had rowed in several
races; I had spent innumerable happy days in their society, and the
sorrow I feel in having lost them would be terribly increased if I were
forced to believe that our favourite sport had had any part in hastening
their end. In these cases I will confine myself to stating facts within
my own knowledge, and will leave those who read my statement to say
whether on a fair view of the matter the exercise of rowing can be held

I may begin by saying that it is the invariable rule at Oxford to send
all men who may be required for the University Eight to undergo a
preliminary medical examination. This examination is no perfunctory one.
It is conducted by Mr. H. P. Symonds, a gentleman of very wide
experience, especially amongst undergraduates, and I have known several
instances in which, owing to his report, an oarsman has had to withdraw
temporarily from the river, and has lost his chance of wearing the
coveted blue. There has never been any question about yielding to Mr.
Symonds's judgment. His verdict, if adverse, has always been accepted
as final both by the oarsman concerned and by the president of the Boat
Club. In all the three cases with which I am dealing, Mr. Symonds passed
his men as perfectly sound in heart and lungs and in every other organ.

I take the case of Mr. Stretch first, in order to eliminate it
conclusively. The cause of his death was appendicitis, followed by
severe blood-poisoning. It is quite impossible to connect this painful
and malignant illness with rowing or with any other exercise. The
_appendix vermiformis_, which is the seat of the disease, is an
unaccountable relic in the internal organization of human beings; it is
liable to be affected mysteriously and suddenly in the young and the
old, and the only effective remedy, I believe, is by means of an
operation which removes it altogether. Mr. Stretch had, as I said, not
trained and raced for ten months, and up to the moment of his illness
had been in the enjoyment of robust and almost exceptional health.

Mr. Cotton, whose case I now proceed to consider, was an Eton boy, and
had rowed a great deal during his school days, though he had not been
included in the Eton crew at Henley. He was a man of small stature,
beautifully built and proportioned, well-framed, muscular, strong, and
active. On coming to Oxford he continued his rowing, and being a good
waterman and a man of remarkable endurance and courage, he was in his
second year placed at bow of the University crew. Altogether he rowed in
four victorious Oxford crews, he won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley
twice as bow of a Leander crew, he won the Stewards' Cup in a Magdalen
College Four, rowed Head of the River three times, besides taking part
in many other races more or less important. During his whole rowing
career I knew him to be unwell only once, and that was in 1893, when he
suffered from a sore throat at Putney. In 1895 he rowed bow of the
Oxford Eight for the fourth time. The training of this crew was a very
anxious one. Influenza was very prevalent, and one after another the
Oxford men were affected by this illness. There were only two
exceptions, and one of these was Mr. Cotton, who was never sick or sorry
for a single day during the whole period of practice. Shortly after the
race he came to stay with me. He was then perfectly strong, perfectly
healthy, and in wonderfully good spirits, and showed not the least sign
of being stale or exhausted. He told me himself, on my congratulating
him on having escaped the influenza, that he had never felt better or
stronger in his life than he did at that time. On the Easter Monday he
bicycled from Bourne End to Oxford and back (a distance of nearly
seventy miles as he rode it), and, as he had had to battle against a
strong cold wind on the return journey, he was very tired on his
arrival. On the following morning, however, he appeared perfectly well.
Towards the end of that week he complained of feeling "very
lackadaisical and having a bad headache," but he attached no importance
to these symptoms, and soon after went back to Oxford with a view to
rowing in the Magdalen Eight. The tired feeling and the headache,
however, continued, and eventually got so bad that he had to take to his
bed with a high temperature and all the other symptoms of violent
influenza. This illness, neglected at the outset, almost immediately
settled on his lungs, both of which were congested with pneumonia.
Owing, as Mr. Symonds himself told me, to his good general condition and
his great strength, he fought through this, but in the mean time signs
of consumption had declared themselves, and of this he died at Davos
Platz in the following October.

With regard to Mr. Balfour, the facts are these: He was a man of
Herculean build and strength. He played in the Oxford Rugby Union
Football team for two years, 1894 and 1895. In 1896 and in this year he
rowed in the University Eight, and last July he rowed at Henley in the
Leander Eight, and won the pair-oared race with Mr. Guy Nickalls. I can
answer for it that during all his races he was absolutely fit and well.
I saw him daily at Henley, and, though I knew him to be strong and
healthy, I was surprised not merely by his improvement in style, but by
the great vigour he displayed in rowing. On the morning after the
Regatta I saw him for the last time. He was then in splendid health and
spirits. On the 12th of August he shot grouse; on the following day, in
very cold wet weather, he went out fishing, and came home wet through,
complaining of a chill. On the following day he took to his bed in a
high fever, with both lungs congested. The illness next attacked his
kidneys, and soon after his life was despaired of. However, he rallied
in an extraordinary way until symptoms of blood-poisoning declared
themselves, when he rapidly sank, and died on August 27th. Now, this
illness was due either to an ordinary chill or to influenza, or, as I
have since heard, primarily to blood-poisoning, caused by leaky and
poisonous drains at a place where he had been staying before his
shooting excursion. A subsequent examination of these drains revealed a
very bad condition of affairs immediately underneath the room that Mr.
Balfour had occupied. In any case it does not appear--and the strong
testimony of the doctors who attended him confirms me in this--that Mr.
Balfour's death was due to his rowing. But an objector may say, "It is
true that neither in Mr. Cotton's nor in Mr. Balfour's case can death be
_directly_ attributed to rowing; their exertions, however, so exhausted
their strength, the soundness of their organs, and their powers of
resistance to disease, that when they were attacked they became easy
victims." To this I oppose (1) the report of Mr. H. P. Symonds, who
examined both these oarsmen before they rowed in their University
Eights; (2) my own observation of their health, condition, and spirits
during practice, in their races, and afterwards when the races were
over; and (3) the reports of the doctors who attended them during their
last illnesses, and who declared (I speak at second hand with regard to
Mr. Balfour, at first hand with regard to Mr. Cotton) that they were
both, when struck down, in a surprising state of strength, due to the
exercise in which they had taken part, and that in both cases their
powers of resistance were far greater than are usually found. Do I go
too far in asserting that any doctor in large practice could find in his
own experience for each of these two cases at least twenty cases in
which non-rowing and non-athletic men have been suddenly carried off by
the same sort of illness? I am not concerned to prove that rowing
confers an immunity from fatal illness: my point is that in the two
cases I have considered, and in all cases where it is pursued under
proper conditions of training and medical advice, rowing does not in any
way promote a condition favourable to disease.

I pass from these particular cases, the discussion of which has been
painful to me, to the general question of health amongst the great mass
of those who have been, or are, active rowing men. It may be remembered
that some twenty-five years ago Dr. J. H. Morgan, of Oxford, moved to
his task by a controversy similar to that which has recently taken
place, instituted a very careful inquiry into the health of those who
had taken part in the University Boat-race from 1829 to 1869. Their
number amounted, if I remember rightly, to 294, of whom 255 were alive
at the date of the inquiry. Of these 115 were benefited by rowing, 162
were uninjured, and only in 17 cases was any injury stated to have
resulted. And it must be remembered that this inquiry covered a period
during which far less care, as a general rule, was exercised both as to
the selection and the training of men than is the case at the present
day. I may add my own experience. Since I began to row, in 1874, I have
rowed and raced with or against hundreds of men in college races and at
regattas, and I have watched closely the rowing of very many others in
University and in Henley crews. I have kept in touch with rowing men,
both my contemporaries and my successors, and amongst them all I could
not point to one (putting aside for the moment the three special cases I
have just discussed) who has been injured by the exercise, or would
state himself to have been injured. On the contrary, I can point to
scores and scores of men who have been strengthened in limb and
health--I say nothing here of any moral effect--by their early races
and the training they had to undergo for them. I could at this moment
pick a crew composed of men all more than thirty years old who are
still, or have been till quite recently, in active rowing, and, though
some of them are married men, I would back them to render a good account
of themselves in Eight or Four or Pair against any selection of men that
could be made. Nay more, in any other contests of strength or endurance
I believe they would more than hold their own against younger athletes,
and would overwhelm any similar number of non-athletes of the same or
any other age. As contests I should select a hard day's shooting over
dogs, cross-country riding, tug-of-war, boxing, long-distance rowing,
or, in fact, any contest in which the special element of racing in light
ships has no part. For such contests I could pick, not eight, but eighty
men well over thirty years old, and if the limit were extended to
twenty-four years of age I could secure an army. Is there any one who
doubts that my rowing men would knock the non-athletes into a cocked
hat? For it must be remembered that the bulk of rowing men are not
exclusively devoted to oarsmanship. A very large proportion of those
that I have known have been good all-round sportsmen.

[Illustration: ROWING TYPES.

NO. 2.]

As to the general effect of rowing on strength and health I may perhaps
be pardoned if I cite my own case, not because there is anything
specially remarkable in it, but because it bears on some of the
questions that have been raised, and I can speak about it with
certainty. In early childhood I had a serious illness which considerably
retarded my physical development. At school, however, I took my part in
all sports, played three years in the Cricket XI. and in the Football
XV., and won several prizes at the athletic sports. I went to Cambridge
in 1874, when I was three months short of nineteen, and immediately took
to rowing. I was certainly not a particularly strong boy then, though I
had a fair share of activity. I rowed persistently in Eights, Fours and
Pairs, at first with labour and distress, but gradually, as time went
on, with ease and pleasure, and I found that the oftener I rowed the
greater became my powers of endurance. I ought to add that I never rowed
in the University Race, but I have borne my share in thirty-six bumping
races, as well as in numerous other races ranging in distance from
three-quarters of a mile to three miles. I believe that the six
consecutive races of a May Term call for endurance at least as great as
the single race from Putney to Mortlake. My actual muscular strength,
too, increased very largely, and has ever since maintained itself
unimpaired. I have found that this exercise has, in fact, strengthened
and consolidated me all round; and I can think of no other exercise that
could have had upon me the same salutary effect that I am justified in
attributing mainly to rowing--an effect which has enabled me to endure
great exertion, sometimes in extremes of heat or of cold, without the
smallest ill result, and has brought me to middle age with sound organs,
a strong constitution, active limbs, and a good digestion. There are
hundreds of other men who could, I doubt not, give a similar account of

[Illustration: ROWING TYPES.

NO. 3.]

Out of this main discussion on the health of athletes there sprang a
subsidiary one, which proved of even greater interest to rowing men. It
was started by Mr. Sandow, the eminent weight-lifter and modern
representative of Hercules. Mr. Sandow, stimulated by a disinterested
love for his fellow-men in general, and for those of Cambridge
University in particular, wrote an article in the _St. James's
Gazette_ in which he put forward his own peculiar views on the proper
system for the training of athletes. He ended by declaring that if he
were allowed to train a Cambridge crew according to his system (it being
understood that rowing instruction was at the same time to be imparted
to them by a properly qualified teacher), he would guarantee to turn out
a crew the like of which had never before sat in a boat. We were to
infer, though this was at first sight not obvious, that this crew would
easily defeat an Oxford crew trained on a system which Mr. Sandow
evidently considered to be absurd and obsolete.

According to Mr. Sandow's system, as he subsequently developed it, the
members of this crew were to have complete license in all things. They
were to eat what they liked, drink what they liked, smoke as much as
they liked, and, in fact, make their own good pleasure the supreme law
of their existence. All that Mr. Sandow stipulated was that for some two
hours a day during a period of several months these men were to put
themselves in Mr. Sandow's hands for the purpose of muscular development
all round according to the methods usually employed by him. Any spare
energy that might then remain to them might be devoted to the work of
rowing in the boat.

Now, in the first place, there are certain elementary difficulties which
would go far to prevent the adoption of this experiment. The crew is not
selected several months before the race; and even if it were, it would
be practically impossible for the men composing it to spare the time
required by Mr. Sandow. After all, even the most brilliant of us have to
get through a certain amount of work for our degrees. There are lectures
to be attended, there is private reading, not to speak of the time which
has to be devoted to the ordinary social amenities of life at a
University. Sport has its proper place in the life of an undergraduate;
but it does not, and cannot, absorb the whole of that life. Yet if a man
is to spend two hours with Mr. Sandow, and about two hours and a half (I
calculate from the moment he leaves his rooms until he returns from the
river) on the exercise of rowing, it is not easy to see how he will have
sufficient vigour left to him to tackle the work required even for the
easiest of pass examinations. I can foresee that not only the man
himself, but his tutors and his parents might offer some rather serious

[Illustration: ROWING TYPES.

NO. 4.]

But I am not going to content myself with pointing out these preliminary
difficulties. I go further, and say that the whole proposal is based
upon a fallacy. The method of training and development that may fit a
man admirably for the purpose of weight-lifting, or of excelling his
fellow-creatures in the measurement of his chest and his muscles, is
utterly unsuited for a contest that requires great quickness of
movement, highly developed lung-power, and general endurance spread over
a period of some twenty minutes. It does not follow that because a man
measures forty-two inches round the chest, and has all his muscles
developed in proportion, he will therefore be better fitted for the
propulsion of a racing-boat than a man who in all points of development
is his inferior. If I produced Mr. C. W. Kent _incognito_ before Mr.
Sandow and asked whether it would be feasible to include this gentleman
in an eight-oared crew, Mr. Sandow would probably laugh me to scorn. Mr.
Sandow could doubtless hold out Mr. Kent at arm's length with the
greatest possible ease. I am perfectly certain that Mr. Kent--if he will
pardon me for thus making free with his name--could do nothing of the
kind to Mr. Sandow. Yet I am perfectly certain, too, that, in a severely
contested race, Mr. Kent--admittedly one of the finest strokes that ever
rowed--would, to put it mildly, be more useful than Mr. Sandow. All
gymnasium work, and even the modified form of it patented by Mr. Sandow,
must tend to make men muscle-bound, and therefore slow. Skilled rowing
consists of a series of movements which have to be gone through with a
peculiar quickness, precision, and neatness. To be able to go through
Mr. Sandow's eight weight exercises, to lift weights, to carry horses on
your chest, may indicate great muscular strength, but it has absolutely
nothing to do with being able to row. If a rowing man requires some
exercise subsidiary to rowing, he would, in my opinion, be far better
advised if he devoted some of his spare time to boxing and to fencing,
exercises which necessitate immense quickness and perfect combination
between brain, hand, and eye, than if he were to spend time in building
up his body with such exercises as are included in the Sandow
curriculum. But, in the main, rowing must develop for itself the muscles
it requires. It is an exercise which, when all is said and done, can
only be learnt effectively in a boat on the water. It is thus, and thus
only, that a man can acquire the necessary movements, and perfect
himself in that sense of balance and of rhythm which is as necessary to
a rowing man as muscular strength. My experience leads me to the
conclusion that men who, though naturally well-framed and proportioned,
are not afflicted with excessive muscle, are more likely to be useful in
rowing than the pet of a gymnasium or the muscle-bound prodigies made in
the image of Mr. Sandow. I may cite as examples such men as Mr. R. P. P.
Rowe, Mr. R. O. Kerrison, Mr. W. Burton Stewart, Mr. W. E. Crum, Mr. J.
A. Ford, and Mr. C. W. Kent.[18] All these men acquired their
unquestionable excellence as oarsmen by the only possible method--that
is, by long practice of rowing in boats. Even an exercise so nearly
resembling actual rowing as the tank work practised in the winter by
American crews has very serious disadvantages. It might be supposed that
it would exercise and keep in trim the muscles required for actual
rowing; but its effect is to make men slow and heavy, faults which they
have to correct when they once more take to the river.

  [18] The photographs reproduced in this chapter are those of active
  rowing men. No. 4, whose muscular development is the slightest, is one
  of the most brilliant oarsmen of the day. See also photographs of Mr.
  Kent and Mr. Gold in Chapter V.

[Illustration: ROWING TYPES.

NO. 5.]

With regard to Mr. Sandow's revolutionary proposals about diet, smoking,
and hours, I have only this to say. We rowing men have shown time after
time that by adhering to what I do not hesitate to call our common-sense
system of rules tempered with indulgences we can bring our men to the
post in the most perfect health and condition, absolutely fit, so far as
their wind and powers of endurance are concerned, to take part in the
severest contests. What has Mr. Sandow shown that should avail, with
these results before our eyes, to make us exchange our disciplined
liberty for his unfettered license? In the mean time we shall very
properly hesitate to take the leap in the dark that he suggests.

I trust that the President of the C.U.B.C. will, in future, conduct the
practice of his crew according to the methods that have proved their
efficacy over and over again, and that he will not listen to the voice
of Mr. Sandow, charm he never so unwisely. _Non tali auxilio_ are
boat-races to be won.



_Secretary_: J. F. COOPER.



Any crew of amateurs who are members of any University or public school,
or who are officers of Her Majesty's army or navy, or any amateur club
established at least one year previous to the day of entry, shall be
qualified to contend for this prize.


The same as for the Grand Challenge Cup.


Any crew of amateurs who are members of any of the boat clubs of
colleges, or non-collegiate boat clubs of the Universities, or boat
clubs of any of the public schools, in the United Kingdom only, shall be
qualified to contend for this prize; but no member of any college or
non-collegiate crew shall be allowed to row for it who has exceeded four
years from the date of his first commencing residence at the
University; and each member of a public school crew shall, at the time
of entering, be _bonâ fide_ a member "_in statu pupillari_" of such


The same as for the Ladies' Challenge Plate.


The qualification for this cup shall be the same as for the Grand
Challenge Cup; but no one (coxswains excepted) may enter for this cup
who has ever rowed in a winning crew for the Grand Challenge Cup or
Stewards' Challenge Cup; and no one (substitutes as per Rule II
excepted) may enter, and no one shall row, for this cup and for the
Grand Challenge Cup, or Stewards' Challenge Cup, at the same regatta.


The qualification for this cup shall be the same as for the Stewards'
Challenge Cup; but no one shall enter for this cup who has ever rowed in
a winning crew for the Stewards' Challenge Cup; and no one (substitutes
as per Rule II excepted) may enter, and no one shall row, for this cap
and for the Stewards' Challenge Cup at the same regatta.


Open to all amateurs duly entered for the same according to the Rules


Open to all amateurs duly entered for the same according to the Rules


_Revised December 1st, 1894._


I.--No person shall be considered an amateur oarsman, sculler or

    1. Who has ever rowed or steered in any race for a stake, money, or

    2. Who has ever knowingly rowed or steered with or against a
    professional for any prize.

    3. Who has ever taught, pursued, or assisted in the practice of
    athletic exercises of any kind for profit.

    4. Who has ever been employed in or about boats, or in manual
    labour, for money or wages.

    5. Who is or has been by trade or employment for wages, a mechanic,
    artisan, or labourer, or engaged in any menial duty.

    6. Who is disqualified as an amateur in any other branch of sport.

  [19] This clause is not to be construed as disqualifying any otherwise
  duly qualified amateur who previously to June 23, 1894, has rowed or
  steered for a stake, money, or entrance-fee, in a race confined to
  members of any one club, school, college, or University.


II.--No one shall be eligible to row or steer for a club unless he has
been a member of that club for at least two months preceding the
regatta, but this Rule shall not apply to colleges, schools, or crews
composed of officers of Her Majesty's army or navy.


III.--The entry of any amateur club, crew, or sculler, in the United
Kingdom, must be made ten clear days before the regatta, and the names
of the captain or secretary of each club or crew must accompany the
entry. A copy of the list of entries shall be forwarded by the secretary
of the regatta to the captain or secretary of each club or crew duly

IV.--The entry of any crew or sculler, out of the United Kingdom, other
than a crew or sculler belonging to a club affiliated to the Union des
Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques, or of the Deutscher Ruder
Verband, or of the Verbonden Nederlandsche Roeivereenigingen, must be
made on or before the 31st of March, and any such entry must be
accompanied by a declaration made before a notary public, with regard to
the profession of each person so entering, to the effect that he has
never rowed or steered in any race for a stake, money, or entrance fee;
has never knowingly rowed or steered with or against a professional for
any prize; has never taught, pursued, or assisted in the practice of
athletic exercises of any kind for profit; has never been employed in or
about boats, or in manual labour for money or wages; is not, and never
has been, by trade or employment, for wages, a mechanic, artisan, or
labourer, or engaged in any menial duty; and is not disqualified as an
amateur in any other branch of sport; and in cases of the entry of a
crew, that such crew represents a club which has been duly established
at least one year previous to the day of entry: and such declaration
must be certified by the British Consul or the mayor, or the chief
authority of the locality.

The entry of any crew or sculler belonging to a club affiliated to the
Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques, or of the Deutscher
Ruder Verband, or of the Verbonden Nederlandsche Roeivereenigingen, must
be made on or before the 1st of June, and any such entry must be
accompanied by a declaration in writing by the secretary of such Union,
or Verband, or by the Council of the club from time to time appointed by
the Verbonden Nederlandsche Roeivereenigingen, with regard to the
profession of each person so entering, to the effect that he has never
since the institution of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports
Athlétiques, or the Deutscher Ruder Verband, or of the Verbonden
Nederlandsche Roeivereenigingen, as the case may be, either rowed or
steered in any race for a stake, money, or entrance fee; or knowingly
rowed or steered with or against a professional for any prize; has never
taught, pursued, or assisted in the practice of athletic exercises of
any kind for profit; has never been employed in or about boats, or in
manual labour for money or wages; is not, and never has been by trade or
employment, for wages, a mechanic, artisan, or labourer, or engaged in
any menial duty; and is not disqualified as an amateur in any other
branch of sport; and in cases of the entry of a crew, that each member
thereof is and has been for two months a member of such club, and that
such club has been duly established at least one year previous to the
day of entry.

V.--No assumed name shall be given to the secretary unless accompanied
by the real name of the competitor.

VI.--No one shall enter twice for the same race.

VII.--No official of the regatta shall divulge any entry, or report the
state of the entrance list, until such list be closed.

VIII.--Entrance money for each boat shall be paid to the secretary at
the time of entering, as follows:--

                                          £   _s._  _d._
  For the Grand Challenge Cup             6   6   0
     "    Ladies' Challenge Plate         5   5   0
     "    Thames Challenge Cup            5   5   0
     "    Stewards'    "                  4   4   0
     "    Visitors'    "                  3   3   0
     "    Wyfold       "                  3   3   0
     "    Silver Goblets                  2   2   0
     "    Diamond Challenge Sculls        1   1   0

IX.--The Committee shall investigate any questionable entry,
irrespective of protest.

X.--The Committee shall have power to refuse or return any entry up to
the time of starting, without being bound to assign a reason.

XI.--The captain or secretary of each club or crew entered shall, seven
clear days before the regatta, deliver to the secretary of the regatta a
list containing the names of the actual crew appointed to compete, to
which list the names of not more than four other members for an
eight-oar and two for a four-oar may be added as substitutes.

XII.--No person may be substituted for another who has already rowed or
steered in a heat.

XIII.--The secretary of the regatta, after receiving the list of the
crews entered, and of the substitutes, shall, if required, furnish a
copy of the same, with the names, real and assumed, to the captain or
secretary of each club or crew entered, and in the case of pairs or
scullers to each competitor entered.


XIV.--Objections to the entry of any club or crew must be made in
writing to the secretary at least four clear days before the regatta,
when the committee shall investigate the grounds of objection, and
decide thereon without delay.

XV.--Objections to the qualification of a competitor must be made in
writing to the secretary at the earliest moment practicable. No protest
shall be entertained unless lodged before the prizes are distributed.


XVI.--The races shall commence below the Island, and terminate at the
upper end of Phyllis Court. Length of course, about 1 mile and 550

XVII.--The whole course must be completed by a competitor before he can
be held to have won a trial or final heat.


XVIII.--Stations shall be drawn by the Committee.

_Row over._

XIX.--In the event of there being but one boat, entered for any prize,
or if more than one enter, and all withdraw but one, the crew of the
remaining boat must row over the course to be entitled to such prize.


XX.--If there shall be more than two competitors, they shall row a trial
heat or heats; but no more than two boats shall contend in any heat for
any of the prizes above mentioned.

XXI.--In the event of a dead heat taking place, the same crews shall
contend again, after such interval as the Committee may appoint, or the
crew refusing shall be adjudged to have lost the heat.


XXII.--Every competitor must wear complete clothing from the shoulders
to the knees--including a sleeved jersey.


XXIII.--Every eight-oared boat shall carry a coxswain; such coxswain
must be an amateur, and shall not steer for more than one club for the
same prize.

    The minimum weight for coxswains shall be 7 stone.

    Crews averaging 10½ stone and under 11 stone to carry not less
      than 7½ stone.

    Crews averaging 11 stone or more, to carry not less than 8 stone.

    Deficiencies must be made up by dead weight carried on the
      coxswain's thwart.

    The dead weight shall be provided by the Committee, and shall be
      placed in the boat and removed from it by a person appointed for
      that purpose.

    Each competitor (including the coxswain) in eight and four-oared
      races shall attend to be weighed (in rowing costume) at the time
      and place appointed by the Committee: and his weight then
      registered by the secretary shall be considered his racing weight
      during the regatta.

    Any member of a crew omitting to register his weight shall be


XXIV.--Every boat shall, at starting, carry a flag showing its colour at
the bow. Boats not conforming to this Rule are liable to be disqualified
at the discretion of the umpire.


XXV.--The Committee shall appoint one or more umpires to act under the
laws of boat-racing.


XXVI.--The Committee shall appoint one or more judges, whose decision as
to the order in which the boats pass the post shall be final.


XXVII.--The prizes shall be delivered at the conclusion of the regatta
to the respective winners, who on receipt of a challenge prize shall
subscribe a document of the following effect:--

"I/We A (B C D, etc.) (members of the club), having been this day
declared to be the winners of the Henley Royal Regatta Challenge Cup (or
diamond sculls), and the same having been delivered to us on behalf of
the stewards of the said regatta, do (jointly and severally) agree to
return in good order and condition as now received the said cup (or
diamond sculls), to the stewards on or before June 1st next, and I/we do
also (jointly and severally) agree that if the said cup (or sculls) be
accidentally lost or destroyed, or in any way permanently defaced, I/we
will on or before the date aforesaid, or as near thereto as may be
conveniently possible, place in the hands of the said stewards a cup (or
diamond sculls) of similar design and value, and engraved with the names
of the previous winners (their officers) (and crews) as now engraved on
the present cup and base./case. In witness of which agreement I/we have
hereunto subscribed my/our (respective) name./names."


XXVIII.--All questions of eligibility, qualification, interpretation of
the Rules, or other matters not specially provided for, shall be
referred to the Committee, whose decision shall be final.

XXIX.--The laws of boat-racing to be observed at the regatta are as

                    (_The same as the A.R.A. Laws._)


_Hon. Sec._: R. C. LEHMANN, 30, Bury Street, St. James's, S.W.

_Revised, April 23rd, 1894._


I.--This Association shall be called "The Amateur Rowing Association,"
and its objects shall be--

    1. To maintain the standard of amateur oarsmanship as recognized by
      the Universities and principal boat clubs of the United Kingdom;

    2. To promote the interests of boat-racing generally.

II.--The Association shall consist of clubs which adopt the following
definition of an amateur, viz.:

No person shall be considered an amateur oarsman, sculler, or coxswain--

    1. Who has ever rowed or steered in any race for a stake, money or

    2. Who has ever knowingly rowed or steered with or against a
      professional for any prize.

    3. Who has ever taught, pursued, or assisted in the practice of
      athletic exercises of any kind for profit.

    4. Who has ever been employed in or about boats, or in manual
      labour, for money or wages.

    5. Who is or has been by trade or employment for wages a mechanic,
      artisan, or labourer, or engaged in any menial duty.

    6. Who is disqualified as an amateur in any other branch of sport.

  [20] N.B.--This clause is not to be construed as disqualifying any
  otherwise duly qualified amateur who previously to April 23rd, 1894, has
  rowed or steered for a stake, money or entrance-fee, in a race confined
  to members of any one club, school, college, or University.

III.--Any amateur club willing to bind itself to observe the rules of
the Association may become affiliated upon making application to the
Hon. Sec. of the A.R.A., and being elected by a majority of two-thirds
of the meeting of the Committee.

Every affiliated club shall have at least one vote at General Meetings.
Any club having more than two hundred full members shall have in
addition one vote for every hundred or part of a hundred members in
excess of two hundred; but no club shall have more than six votes.

Every affiliated club shall, when required, send to the Hon. Sec. of the
A.R.A. a list of its members and a copy of its last balance-sheet.

The Committee shall not consider an application for affiliation from any
club previously refused, until after the expiration of twelve calendar
months from the date of such refusal.

IV.--Each club shall pay to the expenses of the Association an annual
subscription to be fixed by the Committee; such subscription not to
exceed one guinea.

V.--The government and management of the Association shall be vested in
a Committee of twenty-five members, who shall meet once at least in
every six months, or as often as may be required. At the first meeting
of the Committee in each year a chairman shall be elected, who shall
remain in office until the next General Meeting. At all meetings of the
committee the chairman shall preside, and in his absence a chairman
shall be elected for the occasion; seven members shall form a quorum,
and the chairman shall have a casting vote.

VI.--For the purpose of electing the members of the Committee a General
Meeting of the representatives of the affiliated clubs shall be held
once a year at a date to be fixed by the Committee. Ten days' notice of
this meeting shall be given.

Each club shall notify to the Secretary in writing, not less than three
days prior to the Annual General Meeting, the names of its authorized
representatives, the number of whom must not exceed the number of votes
to which such club is entitled; but should a club nominate one
representative only such representative can record the number of votes
to which his club is entitled.

VII.--Five members of the Committee shall be elected at each Annual
General Meeting, and shall remain in office for three years. The
Committees of the Cambridge University Boat Club, the Royal Chester
Rowing Club, the Kingston Rowing Club, the Leander Club, the London
Rowing Club, the Molesey Boat Club, the Oxford University Boat Club, the
Thames Rowing Club, and the Twickenham Rowing Cub shall each nominate
annually a member of the Committee, and such nomination shall be sent to
the Secretary prior to the General Meeting. The Hon. Sec. of the A.R.A.
shall be an _ex officio_ member of the Committee of the A.R.A. In the
year 1894, in order to complete the number of twenty-five, the fifteen
members of the Committee elected and nominated as hereinbefore provided
shall meet and co-opt the remaining ten members, and the business of
that meeting shall be confined to this object alone. Five members of the
Committee shall retire annually by rotation, but shall be eligible for
re-election. Five of the co-opted members shall retire in 1895, the
remaining five in 1896. The Committee shall have power to fill up any
vacancy that may occur during the year amongst the elected members, but
any vacancy amongst the nominated members shall be filled up by the club

VIII.--The Committee shall have power to affiliate clubs to the
Association, to appoint officers, to make or alter rules, to suspend,
disqualify, and reinstate amateurs, and generally to determine and
settle all questions and disputes relating to boat-racing which may be
referred to them for decision. And further, the Committee shall take
such other steps as they may consider necessary or expedient for
carrying into effect the objects of the Association.

IX.--The Committee shall have power on due cause being shown to suspend
any affiliated club or to remove it from the list of affiliated clubs.

No motion for the suspension or removal of a club shall be considered
except at a Committee Meeting specially called at not less than seven
days' notice for the purpose. Such a motion shall not be deemed carried
except by a majority of two-thirds of the Committee present.

A resolution for the removal of a club must be confirmed at a subsequent
meeting of the Committee specially summoned at not less than seven days'
notice for the purpose.

X.--The hon. sec. shall be elected by the Committee; he shall keep a
proper record of the proceedings of the Committee and of General
Meetings, and shall be responsible for the books, accounts, and funds of
the Association.

XI.--No member of any club affiliated to the Association shall compete
in any regatta in England which is not held in accordance with the rules
of the Association.

XII.--No addition to or alteration in these rules shall be made except
by the vote of a majority of two-thirds of a meeting of the Committee
specially summoned at not less than seven days' notice for the purpose.
Such notice shall state the alteration or addition proposed.


N.B.--The figures denote the number of votes to which each of the clubs
is entitled.

  (1) Albion Rowing Club.
  (1) Anglian Boat Club.
  (1) Ariel Rowing Club.
  (1) Avon Rowing Club.
  (1) Barry Amateur Rowing Club.
  (1) Bedford Amateur Rowing Club.
  (1) Bewdley Rowing Club.
  (1) Birmingham Rowing Club.
  (1) Bradford Amateur Rowing Club.
  (1) Bridgnorth Rowing Club.
  (1) Broxbourne Rowing Club.
  (1) Burton Rowing Club.
  (6) Cambridge University Boat Club.
  (1) Cardiff Amateur Rowing Club.
  (1) Cecilian Rowing Club.
  (1) Cooper's Hill Boat Club.
  (1) Gloucester Rowing Club.
  (1) Henley Rowing Club.
  (1) Irex Rowing Club.
  (1) Iris Rowing Club.
  (1) Ironbridge Rowing Club.
  (1) Kensington Rowing Club.
  (2) Kingston Rowing Club.
  (6) Leander Club.
  (1) Leicester Rowing Club.
  (1) Liverpool Rowing Club.
  (6) London Rowing Club.
  (1) Marlow Rowing Club.
  (1) Medway Rowing Club.
  (1) Mersey Rowing Club.
  (1) Molesey Boat Club.
  (1) North London Boat Club.
  (1) Nottingham Rowing Club.
  (6) Oxford University Boat Club.
  (1) Pembroke Rowing Club.
  (2) Pengwern Boat Club.
  (1) Reading Rowing Club.
  (1) Redcliffe Rowing Club.
  (2) Royal Chester Rowing Club.
  (1) Royal Savoy Club.
  (1) Staines Boat Club.
  (1) Stourport Boat Club.
  (5) Thames Rowing Club.
  (1) Twickenham Rowing Club.
  (1) Vesta Rowing Club.
  (1) Warwick Boat Club.
  (1) Worcester Rowing Club.


I.--The laws of boat-racing adopted by the Association shall be
observed, and the Association's definition of an amateur shall govern
the qualifications of each competitor.

II.--The Regatta Committee shall state on their programmes, and all
other official notices and advertisements, that their regatta is held in
accordance with the rules of the A.R.A.

III.--No money or "value prize" (_i.e._ a cheque on a tradesman) shall
be offered for competition, nor shall a prize and money be offered as

IV.--Entries shall close at least three clear days before the date of
the regatta.

V.--No assumed name shall be given to the secretary of the regatta
unless accompanied by the real name of the competitor.

VI.--No one shall enter twice for the same race.

VII.--No official of the regatta shall divulge any entry, or report the
state of the entrance list, until such list be closed.

VIII.--The Regatta Committee shall investigate any questionable entry
irrespective of protest, and shall have power to refuse or return any
entry up to the time of starting, without being bound to assign a

IX.--The captain or secretary of each club or crew entered, shall, at
least three clear days before the regatta, deliver to the secretary of
the regatta a list containing the names of the actual crew appointed to
compete, to which list the names of not more than four other members for
an eight-oar, and two for a four-oar, may be added as substitutes.

X.--No person may be substituted for another who has already rowed or
steered in a heat.

XI.--The secretary of the regatta, after receiving the list of the crews
entered, and of the substitutes, shall, if required, furnish a copy of
the same, with the names, real and assumed, to the captain or secretary
of each club or crew entered, and, in the case of pairs or scullers, to
each competitor entered.

XII.--Objections to the qualification of a competitor must be made in
writing to the secretary of the regatta at the earliest moment
practicable. No protest shall be entertained unless lodged before the
prizes are distributed.

XIII.--The whole course must be completed by a competitor before he can
be held to have won a trial or final heat.

XIV.--In the event of there being but one boat entered for any prize, or
if more than one enter and all withdraw but one, the crew of the
remaining boat must row over the course to be entitled to such prize.

XV.--In the event of a dead heat taking place, any competitor refusing
to row again, as may be directed by the Regatta Committee, shall be
adjudged to have lost.

XVI.--Every competitor must wear complete clothing from the shoulders to
the knees--including a sleeved jersey.

XVII.--The Regatta Committee shall appoint one or more umpires.

XVIII.--The Regatta Committee shall appoint one or more judges, whose
decision as to the order in which the boats pass the posts shall be

XIX.--A maiden oarsman is an oarsman (A) who has never won a race with
oars at a regatta; (B) who has never been a competitor in any
International or Inter-University Rowing Match.

A maiden sculler is a sculler (A) who has never won a sculling race at a
regatta; (B) who has never competed for the Diamond Sculls at Henley, or
for the Amateur Championship of any country.

XX.--A junior oarsman is an oarsman (A) who has never won a race with
oars at a regatta other than a school race; a race in which the
construction of the boats was restricted; or a race limited to members
of one club; (B) who has never been a competitor in any International or
Inter-University match. No oarsman who has won a race at a regatta in
which the construction of the boats was restricted, shall compete as a
junior in any such race after the end of the current year.

A junior sculler is a sculler (A) who has never won a sculling race at a
regatta other than a race in which the construction of the boats was
restricted; or a race limited to members of one club; (B) who has never
competed for the Diamond Sculls at Henley, or for the Amateur
Championship of any country.

N.B.--The qualification shall in every case relate to the day of the

XXI.--All questions not specially provided for shall be decided by the
Regatta Committee.


I.--All boat races shall be started in the following manner:--The
starter on being satisfied that the competitors are ready, shall give
the signal to start.

II.--A boat not at its post at the time specified, shall be liable to be
disqualified by the umpire.

III.--The umpire may act as starter, or not, as he thinks fit; when he
does not so act, the starter shall be subject to the control of the

IV.--If the starter considers the start false, he shall at once recall
the boats to their stations, and any boat refusing to start again shall
be disqualified.

V.--Each boat shall keep its own water throughout a race. A boat
departing from its own water will do so at its peril.

VI.--A boat's own water is its due course, parallel with the course of
the other competing boat or boats, from the station assigned to it at
starting, to the finish.

VII.--No fouling whatever shall be allowed; the boat or boats committing
a foul shall be disqualified.

VIII.--It shall be considered a foul when, after a race has been
started, any competitor, by his oar, boat, or person, comes into contact
with the oar, boat, or person of another competitor; unless, in the
opinion of the umpire, such contact is so slight as not to influence the

IX.--A claim of foul must be made to the umpire or the judge by the
competitor himself before getting out of his boat.

X.--In case of a foul the umpire shall have power--

    (_a_) To place the boats not disqualified in the order in which they
      come in.

    (_b_) To order the boats not disqualified to row again on the same
      or another day.

    (_c_) To re-start the boats not disqualified according to his

XI.--The umpire shall be sole judge of a boat's own water and due course
during a race, and he may caution any competitor when in danger of
committing a foul.

XII.--The umpire, when appealed to, shall decide all questions as to a

XIII.--Every boat shall abide by its accidents, but if during a race a
boat shall be interfered with by any outside boat, the umpire shall have
power, if he thinks fit, to re-start the boats according to his
discretion, or to order them to row again on the same or another day.

XIV.--No boat shall be allowed to accompany or follow any race for the
purpose of directing the course of any of the competitors. Any
competitor receiving any extraneous assistance may be disqualified, at
the discretion of the umpire.

XV.--Boats shall be held to have completed the course when their bows
reach the winning post.

XVI.--Any competitor refusing to abide by the decision of the umpire, or
to follow his directions, shall be disqualified.

XVII.--The umpire, if he thinks proper, may reserve his decision,
provided that in every case such decision be given on the day of the

XVIII.--The jurisdiction of the umpire extends over a race and all
matters connected with it, from the time the race is specified to start
until its termination, and his decision in all cases shall be final and
without appeal.

       *       *       *       *       *

A brief explanation of some points arising out of the Rules and
Regulations of the A.R.A. may be useful.


Up to 1894 the A.R.A. gave a very wide interpretation to the term
"professional," which was held to include "any person not qualified as
an amateur under A.R.A. Rules." Mechanics, artisans, labourers, men
engaged in menial duty, or employed in manual labour for money or wages,
were, therefore, not merely disqualified as amateurs, but were
considered to be professionals, and competition against them for a prize
involved disqualification to the amateur so competing. In 1894, however,
the whole code of A.R.A. was submitted to the revision of a
sub-committee, and their report, subsequently adopted by the full
committee, laid it down that from this time on the word "professional"
must be interpreted "in its primary and literal sense," _i.e._ one who
makes money by rowing, sculling, or steering. An amateur rowing, or
sculling, or steering with or against a professional for a prize is
still disqualified, but the amateur status of one who rows or steers
with or against mechanics, artisans, etc. (provided, of course, the
race is not for a stake, money, or entrance fee), is not affected. At
the same time it must be remembered (Rule I of Rules for Regattas) that
at regattas held in accordance with A.R.A. rules no mechanic, artisan,
etc., can be admitted to compete, and by Clause XI. of the Constitution
no member of any club affiliated to the A.R.A. is permitted to compete
at a regatta not held in accordance with A.R.A. rules. The result would
seem to be, therefore, that whereas an amateur who is not a member of a
club affiliated to the A.R.A. can compete against mechanics, artisans,
etc., at a regatta not held in accordance with A.R.A. rules without
incurring any penalty, a member of a club affiliated to the A.R.A. can
compete against this class only in a private match. Any member of an
affiliated club transgressing Clause XI. would unquestionably render
himself liable to suspension under Clause VIII. of the Constitution.
There are now, therefore, three classes of oarsmen, viz. amateurs,
non-amateurs, and professionals.


The A.R.A. holds that "apprenticeship is no disqualification." Nobody,
therefore, is to be disqualified for serving an apprenticeship, even if
it involves (as in the case of engineers or nurserymen) manual labour
for a money payment. But such manual labour on the part of one who has
passed through his ordinary apprenticeship and still continues at the
work for a year or two would disqualify.

The committee has held that disqualification attaches, for instance,

(1) A watchmaker's assistant who works, or has worked, at the bench.

(2) A baker's assistant who not only helps to make bread, but also
delivers it.

(3) Engravers and etchers.

(4) A man having an interest in a boat-letting business, _and_ taking in
or starting boats at a raft.

But not to--

(5) A 3rd engineer, sea-going, who goes to sea and works for money,
where such sea-service it necessary to qualify him for passing his
examinations for the position of chief engineer.

(6) A draughtsman in an engineering firm, though working for wages.

Decisions 3 and 6 are not easily to be reconciled.


Doubts have occasionally arisen as to what is the correct meaning of the
word "Regatta" in Clause XI. of the Constitution, and in Rules 19 and 20
of the Rules for Regattas. The committee has held that any meeting,
whether or not called open, at which more than one club, or members of
more than one club, compete, is a regatta. This decision does not cover
a private match, but does cover a regatta where, for instance, the
competition is limited to certain clubs, specially invited by the club
or committee who arrange and manage the regatta. Thus, if a junior
competed and won, either as an oarsman or sculler, at a regatta limited,
say, to members of the London, Kingston, and Thames Rowing Clubs, he
would by so winning cease to be a junior, provided the race was neither
a school race nor one in which the construction of the boats was

The committee has decided that a man who rows over for a junior sculls
race, even though he receive no prize (the committee not awarding one in
any race in which there was only one starter), ceases to be a junior

A junior sculler may be a senior oarsman, and _vice versâ_.



I.--That the CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY BOAT CLUB consist of the members of
the several boat clubs in the University.

II.--That the affairs of the club be under the management of a
president, a vice-president (who shall also be hon. secretary), a
treasurer, the captains of all boats rowing in the regular University
races, and all those who have been members of the University crew. The
president and vice-president shall be elected at the first meeting in
each term, and those only to be eligible who shall have been members of
a University crew. The treasurer shall be a resident graduate of the
University, to be elected annually at the first meeting of the Easter

III.--That to assist the officers in case of extraordinary and pressing
business, a small committee be formed, consisting of the president,
vice-president, treasurer, and three extra committee-men, who shall be
elected at the last meeting of the C.U.B.C. in each term. That members
of the Committee shall have the right of attending meetings of the
C.U.B.C. and voting at the same. That at meetings of the committee all
except the treasurer must be present in person or by deputy. The
treasurer must attend all meetings of the committee on financial

  .        .        .        .        .        .

VIII.--That all cases of dispute be referred to the president or his
deputy, and the four first-boat captains, in residence, of the clubs in
their order on the river who are not concerned in the dispute: whose
decision shall be final. That representatives of the clubs concerned be
present at the meeting.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

XVIII.--That the secretary of each boat club do send in to the
assistant-secretary of the C.U.B.C. a balance-sheet of the receipts and
expenditure of his club for the past year, within three weeks of the
beginning of the October Term. That the penalty for neglecting this Rule
be one guinea.

XIX.--That every club do pay to the C.U.B.C. a subscription in
proportion to its receipts for the previous year.

XX.--That the rate per cent. of this tax be fixed by the treasurer of
the C.U.B.C., and, when confirmed by the Finance Committee, levied in
three equal instalments.

XXI.--That all moneys, however obtained, be included in the receipts of
a College boat club, except such as are specially subscribed towards the
expenses of a crew going to Henley.

XXII.--That any club neglecting to pay the subscriptions or arrears due
to the C.U.B.C. within six weeks of the beginning of full term be fined
one guinea; and that no captain be allowed to vote whose club is in

XXIII.--That medals be given by the C.U.B.C. to each member of such
University crews as shall be winners of the University match with
Oxford. Also to each member of those College crews which shall be head
of the river at the end of the Lent and Easter Term races; and to each
member of the Trial Eights.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

XXVI.--That all boats, except tub-pairs, used for coaching purposes be
obliged to carry an india-rubber ball fixed to the nose of the boat.
That the penalty for neglecting this Rule be one guinea.


I.--That none but members of the C.U.B.C. be allowed to row or steer in
the C.U.B.C. races.

II.--That there be regular eight-oared races in the Easter and Lent
Terms, and that the days on which they shall take place and the number
of races be appointed and declared at the last general meeting of the
preceding term respectively. That in these races two umpires be
appointed by the president or his deputy; that in all other C.U.B.C.
races one umpire be appointed.

III.--That the number of boats be limited in the Easter Term to thirty,
rowing in two divisions of fifteen and sixteen respectively, including
the sandwich boat, and in the Lent Term to thirty-one, rowing in two
divisions of sixteen each, including the sandwich boat.

IV.--(1) That in the Lent and Easter Terms the two divisions be named
respectively first and second division. That in the Lent Term both
divisions shall row in clinker-built boats not more than 57 feet long,
with not less than five streaks on a side, none of which shall exceed
4½ inches (outside measurement). All such boats must be passed by the
president and secretary of the C.U.B.C. before they can be used in the
races. That in the Easter Term the first division shall row in racing
ships on sliding seats, and the second division in clinker-built boats,
as above, and sliding seats.

(2) That every college boat club have the right to be represented by at
least one boat in the Lent races; and by at least one, and not more than
three, in the May races.

V.--That during the races no person shall row or steer in both divisions
(the crews of the last boats in a division excepted), except under
peculiar circumstances, to be decided by the president or his deputy and
the four senior captains in residence who are not concerned, which
decision must be obtained before the crew or crews in question be
allowed to start.

VI.--In the races in the Lent Term no one be allowed to row or steer who
rowed or steered respectively in any race of the previous Easter Term.

VII.--That no one be allowed to row in the Lent or May races, or Fours
or Pairs, after more than four years have elapsed from the first term he
came up, unless he keep in residence three-fourths of the term in which
he desires to row.

VIII.--That each crew be chosen from one club and college in the case of
Trinity and St. John's, and from not more than two clubs or two colleges
in the case of other colleges; and that the crew of the two colleges
joining be considered as a fresh one, and start from the bottom.

IX.--That in order to take a boat off the river the captain must give
notice to the hon. secretary of the C.U.B.C., who shall place lists of
the boats entered for the races, arranged according to their order, in
the different University boat-houses, at least a week before the
commencement of races in each term, and on every race day during the

X.--(1) That in the Easter Term any club desirous of putting on a second
or third boat shall have the right to challenge the lowest
non-representative boat to a bumping-race, but if successful shall start
at the bottom of the river. That if there be more challenging crews than
one, they shall row a time race amongst themselves, and the winner shall
row the challenged boat. That the entrance fee for such races be five
guineas; that the date for them be fixed at the first general meeting
of the term, and that at least ten clear days' notice be given to the
secretary of the C.U.B.C. by the captains of crews desirous to compete.

(2) That no man who has rowed in the successful challenging boat shall
row in a higher boat during the following May races, except as in
Chapter III., rule 7.

XI.--That the boats row down to their stations in reversed order, the
last boat of each division starting first.

XII.--That on racing days in the Lent Term a gun be fired at the Railway
Bridge, at 3 p.m., as a signal for the last boat of the second division
to row down; at 3.15 p.m. for the first boat of the division; and a
third at 4 p.m. for the first boat of the first division. That in the
Easter Term corresponding signals be fired for the second and first
division boats at 5, 5.15, and 6.15 p.m. respectively. That boats
starting late be fined one guinea.

That at the close of each race of the second division in the Lent Term,
and of the second division in the Easter Term, a gun be fired at the
Bridge; and that until this gun be fired no boat of the other racing
division shall pass below the Ash Plantation under penalty of one
guinea. That the umpire be responsible for the punctual firing of these
guns. That any racing boat, leaving so late as to be obliged to pass the
first boat of its division below Ditton Corner, be fined one guinea by
the captain of the latter on behalf of the C.U.B.C. That the captain of
the first boat starting late, or neglecting to act as this rule directs,
be fined one guinea.

XIII.--That the races be bumping races, and the starting posts be 175
feet apart. That the last post be at Baitsbite-lock, and the
winning-posts at the Big Horse-grind and the first ditch above the
Railway Bridge.

XIV.--That the first seven boats in all divisions be obliged to go up to
the further post at the Big Horse-grind, and the other boats be obliged
to stop at the nearer post at the first ditch above the Railway Bridge;
also that the eighth boats have the option of stopping at the nearer or
going on to the further post.

XV.--That each boat start with the coxswain holding a line 36 feet in
length attached to its post (or, if he by chance lose the line, with No.
7's rowlock opposite the post); that otherwise it cannot make a bump,
but is subject to be bumped and to be fined one guinea.

XVI.--That if a boat miss a race, the boat behind it shall row past its
post and be allowed the bump, and that the boat missing the race be
fined one guinea.

XVII.--That the boats be started by three guns: the first gun shall be
fired when the head boat shall have arrived at its post, the order being
given by the captain of that boat; the second gun three minutes after
the first, and the last gun one minute after the second.

XVIII.--That a boat be considered fairly bumped when it is touched by
any part of the boat behind it, before its stern is past the
winning-post; passing a boat being equivalent to a bump, providing the
passing boat draw its whole length in advance. (The word boat includes
the ship, crew, and oars, if in rowlock). That the coxswain of a boat so
bumped shall immediately acknowledge the bump by holding up his hand,
and that the crew making the bump immediately cease rowing; that any
crew neglecting this rule be fined one guinea.

XIX.--That when one boat bumps another, both shall immediately draw
aside till the racing boats have passed; that the last boat carry a
white flag in the bows; that any boat neglecting this rule be fined one

XX.--That if one boat bumps another they exchange places, whatever may
have been their position before starting. That any boat making a bump
may row up after the race with its flag hoisted; as also the boat rowing

XXI.--That in order to claim a bump, the captain, on arriving at the
Goldie Boat-house, must bracket the bump, state where it took place, and
sign his name on the secretary's list; if the bump be not bracketed he
shall be fined one guinea, but that the bumps shall, on sufficient
evidence, be allowed; and that no bumps can be claimed after six o'clock
in the Lent Term, or after nine in the Easter Term, or disputed after
nine on the following morning.

XXII.--That all cases of disputed bumps be referred to the president, or
his deputy, and the four first-boat captains, in residence, of the clubs
in their order on the river who are not concerned in the dispute, whose
decision shall be final; and who shall have the power, in all doubtful
cases, of causing the boats concerned to row the race again, starting
from their original posts; and that there be representatives at the
meeting of the clubs interested in the dispute.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

XXV.--That watermen be allowed to coach members of College boats in
tub-pairs only till within a fortnight of the first day of the races.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

XXVII.--That breaches of Regulations issued by the officers of the
C.U.B.C. be liable to a fine of one guinea.


I.--That all clubs wishing to put another boat on the river must enter
such boat with the secretary of the C.U.B.C. on or before a date to be
appointed by him at the beginning of the Lent Term.

Entrance fee, three guineas, to be paid at the time of entry.

II.--That the Rules for these races be the same as those for the
"Getting-on" races in the Easter Term, and that the races be under the
management of the C.U.B.C. or their deputies [see chapter II., rule 10

III.--That no first boat of a club be obliged to row for its place.

IV.--That these races be rowed on days preceding the Lent races.

V.--That no man shall row in these time races (1) who has rowed on any
night of the previous May races, or (2) who does not comply with Chapter
II., rule 7.

VI.--That no man who has rowed in the successful boat or boats during
these trial time-races shall row in a higher boat in the following Lent
races, except under peculiar circumstances, to be decided upon by the
president, or his deputy, and the four senior captains in residence who
are not concerned.

VII.--That when more than two boats start in a heat to race for getting
on the river, such heat be started by three guns: the first gun to be
fired when the last boat to come down shall have arrived at its post,
the order being given by the umpire; the second gun three minutes after
the first, and the last one minute after the second. That chains 36 feet
in length be provided 100 yards apart. That each boat start with the
coxswain holding the chain allotted to it (or, if he by chance lose the
chain, with No. 7's rowlock opposite the post), that otherwise it is
liable to be disqualified.

VIII.--That in time races, under the management of the C.U.B.C., the
pistols at the winning-posts be fired by University men, who shall be
called on to do so in the following order:--

The president, secretary, and committee of the C.U.B.C.; then the first
captain of the boats in their order on the river, or deputies from their
own clubs; provided that no one of the same club as any of the
competitors shall fire a pistol in any race in which such competitor of
his own club is rowing; and that no one need, by reason of this rule,
refuse to umpire. And that to prevent all difficulties of a pistol
missing fire, a second person be appointed by the President or his
deputy to stand at each winning-post and hold up a white flag, which
shall be dropped the moment that the nose of the boat passes the post.

IX.--That in time races no boat draw more than one bye.

X.--That if in any time race any boat touch any part of, or pass on the
course, or be in any way inconvenienced by any boat in front of it, and
the boat so touching, passing, or being inconvenienced, shall not come
to its post first in order, such boat shall be allowed to start in the
following day's race, whether the same would otherwise have been a final
or a trial heat, and shall start on the same footing as regards drawing
for stations, etc., as the other boats left in.

Or the boat so impeded shall row again with the boat coming in first.


I.--That the University Clinker-built Fours be rowed as time races over
the Colquhoun course.

II.--That the race be open to crews from any club, such crews to be
composed solely of men who did not row in the first division of the
previous May races.

III.--That no "Blue" be allowed to compete.

IV.--That the coxswains must be members of the clubs they steer, and
must weigh not less than 7st. 7lbs.

V.--The definition of a clinker boat is as follows:--That no boat have
less than five streaks on a side, none of which shall exceed 4½
inches (outside measurement). All such boats must be passed by the
president and secretary of the C.U.B.C. at least one week before the
commencement of the races.

VI.--That the entrance money for each boat be one guinea.


I.--That watermen be allowed to coach and steer for these races.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

IV.--That any member qualified to pull in the C.U.B.C. races be
qualified to start for these oars.

V.--That the crews need not consist of members of one club.

VI.--That no winning pair be allowed to enter together a second time.


III. That only those members of the C.U.B.C. who have not exceeded five
years from the date of their first commencing residence be allowed to
start, on complying with the terms herein specified.



I.--That the club be open to all members of the University on the
following conditions:--

II.--That any graduate of the University by paying two pounds, or any
undergraduate by paying three pounds ten shillings, may become a life

III.--That any member of the University by paying one pound may become a
member for one term, not being thereby qualified to row or steer in any
of the University races unless he has paid four such terminal

IV.--That the subscription must be paid before the admission to the

V.--That this club is affiliated to the Amateur Rowing Association, and
that members are therefore bound to observe the A.R.A. rules.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

VII.--That the officers of the club consist of president, secretary, and
treasurer; who, with two other members of the club, shall form a

VIII.--That no member who is not strictly residing be on the committee.

IX.--That the president, secretary, treasurer, and committee be elected
by the captains of College boat clubs, or their representatives.

X.--That the election of the president and secretary take place at the
first captains' meeting in the Summer Term, that of the treasurer and
the other members of the committee at the first meeting in the October

XI.--That the president have the entire supervision of the property of
the club; that he preside over all captains' meetings; have the sole
selection and management of all University crews, and that he have
absolute authority and entire responsibility in all matters immediately
concerning the University boat; that he have charge of the president's
book, and make such records in it as shall be interesting and useful to
the future of the club; and that he keep the official records of all
University races.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

XXV.--That if Henley Regatta do not take place at such a date in
relation to Commemoration Day as is convenient to the O.U.B.C., the club
reserves to itself the right of withdrawing its subscription.

XXVI.--That the racing boat last purchased be not let or sold under any
circumstances whatever.


I.--That all future members of the O.U.B.C. shall show a certificate of
having passed a satisfactory swimming test before being allowed to row
in University races.

II.--That such certificate be either (1) that of some public school
approved by the committee, or (2) a certificate from Dolley's Baths,
signed by the bathman, and countersigned by the captain of the College
boat club.

III.--That any College boat club rowing a member who has obtained a
certificate unfairly shall be fined five pounds, and lose one place on
the river for each night on which he has rowed.

IV.--That each college shall have its own punt and waterman during the

V.--That the captain of each boat club shall, so far as possible, fix
upon the maximum number which his punt is able to carry, and that this
number shall in no case exceed twelve, and that the fine for
overcrowding be five shillings.

VI.--That each barge shall be furnished with two lifebuoys.

VII.--That the bows of all racing Eights and Fours, both keel-less and
clinker-built, and of all racing pair-oars and sculling boats be
protected by an india-rubber ball, and the penalty for violation of this
rule be, in the case of Eights and Fours, one pound; in the case of all
other boats, ten shillings.

VIII.--That all Challenge Cups which are the property of the O.U.B.C.
shall either be taken home by the captain of the boat club which holds
them, or be deposited at Rowell and Harris's during the vacation.


I.--That all gentlemen rowing or steering in the races must be life
members of the O.U.B.C.

II.--That no boat be allowed to start in the races with more or less
than eight oars.

III.--That all boats starting in the races carry a coxswain over the
whole course.

IV.--That the names of the crews be sent to the treasurer at least one
day before the races begin, and that afterwards no change can be made,
unless notice is given to the president at least one hour before the
races begin, under a penalty of one pound.

V.--That every club neglecting to send in the names of its crew to the
treasurer, and pay the entrance money, five pounds, into the Old Bank,
on or before the day previous to the first race in which they intend to
row, shall forfeit five shillings; and that every club entering a boat
after the races have begun shall pay one pound for every night of the
races on which it has not had a boat on.

VI.--That no club start a boat in the races till all its arrears are
paid, whether of fines, entrance money, or annual subscription.

VII.--That no crew be allowed to start in the races which shall have
employed any waterman in capacity of coach or trainer within three weeks
of the first race.

VIII.--That no college be allowed to enter more than one boat for the
Eights, unless it has had on a Torpid in the same year.

IX.--That each boat start from a rope held by the steerer, and fastened
to a post on the Berkshire shore; the rope to be 50 feet in length.

X.--That the last boat be stationed above Iffley Lasher; and that 130
feet be the distance between the posts.

XI.--That the boats entered for the races be divided as equally as
possible, and row in two divisions; that the second division row first,
and never contain fewer boats than the first division; that the head
boat of the second division may row again with first division; and that
the last boat of the first division start head of the second division on
the following day.

XII.--That the president provide a starter, who shall fire a signal gun
for the boats to take their places; after four minutes another gun; and
after the interval of one minute another gun for the start; after the
third gun the race be always held to have begun.

XIII.--That any boat starting before the gun goes off do lose a place

XIV.--That when a boat touches the boat or any part of the boat before
it, or its oars or rudder, it be considered a bump; and also if a boat
rows clean by another it be equivalent to a bump.

XV.--That both the boat which bumps and the boat which is bumped
immediately row out of the course of the other racing boats; and in case
any obstruction be caused by culpable neglect of this, the offending
boat be fined five pounds.

XVI.--That after every bump the boat bumping change places with the boat
bumped, whatever be their orders before starting; also in a bumping race
no boat can make more than one bump, but of four boats, A, B, C, D,
should B bump C, then A may bump D, and the next race A and D change
places with each other.

XVII.--That in the case of any boat not starting, the boat immediately
behind them do row past their starting-post and be considered to have
bumped the other boat.

XVIII.--That all boats stand by their accidents; and that, in case of
dispute, boats must take the place assigned them by the committee.

XIX.--That an umpire be appointed by the first six colleges of each
division in rotation, who shall sit and vote on the committee to decide
disputes on the day on which he is in authority.

XX.--That the races finish at the lower of the white posts to which
Salter's barge is moored, on which a flag is to be hoisted, and that a
boat is liable to be bumped till every part of it has passed that post,
and that a judge be appointed by the president.

XXI.--That if any boat after passing the post impedes another which has
not passed the post, it be fined five pounds.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

XXVI.--That all disputes concerning bumps, etc., arising out of the
races, be referred to the committee on the day of the race, who shall
decide the point before the next race.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

XXVIII.--That the College races take place in Easter or Act Term, and be
six in number.

XXIX.--That no non-resident member of the University may either row or
steer in the races, unless he has resided in Oxford at least ten
consecutive days before the races commence. That this rule apply to all
University races, viz. Eights, Torpids, Fours, Pairs, and Sculls.

XXX.--That no one may be allowed to row or steer in the races for a
college or hall of which he is not a _bonâ fide_ member.

XXXI.--That a man may be held to have rowed or steered in the Eights or
Torpids when he has so officiated for three days.


That the Torpid races be regulated by the above rules as far as they are
applicable: but

(1) That the races take place in the Lent Term, and be six in number.

(2) That no one who has rowed or steered in the Eights may officiate in
the same capacity in the next Torpid races.

(3) That no one be allowed to row in his Torpid who has exceeded sixteen
terms from his Matriculation.

(4) That unless a college has had an Eight on the river more than three
nights during the previous year, it be not permitted to start a Torpid,
unless it engage to put on a distinct Eight in the ensuing Eights.

That in this case the distinct Eight

    (_a_) do contain five men, at least, who have not rowed in the

    (_b_) be compelled to row more than three nights, under penalty of

(5) That the committee have power to relax this rule at their discretion
in the case of boats in the second division.

(6) That these races be rowed in gig boats, of the specified mould,
measuring inside at the gunwale not less than 2ft. 2in., clinker-built
of not less than 5 streaks.

(7) That the distance between the starting-posts be 160 feet.

(8) That no Torpid be allowed to use sliding seats.

(9) That if more than twenty-five Torpids enter, the races shall be in
three divisions; the boats to be divided as equally as possible, so that
a higher division shall not contain more boats than a lower one.


I.--That the Cup be open for competition to members of any one college
or hall who have not exceeded eighteen terms from their Matriculation.

II.--That the race take place annually, in the Michaelmas Term.

  .        .        .        .        .        .

VII.--That no crew be allowed to start which has had any waterman in the
capacity of "coach" or trainer within three weeks of the first race.


I.--That the race be called the "Clinker Fours" race.

II.--That the race take place annually in the Lent Term.

III.--That it should be open for competition to members of any college
or hall who have not exceeded eighteen terms from their Matriculation,
and who have not rowed either in the University Race at Putney, or the
Trials, or rowed in a College Eight which finished in the upper division
of the summer races in the previous year, sandwich boat reckoning as
Second Division.

IV.--That the race shall be rowed in keeled clinker-built boats with
slides of not more than 12 inches, having not less than 5 streaks in
each side, exclusive of saxe-board. The streaks shall not be more than
4¼ inches in breadth. The maximum inside width of each boat shall not
be less than 24 inches, measured on the top of the gunwale. No
batswings, false outriggers, splayed-boards, or other device will be
allowed to take the place of saxe-boards, and the committee of the
O.U.B.C. reserve the right of determining in each instance whether these
conditions have been fairly carried out or not.

V.--That no boat be allowed to start with more or less than four oars
and a coxswain.

VI.--That no crew be allowed to start which has had any waterman in the
capacity of "coach" or trainer.


I.--That the race be called the "University Trial Eight Race."

II.--That the race take place in Michaelmas Term, and subsequent to that
for the Four-Oared Challenge Cup.

III.--That the crews be selected by the president.

IV.--That the crews be in practice not less than twelve days.

V.--That each member of the two crews pay ten shillings entrance money.

VI.--That a silver medal be presented to each of the winning crew.

VII.--That any member of the two crews who refuses to row in the
University Eight if called upon to do so, be suspended by the committee
from rowing in any University race till the end of the Summer Term,
unless he shows reasonable grounds for refusal.


       *       *       *       *       *

  _November, 1897._



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Transcriber's Notes

There is some text missing between Page 64 and Page 65: the beginning of
paragraph (4) with an opening quotation mark is missing, as shown by
'[(4) "...]'. ([(4) "...] Watch the bodies in front of you as they move,
and mould yourself on their movement.")

Factual errors were noted as follows:

Page 273: Reference to "Minneapolis" instead of "Annapolis" (The United
States Naval Academy at Minneapolis ...)

Changes to the text are as follows:

Title page: added comma after "C. M. PITMAN" ( ... C. M. PITMAN, W. E.

Page xii: added missing line in the List of Illustrations (LENT RACES IN

Plate "Henley Regatta" originally facing page 157: changed "Heart fo" to
"Heat for" (A Heat for the Diamonds.)

Page 258: changed "Warnambool" to "Warrnambool" (Important meetings are
also held at Ballarat, Geelong, Warrnambool, Bairnsdale, ...)

Page 339: changed "captain's" to "captains'" ( ... at the first
captains' meeting ...)

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