Copyright
R. C. (Rudolf Chambers) Lehmann.

The complete oarsman online

. (page 1 of 39)
Online LibraryR. C. (Rudolf Chambers) LehmannThe complete oarsman → online text (page 1 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


TEE COMPLETE
OARSMAN



a



THE COMPLETE OARSMAN



UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME

THE COMPLETE MOTORIST

THE COMPLETE GOLFER

THE COMPLETE CRICKETER

THE COMPLETE RUGBY FOOTBALLER

THE COMPLETE LAWN TENNIS PLAYER

THE COMPLETE SHOT

THE COMPLETE MOUNTAINEER

THE COMPLETE PHOTOGRAPHER

THE COMPLETE COOK







K

.1



THE
COMPLETE OARSMAN

BY

R. C. LEHMANN

WITH CHAPTERS BY F. S. KELLY,

R. B. ETHERINGTON-SMITH, M.B., F.R.C.S.,

AND W. H. EYRE



WITH FIFTY-NINE ILLUSTRATIONS



METHUEN & CO.

36 ESSEX STREET W.C.

LONDON



First Published in 1908



PREFATORY NOTE

T WISH to express my grateful acknowledgments to the
following :

To the Editor of Fry's Outdoor Magazine for permission
to incorporate in this volume the substance of an article
contributed to his magazine ;

To the Leander Club for permission to reproduce two
engravings belonging to the Club ;

To the First Trinity Boat Club for permission to photo-
graph the ancient rudder and sculls in the possession of the
Club;

To Messrs. Blackwood and Sons for permission to reprint
"The Perfect Oar" from "Crumbs of Pity," published by
them ; and

To the Editor of the Rowing Almanack for permission to
reproduce in the Appendix the tables of winning crews.

I have endeavoured to illustrate the various movements
and positions of the stroke by means of photographs. It was,
of course, impossible for me to obtain the services of an eight-
oared crew for this purpose, and I have had to confine myself,
therefore, chiefly : (i) to photographs of a single individual,
and (2) to photographs of a pair-oar, both at rest and in
motion.

R, C. L.

May, 1908



M7516S7



CONTENTS

PART I
HISTORICAL AND INTRODUCTORY

CHAPTER I

THE EARLY HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF
BOAT-RACING

PAGE

At Oxford At Cambridge In London Leander Club . . . . i

CHAPTER II
THE EMANCIPATION OF THE AMATEUR

Early professional assistance Tom Egan's view The two Universities

and Amateurism 10

CHAPTER III

THE EVOLUTION OF THE RACING SHIP AND ITS OARS
Paracelsus Early racing boats Outriggers Keelless boats . . .18

CHAPTER IV
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STYLE

Tristram's oarsmanship Early ideas of style Casamajor's criticisms in

1858 24

vii

a 2



viii THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

PART II
THE ART AND MYSTERY OF OARSMANSHIP

CHAPTER V
THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF OARSMANSHIP

PAGE

Elementary conditions of the problem The beginning and what follows

after 3

CHAPTER VI

THE SLIDING-SEAT STROKE

Its component parts from A to Z 36

CHAPTER VII
ELEMENTARY INSTRUCTION

Fixed seats Their importance The method of teaching beginners . . 57

CHAPTER VIII

ELEMENTARY INSTRUCTION ON SLIDES
New difficulties How to master them 64

CHAPTER IX

OARSMANSHIP IN EIGHTS

Boats and oars and the arrangement of the crew . . . . .67

CHAPTER X
OARSMANSHIP IN EIGHTS (continue^

Practice for a race Faults and how to correct them The perfect oar in

prose and verse 77



CONTENTS ix

CHAPTER XI
COXSWAINS

PAGE

Their importance, characteristics, and methods 97

CHAPTER XII

WORK AND TRAINING

General considerations A country-house boat club 103

CHAPTER XIII
TRAINING PHYSIOLOGICALLY CONSIDERED

BY R. B, ETHERINGTON-SMITH, M.B., F.R.C.S. . . 1 15

CHAPTER XIV
FOURS AND PAIRS

Measurement of a racing four Measurement of oars 134

CHAPTER XV
ROWING STYLE IN OTHER COUNTRIES

Belgium New South Wales Other Continental countries The Harvard

Crew of 1906 !40

CHAPTER XVI
SCULLING

BY F. S. KELLY 157

PART III
FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES

CHAPTER XVII

THE THAMES ROWING CLUB : THEIR METHODS

OF TRAINING AND THEIR VICTORIES

FROM 1874 TO 1882

BY W. H. EYRE . . . . 179



x THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

CHAPTER XVIII
FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES (continued'}

PAGE

Two great victories of the London R.C. at Henley, 1878 and 1881 The

historic victory of T. C. Edwards-Moss in the Diamonds, 1878 . . 206

CHAPTER XIX
FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES (continued)

Some college victories at Henley : Trinity Hall, 1887, 1895 J Nfi w College,

1897 ; Third Trinity, 1902 212



CHAPTER XX
FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES (continued)

The resurrection of Leander in 1891 The Leander victory over Pennsylvania

University, 1901 217



CHAPTER XXI

FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES (continued)
The dead heat between Oxford and Cambridge in 1877 The broken oar . 223

CHAPTER XXII
FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES (continued)

The three University Boat Races won after Barnes Bridge, 1886, 1896,

1901 228

CHAPTER XXIII
FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES (continued)

The Cambridge victories over Oxford in 1899, and over Harvard University

in 1906 239



CONTENTS xi

PART IV

THE CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT OF
THE SPORT

CHAPTER XXIV
THE GOVERNMENT OF ROWING

PAGE

The Amateur Rowing AssociationThe definition of an amateur . . 248

CHAPTER XXV

THE A.RA. AND THE MANAGEMENT OF REGATTAS
Duties of a Regatta Committee 257

CHAPTER XXVI
THE LAWS OF BOAT-RACING

The umpire and his duties Fouls . . . . . . . .261



TABLE OF WINNERS, ETC 275

NAMES OF CREWS, ETC 277

APPENDIX I 335

APPENDIX II 345

APPENDIX III 355

APPENDIX IV 364

APPENDIX V 376

INDEX . 387



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



A START AT PUTNEY (THE UNIVERSITY BOAT RACE, 1906) Frontispiece
From a photograph by Moyse, Putney

FACING PAGE

A BUMP IN THE EIGHTS AT OXFORD 4

From a photograph by Gillman 6* Co. , Oxford

A BUMP IN THE MAY RACES AT CAMBRIDGE 5

From a photograph by Steam & Sons, Cambridge

JAMES PARISH IO

Seventeen years Coxswain to the Leander Club

From a lithograph by /. /. Martin, in the possession of the Leander Club

THE GREAT RACE II

Between Robert Coombes and Charles Campbell for the
Championship of the Thames on the I9th of August, 1846

From a lithograph in the possession of the Leander Club, after a drawing
by W. Pascoe, of Richmond

RUDDERS ANCIENT AND MODERN 22

Rudder of The Black Prince, the First Trinity Racing Eight of

1835 ; and rudder of a racing eight of the present day
From a photograph by Stearn 6* Sons, Cambridge

SCULLS ANCIENT AND MODERN 23

The square-loomed scull is one of those used by W. Maule,
First Trinity, when he won the Diamond Sculls at Henley
in 1847. The other is a scull of the present day

From a photograph by Stearn & Sons, Cambridge

SLIDING SEAT 36

No. i. Hands and wrists at the finish

SLIDING SEAT 36

No. 2. Hands dropped and wrists turned for feather

xiii



xiv THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

FACING PAGE

SLIDING SEAT 38

No. 3. Arms extended on recovery

SLIDING SEAT 38

No. 4. Body swinging forward and carrying slide

SLIDING SEAT 46

No. 5. Blade beginning to turn off feather

SLIDING SEAT 46

No. 6. Position of hands and wrists for beginning

SLIDING SEAT 48

No. 7. The beginning

SLIDING SEAT ... 48

No. 8. Just after the beginning

_/

SLIDING SEAT 5 2

No. 9. Half through stroke

SLIDING SEAT 5 2

No." 10. Position of body, hands, and legs at finish

FIXED SEAT 60

No. i. The finish

FIXED SEAT 60

No. 2. Arms extended ; body swinging forward

FIXED SEAT 62

No. 3. The beginning

FIXED SEAT . 62

No. 4. Just after the beginning

" REACH OUT AND ROW ! " 6 7

A Cambridge Eight at Putney
From a photograph by Moyse, Putney

MODERN OARS 7

1. Square blade

2. "Coffin "blade

PAIR-OAR 77

No. i. " Forward ! Are you ready ? "

PAIR-OAR 78

No. 2. The beginning



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xv

FACING PAGE

PAIR-OAR 79

No. 3. Just after beginning

PAIR-OAR 80

No. 4. Position half-way through stroke

PAIR-OAR 8l

No. 5. Position at finish

PAIR-OAR 84

No. 6. After recovery. Bow's hands too low

PAIR-OAR 85

No. 7. Three parts forward. Blades turning off feather

A START IN THE EIGHTS AT OXFORD . . . . ... "'V " "88

From a photograph by Gillman & Co. , Oxford

PAIR-OAR 89

No. 8. Arms bending

PAIR-OAR 89

No. 9. " Easy ! Hold her, stroke "

PAIR-OAR 92

No. io. Down on stroke-side

PAIR-OAR . . . 93

No. n. Down on bow-side

THE LEANDER CLUB FOUR WINNING THE STEWARDS' CUP AT

HENLEY, 1906 134

From a photograph, by Marsh Bros., Henley-on-Thamcs

A PAIR-OAR *. . . .138

Messrs. Etherington-Smith and Goldie at Cambridge
From a photograph by Steam & Sons, Cambridge

HENLEY, 1907 140

The Belgian crew winning the Grand Challenge Cup

From a photograph by A. C. Hammersley

HENLEY, 1907 141

The Belgian crew winning the Grand Challenge Cup

From a photograph by Marsh Bros., Henley-on-Thames

SCULLING .... 158

No. i. Forward position



xvi THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

FACING PAGE

SCULLING 159

No. 2. Half through stroke (stationary photograph)

SCULLING 160

No. 3. The finish. Weak position (stationary photograph)

SCULLING 162

No. 4. A clean hard beginning

SCULLING . . 162

No. 5. The beginning ; too much back-splash

SCULLING 163

No. 6. Half-way through stroke

SCULLING 164

No. 7. The finish

SCULLING 164

No. 8. Extraction of blades

SCULLING 165

No. 9. Blades extracted ; wrists turned (front view)

SCULLING 166

No. 10. Blades extracted ; wrists turned (side view)

SCULLING . . . 168

No. n. Arms extending

SCULLING 169

No. 12. Coming forward

HENLEY, 1891 . 220

The dead heat between Leander and the Thames R.C.

From a photograph by Marsh Bros., Henley-on- Thames

HENLEY, IOX>I 221

Leander defeat Pennsylvania University
From a photograph

THE UNIVERSITY BOAT-RACE, 1896 233

Oxford beginning to lead
From a photograph by Moyse, Putney

THE UNIVERSITY BOAT-RACE, 1896 234

The rough water after Barnes

From a photograph by Steam & Sons, Cambridge



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xvii

FACING PAGE

THE UNIVERSITY BOAT-RACE, 1896 235

The finish
From a photograph

THE UNIVERSITY BOAT-RACE, 1 90! 238

Nearing the finish

From a photograph by Stearn. & Sons, Cambridge

THE CAMBRIDGE CREW, 1899 239

From a photograph by Stearn & Sons, Cambridge

THE HARVARD AND CAMBRIDGE RACE, 1906, FROM BARNES BRIDGE 246
From a photograph by Stearn & Sons, Cambridge



The photographs not otherwise acknowledged have been specially taken for the book by
S. J. Beckett, Baker Street, W., under the supervision of the author.



THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

PART I
HISTORICAL AND INTRODUCTORY

CHAPTER I

THE EARLY HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF
BOAT-RACING

At Oxford At Cambridge In London Leander Club

MY main object in writing this book is to give such an
account of oarsmanship as will enable a reader not
only to understand how the sport is organised and pursued,
but also to obtain a grasp of the principles on which, in its
highest manifestations of skill and endurance, it is based. In
other words, I desire to make clear, even to those who may
not have been initiated in the exercise, the art and mystery
of rowing. I cannot conceal from myself the difficulty of my
task, but I do not doubt that it is worth attempting. It is
no easy thing to row skilfully or to understand how skill is
acquired ; but, on the other hand, the exercise itself is one of
the noblest in the world, both in regard to its development of
bodily strength and health, and in the lessons of self-restraint
and discipline in which its votaries are unconsciously forced
to perfect themselves. Indeed, in a college at Oxford or
Cambridge rowing does for those who practise it nearly
everything that the rules of the authorities propose to do.
It makes them live a regular and simple life ; it gets them
out of bed early in the morning, and sends them to bed again
at ten at night ; it disciplines them, it keeps them healthy,
for it makes temperance necessary, and, being essentially a



2 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

cheap exercise, it withholds them from extravagance and all
this it does not under the stimulus of penalties framed by the
dons, but on a system established and controlled by the very
men who submit themselves to it. If I could only add that
it forced a man to his books and necessarily made him a
brilliant subject for examiners, I should have compiled a fairly
complete list of academic virtues. I must content myself
with saying that, since the actual time daily spent upon it is
short, it gives a man plenty of leisure for reading, and that
many men have proved by their subsequent careers that their
brains have taken no injury from the sport which gave them
sound bodies.

Outside the Universities it cannot be said that rowing, by
which I mean skilled rowing in racing boats, is a popular
sport in the sense in which cricket and football and even
golf are popular. Rowing has never to my knowledge been
responsible for such extras of the halfpenny evening papers
as are sold by thousands in London during the cricket and
football seasons. Every schoolboy plays cricket and football ;
only a few schools have in their neighbourhood rivers on
which rowing is possible. Moreover and this is, perhaps,
the chief reason why oarsmen are few in comparison to those
who play ball games the science of oarsmanship is a highly
technical business, and the learning of it bristles with diffi-
culties. It involves a complicated series of movements which
have to be performed not merely with accuracy, but with an
accuracy based upon that of others and depending for its due
effect upon the harmony that is attained at every recurring
stroke with the rest of the men who compose a crew. In
other words, a man who rows in a crew cannot hope to gain
applause by individualising himself. The cricketer may make
his brilliant strokes in his own way, and run up his special
century ; the footballer may tackle or kick or pass in his own
particular celebrated style ; the golfer may earn praise for his
driving or his putting ; but the oarsman who does his work
in a crew must be content to subordinate his individuality, to
lose even his name and to be converted into a number, and,



HISTORY OF BOAT-RACING 8

while working his utmost, to look for fame, not so much to
any striking eminence of his own, as to the reflected glory
that comes to him as one member of a successful crew. And
in order to reach such a standard of knowledge and dexterity
as will enable him to compete in a racing boat, he must
go through long and weary preliminary stages of drill and
instruction, while his fellows who play ball games are enjoying
themselves in fields of comparatively unrestricted freedom.
It has come about, therefore, that rowing, though at Oxford
and Cambridge it still maintains its ancient pre-eminence
among the outdoor sports suitable to healthy and vigorous
youth, is not a "popular" exercise. I must not, however,
omit to mention one great advantage conferred upon rowing
by this lack of " popularity." Of all our great sports none is,
I think, so completely free from the sordid taint of profes-
sionalism and money-making. Its amateur standard is high,
and there is no difficulty in maintaining it.

Like most other British institutions, the sport of rowing
has had a hap-hazard development. It did not spring fully
equipped with rules, and an organisation from the head of
some river-god ; it grew slowly from insignificant origins, and
fitted itself as it went along with all that was required for its
immediate purposes. Its birth is not exactly " wrapped up in
a mistry," but it is difficult to indicate with any accuracy the
date when it ceased to be merely an uncompetitive pastime,
and was converted into something like the sport that we now
possess. For a full account of the history of boat-racing at
Oxford I cannot do better than refer my readers to the
Rev. W. E. Sherwood's excellent book on " Oxford Rowing "
(Henry Frowde, 1900). I may briefly summarise the results
of his investigations. Long before races were thought of
there was plenty of boating at Oxford. The earliest record
(and this is not official) of college rowing on the Isis takes us
back to 1815, by which time, it may be supposed, college
boat clubs must have been in existence. In those days the
boats very broad craft in which the oarsmen sat, with a
gangway down the centre of the boat were penned together



4 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

in Iffley Lock. They scrambled out as best they might.
The stroke of the head-boat stood on the gangway, shoved
his ship out with a boat-hook, and then, running along the
gang-plank, dropped into his seat and began to row. The
other boats followed in order, and so they raced away to Folly
Bridge. This system continued until 1825, when a change
was made, and the boats started, as now, above the lock, but
only fifty feet apart. From this year on there exist charts
of the races and a list of head-boats ; but it is not until
1831 that we have an official record in the Treasurer's book
of the Exeter College Boat Club. The Oxford University
Boat Club was formed in 1839, ten years after an Oxford
crew how selected it is impossible to say had raced and
beaten a Cambridge crew at Henley.

With regard to Cambridge we may also, I think, assume
that organised racing was preceded by many years of casual
boating. Mr. Sherwood states (p. 5) that "they started in
1826 with but two eights, Lady Margaret and Trinity." It
is true that there are no records earlier than this year indeed
the earliest chart that I have been able to discover is that of
1827, hanging in the captain's room at the First Trinity
boathouse. This bears the names of six boats 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).
It is not, however, unreasonable to believe that some kind
of college racing, unrecorded, just as the earliest racing at
Oxford was, must have been in existence before this. These
were not the regular bumping races that we now have, but
were brought about in a very casual manner. Dean Merivale,
who had rowed No. 4 in the first Cambridge crew against
Oxford in 1829, in his speech at the University Boat-race
Commemoration Dinner of 1881, gave his recollections of the
early days. " Boating and boat-racing," he said, " were then
but as a thing of yesterday with us. In the summer of 1826,
just before I came into residence, there were only two eight-
oars on our water, a Trinity boat and a Johnian, and the only
idea of encounter they had was that each should go, as it were



HISTORY OF BOAT-RACING 5

casually, down stream and lie in wait, one of them, I believe,
sounding a bugle to intimate its whereabouts, when the other
coming up would give chase with as much animation as might
be expected when there were no patrons of the sport or
spectators of the race. In the year 1827 this flotilla was
increased by the accession of a Trinity ten-oar, a stately
vessel which had been already known at Eton as the Britannia,
and of two or three six-oars from other colleges, and then the
regular racing began, to be continued ever after. In the
third year, 1828, most of the colleges manned their eights,
and we warmed to our work. Rapit ardor eundi. In 1829 we
aspired to compete with Oxford."

The earliest college book I have seen is one belonging to
the First Trinity Boat Club. At one end of it are inscribed
" The Laws of the Monarch Boat Club/' with a list of members
from 1826 to 1829. At the other end is a list of members
of the Trinity Boat Club, with minutes of meetings and
descriptions of races, from 1829 to 1834. The earlier boat
club was by its laws limited to members of Trinity College,
and I am entitled to assume that from it the First Trinity Boat
Club originated. The first minute-book of the Cambridge
University Boat Club bears date 1828, eleven years anterior
to the foundation of the Oxford Club. By that year, therefore,
the college boat clubs must have become sufficiently important
to require the establishment of a University club which should
combine them all for the purpose of regulating their races
with one another. It was the University Boat Club Committee
which, at a meeting held on February 20, 1829, first proposed
a race against Oxford ; and it was at a general meeting of the
club on March 12 of the same year that the terms of the
challenge which was to be sent to Oxford, and posted in Mr.
Stephen Davis's barge, were decided on. Whatever may have
been the character of the earliest boat-racing at Cambridge, I
believe that from 1827, at any rate, it was carried on in much
the same way as at present. Differences, of course, there
were. It appears that about nine races were rowed in the
course of one month of the term on certain days which had



6 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

been previously fixed. The course, too, was different. Crews
started from the Chesterton Locks, which were situated a
little below the place where we now have Charon's Ferry.
They did not begin racing] until they had passed a bumping-
post fixed a little above the corner where the big horse-grind
plies, and they continued on until they finished at the Jesus
Locks, which then stood where the Caius boathouse now
stands. When the Chesterton Locks were abolished in 1837,
in spite of the strenuous opposition of rowing men, the present
course from Baitsbite was adopted for the races.

If we now turn to the tideway of the Thames, and make
our investigations there, I fear they will not carry us any
further back beyond the point we have already reached at
Oxford. We know, indeed, that for nearly two hundred
years the jolly young watermen have been sculling their
races, for Mr. Thomas Doggett, who is described as a famous
comedian, in 1715 gave a livery and a badge to be raced for
by these gentlemen. The race for Doggett's coat and badge
is still an annual event, and from 1716 onwards the names of
the winners are on record. With regard to amateurs, we
may assume, too, as we have already assumed in the case of
Oxford and Cambridge, that they must have been organised
into clubs and have rowed races against one another for some
years though not, perhaps, for very many before the actual
records begin. In the early years of the last century the
minds of men were occupied with sterner things than boat-
clubs and boat-races. After the battle of Waterloo they
began to have more leisure.

The oldest existing society devoted to aquatics is the
Leander Club. Strange, however, as it may appear, there is
no record of the foundation of this great rowing club, and the
exact date of that event must for ever remain unknown.
No club-books relating to that early period are in the posses-
sion of the secretary, and, though endeavours were made from
time to time to tap the memory of veterans, they were
uniformly unsuccessful, except in so far as they tended to
establish, as an approximate date, some year in the period



HISTORY OF BOAT-RACING 7

between 1815 and 1820. Let me put together as briefly as
possible all the available evidence bearing on this point.

Some fifty years ago silver challenge cups for a pair-
oared race and a sculling race were presented to the club by
Mr. C. Goolden and Mr. (afterwards Sir Patrick) Colquhoun,
the donor of the sculling prize that still bears his name at
Cambridge. On these cups are engraved the arms of the
club, on which are quartered a star and an arrow. Now, it is
confidently believed, and tradition has always declared, that
there existed early in the century two clubs of repute, named
"The Star" and "The Arrow," and it has been inferred that
the Leander Club arose from the ashes of these two, or
embodied their members when it was established. Mr. H.
T. Steward, the President of Leander, tells me, however, that
he himself (and on matters of rowing history he is un-
questionably the greatest living authority) has never been able
to prove this inference, and that he could never get either Sir
Patrick or Mr. Goolden, though he often questioned them, to
state what was their authority for the coat of arms. From
this it might appear possible, therefore, that the two clubs,
" The Star " and " The Arrow," never had any real existence,
but were invented by some mythopoeic Leander man in
order to give substance to his account of Leander' s origin.
I am assured, however, by Mr. H. T. Steward, who had the
statement from his father, that two clubs of these names did
actually exist early in the last century.

Let us come to something more solid. It is quite certain
that at the time when rowing began to be an important
matter at the Universities Leander had already become
prominent. In 1828 a Leander eight beat a Christ Church,
Oxford, eight in a match for ^200 from Westminster to
Putney, and in 1831 an eight of the same club defeated
Oxford in a match for 200 a side from Hambledon Lock
to Henley Bridge. In 1837, Cambridge, having failed to
arrange a race with Oxford, challenged Leander, and beat
them in a race from Westminster to Putney. In the account



Online LibraryR. C. (Rudolf Chambers) LehmannThe complete oarsman → online text (page 1 of 39)