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R. C. (Rudolf Chambers) Lehmann.

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faster. In less than half a minute he had drawn his men well
ahead, and with a final spurt, admirably taken up, he landed
them winners by a bare length.



CHAPTER XIX

FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES

(continued)

Some College Victories at Henley : Trinity Hall, 1887, 1895 ; New College,
1897 J Third Trinity, 1902

EVEN in the early days of Henley Regatta, when the
University Boat Clubs used to send their crews for the
Grand Challenge Cup, the College Boat Clubs, as distinct from
the U.B.C's., used to play a distinguished part. The first
race for the Grand Challenge Cup in 1839 was won by the
First Trinity crew, the famous Black Prince, and ever since
College boat clubs have been well to the fore, even when the
progress of the Metropolitan rowing clubs had made com-
petition much keener, and success more difficult. After 1859,
when the London Rowing Club defeated them both, the
two University boat clubs ceased to send representatives to
Henley, but in 1860 and 1861 the First Trinity Boat Club
added a glorious page to its records by winning the Grand,
the Ladies', the Stewards', and the Visitors'. In the midst of
the great successes of London and Thames, Jesus College,
Cambridge, won the Grand Challenge Cup in 1879, and Exeter
College, Oxford, carried it off in 1882. Exeter came again
with precisely the same crew in 1883, but London were too
good for them. Jesus, Cambridge, won again in 1885, and
Trinity Hall were successful in 1886 and 1887.

The year 1887, indeed, was a memorable one for Cambridge
rowing, and particularly for Trinity Hall. Cambridge had
beaten Oxford in the spring by 2j lengths, but the race had
not been a very satisfactory one, for the Oxford No. 7,
D. H. McLean, had managed to break his oar at a critical

212



FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES

moment when Oxford were making a spurt and were gain-
ing on Cambridge. This time the oar was unquestionably
broken into two pieces. I saw the blade portion floating in
the water as we came along in the steamer, which had been
left far behind, and when we once more caught sight of
the crews, we could see that McLean was swinging and
recovering as best he could without an oar.

Trinity Hall sent two complete eights to Henley. One
for the Grand, and the other for the Ladies' Plate and Thames
Cup. They also entered a four for the Stewards' and the
Visitors'. The racing for the Grand was close and desperate,
for the Oxford Etonians and the Thames Rowing Club had
both sent first-rate crews. Trinity Hall won the final, after a
very hard race with Thames. Their second eight won the
Ladies' and the Thames. Their fours won the Stewards'
and the Visitors.' Thus they had all the three races for
eights, and the two principal races for fours to their credit.
The three remaining races, too, all fell to Cambridge men.
Pembroke College won the Wyfolds ; C. T. Barclay and
S. D. Muttlebury, of Third Trinity, carried off the Goblets in
record time (8 min. 15 sec.), and J. C. Gardner, of Emmanuel
College, won the Diamonds. Cambridge oarsmen, therefore,
swept the board, a feat which may possibly be equalled, but
can never be surpassed.

Trinity Hall won the Grand again in 1895. I* 1 this year
a Cornell College Eight had come over from America, and
had entered for the Grand Challenge Cup. They were
coached by a professional named Courtney, used practically
no body swing, and attempted to row a very fast stroke.
Besides these the chief competitors were a good Leander
crew, and a smart and level crew from New College, Oxford.

Leander were drawn against Cornell in the preliminary
round. Owing to a deplorable mistake they were unable to
start when the Umpire gave the word, and Cornell rowed
over the course alone. The incident will be found fully
described on a later page.* On the following day Trinity Hall

* Page 266.



THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

had to meet Cornell. There had been little to choose between
the times accomplished by these two crews over the course in
practice. The advantage, if anything, was slightly in favour
of Cornell, but the Englishmen relied on their great uniformity
and their stronger and more consistent body work, as against
the piston action of the Americans. Cornell dashed off at a
tremendous rate, but the lead they obtained was only a small
one. Trinity Hall were stroked by D. A. Wauchope, and
they plugged and swung along imperturbably. At the White
House the race was settled, for the Hall were ahead and the
Americans were manifestly tiring. A few strokes further on
Cornell fell to pieces, and to all intents and purposes
collapsed, leaving Trinity Hall to finish at their ease. In the
final the Hall met New College. The Oxford men had the
worse station, for the wind was off the bushes, not a very
strong wind, but enough to give a slight advantage to the
boat which rowed, as Trinity Hall did, under the lee of that
shore. A magnificent race ended in favour of the Hall by
one-third of a length.

NEW COLLEGE, 1897

For ten years past rowing at New College had been in a
very prosperous condition, and New College crews had been
extremely formidable. They had rowed head of the river at
Oxford in 1887, and though they were displaced in the
following year, they had ever since been in the front rank.
They secured the headship again in 1896, and kept it in 1897,
as, indeed, they did for the two years after that. They had
had many successes in the Oxford University fours, and had
sent some good crews to Henley. Both in 1895 and in 1896
they had got into the final heat of the Grand. In 1897 they
entered again and this time they won the race. Their crew,
though not of exceptional physical strength, was a very level
one. It contained four Blues (J. J. de Knoop, bow,
G. O. Edwards No. 2, C. K. Philips No. 5, and W. E. Crum
No. 7). R. O. Pitman, who rowed No. 3, gained his Blue in
the following year. H. Whitworth was stroke, very regular



FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES 215

and very long, while two powerful men, H. Thorp, an Etonian,
and A. O. Dowson, a Wykehamist, were at Nos. 6 and 4. It
was in all respects a genuine College crew of the very best
kind. They rowed with long oars, measuring 12 feet 6 inches
over all, the blades being cut down to 5^ inches. They were
well coached, and improved very steadily during their Henley
practice, their chief merits being great length, a good rhythm,
and admirable uniformity.

Their most dangerous rivals were a Leander crew, stroked
by Gold. This crew contained, in addition to Guy Nickalls,
some first-class oars. It had, however, a curious unsteadiness
in its swing, and was not very well welded together. Origin-
ally Dudley Ward had been rowing No. 7, but he had had to
retire through illness, and his place was filled a week before
the race by C. J. D. Goldie, a freshman from Cambridge.
This crew, like all the Leander crews since 1891 onwards,
rowed with oars measuring 12 feet over all, the blades being
6 inches.

The final heat between New College and Leander was one
of the most exciting and sternly fought races ever seen at
Henley. By dint of a very high rate of stroke, Leander
rushed away from their competitors at the start, and in three
minutes they were a length ahead, and were still keeping up
their lightning stroke. From Remenham, however, they
could not add to their lead, and soon afterwards New College
began, without any perceptible quickening, to creep up to
them. Leander spurted, but after Fawley they began to tire,
and New College were still gaining. At the White House
there was very little in it one way or the other, though
Leander, I think, were still a little ahead. From this point it
was a case of spurt against spurt, but the length and the
better condition of New College told, and they passed the
post two feet in front of Leander.

THIRD TRINITY, 1902-1903

Third Trinity had gone head of the river in 1901, and had
maintained their place in the following year. Twice they had



216 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

won the Fours at Cambridge, and altogether they were in a
position of incontestable superiority amongst the oarsmen of
that University. They came to Henley in 1902 with a very
brilliant crew containing seven Blues, with R. H. Nelson at
stroke, W. Dudley Ward No. 7, C. W. H. Taylor No. 6,
J. Edwards-Moss No. 5, P. H. Thomas No. 4, C. J. D.
Goldie No. 3, C. P. Powell No. 2, and W. H. Chapman bow.
Not many days before the race Nelson had an accident, which
compelled him to withdraw from the crew. His place was
supplied by J. H. Gibbon, who happened to be at Henley,
and was not very much out of condition. He had stroked
Cambridge to victory i against Oxford in 1899 and 1900.
Such a catastrophe as a change of strokes so soon before the
race might well have upset any crew. Gibbon, however, did
extremely well for them, and so excellent was the uniformity
which they had already attained that their pace seemed in no
way to suffer from the change. Against them Leander had
brought a crew of Oxonians, all Blues. Third Trinity, how-
ever, in the final gave them very little chance, though
Leander had the best of the station. They went ahead at
once, and won with great ease.

In 1903, although they were beaten, they accomplished
an even more remarkable performance. They brought
another brilliant crew to Henley, and were, to all appear-
ances, sure of victory. Two days before the Regatta, however,
their No. 5, C. J. D. Goldie, fell ill, and had to leave the
boat. They rearranged their crew, and brought in a new
and untrained man, N. Chalmers, at No. 3. Their chief
opponents, again, were Leander, and the race between these
two crews will ever be remembered. Everybody anticipated
an easy victory for the " Brilliants," but for at least a mile
Third Trinity kept desperately challenging for the lead.
Even at the White House it seemed as if they were going to
win, but their tremendous efforts had exhausted them, and
their pace began to fall off. They were finally beaten by
6 feet.



CHAPTER XX

FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES

(continued)

The Resurrection of Leander in 1891 The Leander Victory over Pennsylvania
University, 1901

UNTIL the eighties of the last century the appearances
of Leander had been fitful. The Leander Club is
the oldest existing rowing club. I have given some details
of its early history in the first chapter of this book, and it is
sufficient here to say that it was originally a club of Londoners
limited by its rules to a small number of oarsmen. In 1858
it had sent to Henley a crew composed of members of the
two Universities who had been enlisted under its colours for
the special purpose of rowing for the Grand Challenge Cup.
Thenceforward it maintained a close connection with Oxford
and Cambridge, and at the present time it consists, as it has
consisted for many years past, almost entirely of members of
the two Universities, with a sprinkling of Londoners, Etonians,
Dublin men, and others. In 1875 the Club won the Grand
Challenge Cup with a crew composed of seven Cambridge
men and one Oxonian. In 1880 it was again successful
with a crew of seven Oxonian and one Cantab, T. C.
Edwards-Moss being captain and No. 7. Thenceforward its
appearances at Henley became more regular. In 1888 a very
powerful mixed crew was got together under the captaincy
of the late D. H. McLean, but it was defeated with great
slaughter by a magnificent crew from the Thames Rowing
Club. The Club went down again in the following year
before the same rivals. In 1890 it confined itself to a four
for the Stewards' Cup, but after a desperate race its crew was

217



218 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

beaten in one of the preliminary heats by two feet by the
celebrated Brasenose Four stroked by C. W. Kent.

Brasenose, I may say parenthetically, won the final against
the Thames Rowing Club crew, who had secured a lead of
two lengths at Fawley, the halfway point. The London
Rowing Club won the Grand with a crew of very exceptional
merit and power, their only serious rivals being a Brasenose
eight.

Thus for ten years the efforts of the club met with no
success. Writing in 1891 in the pages of Mr. Woodgate's
Badminton book on " Boating," Mr. G. D. Rowe, then secre-
tary of Leander, records that " the rowing successes of Leander
of late years have not been very great, though a Leander
crew is always formidable ' on paper,' and comprises a good
selection of 'Varsity oars. Want of practice and combina-
tion usually outweighs individual skill. . . . Since 1880 all
attempts to carry off the much-coveted prize have proved
futile." In this very year, however, Mr. Rowe's remarks
ceased to be true, and the era of futility came to an end.

In 1891, Oxford had won the University Boat-race by
only half a length. Their crew was a very strong one, but
not well arranged. They were all members of the Leander
Club, and as Henley approached it was decided by Leander
to put in for the Grand a crew composed of Oxford men.
Two men who had rowed against Cambridge stood down,
and their places were supplied by J. A. Ford and W. F. C.
Holland, both of Brasenose. The other six had rowed
against Cambridge in the spring, but, with the exception
of Kent (stroke) and Vivian Nickalls (No. 3), they occupied
different positions in the boat. I have in a previous chapter
described Kent's wonderful ability as stroke. Behind him
was R. P. P. Rowe, polished, smooth, and brilliant in style,
one of the best No. ?'s ever produced by Oxford. At
No. 6 sat W. A. L. Fletcher, that slashing and famous
heavy weight. No. 5 was Guy Nickalls, who had already
rowed in five races against Cambridge, and who is still,
at this moment, an active oarsman in the front rank. No. 4



FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES 219

was Lord Ampthill, a most solid and capable oarsman,
who was later on to display in the government of an
Indian Province those high qualities which had made him
a successful President of the O.U.B.C. and of the Oxford
Union. No. 3 was Vivian Nickalls, with his 13 stone of
rough strength, and No. 2 was J. A. Ford, who, though he
had not yet represented his University against Cambridge,
had acquired a just reputation for watermanship and skill in
the Brasenose crews. Bow was W. F. C. Holland, the
captain of the crew, who had rowed four times against Cam-
bridge, and had helped Brasenose to win the Stewards' Cup
at Henley. He used to say of himself that anybody watching
the eight end on could see Henley Bridge and the Red Lion
through the angles made by his elbows with his sides, but
this small defect was more than counterbalanced by his
beautiful watermanship and the amazing power he was able
to put forth. He was always cool, and with his gifts of tact
and humour he kept his men together and in good spirits
both in the boat and out of it. Finally, the coxswain was a
small Brasenose man, L. S. Williams, who knew all the tricks
of his trade, and had a pair of the lightest hands that ever
held reins or rudder-strings.

The crew practised together for three weeks, first at
Oxford and then at Henley. After one change, which
resulted in the inclusion of Guy Nickalls, they got together
with great rapidity, and showed, both for short distances and
over the whole course, a very surprising turn of speed. It was
a treat to see these men laying out their great bodies on the
swing, seizing the beginning with a crashing swiftness and
driving the stroke through.

It happened to be an easy crew to coach and train.
Indeed, the only special training incident that lingers in the
memory of their coach is that Lord Ampthill, having hinted
that he thought he might be getting overtrained, was told
that, as a matter of fact, he was undertrained, and was ordered
to take short but violent running exercise. Accordingly the
future Lieutenant-Governor of Madras might have been seen



220 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

undoubtedly was seen on several evenings galloping
gallantly across the meadow at the back of the boat-tents.
He showed no lack of condition when it came to racing. The
crew averaged 12 st. ij Ibs. a good weight for a Henley, or,
indeed, for any crew.

Against them had come out no unworthy competitors.
The London R.C. had won the Grand in 1890, and in 1891
they still retained the services of six of the previous year's
winners. The Thames R.C., too, sent up a very fine crew
containing four Cambridge Blues. Five members of the
crew had already won the Grand twice under the Thames
R.C. colours.

London were rowing in a boat specially designed for
them by Mr. J. Stillwell. She was very long and heavily
cambered, with a fin-rudder working under cox's seat. Her
stern was cut down to the size of that of a sculling-boat. I
never saw a faster boat.

The racing that took place was magnificent. On the first
day Leander and Thames came together. Leander had to
row against the full force of a gale of wind, while Thames,
to whom the luck of the draw had given the Bucks, station,
were able to obtain a good deal of shelter. It was literally a
ding-dong race. After a mile Leander had their canvas in
front ; then Thames crept up and placed a foot or two of lead
to their credit. They held this almost up to the finish, but at
the very last Kent made one of his demon rushes, and the
race ended in a dead heat. It was rowed off in a calm on
the following day, and Leander won by two lengths.

The final heat between Leander and London produced
another terrific race. London led out at a tremendous rate,
and at Remenham were nearly a length ahead. From this
point, however, they began to come slowly and stubbornly
back. At the mile Leander pushed ahead, and eventually
won by a bare length in record time. Other events that fell
to the Leander contingent were the Goblets, won by Guy
Nickalls and Lord Ampthill, and the Diamond Sculls, won by
V. Nickalls.



FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES

This was the first of twelve victories achieved by Leander
in the races for the Grand Challenge Cup in the fifteen years
from 1891 to 1905 inclusive.

LEANDER BEAT PENNSYLVANIA UNIVERSITY, 1901

It was not until 1895 that an American College eight
appeared at Henley. In that year we had a visit from
Cornell, coached by Courtney the professional. This crew
rowed a very fast stroke, but they made no great pretension
to uniformity. They had several peculiarities which still
remain in the minds of those who saw their rowing. The
chief of these was that most of the oarsmen, just before
attaining the limit of their reach, turned their blades
completely over from the feather so that the concave side
lay for a moment over the water. I asked their coach the
reason for this, but he gave me none. All he said was that
the men were not performing the movement as he wished
it performed, and he led me to infer that he looked on it
with disapproval. My own impression is that he imagined
that by this movement they were able to seize the water an
inch or two further back, and with greater cleanness. It
appeared to me, however, to be in the result a pure waste
of energy. The crew, it will be remembered, owing to a
misunderstanding, left Leander at the post in one of the
preliminary heats, and rowed over the course alone. In
the final they had to meet a good College crew from Trinity
Hall, and were defeated with great slaughter. They broke
to pieces near the finish as if a bomb had exploded in their
midst.*

In the following year, 1896, Yale came over with a crew
composed of very powerful material. They did not succeed
in getting together, and on the whole, perhaps, they showed
less pace than Cornell. Leander beat them in one of the
preliminary heats, and eventually won the final after a great
race against New College, who had led them by more than
a length at Remenham.

* See also pp. 213, 214.



THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

In 1901 Pennsylvania arrived upon the scene. Like
their predecessors, and indeed like all American crews,
Pennsylvania used long slides and swivel rowlocks. They
were coached by a professional named Ellis Ward, one of four
well-known brothers who had in past years rowed together,
and won many professional races in a four. His methods were
peculiar. One of his chief aims seemed to be to prevent his
crew from associating with other oarsmen. As soon as their
practice was over, and they had changed their clothes, he
bundled them away to their quarters out of sight.

The crew had several good points. The men were a
level lot, and very willing. They rowed well together, and
were on the whole, I think, faster than either Cornell or Yale
had been. In the final heat they met Leander, a strong
crew composed of five Cantabs, two Oxonians, and one
Etonian, stroked by R. B. Etherington-Smith, with C. J. D.
Goldie behind him at No. 7, J. E. Payne at No. 6, and C. D.
Burnell at No. 5. W. Dudley Ward had come into the
crew at a late stage in the practice, and was rowing No. 3.
Pennsylvania led at first, but never by very much. After
three minutes of rowing they were a quarter of a length
ahead at Remenham, and this was the utmost they could do.
At Fawley Leander were level with them, and soon after-
wards went ahead, eventually beating them by one length.



CHAPTER XXI

FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES

(continued)

The Dead Heat between Oxford and Cambridge in 1877

THE BROKEN OAR

T^VER since 1877 there has been great controversy with
JL/ regard to the incidents of the famous race that took
place in that year from Putney to Mortlake. I was a witness
of the race from start to finish, and I have in my possession
certain evidence bearing on the question of the broken oar
which I propose to make public.

Cambridge had won the 1876 race with very great ease.
They had recovered from their demoralisation of the previous
year and had secured an excellent supply of fresh material.
Their crew of 1876 was distinguished by great power and
good style. Oxford, on the other hand, though they had
good material, had not been able to make the best use of it.
They had placed T. C. Ed wards- Moss, then in his second
year, at stroke, and to accommodate him had rigged their
boat with stroke on the bow side (or starboard side) in the
north country style. Ed wards- Moss was one of the most
polished and brilliant No. 7's that ever sat in a boat, but at
the stroke oar he was unable to do justice either to himself or
his crew, owing to a curious lack of regularity. In any case
the crew proved a great disappointment, and was easily beaten
in the race by Cambridge. In 1877, however, Edwards-
Moss, who had become President of the O.U.B.C., placed
himself in his proper position at No. 7, and installed H. P.
Marriott at stroke. The other six men were strong and willing,

223



THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

and in the end rowed with great uniformity and pace.
Cambridge were not quite so good as they had been in 1876.
They had lost H. E. Rhodes as their No. 7, and had been
unable to find any one of quite the same capacity to replace
him in that difficult position. Moreover, they had great
trouble with regard to their boat. The craft that Swaddell
and Winship built for them was too small, and was, moreover,
so heavily cambered that she failed to maintain her course in
a beam wind. On the morning of the race they attached a
false keel to the stem half of their boat, but failed to add
a corresponding piece to her rudder. Notwithstanding this
device, their boat began, as soon as they got into the rough
water above Hammersmith Bridge in the race, to pay off into
the wind. While the Oxford boat was keeping a straight
course, I saw Davis, the Cambridge coxswain, continually
using his right hand rudder line, while his boat moved side-
ways as a St. Bernard dog does when he is running. At
Barnes Bridge, Oxford had cleared their rivals and seemed
certain of victory. Just beyond Barnes there was a heavy
swell caused by a tug or a launch that had just passed up the
course. Suddenly we, who were on the steamer behind,
perceived that Cowles, the Oxford bowman, was in trouble ;
he had apparently caught a crab, and his oar seemed to be
damaged, for he did not use it for several strokes, and then,
instead of rowing properly, he appeared to flap it about in the
water and only occasionally attempted to row a stroke with
it. Cambridge were rowing on the Surrey station, that is on
the outside of the last bend. They spurted with extraordinary
pluck and determination at this point and began to gain
rapidly on the leaders. Up and up they came, and at the
end of the race it was impossible for any one behind to say
which crew had won. The judge of the finish was an old
waterman named John Phelps, " Honest " John Phelps, as he



Online LibraryR. C. (Rudolf Chambers) LehmannThe complete oarsman → online text (page 18 of 39)