Copyright
R. C. (Rudolf Chambers) Lehmann.

The complete oarsman online

. (page 20 of 39)
Online LibraryR. C. (Rudolf Chambers) LehmannThe complete oarsman → online text (page 20 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


toss, and had, of course, chosen Surrey, there were very few
who were prepared to back the chance of Oxford under the
weather conditions that prevailed. Oxford, however, were
confident in their pace and their endurance, and they had
mapped out a careful plan of campaign beforehand. If, as
was probable, they failed to gain a sufficient lead at Harrod's
to enable them to take the Surrey water ahead of Cambridge,
they proposed to drop astern of the leaders, and to content
themselves with rowing in this position under the shelter of
the Surrey bank, until the water once more made it possible
for them to come out and challenge for the lead.

The crews started at a high rate, Cambridge, however,
rowing a point or two faster than Oxford. Slowly they
drew ahead, and, in spite of Oxford's efforts, they went
through Hammersmith Bridge with a considerable lead. A
furious storm was raging as the crews opened out into
Corney Reach. Cambridge were rowing well under the
shelter of the bank, and Oxford, in obedience to instructions,
had come over, and were rowing in a direct line behind, with
about half a length of clear water separating them from the
leaders. It was apparent here that Oxford had the greater



238 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

pace ; more than once they drew up to Cambridge, but the
coxswain gave the word to paddle, and they once more
dropped back. To those who realised what was going on,
it was one of the most curious and interesting spectacles
ever seen on the Putney to Mortlake course. So the crews
proceeded till they came to the broad reach that leads on to
Barnes. The water here became smoother, for the wind was
not directly against the tide, and it became possible for Oxford
again to assert themselves. Up to this point Cambridge had
consistently rowed the faster stroke, and they were beginning
to show signs of exhaustion. Culme-Seymour shook his crew
together ; they picked the stroke up with a will, and raced after
Cambridge. They were now rowing with great vigour, and
they steadily gained. Foot by foot the gap between the
boats decreased, and as they passed under Barnes Bridge the
bowmen in the Oxford crew were once more cheered by
the sight of their rivals. From this point Oxford had the
better conditions ; the bend of the course was in their favour,
and they were moving faster, stroke for stroke, than Cambridge.
They did not allow the matter to remain in doubt for a single
instant ; rowing with extraordinary dash and vigour, they drew
level with Cambridge at the Bull's Head, and finally won the
race by two-fifths of a length.




H

u

<

i\

o h



> H
H c;

r^ z



CHAPTER XXIII

FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES

(continued)

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

1906

FOR the second time in their history Cambridge had
suffered nine successive defeats at the hands of Oxford.
As in 1869 they had secured the help of Mr. George Morrison
of Balliol College, Oxford, so, after the race of 1897, tne y
turned to Mr. W. A. L. Fletcher of Christ Church. Like
Mr. Morrison, Mr. Fletcher was unsuccessful at his first
attempt, and the Cambridge crew of 1898 had great difficulties
and many misfortunes during its practice. In the race itself
it never had a chance. For once the Surrey station was the
worse, since the wind blew violently off the Middlesex shore,
and Oxford, who had secured this station, had smooth water
to row in. Cambridge, exposed to the full force of the waves,
were water-logged before they had rowed three strokes.
They were awash, and were sliding in water, and had it not
been for the air bladders that had been fixed under their
thwarts they must have sunk. As it was, they struggled on
very pluckily, but never had a chance.

In 1899 Mr. Fletcher took them in hand again. Their
material was powerful, and under their coach's careful tuition
they soon shook together and developed great pace. Their
improvement was very rapid after that splendid oar W.
Dudley Ward had been shifted to No. 7. For stroke they
had J. H. Gibbon, another Etonian, and behind these two was
a formidable array of strong, skilful, and experienced oars.
Oxford were again stroked by H. G. Gold, who in the

239



240 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

three previous years had led them to victory. The race
itself requires but little comment. Cambridge evidently had
the pace of their rivals, and though Oxford hung on desperately
as far as Harrod's, they were here shaken off by a spurt on
the part of Gibbon. At Hammersmith they became dis-
organised, and soon after this Cambridge established a comfort-
able lead, which was never afterwards in doubt.

One strange coincidence remains to be noted. In 1869
J. H. D. Goldie rowed in the Cambridge crew for the first
time, and Oxford won their ninth successive victory. In 1870
he rowed again, and Cambridge turned the tide. Twenty-
eight years afterwards his son, C. J. D. Goldie, rowed for
the first time in the Cambridge crew when Oxford completed
a series of nine victories. In 1899 he rowed again, and
Cambridge won the race. And in 1898 and 1899, as in
1869 and 1870, an Oxford man coached the Cambridge
crews.



RACE OF CAMBRIDGE v. HARVARD, 1906

Various attempts had been made from time to time since
the race between Harvard and Oxford in 1869 to bring an
English and an American University crew together in a
match from Putney to Mortlake, but without success. It may
be remembered that in 1869 Harvard had challenged both
our Universities to a four-oared race, and that Oxford, who
had then beaten Cambridge for the ninth successive occasion,
had taken up the challenge and had eventually won the
race.

The race between Harvard and Yale in America is of
old standing. For many years past these two Universities
have rowed against one another in eight oars at New London
on the American river Thames. In recent races Yale has a
far larger number of victories to her credit than Harvard,
but occasionally Harvard produces a good crew and manages
to defeat her rival. This had happened in 1906. Soon after
the decision of the Harvard-Yale race it occurred to certain



FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES

members of the Harvard crew that they would like to match
themselves against Cambridge, who had defeated Oxford in
the spring. Communications were opened with Cambridge
men, and the result was that, after an exchange of a few cables,
the race was arranged for Saturday, September 8.

This day will always be considered by Cambridge oarsmen
as one of the really great dates in their calendar. The race
rowed on that occasion between our crew and a crew repre-
sentative of Harvard University was, no doubt, a brilliant
triumph for our English rowing men, and for the sound and
ancient traditions on which their teaching had been based ;
but it was something more than that : it was the splendid
culminating point of a genuine sporting event in which from
first to last there had been neither hitch nor jar. Friendship
there was and courtesy and chivalry, but of the animosity
which has sometimes embittered and disfigured such contests
there was never even the faintest trace. Everybody knows
how gallant and friendly the feeling is between an Oxford
and a Cambridge crew. Yet I think I am not going beyond
the mark when I say that between the Cambridge and the
Harvard crews the relations were even more friendly than is
usual between two competing crews from rival Universities.
Every man in either crew would have felt as a personal
misfortune any calamity that might have fallen upon his
opponents. This is not the language of conventional " gush "
customary in international contests. It is the sober truth,
as everybody who had any connection with this race can
testify.

The informal and almost casual manner in which the race
was brought about had something to do with this pleasant
result. There was no long preliminary correspondence.
There was no haggling as to terms, dates, or conditions.
What actually happened was this: On Sunday, July 15,
when I was at my home at Bourne End, I received a visit
from Mr. F. L. Higginson, an old Harvard man, who had
taken a house for the summer in my immediate neighbourhood.
Mr. Higginson had first rowed for Harvard in 1898, when I



THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

coached their crew, and he had been Captain of the crew
which in the following year turned the tide against Yale. He
showed me a cable message which he had just received. It
was to the effect that the Harvard crew, which had again after
a long interval defeated Yale on June 28, was very eager to
row a race against Cambridge. They were ready to start for
England without any unnecessary delay. Could the Cambridge
crew be got together, and could such a race be arranged ? I
own that when I first saw this message I hesitated. No doubt
the event would be both interesting and agreeable, but how
was it possible to bring a representative Cambridge crew
together for it ? Henley was over, and all our men were
scattered in many directions. Besides, they had all had a
great deal of continuous rowing since the previous October,
and some of them, at any rate, might on that account be
reluctant to engage in another race, even if in other respects
no obstacle presented itself. However, I soon decided that
it was worth while making an effort to arrange the race, and
I was strongly confirmed in this view by Mr. Etherington-
Smith and Mr. Goldie, whom I was able to consult on that
very morning. Another and a very material difficulty, how-
ever, presented itself. How were funds to be provided ? The
men would have to practise for five weeks, and the necessary
expenses would be considerable. At this time of year it
was impossible to bring about a general meeting of the
C.U.B.C., and even if it had been possible, it was extremely
doubtful if the Club would find itself able to provide money
for another Inter-University race. The members of the
crew, though they would certainly contribute, could not be
expected to bear on their own shoulders the whole of the
expense. We decided, therefore, to appeal to the generosity
of old Cambridge men in the event of the race being arranged,
and our certainty that the appeal would be freely answered
was justified by the result. Our subscription list in the end
showed a total of 356 15^., contributed by 108 subscribers,
and this sum, together with our profit on the sale of steamer-
tickets, gave us the sinews of war.



FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES 243

Obviously the first step was to communicate immediately
with the President and the members of the crew, informing
them of the proposal, and, in the case of the possible members
of the crew, asking them if they could arrange to row if
required by the President. This was done on the Monday
morning by means of many telegrams and letters. The
President, H. M. Goldsmith, took the matter up at once in
the heartiest way. We arranged a meeting of Old Blues in
London, at which he was present. All the details were
settled there, and the date, September 8, was fixed, subject
to the approval of the Harvard men. By that time nearly
all the replies had come in, and it was certain that we should
have a thoroughly representative crew. The last to answer
was B. C. Johnstone, who was on a yachting trip. He left
his party at Portree, in Skye, and hurried South to be in time
for the beginning of practice.

As soon as all these preliminaries had been fixed the
President, of course, took control of everything in the proper
constitutional way. He selected his coaches, Messrs. F. J.
Escombe and S. D. Muttlebury, arranged his crew, gave the
necessary orders with regard to boats, oars, etc, ; and on
Monday, August 6, the practice began at Bourne End. On
the same day and on the same reach of water Harvard made
a start. They had arrived in England on Saturday, the 4th,
and lost no time in getting to work. Thenceforward there
was no intermission in the practice, and when once the occu-
pancy of the bow-seat had been settled in favour of Close-
Brooks, there was no alteration in the membership or the
order of the Cambridge crew.

The practice itself needs no very detailed description.
The troubles that arose were few and slight, except in regard
to the boat. The crew, with Baynes in it, though it was
not quite so heavy as that of Harvard, was yet considerably
heavier than our last two crews against Oxford. It was
eventually found necessary to order a new ship, and this, a
beautiful specimen of its kind, was completed by the Sims
brothers in five days a splendid performance. One point



244 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

ought to be mentioned. I have said that all our men had
been rowing since the previous October in one crew or another.
The question, therefore, of arranging the work so as not to
overdo them and yet to bring them to the post in good racing
trim was a very anxious one for the coaches. They sur-
mounted the difficulty with admirable judgment, though they
only gave the men one full course. No crew could have raced
with greater pluck and vigour and determination than ours
displayed on September 8. The men were trained to the
hour.

The race was rowed under the following special agree-
ment :

I. The race shall be rowed under the Laws of Boat-racing,
except as is hereinafter provided.

II. The race shall be started in the following manner :
When the crews are lying at their stake boats the starter
shall warn each crew in turn to get ready. He shall then
say once, "Are you ready?" and if he receives no answer,
he shall, after a due interval, start the crews by firing a
pistol.

III. If at any point of the race any serious accident should
happen in either boat which in the opinion of the umpire

(a) is not due to the fault of any individual, and

(b) is such as materially to affect the result of the race,

the umpire shall have power to restart the race on
the same or on some other day after consultation
with the President and Captain of the two Boat
Clubs.

IV. If either boat be interfered with by any barge,
steamer, or other obstacle to such an extent as, in the opinion
of the umpire, materially to affect the result of the race, the
crews shall start again at such time and place as the umpire
shall decide after consultation with the President and Captain
of the two Boat Clubs.

V. Appeals during the race shall be made by the oarsman
or crew concerned holding up his hand or their hands.

VI. Both boats shall pass through the centre arches of



FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES 245

Hammersmith and Barnes Bridges ; the crew failing to comply
with this rule shall be ip so facto disqualified.

(Signed) H. M. GOLDSMITH,

President, C.U.B.C.
O. D. FlLLEY,

Captain, H.U.B.C.
Sept. 3, 1906.

The importance and peculiarity of this agreement lay in
the following point. It threw upon the umpire the duty, a
highly responsible and difficult one, of deciding what was the
nature of an accident that might occur at any point of the
race. The laws of boat-racing declare that a crew shall abide
by its accidents. In the race between Oxford and Cambridge
this is modified by a special provision with regard to an
accident that may happen before Craven Steps are reached.
After that point a crew must abide by its accidents. The
Harvard men, however, argued that they had not come 3000
miles to win or lose the race by a mere accident ; the Cam-
bridge men, from their point of view, entirely agreed with
Harvard, and the agreement was therefore made in the form
I have cited. As I happened to be the umpire appointed for
the race, I may admit that I felt very seriously the responsi-
bility thus cast upon me. Fortunately, however, in the race
itself everything went off well, and there was no accident of
any kind.

The race was started punctually at 4.30 p.m. It was a
brilliant unclouded day. There was a slight breeze from the
west, but scarcely sufficient to ruffle the surface of the water,
except in Corney Reach and near the finish. The flood tide
was not a very strong one, and as the wind was almost always
on the quarter it was not possible to anticipate that record
time would be accomplished. Cambridge started in a very
determined fashion at the rate of 40 to the minute. As
Harvard slightly hung on the start and rowed at a slower rate
the Light Blues soon began to dash ahead. They had gained
half a length in a minute, and were well clear at Beverley



246 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

brook, where they had dropped their stroke to 32 as against
the 33 of Harvard. At the mile they were two and a half
lengths ahead, an advantage they had increased to nearly four
lengths at Hammersmith Bridge. From this point the race
was never in any doubt. Cambridge had the measure of
their opponents, and could do what they liked. It is true
that Harvard put in some very plucky spurts, and occasionally
reduced the Cambridge lead ; but the Light Blues had the
race in hand, and never flurried themselves. Towards the
finish they dropped almost to a paddle and passed the line
two lengths ahead in 19 min. 58 sees., good time under the
conditions prevailing. In another place* I have discussed
some questions of style and rig which arose out of the rowing
of these two crews. I may content myself with saying here
that Cambridge ought, in my opinion, to be ranked very
high amongst good University crews. When they were
eventually wound up to concert pitch they showed a beautiful
working uniformity, and great quickness, elasticity, and dash.
The blades caught the water with marked precision and
power, and the men applied both bodies and legs to the stroke
in very good style. The finish ended by being a firm one ;
the blades left the water in very clean style, and the recovery
movements were fairly smart. Had they possessed a longer
swing and reach forward there would not have been much
room for genuine fault-finding. The merits I have indicated,
combined with their exceptional racing ability, sufficiently
account for their victory over their powerful and plucky
opponents. There was nothing specially new in the Cambridge
style. It was founded on principles which have long been
established, and of which the value has been proved in many
a hard-fought contest.

As the names of these two crews do not appear elsewhere,
I will give them here.

* Pp. 152-156.







W Q

si
li



FAMOUS CREWS AND MEMORABLE RACES 247

CAMBRIDGE

st. Ibs.

A. B. Close-Brooks (Winchester and First Trinity) (bow) . 114

2. J. H. F. Benham (Fauconberg and Jesus) . . . 12 I

3. H. M. Goldsmith (President) (Sherborne and Jesus) . . 12 2^

4. M. Donaldson (Charterhouse and First Trinity) . . 13 8

5. H. G. Baynes (Leighton Park and First Trinity) . . 14 o

6. R. V. Powell (Eton and Third Trinity) . . . . 12 6

7. B. C. Johnstone (Eton and Third Trinity) . . . 12 8|
D. C. R. Stuart (Cheltenham and Trinity Hall) (stroke) . no

B. G. A. Scott (St. Paul's and Trinity Hall) (cox) . .85

HARVARD

R. M. Tappan (Nobles and Harvard) (bow) . . . 12 o

2. S. W. Fish (Groton and Harvard) n II

3. P. W. Flint (Worcester and Harvard) . . . . 12 o|

4. C. Morgan (Harrow and Harvard) . . . . 12 6\

5. J. Richardson (Nobles and Harvard) . . . 12 13

6. R. L. Bacon (Groton and Harvard) *3 3?

7- D. A. Newhall (Haverford and Harvard) . . . 12 13

O. D. Filley (Rugby and Harvard (stroke) . . . n 12
M. B. Blagden (Groton and Harvard) (cox) . . -75



PART IV

THE CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT OF
THE SPORT

CHAPTER XXIV
THE GOVERNMENT OF ROWING

The Amateur Rowing Association The Definition of an Amateur

1HAVE already said something in the second chapter of
this book about the rise and development of amateur oars-
manship and its gradual emancipation from the control or
guidance of professionals. In those early days, and, indeed, as
will be seen, up to a comparatively recent date, it possessed
neither a governing body nor any set of rules defining the status
of those who were qualified to take part in the sport. Each
club or regatta committee might have its own amateur rule
and interpret it in its own way. Consequently many mis-
understandings arose, and men at last began to realise the
necessity for some rigorous and universally accepted definition.

The first step was taken in 1878, when a meeting of
prominent oarsmen was held at Putney. It was attended by
various representatives of the two University Boat Clubs, the
Leander Club, the London Rowing Club, the Thames Rowing
Club, and the Kingston Rowing Club, who eventually passed
and published the following definition :

" An amateur oarsman or sculler must be an officer of her
Majesty's Army or Navy or Civil Service, a member of the
Liberal professions, or of the Universities or Public Schools,
or of any established boat or rowing club not containing
mechanics or professionals ; and must not have competed in

248



THE GOVERNMENT OF ROWING 249

any competition for either a stake, or money, or entrance fee, or
with or against a professional for any prize ; nor have ever
taught, pursued, or assisted in the pursuit of athletic exercises
of any kind as a means of livelihood, nor have ever been
employed in or about boats, or in manual labour ; nor be a
mechanic, artisan, or labourer."

There are obvious weaknesses in this definition. It begins
by defining who is an amateur, but it pursues the definition
only a very short way, and then proceeds to define who is not.
Let me test it by an instance. An amateur club would
necessarily elect only amateurs. How would it have pro-
ceeded in the case of a candidate, who, having been educated
privately, had become a clerk in a firm of stockbrokers ? Such
a man, though he might have had none of the disqualifications
contained in the negative portion of the rule, would have
possessed none of the positive qualifications which the first
part of the rule laid down as essential. He was not an officer
of the Army or Navy, or a Civil Servant, or a member of
any Liberal Profession. He had been at no Public School or
University, and was not a member of any established boat
or rowing club not containing mechanics or professionals.
Plainly, therefore, he was not, according to the definition, an
amateur, and ought not to have been elected a member of any
club which had taken the definition as its standard. The
definition, therefore, did not cover the ground adequately.

In the following year (1879) the Stewards of the Henley
Regatta set to work and issued a definition of their own in
the following terms :

" No person shall be considered as an amateur oarsman or
sculler

" I. Who has ever competed in any open competition for
a stake, money, or entrance fee.

" 2. Who has ever competed 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 as a means of gaining
a livelihood.



250 THE COMPLETE OARSMAN

" 4. Who has been employed in or about boats for money
or wages.

" Who is or has been, by trade or employment for wages,
a mechanic, artisan, or labourer."

In thus proceeding throughout by negation the Henley
Stewards made a much better business of it. They settled
who was not an amateur, and, by implication, left the rest of
the world free from disqualification. All that a Club or
a Regatta Committee had to ascertain was whether or not a
candidate or a would-be competitor fell within one of the
five categories of prohibition. If he did not he might be
accepted as a member or a competitor.

There was still, however, no governing body, although it
seemed at one time that the Henley stewards might come to
hold in rowing the position which is held in cricket by the
M.C.C., and in golf by the Royal and Ancient Club. This
was not to be. The year 1879 witnessed the establish-
ment of a body first known as "The Metropolitan Rowing
Association," which under another name and with different
objects was destined to become the ruling authority of
amateur oarsmanship. Mr. S. Le Blanc Smith, of the
London Rowing Club, who had no small share in establishing
it, has given the following account of its origin in his chapter
on "Metropolitan Rowing," published in the Badminton
Library volume on " Rowing and Punting " : " It arose," he
writes, "in this way. The London Rowing Club had won
the Stewards' Fours from 1868 to 1878 inclusive, with the
exception of 1870, when the Oxford Etonian Club were
victorious. Four-oared rowing was the favourite branch of
the sport in foreign countries ; consequently, when a foreign
club wished to challenge a representative English club, it
naturally selected the London Rowing Club, as was the case



Online LibraryR. C. (Rudolf Chambers) LehmannThe complete oarsman → online text (page 20 of 39)