R. C. (Rudolf Chambers) Lehmann.

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in 1872 and 1876. It was evident, however, that a day might
very possibly arrive when neither London nor Thames might
have a really representative four. Messrs. Gulston, Fenner,
Horton, Hastie, Adams, Labat, Trower, and Le Blanc
Smith, therefore, met together, and the Metropolitan Rowing


Association was there and then founded. It combined the
members of the various Metropolitan Clubs under one
flag; so that, in case of need, they should be enabled to
select a crew which should represent their combined forces
for the purpose of defeating the foreign or colonial invader."
Other important clubs soon began to join. In 1882 the
Association changed its name to that of "the Amateur
Rowing Association." The original reason for its establish-
ment, the formation, namely, of crews to meet foreign and
colonial competitors, still remained embodied in its rules, but
it was never acted on, and in the revision of rules which took
place in 1894 it was dropped out altogether. In this present
year the fixture of the Olympic Regatta at Henley has made
it necessary for the A.R.A. in some way to revive the power
of forming a combined English crew. For this purpose it
has obtained leave from all its affiliated clubs, and has set up a
committee of oarsmen to select, organise and control English
crews to compete at this great International Regatta.

In 1882, however, the A.R.A., without formally abandoning
its power to form crews, reorganised itself with a view to setting
up as the governing authority of the sport. Its primary object
was stated to be the maintenance of the standard of amateur
oarsmanship as recognised by the rowing clubs of the United
Kingdom, and it had power to affiliate any club willing to
bind itself to observe the rules of the Association. It
established an amateur definition, and in 1886, confident in
the strength of its position, it issued rules for regattas. Since
then it has grown in power year by year ; its list of affiliated
clubs numbers four score, and its supreme authority is
unquestioned both as to the interpretation of its own rules,
and as to the settlement of any disputes or controversies
that may be referred to it. Its executive body consists
of nine members nominated by the principal clubs, fifteen
members (five of whom retire annually) elected by the
general meeting of affiliated clubs, and an honorary secretary
on whose shoulders all the detailed work of the Association


In the Appendix will be found fully set out the constitution
of the A.R.A., its rules for regattas and its laws of boat-racing.
My present object is to discuss the amateur definition by
which it governs the status of oarsmen. This has stood,
since 1894, in the following terms in Clause II. of the

" 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

"i. Who has ever rowed or steered in any race for a
stake, money, or entrance fee ;

"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."

And in the next clause of the Constitution it is laid down

"An amateur may not receive any contribution towards
his expenses in competing in a Race or a Regatta except
from the Club which he represents, or a bond fide Member of
such Club ; but the Committee shall have power to make
special rules for any International Regatta or Competi-

The first point to be observed is that, before the revision
of 1894, only those who had taken part in any open competition
for a stake, money, or entrance fee were disqualified as
amateurs. In a race confined, for instance, to members of
one club a man might row for such pecuniary rewards without
forfeiting his status. The limitation is now abolished, but a


note to the first sub-section of Clause II. states that "this
clause is not to be construed as disqualifying any otherwise
duly qualified amateur who previously to April 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

With regard to the word "professional," as used in the
second subsection, I may repeat substantially what I said in
my Isthmian book on "Rowing." Up to 1894 the A.R.A.
held that the term " professional " included " 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 to compete knowingly against them for a
prize entailed disqualification upon the amateur so competing.
The report of the Revision Committee of 1894, subsequently
adopted by the full Committee, laid it down that henceforth
the word " professional " must be interpreted " in its primary
and literal sense," i.e. as one who makes money by rowing,
sculling, or steering. An amateur knowingly competing
against a professional is disqualified, but if he competes with
or against mechanics, artisans, etc. (provided, of course, the
race is not for a stake, money, or entrance-fee), his status is
not affected. At the same time, it must be remembered
(Rule i of Rules of Regattas) that at regattas held in accord-
ance with A.R.A. rules, no mechanic, artisan, etc., can be
admitted to compete, and by Clause XII. of the Constitution
no member of any club affiliated to the A.R.A. is permitted
to compete in any regatta in England which is not held in
accordance with the A.R.A. rules. The result would seem to
be 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 XII. would render himself liable to
suspension under Clause IX. of the Constitution (see
Appendix). It may be said, therefore, that there are now
in the view of the A.R.A. three classes of oarsmen, viz.
amateurs, non-amateurs who are not professionals, and

There is, however, in connection with this matter of
amateurism, another and a larger question on which it may be
well to say a few words. At the time of the revision of the
A.RA. rules in 1894 it was argued by a small minority that
the definition of an amateur which was accepted and passed
by the majority was an entirely arbitrary and unreasonable
one, and that, just as the word " professional " was in future
to be properly restricted, so the word " amateur " ought to be
enlarged to " its primary and literal sense," so as to include
all those who rowed for pleasure and not for money. In
other words, it was suggested that men who were artisans or
labourers or mechanics ought not by that mere fact to be
disqualified as amateurs, provided they were in all other
respects conformable to the requirements of the A.R.A.
There is a considerable number of clubs which include work-
ing men in their ranks, and which are therefore debarred
from all possibility of affiliation to the A.R.A. and from all
opportunity of taking part in the A.R.A. regattas. Many of
these, pursuing oarsmanship purely for pleasure and without
the least hope or intention of making money out of the sport,
have banded themselves together in an association termed
the National Amateur Rowing Association, under an amateur
definition which bars money prizes and professionalism. The
suggestion was that the A.R.A. qualification should still be
kept rigid against money and professionalism, but should
be so relaxed as to admit working men who were otherwise
amateurs, and thus to extend the salutary influence of the

During the discussion of 1894 I myself argued in favour
of this relaxation, and the lapse of fourteen years has not
caused me to change my opinion. At the same time, I must


own that the number of those who agreed with me has not
increased, and that I see no prospect whatever of converting
the majority to my views. I will endeavour to state as
impartially and as concisely as possible the arguments that
are urged on both sides, and my readers can then form their
own judgment on the debate.

In favour of relaxation it is argued that

(1) The disqualification was originally imposed on the
ground that artisans, etc., gained by their labour a physical
advantage which might unfairly handicap the "gentleman
amateur " in a muscular contest. This ground, however, is
now universally abandoned, for it is realised that bodily
labour of another sort is more often than not a disadvantage
to the intending oarsman. Skill, quickness, and precision
count much more in rowing than mere muscular strength
unless it has been acquired or developed by oarsmanship

(2) Quite apart from any argument that might be brought
against this disqualification from what I might call a
Thackerayan standpoint, it is both illogical and inconvenient.
It picks and chooses its victims not because of their conduct
in regard to the sport itself, but on account of their manner
of earning their living. In a provincial town it will debar
the carpenter, for instance, while letting his immediate
neighbours, the draper and the fishmonger, go free. Yet the
carpenter is not necessarily a worse citizen or a poorer
sportsman merely because he works with his hands.

(3) It is a good thing to spread the authority and influence
of the A.R.A. as widely as possible. The number of working
men who can afford leisure to pursue the sport of rowing
cannot, in any case, be very large. It would, therefore, be
quite easy to control them.

(4) No other country, except Germany, makes the same

On the other hand, the advocates of the status quo argue

(i) The amateur sport of rowing has been able to maintain


a greater purity of amateurism than any other sport, mainly
because it has thus limited its adherents.

(2) To introduce a new element, which is naturally liable
to a greater temptation to endeavour to make a pecuniary
profit out of the sport, would necessarily endanger the present
high standard of amateurism, or, at any rate, make it a
matter of more difficulty to maintain it.

(3) In view of what has happened in other sports, and
particularly football (in one branch of which amateurism has
practically been extinguished, while in the other branch it is
seriously menaced), it would be in the highest degree unwise
to relax the rule which has kept amateur oarsmanship free
from all such detrimental influence.

(4) There is no real demand for relaxation even from those
who are now debarred by the restriction. They are quite
content to have their own Association, and prefer not to be
absorbed in the A.R.A.

These are the main arguments, and there I must leave the

Finally, it must be added that the A.R.A. holds that
" apprenticeship is no disqualification." Nobody, therefore,
is to be disqualified as an amateur oarsman because he has
served an apprenticeship, even if it has involved manual
labour for money. But if a man, after passing through the
period of such apprenticeship, still continues at the work and
receives wages for it, for however short a time, he will be



Duties of a Regatta Committee.

IN order to ensure uniformity in such essential matters
as the amateur standard of the oarsmen competing, and
the general sportsmanship of the gathering, the A.R.A. has
formulated a set of very carefully devised Rules for Regattas
(see Appendix). I pointed out in the preceding chapter that
by Clause XII. of the A.R.A. Constitution, a member of an
affiliated club is forbidden to " compete in any regatta in
England which is not held in accordance with the rules of
the Association." As the affiliated clubs include all the chief
clubs throughout the country, regatta committees have had no
option in the matter of conforming to the code. Within its
limits, however, they are fully entitled to frame such special
regulations as may seem good to them, and they have the
same power with regard to any point which is not specifically
touched by the code. For instance, there is no mention in
the rules of a class of oarsmen created by regatta committees,
and known either as senior-juniors or junior-seniors. Yet it
is entirely within the province of a regatta committee to
include a race for this class in their programme and to govern
it by their own special rules. They can decide (i) that such a
crew shall be composed of men who, having won a junior
race, have never yet won a senior race ; or (2) they may say
that the crew is to be composed of seniors and juniors in any
proportion they please. The A.R.A. will in no way interfere
with them.

s 257


The first point to be considered is what constitutes a
regatta. Obviously, the College eight-oared bumping races
at Oxford and Cambridge are not regattas. They are a
special class of races governed by their own rules, and have
no relation whatever to a regatta race in which all the com-
peting crews have a chance, under equal conditions, of winning
a prize. There is, it is true, a prize for the Head of the
River crew, but only a small proportion of the boats engaged
in the bumping races have any chance of securing it. Apart
from these races, however, it is held that any meeting at
which crews of more clubs than one compete is to be con-
sidered a regatta. Victory in an " invitation race," in which
two or more clubs had been asked to compete in unrestricted
boats, would, therefore, deprive a junior oarsman of his
juniority and convert him into a senior (see Rule 19).

It is laid down by Rule I that " the laws of boat-racing
adopted by the Association shall be observed, and the
Association's definition of an amateur shall govern the qualifi-
cations of each competitor." The laws of boat-racing are fully
set out in the Appendix, and I shall consider them in detail
in the next chapter. I may note here that by Rule 8 the
duty of investigating any questionable entry irrespective
of protest is cast upon the regatta committee. They are
held primarily responsible for the quality of the competitors,
and they are bound to take every possible care that the
entries shall be such only as are conformable to the A.R.A.
standard, which they are pledged to observe. They are
amply safeguarded in carrying out this duty by the con-
cluding words of Rule 8, which give them " power to refuse or
return any entry up to the time of starting without being
bound to assign a reason." No regatta committee should
hesitate to exercise this power in any case where there is
ground for grave suspicion, even though they may not be able
in the time at their disposal to ascertain such facts as might
be necessary for legal proof. They cannot be too rigorous in
their determination to keep their entries above suspicion.
This duty, however, in no way interferes with the right of


a competitor or any other person interested to make an
objection against the qualification of another competitor.
This right is reserved by Rule 12, which declares that any
such objection must be made in writing to the secretary of
the regatta at the earliest moment practicable, and that no
protest shall be entertained (presumably by the regatta
committee) unless lodged before the prizes are distributed.
If, after the prizes have been distributed, it is discovered that
a winner was not properly qualified, either on the ground
of amateurship or on any other, the only resource is to
bring the matter before the A.R.A. Committee, and in any
casej a regatta committee may refer a disputed case to
the A.R.A. Committee, or an aggrieved competitor may
afterwards appeal to that body, though it is not to be
supposed that the A.R.A. will interfere where a regatta
committee can be shown to have exercised honestly and to
the best of their ability the power of judgment vested in them.
Broadly speaking, the regatta committee is to decide all
disputes connected with the regatta, but it must decide
subject to the A.R.A. rules. Further, by Rule 20, all
questions not specially provided for [in the Rules] are to be
decided by the regatta committee.

There are certain other things which the committee must
do or abstain from doing

(i) They must state on their programmes and in all other
official notices and advertisements that their regatta is held in
accordance with the Rules of the A.R.A. Without such a
public statement no club affiliated to the A.R.A. could,
under Clause XII. of the Constitution, enter at the regatta, for
there would be no assurance that competitors would have the
protection of the A.R.A. Rules. A committee may, how-
ever, organise a regatta in which some of the races are in
accordance with the A.R.A. Rules, while others are reserved
either for " non-amateurs " or for professionals. In such a
case there must be a distinct statement on the notices, adver-
tisements, and programmes as to the particular races to be
rowed under A.R.A. conditions.


(2) " No money or * value prize ' (e.g. a cheque on a trades-
man) shall be offered for competition, nor shall a prize or
money be offered as alternatives " (Rule 3). It used to be
the custom at many regattas to state that the prizes for an
event would be of a certain value, and the winners, instead of
receiving them at the close of the regatta, would be referred
to a local silversmith, from whom they afterwards obtained
any object they might choose. There was no precaution
taken that the object should be equal to the value stated, and
the practice was open to grave abuse. It is now abolished.

(3) " Entries shall close at least three clear days before
the date of the regatta " (Rule 4). This is obviously necessary
in order that there may be time for the investigation of the
entries. No secretary of a regatta or anybody else connected
with it is entitled to hunt for entries after the list is stated
to have been closed. The regatta committee are bound in
this respect to adhere to any date they may have fixed. They
must allow three clear days. They may by their notices and
advertisements have bound themselves to give four or five
or any greater number.

The remaining rules are sufficiently plain and intelligible
and may be read in the Appendix. Only one point requires
to be noted. In interpreting Rules 18 and 19, which define
maiden and junior oarsmen and scullers, regard must be had
to the proper meaning of the word " Regatta," which, as I
have indicated above, is not to be confined merely to those
meetings which are ordinarily called regattas. The winners
of the Colquhoun Sculls at Cambridge or the University
Sculls at Oxford are held to be senior scullers ; and similarly
the winners of the fours or pairs at either University are
senior oarsmen.


The Umpire and his Duties Fouls

IT may be said, without disrespect to the competitors,
that the most important person in a race, whether it be
an event in a regatta or a private match, like the University
Boat-race, is the Umpire. Private matches, of course, may be
rowed under their own private agreements, but the laws
of boat-racing, as settled by the A.R.A., govern all the
chief regattas, and these laws make the Umpire, within their
own limits, an absolute ruler as autocratic as any Czar or
Kaiser. No. VI. declares that " The Umpire shall be the
sole judge of a boat's proper course during a race, and shall
decide all questions as to a foul " ; while, according to No.
XVII. , " 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 determination, and his decision in
all cases shall be final and without appeal." The powers thus
conferred are very large and, it must be added, very necessary.
If they did not exist, competitors would be involved in
constant wrangles.

Before proceeding to the discussion of the Umpire's duties
and the best methods of carrying them out, let me state briefly
the points in which an Umpire has no power.

(i) He has no power to decide questions as to the status
or qualifications of competitors. That belongs to the Regatta
Committee. According to the official programme, certain
crews are appointed to start at a fixed time from certain
stations. All that the Umpire has to do is to see that these
crews start in the manner and at the time appointed. If a
crew does not turn up at the start at the time appointed he
* 261


may, if he likes, give it a small amount of law, though Law II.
of the Laws of Boat-racing lays it down, without any qualifi-
cation, that " a boat not at its post at the time specified shall
be liable to be disqualified by the Umpire," and Regatta
Committees generally frame a special regulation emphasising
the need for punctuality. It may sometimes happen that
a member of a crew arrives late at the scene of the regatta
and so delays the crew. The crew may appeal to the Com-
mittee either to delay the start for a few minutes or to
postpone it to a later position on the programme. If the
Committee consent to either of those courses they ought at
once to inform the Umpire, for, without such information, it
is the Umpire's duty to start the race at the time specified
for it. Indeed, one of the highest duties of an Umpire is
to do everything in his power to keep good time, and it is the
duty of the Committee to help him to the utmost in this effort.

(2) An Umpire has no power to alter the starting stations
assigned to the competitors by the Committee according to
the official programme. It may happen that one of the com-
petitors does not turn up for a race in which three are appointed
to start, and one or other of the two actual starters may apply
to the Umpire to start from the empty station. The Umpire is
bound to refuse such a request, unless he has had an intimation
from the Committee that an alteration is to be made.

(3) An Umpire has in general no power to decide which
competitor has won a race. That duty belongs to the Judge
posted at the finishing line, who declares at the same time
the distance by which the race has been won. This rule,
however, is subject to modification, for it may happen that
a foul, of which the Judge is quite ignorant, has occurred
during the progress of the race. In such a case, on an
appeal being made, the Umpire has, of course, power to
reverse the decision of the Judge, and to award the race
to a competitor who did not cross the finishing line first.
Failing such an appeal to the Umpire, the decision of the
Judge as to the order of competitors at the finish is final,
and without appeal (see Law XVI.).


(4) Apart from his power of cautioning a competitor when
there is a probability of a foul, or warning him of an obstruction
in his course, an Umpire has no power to direct the course of
a competitor (Law VII.). However irritating it may be to see
a competitor steering wantonly into the bank, the Umpire must
on no account give him the slightest warning of his risk.

So much, then, for the powers the Umpire does not
possess. They are few and insignificant in comparison with
the powers that the laws of boat-racing confer upon him.

In the first place he generally acts as starter. It is true
that he need not so act, for, by Law 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 Umpire."
There can, however, be no possible advantage in appointing
a separate person to start the race and to retire from all
authority as soon as he has performed this duty. In the
whole course of my experience I have only once known

Online LibraryR. C. (Rudolf Chambers) LehmannThe complete oarsman → online text (page 21 of 39)