Rowing, the art of propelling a boat by means of oars. In the Greek and Roman galleys the oars were arranged in banks, of which different galleys had from 2 to 12, and more. (See Galley.) In all civilized countries for a long period boating was merely a means of living to those who rowed people for pleasure, ferried them across rivers, or transported goods. It was not till the 18th century that boat racing became popular, especially on the Thames, the watermen testing their superiority in rowing in the clumsy boats then built. In 1715 Thomas Doggett, the comedian, offered the prize still known as "Doggett's coat and badge" to the waterman's apprentice between Gravesend and Oxford who was the fastest sculler of the year, and this prize is still annually conferred. In England 50 years ago the racing boat was 35 ft. long and 6 ft. beam, weighed 700 lbs., and carried two oarsmen of 200 lbs. weight each, with two spare men to act as ballast and assist at the oars. Now four men weighing 150 to 160 lbs. each propel a shell of 17 in. beam and 41 ft. length, weighing but 94 lbs., over a six-mile course, at the rate of 9 m. an hour. The first notable improvement in racing boats was removing the oar from the rowlock on the gunwales to the outriggers.
In a match race on the Tyne between the Fly of Scotswood and the Diamond of Ouseborn, Anthony Brown narrowed the Diamond, and by placing various pieces of wood on either side, now known as false outriggers, secured an easy triumph. Harry Clasper of Newcastle substituted for this rude device, not the light and graceful outrigger of to-day, with its rowlocks tightly blocked and wired, but something much nearer it than the original. It was not till 1844, when he won the £50 prize of the Thames national regatta in a four-oared outrigged gig of his own building, that the merits of the outrigger were generally acknowledged. He also remodelled the racing oar. Forty years ago it was an unwieldy stick "of prodigious size and loaded with lead at the loom end," while the blades were flat and straight, like those of the ash oars of to-day, and very wide. A London crew on the Tyne, with scoop or spoon oars, had beaten Clasper's crew, and Clasper did not rest until he had improved the spoon oar. "The progress and success of Tyne boating now became universal; crew after crew sprang up; boats underwent still further alterations; light men were substituted for the rollicking, over-fed, fourteen-stone keelmen; and the Clasper crew gained a notoriety which has long since been developed." The Thames Subscription club threw open yearly races, and the "Sons of the Thames crew," "Pride of the Tyne crew," and "Pride of the Thames crew" soon came to be familiar names.
While the professional rowers were thus advancing, the amateurs were in no way behind. For some time prior to 1825 eight-oared rowing had been in vogue at Oxford, while the first eight-oared boat at Cambridge belonged to St. John's college, and was built in 1826 at Eton, which organized its boat club in 1825. On June 10, 1829, the chosen eights of Oxford and Cambridge first met on the course, 2 1/4 m. long, from Hambledon lock to Henley bridge on the Thames, and Oxford won easily by 60 yards. The two universities next met in 1836, and rowed from "Westminster bridge to Putney bridge, Cambridge now being the winner. They next met in 1839, and since then have nearly every year kept up the now famous rivalry. In 1874 Cambridge had won 15 times and Oxford 16, but in 1875 the latter made her number 17. At Oxford there are 18 distinct college rowing clubs, and one university club. Yet one of the two large boat-building establishments of Oxford keeps 350 boats for hire, among which are 40 eight-oared outriggers and 40 four-oared outriggers, and in addition builds an average of three boats a week. At Cambridge there are 19 rowing clubs and one university club.
In 1864, when the college crews were in training with a view to select from the best eight-oared crews the university crew with which to meet Oxford at Putney, a writer says that "the college eights were formed for practice in three divisions of 20 boats each, thus making 60 eight-oared outrigged cutters, or nearly 500 oarsmen in practice on the Cam at the same time, day by day." The Henley-on-Thames royal regatta, rowed late in June each year and open to all amateur clubs of a year's standing, has flourished since 1839; and among the competitors for its grand challenge cup and ladies' challenge plate for eights, its steward's, visitors', and Wyfold challenge cups for fours, silver wherries and goblets for pair-oars, and diamond sculls for scullers, it has for many years brought out the best amateur material in England. The record of matches in Great Britain for 1865, as far as known, footed up 365. There are also many clubs formed merely for exercise and pleasure, which do not race, making the total number of boating clubs in the United Kingdom more than 450. - In 1850 there was no boat club in the United States of more than a local reputation, and there had been no racing of importance.
The boats of that day were half as wide and not much longer than the English wherry, though not so heavy. There was no distinctive class of watermen, and little rowing except in the harbors of the seaboard places, where only heavy boats could be used; and among the stevedores, longshoremen, and others plying these, racing was not popular. Apart from the credit due to a few professionals and to local amateur clubs, the most interesting if not most important racing records belong to the northern and eastern colleges. Rowing as a pastime began at Yale in 1843, and at Harvard in 1844. The first intercollegiate race took place on Aug. 3, 1852, at Centre Harbor, Lake Winnepiseogee. It was for eight-oared barges carrying coxswains, over a two-mile course. Harvard in the Oneida defeated the Halcyon and Undine of Yale, leading at the finish by two lengths. The boats averaged about 37 ft. in length and 3 ft. in breadth. In 1855 Yale again challenged Harvard, and on July 21, on the Connecticut near Springfield, over a three-mile tideway course, the six-oared Nereid and Nautilus of Yale, each carrying a coxswain, were beaten by the Harvard four-oared Y. Y. with no coxswain, and the eight-oared Iris with a coxswain.
The Iris took 23 m.; the Y. Y., after deducting an allowance of 11 s. an oar, 22 m. 3 s.; the Nereid, 23 m. 38 s.; and the Nautilus, 24 m. 38 s. In 1858 Harvard proposed to the undergraduates of the principal New England colleges and those of New York city to establish an annual intercollegiate regatta. Delegates from Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Trinity met at New Haven, May 26. The course was fixed at three miles. An allowance of 12 s. an oar was to be given to smaller boats, and the prizes were to be flags, not to exceed $25 in value, and to be paid for by the entrance fees of the boats.. But a week before the time appointed for the race the Yale boat was overturned by a collision, and her stroke drowned. This broke up the race. The next contest was at Lake Quinsigamond, near Worcester, Mass., July 26, 1859. All the boats were six-oared, Brown sending the lapstreak Atalanta, Yale the shell Yale, and Harvard the lapstreak Avon and the shell Harvard. The Yale and Brown boats carried coxswains. The boats were several feet longer than in former years, had narrowed to about 2 ft. in beam, and had been materially lightened. Harvard won easily in 19 m. 18 s., Yale being 60 s. later, and the others far behind.
But next day, in a regatta thrown open by the citizens of Worcester, Harvard was beaten by Yale by 2 s. There was no rudder to the Harvard boat, while Yale had a coxswain; and the next year Harvard introduced a device which by dispensing with coxswains practically revolutionized American rowing. The bow oarsman, by touching with his foot a strip of wood or iron, moving horizontally on a pivot, worked wires running to a parallel strip on top of the rudder, and so steered the boat. This contrivance probably won Harvard the race in 1860 by 12 1/2 s., while Yale carried a coxswain weighing 112 lbs. The war stopped these races till 1864, when Yale won, and again on July 28 and 29, 1865. Harvard took the flags for the following five years. The boats were still lengthening and narrowing, the climax being reached in 1866, when the Harvard craft was 57 ft. long and but 19 in. wide, while each rower, instead of sitting close up to the side of the boat furthest from his oar blade, sat in the middle, rendering her much steadier. In 1868 Harvard rowed the three miles on Lake Quinsigamond in 17 m. 48 1/2 s.
In 1869 Harvard challenged both the Oxford and Cambridge crews to a friendly race over their own course on the Thames, from Putney to Mort-lake. Cambridge declined the challenge, but Oxford accepted, each crew to consist of four rowers and a coxswain. When the day, Aug. 27, came, Harvard was obliged to supply the places of two of her best oarsmen with comparatively new men. She was also overmatched by Oxford 44 lbs. in the total weight of crew. Yet in a course of 4 m. 3 fur. Harvard led for more than 2 m., Oxford finally winning by 1 1/2 length in 22 m. 20.6 s. of time. In 1870, owing to some dissatisfaction with regard to the decision of the umpire, Yale and Harvard resolved to row no more races on Lake Quinsigamond, and the 12th college regatta took place, July 21, 1871, on the Connecticut river, 6 m. above Springfield, when Harvard and Brown were beaten by the Amherst agricultural crew, which made the three-mile course in 16 m. 47 s. In 1872 the number of college crews increased to 6, in 1873 to 11; in 1874, when Columbia won in 16 m. 32 3/4 s. on Saratoga lake, it fell back to 9, and in 1875 increased to 14. In the intercollegiate race on Saratoga lake, July 14, 1875, 12 colleges competed over a three-mile course, Cornell winning in 16 m. 53 1/4 s., Columbia coming i» second in 17 m. 4 1/4 s., and only a half length in advance of Harvard. The college races have improved every year.
Besides lengthening and narrowing the boats, improving the oars, and introducing foot rudders, the number of strokes per minute has been increased, with more uniformity and precision. The more powerful men are placed in the waist of the boat, the lighter ones at the ends, and for stroke oar a medium weight, tough, wiry man, who will maintain the required quickness through the race and force the heavy men behind to do the same. Instead of turning a stake boat, the races are now on a straight course from start to finish. This obviates the danger of collisions at the turning, and permits the introduction of more boats. - While the college races have been mainly instrumental in improving and making popular rowing in the United States, other amateur clubs and professionals have not been idle. For many years past, on July 4, Boston has held a rowing regatta, with prizes sufficient to encourage good local ability, bring out fast work, and stimulate rowing in New England generally. Occasionally crews from St. John, Portland, and Pittsburgh, and often the Wards, the Biglins, and Harvard men, have competed in these races.
Fast single scullers sprang up from time to time, the names of R. F. Clark, M. Smith, John Tyler, jr., Fay, Appleton, and Walter Brown becoming well known, and these men materially reduced the time formerly needed to cover two miles. The Atalanta boat club of New York was organized in 1848, and in 1874 it was the oldest of 91 clubs in the state. Philadelphia has nearly a score of clubs, some of them 20 years old, while Pittsburgh has half as many; and of late years the interest has been spreading throughout the west and south, till Georgia has 12, Michigan and California each 20; and in 1874 there were 364 known rowing clubs in the United States, owning real and personal property to the aggregate value of more than $500,000. It was not till 1859 that there was any formal contest between professionals for the championship at single sculling. Stephen Roberts, now (1875) a boat builder in New York, had for many years beaten nearly all contestants; but in a five-mile race off Staten island, Oct. 11, 1869, Joshua Ward of Cornwall on the Hudson won the championship, beating three good men.
On Aug. 14, 1862, James Hamill of Pittsburgh wrested it from him on the Schuylkill near Philadelphia, but in less than a year Ward won it back at Poughkeepsie; 13 months later, at the same place, it went again to Hamill; and less than a year afterward at Pittsburgh he once more defeated Ward. Walter Brown of Portland took it away from him at Pittsburgh, and lost it to him again at Newburgh a few months later, in a race for $4,000. In 1866 Hamill went to the Tyne to contest with Harry Kelly, the English champion, and was twice badly beaten. Apart from these contests between single scullers, another class of professionals were competing. In 1860, at Lake Quinsigamond, "Josh" Ward with five others from the Hudson, though carrying a boy as coxswain weighing 40 lbs., rowed 3 m. in the Gersh Banker in 18 m. 37 s., the fastest time then on record. Many times during the next 12 years the Biglin brothers of New York proved their claim to the championship. Hamill at Pittsburgh, Stevens at Poughkeepsie, and Coulter at Pittsburgh, each succeeded in getting together a fair crew.
But not till Josh Ward, with four of his brothers and J. L. Raymond, in July, 1868, at Worcester, beat the Harvard crew in 17 m. 40 1/2 s., the fastest time ever made in America over a three-mile turning course, was the champion crew of America generally rated very fast. In 1867, at Springfield on the Connecticut, the Wards had easily beaten a picked crew from St. John, N. B., in a contest for $1,000 and the American championship, course three miles to stake boat and return, the Wards winning in 39 m. 28 s. In October, 1868, St. John sent to the same course its "Paris crew," which in the exposition races of 1867 had beaten the picked crews of England and France, and now won $3,000 and the championship, covering the six miles in 39 m. 28 3/4 s., the Wards coming in 60 s. behind. In 1870 the champion English four, with Renforth at stroke, met these St. John men at Lachine, Canada, and in a six-mile race beat them by half a minute. In 1871 the Tyne crew, including Renforth and Henry Kelly, again tried the St. John Paris crew on the Kennebecasis river, N. B., but hardly a mile and a quarter was rowed when Renforth, dropping his oar, fell backward into the boat, and shortly afterward died. Congestion of the lungs, caused by over exertion, was the coroner's verdict.
A few days later, at Halifax, his crew, with John Bright as the new man, was beaten by the Biglins of New York, who were third, the other English crew being first and a Halifax boat second. But on Sept. 11, at Saratoga lake, came the greatest international race of all, the course being two miles to line of flag boats and return; the prizes were $2,000, $1,250, and $750. The contestants were the Ward brothers, the Tyne crew, the Biglins, another Tyne crew, the Stevens four from Poughkeepsie, and a crew from Pittsburgh. The Wards won, making time to the turn in 11 m. 20 s., and the four miles in 24 m. 40 s. - St. Petersburg, Paris, Vienna, Pesth, Marseilles, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hamburg, and many other European cities have their regularly organized rowing clubs. Indeed, as a popular amusement, rowing is now nearly universal. - In the matter of training, the course in later years has been uniformly one of improvement. Instead of unnatural sweating, physicking, and living on half-cooked meat and scarcely any vegetables or liquid, the preparation for the race is now much more rational.
A generous supply of vegetables, a fair allowance of liquid, and abundance of fresh meats have been found to work so beneficially, notwithstanding the free perspiration which this diet occasions, that it is surprising that stinting is still so common. The first work is easy, and the approach to the severe is careful and gradual. A bath and a short walk (no running) before breakfast, short, slow pulls before dinner, in which great attention is paid to improving and perfecting the style, and a long, careful row in the afternoon, followed by a vigorous rub-down, soon begin both to toughen the men and bring uniformity in their rowing. Then the fast row over a part, and finally over the whole of the distance, takes the place of the long row, and for the last two weeks before the race these fast rows are taken daily. There have been many variations from this régime. - To row as the term is now understood, one must sit facing opposite the way he wishes to go, and, bracing his feet against the footboard, and grasping his oar or oars firmly, must reach well out, promptly dip his blade in the water, and then vigorously throw the whole weight of his back and all the pushing power of his legs into the stroke, pulling until his hands actually touch his body.
No one rows well who does not do substan-tially all these. The number of strokes per minute will vary in different crews from 39 to 45, and some crews have "spurted" to 47. Dr. J. E. Morgan, after a painstaking and exhaustive inquiry among all the Oxford and Cambridge oarsmen now living, and among the friends of those deceased, reaches a conclusion most favorable to this exercise, the only serious danger being to him who, with abounding pluck and spirit, has not yet sufficient growth or strength to take part in such a race at all. - The lightest forms of modern out-rigged racing boats in the United States, built with a single streak or smooth skin, are called "shells." Those for one oarsman are single shells, for two men each using a pair of sculls double sculls or shells, and for four and six men respectively, four- and six-oared shells.
Fig. 1. - Six-oared Rowing Shell: Elevation.
The covering of the wooden frame, technically known as the skin, is made of pine, cedar, or mahogany, of uniform thickness, from 1/10 to 3/16 in. according to the size of the shell; or the skin may be of layers or even a single sheet of the requisite thickness of manila paper, stretched on a pine model, which is taken out when the paper skin is thoroughly dry. The skin is then made water-proof, is finished with hard varnishes, and must have a frame to support and keep it in shape. Other component parts of the shell are the washboards, decks or " canvas " of thin wood, oiled linen, or silk, the thwarts or seats for oarsmen, stretchers or footboards against which the rowers press their feet, the rudder connecting with the "traveller," which the bow oarsman operates with his feet, and the outrigger. The dimensions are: single shells, 9 1/2 to 15 1/2 in. beam, 28 to 81 ft. length; double shells, 14 to 30 in. beam, 32 to 34 ft. length; four-oared shells, 17 1/4 to 30 in. beam, 40 to 42 ft. length; six-oared shells, 19 to 21 in. beam, 48 or 49 ft. length. For the lightest single sculls the draught is from 3 to 3 1/2 in., weight of boat 30 lbs., oars 6 lbs., rower 125 to 158 lbs.; total weight and displacement, 162 to 194 lbs.
For larger single sculls the total weight may be 168 to 242 lbs., including boat 38 to 40 lbs., and rower 130 to 200 lbs. For double shells, draught 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 in., boat 50 to 90 lbs., oars 12 to 14 lbs., crew 262 to 458 lbs.; total weight, 324 to 562 lbs. For four-oared shell, draught 4 3/4 to 5 1/2 in., boat 94 to 180 lbs., oars 26 to 28 lbs., crew 552 to 800 lbs.; total weight and displacement, 672 to 959 lbs. For six-oared shells, draught 5 to 5 1/2 in., boat 120 to 150 lbs., oars 36 lbs., crew 760 to 880 lbs.; total weight and displacement, 916 to 1,098 lbs. These displacements are in fresh water; in salt water they are reckoned a few pounds more. Eight-oared shells are not yet common in the United States. The cost of the boats, without oars, is: for single shells, $90 to $100; double, $135 to $190; four-oared, $210 to $260; six-oared, $300. - Among the many works on the construction of boats, records of races, training, and modern method of rowing, the following are prominent: "The Principles of Rowing, by an Oarsman" (London, 1846); "Manual of British Rural Sports, by Stonehenge" (London, 1863); "Modern System of Naval Architecture," by John Scott Russell (3 vols., London, 1865); "Book of American Pastimes," by Charles A. Peverelly (New York, 1866); "Training in Theory and Practice," by Archibald Maclaren (London, 1866); "The Arts of Rowing and Training, by Argonaut" (London, 1866); "The Boat, and How to Manage it, by Salacia" (London, 1868); "How to Row," by T. J. Dering-ton (Oxford, 1870); "The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Races," by W. F. Macmichael (Cambridge, 1870); "Yale and Harvard Boat Racing" (New Haven, 1871); "Four Years at Yale, by a Graduate of 1869" (New Haven, 1871); "The Illustrated Oarsman's Manual" (Troy, N. Y., 1872); "University Oars: A Critical Inquiry into After-health," by Dr. J. E. Morgan (London, 1873); and the "Rowing Almanac and Oarsman's Companion" (London, annually since 1861).
Fig. 2. - Six-oared Rowing Shell, showing Seats and Outriggers.