From humble beginnings
Our little sport goes a long way back. Forgetting the ancient greek and romans slogging it across oceans, the first ‘modern’ rowing races were still raced three centuries ago. As far back as 1715 ferry and taxi boat rowers competed for wager races offered by the London Guilds and LIvery Companies or wealthy owners of riverside houses.
Ox-bridge – a tradition is born
In 1829 two former schoolfriends studying at Oxford and Cambridge started the Oxford and Cambridge race with the first challenge letter reading:
“The University of Cambridge hereby challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London each in an eight-oar boat during the Easter vacation. W Snow, St John’s College.”
It’s a star studded sport
A few ‘celebrities’ have picked up an oar in their time including: Anderson Cooper (Yale), Stephen Hawking (Oxford), Edward Norton (Yale), Gregory Peck (Cal Berkeley), Teddy Roosevelt (Harvard), Bradley Cooper (Georgetown) and Hugh Laurie (Cambridge).
Ducks cross here
At the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam Henry Pearce won gold in the single sculls while stopping to allowin a family of ducks to cross his lane.
One lucky lad
We’ve all had a cox who loved a big breaky – but the 1900 Holland’s coxed pair cox should’ve skipped a few weetbix – being too heavy to race the final. Without many other options, the pair convinced a 12-year-old local boy to step in. Amazingly, they went on to win gold.
Maybe a little elitist
In 1919 an American (JB Kelly) wasn’t allowed to compete because he was once a bricklayer and manual labourers were barred from racing. Kelly had the last laugh though, going on to win two gold medals at the next year’s Antwerp Olympics.