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Rowing 15-112

Rowing 15-112

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Published by John Bartucz

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Published by: John Bartucz on Nov 05, 2011
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15ROWING AT PRINCETON
mimic the Oxford-Cambridge boat race as well as to avoidthe Intercollegiate Regatta in Saratoga. Harvard agreedto withdraw in 1876, and their annual match race began.In the 1840’s, the innovation of iron riggers allowedthe boats to be substantially narrower. In the followingdecade, hull shapes began to change from a keeled cross
section to a lighter, smooth hull with a low prole not un
-like that used today. In the United States, the sliding seat
was rst outtted in a six-oared boat in the 1869 and, soon
afterwards, the swivel oarlock was devised. By the turn of the century, the racing shell looked remarkably similar tothe boats that would be used for the next seven decades
until man-made materials such as plastic, berglass andcarbon ber were introduced in the 1970’s.
The quality of American rowing was, at best, a poor substitute for the established intercollegiate rowing inEngland. Among other things, America was slow to adoptwhat became known as the English Orthodox style. For example, Frank Leslie observed in his Illustrated News- paper on July 25, 1874:
Our rowing undergraduates have learned much sincethe days when Yale and Harvard displayed their pluck and their ignorance of the fundamental principles of rowing on Lake Quinsigamond. In those early daysof American boating, it is safe to say that neither crewreally knew how to row. We used to hear learned dis-cussions as to the relative merits of the Harvard and 
Yale strokes, and chiey because the Harvard men
browned their backs by exposure to the sun, we settled 
in our own minds that they were decidedly the nest 
oarsmen in the world. The defeat of the Harvards onthe Thames [coxed fours before 500,000 spectators in1869!!], and the subsequent defeat of the Atalantas on
the same water, were of innite service to our rowing 
men. The lesson was rather harshly taught that our best College crew could not compete with the worst of 
the two English University crews. At rst we declined 
to recognize the reason, but it was not long before the fact forced itself upon us that there is but one right way to row, and that all deviations from that way are simply bad rowing. Last year Yale had the courage
 nally to adopt what has generally been called the
 English stroke, but which is, in point of fact, nothing more than the only true method of rowing. As a conse-
quence, Yale won the Springeld regatta, though there
were among her rivals more than one crew decidedlythe superiors of the Yale men physically. We may not 
call Yale, as yet, the t rival of Oxford, but there is no
question that the victors on the Connecticut last July
were tter to challenge an English University crew
than were the gallant Harvards when they invited defeat on the Thames. And if the Yale men improveas they should do under the competent teaching of Mr.Cooke, we need not fear to see the crew of ’75 or ’76 challenge the best of the English crews. Moreover,Yale is not the only one of our colleges which has ad-opted the English stroke—or, in other words, learned to row. At Saratoga, she will meet with rivals moredangerous than those whom she defeated last year.The few crews that still cling to the American style of bad rowing will be pretty sure to receive a lesson thisweek which they will heed, and in the regatta of ’75we can safely predict that the English stroke will berowed by every contestant.
(excerpted)
Introduction
(continued)
 
16ROWING AT PRINCETON
VARSITY
1872 CREW
A. Devereux ’72, A.H. Williams ’72, A. Pell ’73. H.B. Burt ’73, A. Marquand ’74, H.W. Guernsey ’72
The First Princeton Crew
 
17ROWING AT PRINCETON
ROWING AT PRINCETON
Yale and Harvard had been rowing for seventeenyears before this sport was introduced into Princeton in1870. Yet as early as May 1870, in the exclusive columnsof the
 Nassau Lit,
we nd a long lament upon the fact that
Princeton had no share in the college sport of rowing.This article may be the individual effort of the distressed
editor to ll his columns, or an attempt to force a sport
on the college, as the
 Princetonian
attempted to force
the revival of rowing in 1891; but probably it was called
forth by a discussion at the time among the students. Theeditor writes:
“Princeton must overcome obstacles, before she can boast of her 
navy. But we feel condent that they are not so formidable in reality
as in appearance. If Bristed’s description of English University life isto be relied upon, the inference is a safe one that Cam bridge, whoserowers are the champions of England, has, in her diminutive Cam, afar less available stream than our Delaware and Raritan Canal. Weare fully persuaded that, could the consent of the company be onceobtained, and especially the favor of the powers that be a reason-
able share of the energy which is now expended in dening Squatter 
Sovereignty, or guarding intact the prerogatives of Junior Oratorship,
would soon set aoat a navy worthy of Princeton, past and present.The exercise itself is a most manly one, and exerts a strong inuence
against dissipation, since it is a matter of experience that boating andspreeing are, physically at least, incompatible. For our own sake, weconfess with regret that it is too late for the class of ‘6o to undertakethe matter. They have let their opportunity go by. But for the sake of the college, we hope that it will not longer suffer delay, and recom-mend the men of ’61 to take it up with Class spirit and enterprise. May prosperity crown their efforts and those of their successors.”
But the aspirations of the editor were not to be real-ized. The momentous crisis of the Civil War threw thequiet ranks of students into confusion. Compositions were
neglected for commissions; the dust gathered on the Latin
textbooks while their owners were polishing swords onthe banks of the Potomac. To be sure, a small number of students remained at college, but it is not surprisingthat they neglected rowing, which has always been an
articial sport at Princeton, for baseball and the quieter 
game of cricket.For ten years rowing, even as a topic of conver sation,seemed to have disappeared. But in January 1870, a suc-cessful effort was made to organize a crew in Princeton.The beginning was indeed modest. One evening eight of the athletes of the college gathered in West College, andwhen their host announced that the motive for the meet-ing was to discuss the possibility of organizing a navy inPrinceton, he was met with a general laugh. Three of the
men withdrew at once in disgust, but ve remained and
decided to make the experiment. Uniting their purses, aswell as their purposes, these men bought from the Yale Navy what was then called two “six-oared gigs:”
“but the name was a misnomer, as the boats were respectable imitationsof Noah’s Ark, and about as appropriate, in which they could learnnothing but a vitiated style, that would require thor ough change beforethe beginners could be formed in the right mould. The history of oneof these boats is a short one. It was launched on the canal and manned by six enthusiastic oarsmen, who, after one hundred yards of the mostridiculous exhibition of rowing, were compelled to swim ashore, the
leaky old craft having lled and gone to the bottom. This accident
 brought down the ridicule of the whole college upon the leaders.“But they were not to be cast down, nor for one instant did theyabandon the undertaking. On the contrary, they persevered all the more,
and the second boat proving to be a little better than the old cofn that
went under, the crew in a short time learned to feather an oar quite well,sit in a boat fairly, and judiciously expend their strength on the stroke.All this time, be it remembered, the students had their athletic games,and in order to make the coveted creditable exhibition in these, theywere obliged to do considerable training in the Gym. The good timethat they had in running and leaping gave them a muscular develop-
ment, which tted them later for a place in the boat.”
This practice led to the organization of the Princeton
College Boating Club, with the following ofcers:
C. W. Kase, ’72, PresidentS. E. Ewing, ’72, Treasurer A. Devereux, ’72, SecretaryH. W. Guernsey, ’72, CaptainMeantime, in the fall of 1870 the Class of ’74 orga-nized a class crew, which their historian calls
“that miserable affair in Fresh Year, of which everyone was captainand in which Bradford pulled stroke and Gordon bow. Gordon was
the worst bow oar you can imagine; he invariably ran into a bank 
every hundred rods, or hit his head on a bridge, and rudely expletived
against both banks and bridges. They would always nd the railroad
READY ALL, ROW
The origins of Princeton rowing during the 19
th
 
century, as told by Frank Presbrey 1879 in his book,
 Athletics at Princeton — A History
, Frank Presbrey Co.,
 New York 1901. His text is exerpted as follows— 
(continued)

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