Canada Pulls Her Weight

ALECK SINCLAIR September 1 1927

Canada Pulls Her Weight

ALECK SINCLAIR September 1 1927

Canada Pulls Her Weight


Canadas oarsmen have defeated this Continents best in all divisions

Prospects for a Canadian triumph at the Olympics were never better

IT IS the sixth of August, 1927. Under a scorching sun, 40,000 people are massed on the banks of the Detroit River at Trenton, Michigan, drawn there by the Fifty-fifth Annual Regatta of the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen, now held tensely by the drama of the greatest moment in the history of singles sculling in America.

The singles sculling championship of North America is called for 4.20. The eyes of the crowd are focussed on the boat houses half a mile up the course— watching for the oarsmen. The United States is down to its last hope—Bob Agnew, of the Undine Barge Club, of Philadelphia, in whose keeping is the senior sculling title. And his foeman is the sensational young Canadian, Joe Wright, Jr.

No wonder the crowd is tense. Wright has met and defeated every other prominent sculler on the continent. On the previous day, at the same distance, one mile and 550 yards, he had met and defeated one of the big three United States scullers, Kenneth Meyers, of the Bachelor Barge Club, of Philadelphia, in a race which was almost a repetition of his historic contest with Dave Collett, of Leanders, at the Royal Henley, where Collett collapsed 200 yards from the finish. Myers collapsed one quarter of a mile away, and left Wright to finish alone, winning the Association singles of the United States, and qualifying him for the senior singles now to take place.

Two hours ago in the quarter mile dash for the North American championships, Joe met and defeated the great Garrett Gilmore, another of the big three; Carlston, of Lincoln Park Boat Club, of Chicago; Vogt, picked by many to win the event, and Thompson of the same dub; Budder and Dinkelcamp, of St. Louis; Myers, of the Bachelor Barge Club, back once again

to try his luck, and his own club mate, Jack Guest, the amazing junior sculler of the Toronto Argonauts, who, at the Canadian Henley, walked off with the Junior and Association singles. Only Agnew is left to dispute with Wright the championship of the North American continent.

The quarter mile dash was one of the most gruelling races at that distance that has ever been seen. Gilmore was at the top of his form, and Myers, smarting under his defeat of the previous day and back for revenge, made a race which called for the last ounce of Joe’s strength and prowess. But he won the event. Agnew has saved himself for the mile and a quarter and is fresh.

Now the men are coming out. Wright takes the water first. Agnew, after putting his beat on the water, sits on the slip until Joe is out some 200 yards. And now happens one of those things by which championships are won and lost. Under all the stress and excitement of the moment, Joe is yet cool and sufficiently observant to notice that his left oarlock is not behaving as it should. Something seems wrong. He turns and comes back to the slip, and there it is found that his left oarlock has become loose. A turn of the nut secures it. He tries it out again and is satisfied. Had this not been attended to, he might have lost his oar in the race and, with it, the championship.

Now both men are on the water rowing down to the starting point. Now they are down to the stake boats. The splash of the water shows they are off. In the first ten powerful strokes, Joe takes the lead and keeps steadily increasing it until, at the half way mark, he is four lengths in the lead and rowing twenty-seven strokes to the minute against Agnew’s thirty. Agnew makes

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spurt after spurt to catch him. Joe responds without increasing his strokes, but merely by putting more weight on his catch. About 200 yards from the finish, lie hits it up to about thirty-two—and wins going away. The senior sculling championship of North America has come back to Canada. At the same time, he adds the last ten points to the Argonaut total score, which brings to Canada the Julius Barnes trophy, emblematic of the all-round rowing championship of America tire first time it has ever left the United States.

Canada Supreme

RANADA, in .1927, stands acknow1 ledged the rowing supremacy of the American continent in practically every class. At the Canadian Henley, held the week previous to the National at Trenton, the Canadian oarsmen took twenty out of twenty-three first, competing against the best clubs and the bt t oarsmen on the American continent. A • Cill wen the

140-pound Juniors and the 140 pound Senior Eights and the A aiden fours. Winnipeg won the 149-pound Senior Fours and the Senior Fours Championship, open to crews of any weight. They came within an ace of winning the Senior Eights, the finish between them and the Wyandotte crew (which won the Hanlan Memorial Cup a year ago, and which came back this year with the same crew(allbut one man) being so close that no one in the stands but the judge knew who had won, nor did either of the crews. One week later, at the National Regatta in the United States, the Wyandotte crew won the championship of North America. Yet the race between the Winnipeg Eight and the Wyandotte was so close that no one could say which of these crews would win were they to meet again. This shows the calibre of the Winnipeg crew of 1927. The Leanders, of of Hamilton, won the 150 pound Junior Eights; Lachine the 150 pound Senior Fours; the Dons of Toronto, the Jui Doubles; St. Catharines, the Na»fy Gig and work boats; Malvern High School, of Toronto, the High School Fours. Argonauts, of Toronto, who won the Canadian Henley with thirty-three points, took the 150-pound Fours with coxswain, the 150 pound Special and the Junior Eights the latter, with a junior crew which one week later won the Intermediate Eights at the United States National Regatta at Trenton. The Junior and Association singles went to Jack Guest, of the Argonauts, while Joe Wright took the quarter mile and the Senior Singles. A United States crew took the Senior Eights, won by the Wyandottes, the present holders of the Hanlan Memorial Cup. Buffalo took the Junior Fours; Bachelors Barge Club, of Philadelphia, took the Senior Doubles and Detroit the 150 pound Senior Eights.

Our Olympic Chances

THE year 1928 will be an Olympic year—the year when the world’s best athletes gather at the Olympic games and world’s championships are decided. The big rowing events are the singles, the doubles, the fours and the eights. Canada seems to stand an excellent chance of competing on at least equal terms in every one of these events, with perhaps the best chance of any country of winning the singles and the doubles. At the last Olympics, Toronto University got second place in the Senior Eights to the Yale crew, which brought back the only rowing championshipmo come to this side of the Atlantic. r

Canada’s first hope in the 1928 Olympic singles will, of course, be Joe Wright, Jr. To-day, it is acknowledged by practi-

cally every one, he is the fastest amateur oarsman in the world. No one can question his supremacy on the American continent where he holds the following championships:—Canadian Senior Singles won at the Canadian Henley; United States Senior Singles, won at the United States Henley May 30, 1927; National Senior Singles, won at the National Regatta at Trenton on August 6; United States quarter mile dash, rowed on the same date; Canadian quarter mile dash, won at the Canadian Henley, July 30. His historic bid for the Diamond Sculls at the English Henley ranks him as probably the equal at least of any English oarsman. He is only twenty years old, stands six feet two inches in his stockings, and weighs, when trained down to the minute, 182 pounds. His form is considered by experts on this side of the water as natural and perfect. It was criticized by English experts prior to the Diamond Sculls, but not after that. He should be stronger and more experienced next year, and should show even greater speed. He will have a new boat, presented by the City of Toronto, which will be specially built for him by Sims, considered the greatest boat builder in the world. He will pay no attention to hockey or football as in previous years. He will be coached and trained, with the 1928 Olympics in view, by his father, Joe Wright, Sr., one of the greatest oarsmen ever produced in America and universally recognized as one of the greatest coaches on this continent. He will be on the water every day until the cold weather drives him off, after which he will continue his training on the rowing machines. Everything will be in his favor—youth, condition, confidence strength, the best of boating and coaching. He should win for Canada in 1928.

In the doubles, Wright will be paired with one of the most remarkable young scullers ever produced in Canada, Jack Guest, of theArgonauts. Here is another young giant, almost Joe’s double in physical proportions and age. He is twenty years of age, six feet two inches high and weighs 176 pounds in his shell. His rowing career this year has been remarkable. He first showed his calibre at the Dominion Day Regatta at Toronto, where he won the Junior race. At Ottawa on the following day he won the Open Singles. At the Canadian Henley he won the Junior Singles, and on the following day he won his Association Singles defeating such well-known United States oarsmen as McGriel, of the Bachelors Barge Club of Philadelphia, and Wehmeyer of Detroit Boat Club, a former winner of Intermediate Singles in the United States Brett, of St. Catharines, last yearj Junior Champioi^uHpking his first pearance at the^lltional Regal Trenton in the SeniorQjdásh, in a field of nin^Fffie lastest féUa^vs on the continent,finished in fourth position, so close to Myers of the Bachelors Barge Club that the judges had difficulty in deciding which had won the place. At that, he was only two boat-lengths behind Joe Wright, who won the event in world’s record time, and was coming at a terrific rate at the finish. Guest, paired with Wright, will make a boat that for weight, size, strength, youth, style and speed, should be unbeatable. They should bring back the Olympic Doubles Sculling Championship to Canada. It is hard to imagine where a crew can be produced to beat this pair.

Winnipeg Looks Good

AT THE time this article is written, the Tk Winnipeg Senior Eight has the call as Canada’s best chance to win this Olympic event. This crew is undoubtedly one of the two fastest Senior Eights on the continent this year. At the Canadian Henley, they raced the Wyandotte crew to a finish of less than a foot, and, as has been said, no one could say which of these two crews would win were they to meet

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again to-morrow. The Winnipeg crew has been developed and coached by the famous Con Riley, the stroke of the only Canadian four that ever won the Steward’s Cup at the Royal Henley.

Canada’s chances, however, are by no means confined to the Winnipeg crew, as we have such crews as Varsity, Argonauts, Lachine, Ottawa and Leanders, of Hamilton, to consider. Toronto University have wonderful material to draw from in their senior and junior crews. In addition to this, they will probably have a hundred or more strong husky university students from which to build a crew. In Tommy Louden they have a coach with a wealth of experience, dating back from the time when he was coxswain in the famous Argonaut Eight stroked by Joe Wright, Sr., which still holds the world’s record made at Baltimore in 1907. He has available in his senior crews some of the men who rowed with such brilliant results at the last Olympic, while the Junior Varsity Eight is one of the heaviest and strongest junior crews I have ever seen in a boat. With the facilities they have and the time which university students have for training he should produce a crew whose chances cannot be overlooked.

Argonauts are out to develop the crew that will represent Canada attheOlympic. Coach Joe Wright has already started his plans. All this fall and winter he will be working with his men and making his selections. He has a crew working now. He will have them on the water until the cold weather prevents, after that he will have them on the machines all winter. There are a lot of oarsmen in the Argonaut who are going to break their necks to make this senior eight. So he will have a wealth of material from which to choose. Some of the seniors of last year’s crew who did not come out this year will be fighting for their seats. The Argonauts will have the advantage of Joe Wright’s great coaching experience, including eleven years at the University of Pennsylvania, where he compiled the greatest winning record of any college coach in America, winning over such crews as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Princeton, Columbia and the Navy. With such coaching experience, we must count the Argonauts as another crew to be considered as the Canadian Olympic prospect.

McGill’s New Style

McGILL came up to the Canadian Henley this year for the first time, practically unknown to the rowing world, and though they sent up only light crews, these crews met the best on the American continent and won with ease. They showed a new style of rowing developed by Molmons, the Belgian coach, who sat in three Belgian crews that won the Grand Challenge Cup at the Royal Henley, a feat never accomplished before or since by any foreign country. Their style is distinguished by a perfection of balance and swing altogether unusual. At the Canadian Henley, in traveling down to the start they used a very slow stroke between their finish and catch

which was really remarkable. I timed them fourteen spends between strokes. Just what th^means may, perhaps, be explained Ln^this manner. One man balancingJfimself with spiked shoes on a twenty-four inch log going down a river wj^considered to be performing a considerable feat. Now a shell is about the same diameter as this, just as round on the bottom, and tapering off on both ends. Imagine, if you can, nine men, eight of them rowing, the ninth the coxswain, in such a capsizable craft, all in motion as they swing forward for the catch with their oars out of the water. So long as their oars are on the water they have, in effect, a set of outriggers to support them, but during the forward swing it is a matter of perfect balance. Think of holding this for a space of fourteen seconds on an even keel, and you have some idea of what it means. Such balance in keeping the boat on an even keel has everything to do with its speed in going through the water.

It calls for an extraordinary degree of watermanship. I attribute no small j degree of McGill’s success to this one feature of their technique. If McGill can boat a heavier crew, we will probably have a fourth Canadian crew to consider as an Olympic prospect. »

Bob Hunter, ex-Varsity senior oarsman, ! in his first year of coaching the Leanders, ¡ of Hamilton, developed a 150-pound eight which won the Junior Championship at the Canadian Henley. There is no reason why the Leanders should not bring out a heavyweight crew of the highest i calibre. Lachine have always brought out good crews in the past. In 1926 they won the Intermediate Eight at the National Regatta of the United States. They have always been strong contenders in the Senior Eights in years previous to the war. Coached by Len Johnston, one of the most enthusiastic and able coaches in the East, they may surprise all at the Olympic trials. Ottawa have been there, too, in years past, with Senior Championships of the North American Continent. Ottawa is a rowing city. There is a wealth of material there, and, under the guidance of Jim McCuaig, a member of the famous Ottawa crew which rowed at the Royal Henley and won the National Senior Championship at Washington, the capital city is also likely to produce a senior crew of ability. Thus we have seven senior eight Olympic prospects, Winnipeg, Argonauts, University of Toronto, McGill, Leanders, Lachine and Ottawa, from which should emerge a Canadian Senior Olympic Eight that will meet on an equal footing any crew in the world. And from the same crews there may well be developed a Senior Four with chances equally good.

Of all sports, none demands more from a man than rowing. It first calls for great sacrifice. The period of training is longer and, perhaps, more arduous than in any other sport. The oarsman has to be almost physically perfect. It calls for co-operation and co-ordination between men. It calls for infinite patience. The crew is just as strong as its weakest member. During the race, it calls for all that is in a man. There is no let up, such as in other sports where a man can take a breather and get

his win. It is one continuous grind from start to finish. From the three-quartersof-a-mile point to the finish of a big race there is no event on the athletic calendar in which a man will punish himself so much. When your legs start to go dead, your throat drys up, and spots begin to come in front of your eyes, it calls for the last degree of stamina to stick at it. Supremacy in the rowing world may well indicate the calibre of a nation’s youth.

In Canada we have a population of little over 9,000,000. In the sport of rowing we compete with the rest of the world on even terms. We have stood in years past, and stand again in 1927, supreme in rowing on the American continent, no mean feat in competition with the athletic

nation to the south of us, with a population of nearly 120,000,000. And in the struggle for world’s supremacy at the 1928 Olympics, it looks as though Canada may stand a very good chance to repeat in that world competition her successes of 1927 on the American continent.

Aleck Sinclair, the author of this article, is one of the best-known athletic authorities in Canada to-day. He himself is famous as an oarsman, having rowed in the championship Argonaut crews of 1909-10-11-12-131-4 and 1919-20 both in the senior eights and fours which won the North American Championships in successive years. He also rowed at the Royal Henley and at the Olympics at Stockholm.—The Editor.

The Editor