Pulling Together, Salish Sea, Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat is a story about the University of Washington’s rowing team in the 1930s and is the name of the movie directed by George Clooney135. The team consisted of nine working-class young men who achieved great success in the rowing world and represented the United States at the 1936 Berlin Olympics12. The History of the Coast Salish People is a fascinating contribution to that continuing story that is not discussed in the film but is fundamental to the story nonetheless. Coast Salish canoe construction and racing have a rich history that predates the development of modern rowing shells.

By way of background, Hiram Conibear was a highly influential figure in the world of rowing, particularly known for revolutionizing the rowing stroke. He advocated using leg muscles more than arm mussels to pull the boat through the water in longer strokes than otherwise possible. He was born in 1871 in Illinois, United States. Conibear’s experimentation with the rowing stroke led him to be known as the father of rowing at the University of Washington (UW) and revolutionized college rowing1.

Rowing has been a sport at the University of Washington (UW) since 1899. Unlike teams at elite colleges on the East Coast, many of the early and mid-20th-century rowers here came from working-class backgrounds. In the first half of the 20th century, UW men’s crew dominated at championship events.

UW’s new coach Hiram Conibear arrived at UW in 1907 and transformed rowing at the school and in Seattle. The Pocock brothers with their innovative lightweight shells continued the transformation. Men’s and women’s crew continued to grow in the 1910s, but over the next decades, two world wars would impact life in general and the rowing program along with it.

The women’s team, championed by Coach Conibear and the women rowers themselves, ceased at the beginning of the First World War, and remained dormant for another fifty years.

Seattle Museum of History and Industry (MOHI)
Rowing to War – Lest we Forget

The first documented Coast Salish Canoe Race took place in New Westminster in 1865, held in celebration of the Queen’s Birthday3. The Coast Salish people have a rich tradition of canoe racing, with the sport existing before colonization but becoming formalized in the late 19th century as entertainment for white spectators1.

A canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, while a shell refers to a narrow, long, and often fragile boat used in competitive rowing. Canoes are usually propelled by paddlers using single- or double-bladed paddles, while shells are propelled by rowers using oars. Both canoes and shells are “pulled,” or propelled, through the water, but the techniques and equipment used are different.


Law outlawing Potlatches is in-acted in the Pacific Northwest. Tribes use cedar canoe racing as a substitute for Potlatches to continue group gatherings. Settlers take interest in these races.

Cal Athletics


The University of Washington (UW) men’s crew rows in its first intercollegiate race against the University of California, Berkeley, and wins.


Women’s crew gets an early start at UW.


UW is the only public university in the nation with a consistent women’s rowing program.


UW hires Hiram Conibear as a football and track trainer and convinces him to assume the role of rowing coach with no prior experience.


In 1910, the Pocock brothers win rowing races on the Thames River in England. In 1911, the prize money funds the brothers’ move to Vancouver, BC, where they build racing shells.


Coach Conibear convinces George and Dick Pocock to move to Seattle and build rowing shells for UW.


Lucy Pocock-their sister—wins the first Ladies Sculling Championship on the Thames Rover

Coxswain Minnie Dalley, a member of the UW Class of 1912, received this patch after winning the 1910 Junior Day Competition. Despite the university canceling women’s rowing in late 1910, these resilient competitors organized their own teams to continue the sport.


Conibear hires Lucy Pocock to coach UW women’s crew.

UW men compete for the first time at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championship in New York and shocks the crowd by finishing third.


The U.S. joins World War I and UW rowing has its own setbacks. Hiram Conibear dies unexpectedly. The shell building business slowed during World War I . The Pococks began making floatplane pontoons for Bill Boeing’s new airplane company.

Women’s crew at UW is canceled and won’t return till the 1960s.


The UW men’s crew moves into a vacated Navy hangar on the new Montlake Cut.


Dick Pocock leaves Seattle for Yale.

The new UW coach, Rusty Callow, convinces George Pocock to return to building racing shells.


In 1923, UW men’s crew win their first IRA Varsity Eight National Championship. They are the first West Coast team to win the IRA. They are national champions again in 1924 and 1926.


Al Ulbrickson, a former UW rower and the freshman team coach, becomes head coach at age 24.


UW sweeps—or wins all the events in a series-the IRA National Championship, a first by any university in collegiate rowing history



The UW Junior Varsity Eight —The Boys in the Boat win gold at the Berlin Olympics.

NBC Sports correspondent Mary Carillo’s documentary tells the story of the unlikely crew from Seattle that not only represented the United States at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but brought home the gold medal, defeating the German team at a time when Hitler was using the Olympics as a propaganda tool.

The story of the 1936 University of Washington men’s rowing team, also known as “The Boys in the Boat,” is a tale of perseverance, teamwork, and triumph. The team’s journey began in the 1936 regular season when the junior varsity eight established themselves as one of Washington’s all-time great crews1. They went on to soundly beat the University of California in the Pacific Coast Regatta and then traveled to Poughkeepsie for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship Regatta, where they came from behind to claim the title, defeating Cal and several elite East Coast schools14. The film tells this story


After winning the national championship, the team faced a challenge in securing their Olympic berth.

Fundraising Tickets, 1926 and 1927 Fundraising Pins, 1927 and 1930 Fundraising tickets and pins were sold in the, community to support sending UW crews to events

The U.S. Olympic Committee could not afford to pay for the team’s trip to Germany, so the UW crew had to raise $5,000 (over $100,000 in today’s dollars) in a week or else the opportunity would be lost3. They managed to raise the funds and represent the United States at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In the film, Cal provides $300 of that funding even though as second place they would have gone otherwise.

The 1936 University of Washington crew that won the gold medal at the Berlin Olympic Games. Left to right: Donald Hume, Joe Rantz, George Hunt, Jim McMillin, Johnny White, Gordon Adam, Charles Day and Roger Morris. Coxswain Bobby Moch is kneeling. / University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, UW2234.

Joe Rantz, pictured above second to the left, spent much of his youth in Sequim, where he sawed a lot of wood using a motion similar to rowing. In the film he mentions repairing a canoe, which is the only reference to indigenous culture in the movie. Canoes of the Pacific Northwest were made of Western Cedar instead of the Spanish Cedar, preferred prior to Pocock, The adaptation of canoe western cedar wood in shell building is a major reason Pocock shells were faster than competitors.

After his mother died and his father remarried, Joe Rantz lived with an uncle in Seattle, who taught at Roosevelt high school. He went to school at Roosevelt, did well and was encouraged to apply to college. In the film it is implied that Joe Rantz was without family at the age of 14. In the book, his stepmother orchestrated his emancipation owing to financial difficulties during the depression and his family sold peanuts on the banks of the Mountlake Cut during rowing events. There are several scenes related to the depression in the film (shanties, hobo references, shoes etc.) Joe Rants went on to row with the University of Washington team, which took the gold at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Lake Union Park October 8 2023

At the Olympics, the UW crew faced tough competition from the hosts, Germany, who dominated the rowing events and won five of the seven gold medals6. In the final race of the men’s eights, the UW team, known for their slow starts and strong finishes, outsprinted the competition to an exceedingly close finish, with only one second separating the top three finishers at the end of a six-and-a-half-minute race6. In the film, the director shows how and why the USA rowed in protest. They were given the outside lane furthest from officials signaling the start, where the wind blew hardest.

The UW crew emerged as the winners, securing the gold medal and etching their names in Olympic history.

After their Olympic victory, the team went on to win a second consecutive national championship in 193714.

Many of the UW rowers graduated and went on to support the war effort, working on warplanes at Boeing and filling roles such as naval doctor, Seabee, and merchant marine14.

After the war, they would sometimes reunite and row together on Lake Washington, reminiscing about their days of glory in the Husky Clipper, the Pocock-built shell they had propelled to gold years before14.

Clooney ends his film with the notion that nine men in a boat have to be one, a part of the vessel without individuals. That ending is better than reminiscing (which is how I thought it would end) because the viewer recognizes that the story is never ending. The story of the 1936 University of Washington men’s rowing team continues to inspire and captivate people around the world, showcasing the power of trust, teamwork, and perseverance12. What follows below is some of that continuing story.


Swinomish Tribal leader Tandy Wilbur plans a race between Swinomish Tribal members and the UW crew—a national champion team still considered one of the best in Washington rowing history.

Cal Athletics


With the IRA championships still canceled due to WWIl, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce sponsors a race against the University of California, Berkeley. It is the largest spectator event in Seattle history.


Green Lake Junior Crew is established. Coach Ulbrickson loans them several UW shells.

Former UW oarsmen Chuck Moriarty and Frank Cunningham coach the team.


UW Junior Varsity rowers, with George Pocock as coach, qualify for the London Olympics and win gold in the Coxed Four event.


The Conibear Shellhouse at the University of Washington is named in honor of Hiram Conibear. The shellhouse, constructed in 1949, has served as the primary home for Washington Rowing. It sits on the shores of Lake Washington and is a historic site where many rowing legends have trained and competed23.


Lake Washington Rowing Club members Dan Ayrault, John Sayre, Ted Nash, and Rusty Wailes win gold in the Coxless Four event at the Rome Olympics.


Dick Erickson becomes UW men’s coach. UW men’s teams win the West Coast Championship.


Women’s crew forms a varsity club team and rows out of the old Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) Shell House.


Top Soviet Union teams race the UW Huskies at the inaugural Windermere Cup.


Bob Ernst becomes head coach of the UW women’s program. The team wins their first Women’s Varsity National Championship.


Three UW alumni win gold in the Women’s Eight at the Los Angeles Olympics. They are coached by UW’s Bob Ernst.

UW men’s and women’s teams win Varsity Eight National Collegiate Rowing Championships.

The George Pocock Rowing Foundation is founded by a community of passionate Seattle rowers.


UW Women’s Varsity Eight wins the National Collegiate Rowing Championship for the fith consecutive year.


Bill Tytus takes over Pocock Racing Shells company from Stan Pocock.


The Head of the Charles Regatta is the world’s largest rowing competition, held every October in Boston. Many top Seattle rowers have competed and medaled in this celebrated race.

Ed Ives won this third-place medal in 1986, two years after claiming his silver Olympic medal.


UW women’s crew sweeps the Women’s Collegiate Rowing National Championships for the first time in history by any team.


The first of many Canoe Journeys begins.

Seventeen Tribes join organizer Emmett Oliver for the Paddle to Seattle from La Push, stopping at Tribal reservations along the way.


UW Men’s Eight teams sweep the IRAs for the fifth time.

UW women’s teams win the inaugural NCAA Varsity Eight race and first NCAA women’s championship.

1998— 2001

1998 and 200l UW women’s teams win the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships.

The 2000 Women’s Varsity Eight wins the inaugural Henley Prize for elite (international) level eights.


UW men’s crew is IRA Varsity Eight and Team National Champions, the second five-event sweep in IRA history.


Yasmin Farooq becomes the head UW women’s rowing coach in 2016 and leads the team to a sweep of the 2017 NCAA Championships, a historic first.


UW women’s crew sweeps the NCAA Championships for an unprecedented second time.


UW men sweep the IRA, becoming the tenth team in UW men’s rowing history to sweep the Eight events at the National Championships-seven more than any other university rowing program.


In the 2023 IRA National Championship, the University of Washington (UW) finished second, while the University of California, Berkeley (Cal) swept the heavyweight events to win the championship. Cal’s victory marked their second consecutive IRA national championship and 19th overall123.

Feb 24 2018 splash of Swiftsure xVIII Pocock 8 oarperson shell. Today’s eights are between 205 and 211 lbs and are 62 feet long. In the 30s a Pocock 8 would weigh 300 lbs and would not extend beyond 60 feet.

The Huskies rowed the fastest final 500 meters in the field to cut the Bears’ lead, but Cal held on for the win by about half a length3. Additionally, Cal’s varsity four won the Eric Will Trophy for the fifth time in program history4. Princeton won the men’s and women’s lightweight eights titles, and Williams won both Div. III eights15.

The boys in the boat today include girls and are any current or former UW rowers2.

Rowing is part of the fabric and identity of Seattle and the Puget Sound region. One reason for the sport’s success here is the temperate climate, which makes rowing possible all year round. Another reason is the geography— there’s water everywhere! Rowing, or crew, is the oldest collegiate sport in the US, established in the 1800s at universities on the East Coast, including Harvard and Yale. It unofficially arrived in Seattle in 1893, when Yale University graduate William Goodwin shipped a four-oared shell to Seattle. Crew races soon became some of the most well-attended sporting events in Washington history as rowers from the region grew into a force to be reckoned with.
The UW crew and Swinomish Tribe show off their boats at the Great Race. In 1941, Swinomish Tribal elder Tandy Wilbur planned a race against the UW crew. The Swinomish would paddle their traditional cedar dugout canoes, while UW would row their Pocock shell. Though no one recalls who won, the race was a way to improve Tribal and settler relations.
MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, P123853

This is going to sound like blasphemy, especially after the Seahawks strutted off with an ESPY award last week for Best Team in America for 2013. But the most compelling victory by a team in state history was not Seattle’s 43-8 clobbering of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, or the SuperSonics’  triumph over the Washington Bullets in 1979 for the city’s only NBA Championship.

Thrilling as were those wins (more than a million people combined to salute the teams in massive civic parades 35 years apart), they pale in comparison to the triumph by the University of Washington’s eight-oared crew 78 years ago, on Aug. 14, 1936, at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. Before you demand that men with butterfly nets hunt us down, read “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown (Viking).

Daniel James Brown’s 2013 book “The Boys in the Boat” spent 18 weeks atop The New York Times bestseller list.

This book – no, this sporting treasure – perched atop The New York Times bestseller list for 18 weeks and The Los Angeles Times bestseller list for many more. “The Boys in the Boat” is not only the best book ever written about any Washington-based athletic team, it’s a story so riveting and inspiring that it ought to be a movie. In fact, a screenplay, according to danieljamesbrown.com, is in the works for what one reviewer described as “Chariots of Fire with oars.”

“The Boys in the Boat” is better than “Chariots of Fire.” It even trumps a similar period piece and a personal favorite, “Seabiscuit: An American Legend.” Don’t wait for the movie. Just as the film adaptation of “Seabiscuit” couldn’t do justice to Laura Hillenbrand’s remarkable 2001 New York Times bestseller, no movie will adequately transfer Brown’s wonderful epic to the screen. It is simply too rife with history, personality, pathos and heart tugs.

Bow to the “Boys in the Boat”

The Boys in the Boat movie, directed by George Clooney, was released in the United States on December 25, 2023, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer5. The film stars Callum Turner and Joel Edgerton5.

Filming began in March 2022,[12] and was due to take place at Winnersh Film Studios in Berkshire, as well as in Los Angeles and Berlin, nowhere near the still standing original shell house on the University of Washington campus.[13] The 1936 Summer Olympics and scenes around the University of Washington boathouse were filmed on the Cleveland Lakes near Swindon (UK), with additional scenes filmed at Molesey Boat Club.[14][15] Members of various boat clubs in the area, such as, St Hugh’s Boat Club and Oriel College Boat Club from the University of Oxford, were recruited as rowers for various national teams in the Olympics.

The Boys in the Boat (film)

The University of Washington was involved in the production of the film, and it is expected to have a lasting impact on the campus. The university recently embarked on a $13 million fundraising campaign to restore and preserve the 10-acre Conibear Shellhouse, where the rowing team trains6. They provided blueprints of the Shellhouse which may have been used by producers in preparing film sets. While another location stood in for the 1930’s Pacific Northwest, we may see Suzzallo Library, our iconic waterways, and the historic ASUW Shell House on the big screen thanks to modern visual effects.

In addition to the film, there is a documentary called “The Boys of ’36,” which is also based on the book and provides additional insights not found in the original text3. The documentary brings the book to life, showcasing the beauty of rowing and providing a deeper understanding of the team’s journey3.

German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl recorded the eight-oar race in which the UW team won the Olympic gold medal. It begins at about 1:10 of this video, following the four-oar competition.

What were the names of the Pocock eight man shells that the 1936 Boys in the boat rowed? Which one did they take to Germany?

The Husky Clipper, above lunch tables at the UW Conabear Boat house June 11, 2015. This boat was operated for many years by Pacific Lutheran University’s (PLU) rowing program. Note the scrap wood foot holds. Pocock later installed clogs (curved metal base for heals.) Today laced shoes prevent rowers from being ejected from the vessel by way of catching a crab.

The 1936 University of Washington men’s rowing team, the first to be known as “The Boys in the Boat,” rowed in a Pocock eight-man shell. The specific name of the shell they used was the “Husky Clipper,” which was designed and built by the legendary boat builder George Pocock4. The Husky Clipper is a 60 foot cedar racing shell, and it played a crucial role in the team’s success2.

The 1936 Olympics

On August 14, 1936, the team from the University of Washington put their rowing shells into the water of the Olympic Grünau Regatta course, just outside of Berin, Germany. The UW rowers astounded the spectators and the millions listening on their radios as they came from behind to win the gold.

The 1936 Olympic Games were awarded to Germany before the Nazis came to power, but became a showcase for Nazi propaganda. The American win in this event embarrassed Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, and cemented the legend and legacy of rowing in Seattle. It was an American triumph that a crew of working-class boys from the Pacific Northwest and a coxswain who was Jewish bested the world and Nazi Germany.

Museum of Industry and History (MOHI)
Husky Challenger, a 1950s Pocock eight man shell that is still floating today. This “artifact” was on display at the Museum Of History and Industry (MOHI) on lake Union in December of 2023 in a tribute to Boys in the Boat and the Pocock Company.

George Pocock was a British boatbuilder who played a significant role in the success of the University of Washington’s rowing team. He built the world’s best shells, which were in high demand at every university rowing program in the country4. Pocock’s skill as a boat maker was rivaled by his deep love and philosophical commitment to rowing. He believed that rowing made a person more of themselves, shaping a lifelong mix of strength and discipline that would form the foundation of a successful life4.

GEORGE POCOCK 1891 – 1976

George Pocock was internationally famous for designing and handcrafting the best and swiftest racing shells in the world of crew racing1. His shells were coveted by colleges and rowing clubs around the world, and he played a significant role in the success of the University of Washington’s rowing program13. Pocock’s innovative use of western red cedar for the outer skin of the shells and his attention to detail in the construction process contributed to the speed and efficiency of his boats3. (Washboard made from yellow cedar, struts from ash)

It’s a great art, is rowing. It’s the finest art there is. It’s a symphony of motion. And when you’re rowing well
– Why its nearing perfection And when you reach perfection You’re touching the divine. It touches the you of you’s Which is your soul. George Pocock


shell at east end of Montlake Cut Opening Day 2002

Rowing looks gentle, like sailing, but there is a certain violence and a definite acceleration involved at the start of a race. The shells are tippy vessels with the lowest of freeboard and yet on any morning that a pleasure boat might make way through the cut, they will. Stability is gained by balance. The balance of the extended oars and attention to the details of catching, driving, feathering and recovery.

Stability Gained By Balance

Pocock Racing Shells, founded in 1911, is the oldest rowing shell manufacturer in the world2. The company was established in Seattle, Washington, by George Pocock and his brother, Dick, who had arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, with $20 and a dream of building fine racing boats1. The roots of the company can be traced back to the 1800s in England, where George’s father was the head boat builder for Eton College at Windsor14.

Lucy Pocock races on the Thames in England in 1912.
River & Rowing Museum

Rowing in America was changed with the arrival of the Pococks —George, Richard (Dick), and Lucy. In 1910, the Pocock brothers won important rowing races, which helped them relocate to Vancouver, BC, where they began building racing shells.

In 1912, UW rowing coach Hiram Conibear invited the brothers to Seattle to build shells for UW. That same year, Lucy Pocock won the first-ever Ladies Sculling Championship. She then joined her brothers in Seattle as coach of UW women’s rowing.

At the height of the First World War in 1917, Dick and George went to work for the Boeing Airplane Company.

The Museum of Flight displays a First World War Boeing plane with Pocock floats.

After the war, Dick left Seattle to build boats for Yale University and George returned to UW. UW rowing took over the vacated Navy seaplane hangar on Union Bay in Lake Washington at war’s end.


It became the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) Shell House, and its loft became George’s workshop. George made race-winning shells and was boatman to U.S. Olympic Rowing Teams in 1936, 1948, 1952, and 1956. His son Stan Pocock followed in his footsteps. Stan was a UW rower, coach of the 1952, 1956, and 1960 USA Olympic rowing teams, and built new, innovative Pocock racing shells.

The Pocock family’s legacy lives on to this day. Their company continues to build racing shells in Everett, Washington, and a popular rowing club on Lake Union bears their name.

George Pocock, a skilled boat builder and former single shell racer on the Thames River, quickly gained a reputation for building high-quality racing shells at an affordable price1. In 1927, he revolutionized American shell craftsmanship by using native Western red cedar instead of the expensive, imported Spanish cedar, inspired by the qualities of the wood found in the Puget Sound region3. Pocock’s red cedar shells were light, buoyant, and durable, with friction-free bottoms, making them ideal for racing3. Western red cedar had a wide variety of qualities that made it perfect for racing shells, including its low density, which made it easy to shape, and its tight grain, which made it strong and flexible2. However, cedar dust is a known carcinogen so care must be taken when working with it.

Pocock Single Rowing Shell, around 1950. For decades, George Pocock built racing shells for UW and many other winning crews. During the 1950s, Pocock’s reputation grew and many deemed his the best shells in the world. His workshop on the Montlake Cut produced boats ranging from 20-foot single-scull shells like this one to 60-foot eight-person shells like the Husky Challenger also on display. Shell building business slowed during World War I and Pocock began making floatplane pontoons for Bill Boeing’s new airplane company. He helped build the B-I, which hangs here in MOHI’s atrium.

Husky Challenger Rowing Shell, 1956
The Challenger was built by George and Stan Pocock in 1956 for the UW crew. It is practically identical to the Husky Clipper, the boat built by George Pocock that won in the 1936 Olympics. The Challenger was built specifically to stay in New York for UW’s races. During this time, crews began to fly to the East Coast rather than take the train with their boats. Later, the Challenger returned to Washington and was used by UW’s freshman rowers. In 2011 it was restored by the “Tuf as Nails” master’s women’s rowing team which currently rows it out of Port Townsend.
Loan from the Norchwest Maritime Center UW women’s crew, 1909 Dave Elonad Cales

Over the years, Pocock Racing Shells continued to innovate, incorporating new materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber into their designs3.

These shell parts were designed and patented by George Pocock. Oarlocks keep the paddles in the rigging. Tillers are used by the coxswain to steer the shell. The tools were used by Pocock in his workshop.

Pocock made everything for his boats including oars. Todays different oars

  1. Oar Shapes: Oars come in various shapes, including traditional, tulip, and hatchet. Traditional oars have a long, narrow blade, while tulip and hatchet oars have wider and squarer blades. Tulip oars are wider at the tip, resembling a tulip flower, while hatchet oars have a broader blade that is more rectangular in shape.
  2. Risks of Injuries: The choice of oar shape can impact the risk of injuries for rowers. For example, the broader blades of tulip and hatchet oars may increase the risk of rib injuries due to the larger surface area coming into contact with the body during the rowing stroke. On the other hand, the increased surface area of tulip oars may also pose a higher risk of back injuries, particularly if rowers do not maintain proper form during the rowing stroke.
  3. Prevention: Coaching and proper training are essential for preventing injuries associated with different oar shapes. Rowers need to be educated on the appropriate technique for using each oar type to minimize the risk of strain or injury. Additionally, strength and conditioning programs can help mitigate the specific injury risks associated with different oar shapes.

It’s important to note that while the choice of oar shape can influence the risk of certain injuries, proper technique, training, and conditioning are critical factors in preventing rowing-related injuries regardless of the oar type used.

The benefits of using different types of oars in rowing include:

  1. Efficiency: Oars with specific blade shapes, such as spoon blades, can offer increased efficiency, particularly for certain boat hull configurations. For example, spoon blade oars are approximately 20% more efficient than flat blade oars, making them suitable for boats with rounded bottoms and fine entries3.
  2. Injury Prevention: The design of oars can influence the risk of injuries. For instance, the shape of sculling oars can impact the likelihood of blades catching the water on the return stroke, which is a consideration for injury prevention and efficient rowing4.
  3. Flexibility and Adaptability: Different oar shapes and materials offer rowers flexibility and adaptability to various rowing conditions and personal preferences. For example, sculling oars made from lightweight, strong woods such as spruce provide a balance of strength and weight, while advanced manufacturing techniques allow for the construction of two-part oars, offering convenience on and off the water4.
  4. Customization: The variety of oar types available allows rowers to customize their equipment to suit their specific needs, whether for competitive rowing, recreational rowing, or specific boat hull configurations3.
  5. Risk Mitigation: Some oar designs are intended to mitigate specific risks, such as injury prevention through the use of different collar shapes and materials5.
UW Woman’s and past Olympics coach discusses injuries related to switching to meat cleaver oars at the 2024 Seattle Boat Show. She also discussed the 5 Star weather ratings (5 is bad) and most dangerous to rowers concrete wall at gas’s works park on Lake Union.

In summary, the benefits of using different types of oars in rowing include increased efficiency, injury prevention, flexibility and adaptability, customization, and risk mitigation. The choice of oar type should be based on the specific needs and preferences of the rower, as well as the intended use and rowing conditions.

Pocock believed the rings on a tree told the story of struggle and easy years of fast growth that a young athlete would encounter in learning to row one of his boats.

Following the 1936 Games, UW crew would continue to send current and former students and head coaches to the Summer Olympics. The ensuing decades would also witness the establishment of local crew clubs to grow the sport beyond the University and encourage the community to participate. In the 1960s, rowing, once the most popular sport in America, experienced a shrinking audience despite UW’s success. However, in 1968, there was a rebirth of women’s rowing at UW.

UW women began to dominate in the 1980s, and men’s crew saw a series of ups and downs. The 2000s would see sweeps (winning all races in a regatta), and record-setting wins by both the men’s and women’s teams. Today, the women’s team is coached by Yasmin Farooq, and the men’s by Michael Callahan.

In 1961, George’s son Stan built the company’s first fiberglass rowing boat, called a wherry3. Today, most standard shells are built from reinforced plastics or carbon fiber, although the wooden shells of George Pocock’s time are still cherished classics3.

ROWING A RACE IS AN ART NOT A FRANTIC SCRAMBLE IT MAST BE rowed with head power as well as MUSCULAR power. FROM THE FIRST Stroke all thoughts of the other crew must be blocked out. Your thoughts must be directed to you and your own boat, always positive, never negative. Row your optimum power every stroke, try to increase the optimum. MeN aS fit As you, WHeN YouR EveRy day strength IS GONE CAN DRAW STRENETH on A
MYSTERIoUS RESERVIOR POWER FAR GREATER.. Then it is you can REacH foR The stARS. THAT IS THE way CHAmPIONs ARE mAde. That is the legacy rowing can leave you. Don’t. Miss it. Good Luck – George Pocock
recited in 2018 for splash of eight man shell Swiftsure III.

The Pocock company’s legacy includes numerous national and Olympic championships, with Pocock shells being used by winning crews in the 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, and 1964 Olympic Games5. After George Pocock’s death in 1976, the company was taken over by his son Stan, and in 1985, it was purchased by Bill Tytus, a champion sculler and Lake Washington Rowing Club coach15. Tytus introduced synthetic materials for all the shells, except the 26-foot, 8-oared racing shells, to preserve the legacy of the world-famous George Pocock Racing Shell Company5.

The University of Washington men’s rowing team took the Husky Clipper to Germany to represent the United States in the Men’s eight at the 1936 Summer Olympic games in Berlin4. The team’s journey and ultimate victory in the Olympics are the central focus of the book “The Boys in the Boat” and the film adaptation directed by George Clooney1.

The Conny – named for Hiram Conibear, the iconic founder of Washington Rowing (his men referred to him as “Conny”) – is a 28 foot round-bottom, slim –design (six- foot beam) launch that served the head coach at Washington for almost 40 years.

For Ulbrickson, who was the head rowing coach at Washington from 1927 through 1959, it was his on-the-water “office” for twenty-seven years. He and Pocock would often observe and exchange ideas for improvement from this boat.

Designed with a coach’s compartment in the bow, the bench seat provided unobstructed views of the crews at practice, and had room for a guest or assistant coach. “She was originally built with two key features in mind,” said Kirk Knapp, who now owns the fully restored Conny, “To hold nine men in case a shell swamped in the middle of the lake; and to cut the water with a minimum wake.”

Restored, in this case, may be an understatement. The boat was in multiple pieces when Knapp found her in a University of Washington storage yard in 1975. Struck broadside in 1971 at dusk when two oarsmen took her (and their dates) out for an evening, Conny was salvaged from the water only to end up abandoned..

The wreckage was trapped in a catch 22. Even after settling with legal cases, by Washington law it could not be salvaged and possessed by any state employee. It also was not likely to be purchased at auction. Another boat was involved in the crash on lake Washington at 1 am. That boat did not have running lights. The crash occurred near the current Seattle Tennis Club.

Knapp – known as “Lucky” at the Crewhouse – had joined the crew team in 1973 but “I was too small to row, and too big to cox. I was given the lightweight cox job, but I almost killed myself trying to make weight. Bob Ernst offered me the frosh manager’s job my sophomore year and I took it. That was my first introduction to the Husky II, the sister boat to the Conny, and I really enjoyed it”, he said. “When I saw Conny in the storage yard my junior year, I came back and tried to get Dick (Erickson, head rowing coach at Washington from 1968-1987) interested. But he had a fully functioning launch. He kept telling me to go pick it up if I wanted it, and finally, in 1978, I was able to do that.”

But busy with work and life, the Conny sat for another two decades before Knapp handed it off to Dave Berg to put her back together in 1996. “I would go up to his place in Bellingham a couple of times a month to see how it was going. It took a full two years for the restoration. But she was beautiful when Dave finished. We launched her on August 12, 1998, I remember that day well.”

Coach boats are designed not to kick up wakes that can swamp shells. Thin hull shapes are best. In the 30s, planing hull forms were not understood.

Knapp’s favorite story from the restoration was when they were looking for an engine. The original had been replaced at some point in the 50’s or 60’s with a Chrysler Crown, but that engine was long gone. By chance, he heard that Curt Erickson had picked up an old Scripps F-6, and word was the engine was from an old rowing launch. Could it be from the Conny? With Dave and Curt separated by 150 miles, they each went out and measured the mounting holes: one on the boat, and the other on the engine. But they did not match up… until they realized they were measuring from different directions. “That was the moment we knew we had it right. That engine – sitting 150 miles away and salvaged by fortune – was the original. We got it up to Bellingham and it fit into the engine bed perfectly. That was a great day,” said Knapp.

Today coaches helm their own launches (Pure Water Craft electrics are used at the UW.) In the photo students drive and the coaches take positions in the bow of Conny.


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