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Time Line / with images -   [Begin - 1849]   [1850 - 1899]   [1900 - 1949]

.Brief Time Line  1950-2000 (with images)
(Thomas E. Weil 2000-2005)

1950 40,000 people watched Mervyn Wood of Australia defend the Philadelphia [Gold] Challenge Cup against John B. Kelly, Jr. and Englands Anthony Rowe for the world amateur sculling championship over 2,000 meters on the Schuylkill.

1950's Two major developments in Europe revolutionized rowing. While German Karl Adams and his Ratzeburg crews produced victories with harder training and higher ratings, the East European rowing countries, particularly East Germany and the U.S.S.R. developed national sport policies and national teams with international agendas.

1951 The first FISA sponsored regatta for women was held in conjunction with the mens European Championships in Macon, France.

1952 Thomas Price, age 19, from Rutgers, began rowing in January, sat in a pair for the first time in May, and won gold in the U.S. Olympic coxless-pair in Helsinki in July; Navy won the eights for the second time.

1952 U.S. Gold Medal Pair - C. Logg & T. Price

1954 The first European rowing championships for women were held, in Amsterdam, and were swept by the Russians. The Russian squad, together with two Swiss rowers and a Yugoslav, also dominated the medals awards at Henley.

Magdalen College, Oxford experimented with one of the first fiberglass hulls, and the Bedford sliding rigger was championed by British Olympian, author and BRA editor Richard Burnell.

1956 Yale rowed itself out winning the eights at Lake Wendouree at Ballarat during the Melbourne Olympics, which was boycotted by the Swiss, Dutch and Spanish teams because of the Soviets' actions in Hungary. The U.S. was also victorious in the coxless and coxed-pairs. The Soviets won the single and the double.

1956 USA Olympic Gold Medal Eight - Yale Varsity, (photo - Sports Illustrated)

1959 The tulip blade was popularized at the European Championships in Macon.

Oxford won despite its first "mutiny" led by Yales Reed Rubin.

1960 Oxford introduced spoon oars to the Boat Race.

The Rome Games witnessed the first defeat of a U.S. eight in Olympic history, as Navy lost to the Germans, who also won the coxed-fours and pairs. The Soviets won the coxless-pair and single, while the U.S. won the coxless-four.

1960 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Four - Lake Washington 
(J. Sayre/R. Wailes/T. Nash/A. Ayrault)

1961 Cambridge trained for the Boat Race utilizing an unwieldy and primitive device developed in Australia and called an "ergometer."

The Western Sprints were first held.

1962 One of the oldest records in sport fell when Yales Boyce Budd weighed in at 15 stone 1 pound for a victorious Cambridge crew, breaking the mark for the heaviest Boat Race oarsman, held since 1829 by Oxfords Rev. Toogood at 14 st. 10 lb.

Stuart Mackenzie, Australia, won his sixth straight Diamonds, a record not since matched.

Stuart MacKenzie, Australia congratulated by Ivanov, USSR

The first FISA world rowing championships were held, in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The National Women's Rowing Association (NWRA) was formed by Joanne Wright Iverson (Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club), Ted Nash (Lake Washington Rowing Club) and Ed Lickiss (Lake Merritt Rowing Club).

1963 British rowing took several important steps forward with the appointment of its first director of training and of its first national coach, and with the integration of the Womens Amateur Rowing Association into the ARA.

Harry Parker began his career as the head coach at Harvard with an upset victory over Yale, the first of a string of 18 H-Y wins, and the beginning of a career as the most important U.S. college coach of the second half of the century.

Harvard & Coach Parker, Sports Illustrated - June, 1965

1964 The spare from the 1914 Harvard crew that won the Grand set a record for frustrated patience as the entire crew returned to row the Henley course after 50 years; there was still no place for the spare in the boat.

On the Toda course in Tokyo, Russian sculler Viacheslav Ivanov won his third consecutive single sculls Olympic gold medal; the Soviets also took gold in the double. The U.S. (Vesper) recaptured the eights title, and (Stanford Crew Assn.) won the coxed-pair.

1964 US Olympic Gold Medal Eight - Vesper B.C. Archives IOC

1965 The first Head of the Charles was held in Cambridge/Boston, Massachusetts, and has since grown to be the biggest regatta in the U.S.

1966 The East German men took five Henley titles, followed by a chaser of three golds at the World Championships at Bled, ending a decade of dominance of the international rowing scene by the Russians.

Two British Marines, Ridgway and Blyth, rekindled interest in trans-oceanic crossings by rowing from Cape Cod to Ireland in three months; another crew attempting the same feat, Johnstone and Hoare, were lost at sea.

The National Rowing Foundation was established to support U.S. rowing.

1967 The first FISA Junior Regatta was held, in Ratzeburg, Germany.

James W. Dietz, NYAC - 1967 FISA Junior Singles Gold Medal

Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club sent the first U.S. representative womens eight (as well as a quad) to a FISA championship.

1968 The West German eight was victorious at Xochimilco at the Mexico City Olympics; Harvard was the last non-national team eight to represent the U.S. at the Games, the first in which a competing U.S. team did not win a single event. The East Germans won the coxless-pair and four.

1969 Tom McClean completed the first solo trans-Atlantic rowing eastward crossing from Newfoundland to Ireland, and John Fairfax completed the first solo trans-Atlantic rowing westward crossing from the Canary Islands to Miami.

Arthur Martin launched the Alden Ocean Shell and started a movement toward recreational sculling.

Arthur Martin - designer/manufacturer of the Alden Ocean Shell

1970 The introduction of the Gamut ergometer to U.S. circles initiated changes in training and selection processes in most rowing programs.

The East Germans took gold or silver at every event at the World Championships.

1972 Harry Parker conducted the first selection of a U.S. national camp eight and coxed-four. A New Zealand eight beat the U.S. to the finish in the Munich Olympics. The East Germans won the coxed and coxless-pair and four, while the Soviets won the single and the double. 

The passage by the Congress of Title IX of the Omnibus Education Act of 1972 changed the face of womens rowing in the United States.

John Fairfax and Sylvia Cook completed a years rowing odyssey from San Francisco to Australia.

German manufacturer Empacher Bootswerft pushed the frontiers of shell construction with the successful utilization of composite materials [Miller].

1973 The U.S. entered its first national womens squad in the European rowing championships.

1974 The initial San Diego Crew Classic was held, establishing an event which provides the first major competition of the spring season for collegiate crews.

The first FISA world championships for women and for lightweight men were held, in Lucerne. The womens distance was set at 1,000 meters. The U.S. men won the eight and the single (Bill Belden).

Kent School coach Hart Perry was the first foreigner elected a Henley Steward.

Coach Hart Perry, HRR Steward

1975 The U.S. womens eight, coached by Harry Parker, was first selected based on a national camp system.

1976 The Montreal Olympics, held on the Notre Dame course, had the first womens Olympic rowing, at a 1,000 meter distance, and U.S. women won silver in the single (Joan Lind) and bronze in the eight; the East Germans won both the mens and womens eights, as well as the mens coxless and coxed-pairs, the coxless-four, and the quad, and the womens single, coxed-four and quad. Bulgaria won the womens double and coxless-pair, and the U.S. men avoided their first Olympic rowing medal shutout ever with a silver in the coxless-pair.

Joan Lind,  photo - S Jonik

The Yale womens crew made national headlines with their Title IX protest strip.

1977 The Dreissigackers began production of light, durable composite material oars [Miller].

1980 The U.S. boycotted the Moscow Olympics over the invasion of Afghanistan, while the East German men and women again took both eights titles, as well as the mens coxless and coxed-pairs and fours, and the double and the quad, and the womens coxless-pair, coxed-four and quad.

1980 U.S. Olympic Eight at Henley

1980's Vespoli boats became the standard of choice for most U.S. rowing programs.

1981 Steering Oxford to victory, Sue Brown became the first woman to take part in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.

Henley Royal Regatta initiated its cautious experimentation with womens racing.

The Concept II erg was put on the market; the institution of the first CRASH-B Sprints at Harvards Newell Boathouse on January 20, 1982 gave meaning to winter training, and additional selection criteria to coaches [Miller].

The NAAO changed its name to the United States Rowing Association and major constitutional changes were ratified.


1983 The appointment of Polands Kris Korzeniowski by the USRA as the first National Technical Advisor and full-time national coach introduced European techniques to U.S. rowing.

1984 As the Eastern bloc boycotted the Los Angeles Games, Finnish sculler Pertti Karppinen won his third consecutive Olympic single sculls title, Canada won the mens eight, and the U.S. won the womens eight and the mens double at Lake Casitas. Romania won every other womens gold. UCSBs David Farmer organized the first major U.S. exhibition of rowing art and memorabilia.

1985 The first FISA women's lightweight world championships were held (in conjunction with the mens championships at Hazewinkel), and the FISA and Olympic course distance for women was increased to 2,000 meters.

The USRA moved from Philadelphias Boathouse Row to Indianapolis.

1986 The NWRA dissolved in recognition of the assumption by the USRA of responsibility as the national governing body for womens rowing.

1987 Oxfords second "mutiny" led to books, a movie and a victory without U.S. oars.

1988 The West German men and East German women were the victorious eights on the Han River at the Seoul Olympics, and the DDR men also won the single and the coxed and coxless-fours, and the women also won the single, the double, the coxed-four and the quad. The Italian men won the coxless-four and the quad.

The first Womens Henley Regatta was held.

1990 The World Cup was established by FISA for mens and womens singles.

1991 "hatchet" oar blades were first introduced by the Dreissigackers [Miller].

1992 The Canadian mens eight and the womens coxless-pair, four and eight were triumphant and an amazing comeback by severely injured Silken Laumann, Canada, for the Bronze Medal on Lake Banyoles at the Barcelona Olympics, while the Germans took the mens single and quad and womens double and quad, and the Australians won the mens double and coxless-four.

Silken Laumann, Canada - Olympic Bronze Medal and one of the great stories at Banyoles,  photo - Dominik Keller

1993 Thomas Mendenhalls history of the Harvard-Yale boat race represented the first major scholarly work published on U.S. rowing.


1996 The Atlanta Olympics had the first mens and womens Olympic lightweight rowing; Steve Redgrave won gold in his fourth consecutive Olympics with a victory in the coxless-pair, the only gold won by Britain in the entire Games. The Netherlands mens eight and the Romanian womens eight, as well as their lightweight double, brought home golden memories of Lake Lanier. The Swiss men were victorious in the single and the lightweight double.

Yales Helen Cooper organized the first exhibition devoted to Thomas Eakins rowing images, at the National Gallery, Yale and the Cleveland Art Museum.

1997 The first woman was elected a Henley Steward, and women were admitted as members at Leander Club.

Womens rowing became a National Collegiate Athletic Association sport.

1998 The quest for a rowing museum was realized when the River and Rowing Museum at Henley was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth (November 6).

River & Rowing Museum, Henley-On-Thames, photo 1998 Jaap Oepkes

1999 The U.S. men's eight, stroked by Chris Ahrens and coached Mike Teti, won their third consecutive World Championship Gold Medal.

2000 The amazing Steve Redgrave commanded huge media coverage rowing in the British coxless-four and winning his fifth Olympic Gold Medal in five consecutive Olympics, an accomplishment never before achieved in any endurance sport.

Steve Redgrave - GB



Tom Weil is a partner in Skadden Arps' Houston office. He rowed at Andover and Yale, and has collected rowing books, prints and memorabilia and written and lectured on rowing art and history for over thirty years. He is a life member of the United States Rowing Association, the North American Society for Sport History and the Leander Club. Along with the Friends of Rowing History, Tom has been active with the River Rowing Museum in Henley where he is a trustee.


Time Line / with images -   [Begin - 1849]   [1850 - 1899]   [1900 - 1949]

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