Monday, April 13, 2015

Rowing Photo Quiz



I did row one year when I was at university.

But I don't really understand rowing.

Can anyone explain to me why the cox in this four is in the middle of the boat?



And bonus points if you can tell me…

At what event was this photo taken?

What year was it?

What did this team win?

What are the names of all the ladies?

Where can I buy one of those hats?

What did the stroke have for breakfast?



Related post - My Rowing Career.


28 comments:

Cupcake Fashion said...

"Rowing held from 20 to 27 July at the rowing canal in Krylatskoye (XXII Olympic Games in 1980). 470 athletes from 25 countries competed for 14 sets of medals. Pskov four swing the steering (Nina Cheremisina Mary Fadeev, Galina Sovetnikova Marina Studneva Svetlana Semenova, coach - Valery Prokopenko) won a bronze medal, and Nina Cheremisina competed fours paired with the steering and won a silver medal. "

Tillerman said...

Interesting answer Cupcake Fashion.

The source where I found the photo has a slightly different answer but yours is very close.

However, if my source is correct…

It wasn't 1980.
It wasn't the Olympics.
They are not bronze or silver medals.
It wasn't the Krylatskoye Rowing Canal, or even in Russia.
But you do have the names of 3 of the 5 women correct. Actually you may have 4 of the 5 if one of them is using a different last name in one of our sources.

Of course my source could be wrong but it does include a caption with the photo. Do you have a source with photo for your version, Cupcake Fashion?

And I still want to know why the cox is in the middle of the boat.

Edward Jones said...

Never row if I can help it, but the pic looks old, maybe back then they figured better weight distribution for the weather. We move about on our Flying Scot depending on wind/sea state and upwind/downwind:)

Tillerman said...

I have seen a theory that it was all about weight distribution but the most plausible explanation I have read is something else.

Tillerman said...

Yes the picture is quite old. Cupcake Fashion almost had the right year. It is from around 1980.

Edward Jones said...

"quite old....1980" Gee Thanks now I'm feeling like a geezer, I graduated HS in 1980 and joined the Navy to fight the Evil Empire:) Ah what a simpler time!
But I did just buy a Laser so that will keep me forever young!

Tillerman said...

Good for you Edward. Laser sailing will definitely keep you young. Or make you wish you were younger sometimes.

O Docker said...


Are you looking for the gold medalists at the 1982 World Rowing Championships, held in Lucerne?

Svetlana Semionova
Valentina Semenova
Galina Stepanova
Larisa Savarsina
Nina Cheremisina (cox)

I think the old wooden hull had sprung a leak in the middle and they had the cox sit on it to, well, mind the gap.


Tillerman said...

O Docker has some of the same characters but my information is that this photo was at a different event and one of the crew is another lady. And not 1982. And not Lucerne.

But then not everything you read on the Internet is true and my source could be wrong. What's your source O Docker?

And where is that boat now, I wonder? Surely unusual enough to have been preserved?

R1 said...

World Champion 1979 Rowing: Galina Stepanova Valentina Semenova, Nina Cheremisina Svetlana Semenova, Maria Fadeev.

Not sure about the cox in the middle though....

R1 said...

I'm guess that the idea behind a cox in a middle was to create so much distance between
the two pairs that they could row asynchronously -- first pair's drive
during the other pair's recovery -- thus providing more even boat run.

The boat is likely to be found now at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley.

Tillerman said...

R1 has it! The original site with the picture is here http://www.mfsospartak.ru/history/1976_1980/

But if you can't read Russian you may prefer to run that URL through Google Translate when you will see the caption to this photo that is in R1's answer.

The 1979 rowing world championship was held at Bled in Slovenia, then part of Yugoslavia and the Wikipedia site for that championship confirms that names of this winning crew from the Soviet Union.

Edward Jones said...

AH HA! IT'S THE EVIL EMPIRE TEAM!! :)

Tillerman said...

However, as O Docker and Cupcake Fashion submitted answers citing other major rowing events around that time with only minor changes to the team I would be interested to see their sources too. Was this strange boat used at those other events too?

Tillerman said...

And R1 has the answer I was looking for as to why the cox was in the middle.

There's a discussion about it here. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.sport.rowing/xEDO5bKiuJM

Tillerman said...

And is this boat really in the museum at Henley?

A couple of posts in that Google Groups forum say it was on display in the museum's marquee at Eton in 2011...

I saw the actual boat today at the Junior World Championships in the River and Rowing Museum marquee. It was designed like that apparently so they could try to row with two blades in the water at all times but when they started to experiment with it they found it wasn';t any quicker than conventional so reverted to normal. Must be pretty tricky to try to row that way I would have thought. I'm sure Carl will be able to take on the theory of this one. So if anyone is in the Dorney area and wants to see it it is hanging in the roof space of the Museum marquee. I don't know if this means that means it is normally in the
museum in Henley but no doubt they will be able to provide additional info if asked.

_____________________________________

The actual boat is currently in the River and Rowing Museum stand at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Eton.

The exhibit also highlights that the configuration allowed "syncopated" rowing where the bow pair and stern pair rowed on opposite cycles. However it turned out that most of its success was when the two pairs rowed synchronously.

O Docker said...

I didn't find a photo, just these results:

http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/1982_World_Rowing_Championships

And now that you mention 1979, there's this, too:

http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/1979_World_Rowing_Championships

And some more Googling finds the photo with the explanation that this is the East German team in a 'mid-cox' boat designed for asynchronous rowing, although the team rowed in the usual way for the race.

http://www.reddit.com/r/Rowing/comments/tnm8j/rare_photo_of_the_1979_east_german_womens_4/c4o6reo?context=3

Note, too, that the crew is wearing their medals, seems relaxed, and that all are facing the camera, so the photo was probably posed long after the race.

O Docker said...


And here's an old film clip of a crew trying 'syncopated rowing':

http://www.itnsource.com/en/shotlist/BHC_RTV/1931/01/01/BGT407141226/?s=syncopated+rowing

Tillerman said...

Hmmm. I see the self-described Drunken_Economist who posted that this is a photo of the East German team on reedit titled his post "Rare photo of the 1979 East German women's 4+ showing the Soviet crews' willingness to experiment." He seem as little confused about the difference between the Soviet Union and East Germany!

Tillerman said...

And I love that clip of syncopated rowing at Putney! I suspect it looked a bit like this when my friends and I rowed in an eight at college.

R1 said...

If you look up the Henley Museum website and scan through a PDF of the boats in their collection, the boat is mentioned, with name, history and a reason for the cox in the middle.

I should be working....

Tillerman said...

Thanks R1. The Rivers and Rowing Museum does indeed have this actual boat. Apparently it (she?) is called Dzintars. The museum website does confirm that the point of the center cox design was so that the crew could row asymetrically in order to go faster. And there is another picture of the USSR ladies rowing the boat in Bled in 1979 although apparently with all four rowers pulling together (not in syncopation.) All you can see of the cox is her head.

O Docker of course is correct that the photo in my quiz must have been posed after the race was long over.

O Docker said...


It may not have worked in rowing, but it would eventually prove very successful in another sport:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NxLh-3DdaE

Joe Rousé said...

I row a straight boat..single shell....coxless. However, I've never seen a cox in the center of the boat on a 4 or an 8. The cox usually sits in the stern, stirs the boat and coordinates the crews action.

Tillerman said...

My research on this topic was actually triggered when I saw a photo of a cox in the bow of a four. Before seeing this I had always assumed that the cox was at the stern. I don't think having the cox at the front is as unusual as this Russian experiment with the cox in the middle.

Vadim Movchan said...

The hat style is typical Russian sport hat used in skiing and similar winter sports during 80s. It was stylish. In russian it is called pitooshók meaning young male of chicken. Production discontinued.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Vadim for answering the question about the hats. 100 bonus points for you. All we need to know now is what the stroke had for breakfast on the day this crew won the world championship in 1979.

Baydog - where are you?

O Docker said...


As gold medalists, their morning meal would have been, by definition, a breakfast of champions.

But I don't recall ever seeing these particular rowers on a Wheaties box. I guess there were limits to the divides that détente could bridge. I wonder if some of that wheat we sold the Soviets ended up in Moscow cereal boxes and on the training table of the ladies rowing team.

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