Karl Adam (2 May 1912 in Hagen – 18 June 1976 in Bad Salzuflen) was one of the most successful and innovative Germanrowing coaches. Although he has never been an active rower himself, he helped win 29 medals at major rowing events, including three Olympic gold medals, two world and five European Championships.
Adam had a major impact on one of the most successful eras in German rowing history that started at the end of the 1950s. He was co-founder of the Ratzeburg Rowing Club in 1953 and head of the Rowing Academy there. Adam never rowed and learned the rowing and sculling techniques by reading and observation in the late 1930s. He was a competitive boxer and a Student World Champion in 1937.
A great innovator of rowing and training techniques, Adam's methods had a major impact on the further development of rowing. His rowing technique became known in the rowing world as the "Ratzeburg" style. Adam was the first to adapt fartlek, also known as speedplay, and interval training from track (athletics)as well as heavy weight training to rowing. He pioneered a new, more efficient, oar design and was the first coach to use "bucket" or "German" rigging. (Typical rigging alternates between port and starboard rowers (e.g. PSPS). In German rigging, two starboard (or port) rowers sit directly behind one another, e.g. PSSP).