World Sculling Championship
The World Sculling Championship (1863–1957), evolved from the Championship of the Thames for professional scullers.
Only the sport of boxing claims an older Championship of the World. It is notable that Jack Broughton, the "Father of Boxing", trained scullers for prize contests which had their roots in wager races which had taken place from the middle of the 18th century on the Thames.
The first race for the Professional Championship of the Thames took place between Westminster and Hammersmith, on the River Thames in London in September 1831, when John Williams of Waterloo Bridge challenged Charles Campbell of Westminster for the Sculling Championship of the Thames. This was just over a year after the first Wingfield Sculls race for the Amateur Championship of the Thames had been held.
The race was initially dominated by oarsmen from the Thames, but a fierce rivalry soon arose between Newcastle and London after the famous Tyne sculler, Robert Chambers became the first non-Londoner to secure the title in 1859.
In 1863 the race became for the Championship of the World. when it had its first non-British entrant, Australian Richard A W Green. Green lost to Chambers but changes were afoot and as an increasing number of professional scullers from Australia; the USA and Canada started to compete, Britain lost its dominance, failing to secure a win between 1876 and 1920. For details of the subsequent English Championship only see English Sculling Championship.
The first overseas sculler to claim the title, was Australian Edward Trickett, who won his first race in June 1876, Trickett held the title for the next two races (1877 and 1879), both of which were held on his home river, the Parramatta. Trickett eventually lost out to Canadian Ned Hanlan (the first sculler to use a boat with a sliding seat), in 1880 on the Championship Course on the Thames. This course was over a distance of a little over four miles but for other races on other courses there was no set distance. These other courses varied between three and five miles approximately.
Professional sculling saw a marked downturn with each of the world wars. Although a few races were held after the 2nd World War, they failed to arouse the interest of the public or attract the standard of competitor seen in the earlier years of the Championship, and as the amateur / professional split in rowing was slowly abolished, the race died out. The Title lapsed in 1958 when Evans Fischer retired undefeated.
The 1908 World Title race was commemorated in December 2008 when Olympic champion Olaf Tufte defeated three time World Champion Mahé Drysdale and wild card race winner Hamish Bond on New Zealand's Whanganui River to take home the $5000 cash prize. (source http://www.row2k.com/features/features.cfm?action=read&id=386)
A person wanting to become the champion would issue a formal challenge to the existing Champion for a match and would offer a certain sum of money. Sometimes a person would issue a newspaper challenge to the winner of another match and deposit a sum with the paper which would theoretically ‘bind’ the subsequent match. The stake was not a fixed amount but it had to be high enough to be worth the champion’s time and reputation and which would discourage frivolous challenges. Typically the stake would be £100 or £200 a side for a state or national championship and £500 or more each for the world title. Sometimes additional expenses were expected as well. Under the rules such as they were, the Champion would have three months to accept the challenge or else forfeit the match in favour of the challenger.
The challenger and Champion, or their agents, discussed the ‘terms’ and came to an agreement. Sometimes challenges failed at this stage as there was no agreement or the challenger was unable to raise the money. Once the challenge was accepted the ‘articles’ would be drawn up and signed by the contestants and witnessed. The articles would state where and when the match was to be held, who the umpire was to be, how much the stake per side was to be and when it was to be paid in, and who the literal stake-holder was to be, and a few other details. From time to time it was agreed that the loser would receive some money as expenses which at least prevented a total loss. The stake-holder was often the Editor of a newspaper. The race was then supposed to run within another six months.
Seldom did challengers or Champions have to put up their own money in these sorts of competitions. The normal arrangement was that wealthy backers would put up the money. The backers were usually syndicates of gambling men. The backers of the winner of the match got their money back, and collected any other bets placed, but the winning man personally got the money put up from the backers of the loser. Side-bets between the actual contestants themselves were not unknown. Contestants were also often rewarded by splitting the ‘gate.’ i.e. the profit from sales of boat tickets and souvenirs. The nature of sculling meant that not all spectators could be charged to see the race but a split of sixty-forty to the winner was common.
Professional scullers tended to attract more media attention than the crews, since their individuality gave the media and public a greater chance of recognition. "The Aquatic Oracle" published in London in 1852 lists hundreds and hundreds of professional races from 1835 to 1851 between watermen. While many were for small sums of money it gives an indication of the extent of the activity. Betting on races was widespread and in the late 19th century, sculling or wager racing was perhaps the greatest spectator sport in London at the time. Many tens of thousands of spectators attended each race. By the turn of the century prize money had become so great that some scullers made up to nearly £5,000 a year in prizes and side bets, and £2,000 for a race.
Betting was simplified by recourse to past performances and present form would be followed by hordes of spectators at training sessions.
The very earliest races were informal events between working watermen who raced in their everyday work boat or wherry. These rowing boats were used to carry passengers and goods from one part of the river to another. As racing became more formalised the work boats were superseded by specialist racing craft. Several technical developments assisted in this transformation from the job of waterman to the sport of rowing. These were;
(1) the development of light weight boats built solely for racing.
(2) the outrigger which placed the oar’s pivot point outside the boat allowing for more leverage.
(3) the swivelling rowlock, and
(4) the sliding seat which also allowed for more oar movement. These developments greatly increased the average speed of racing. Generally in contemporary reports these types of boats were referred to as “outriggers,” “best and best,” or “wager boats.”
A foul is the touching of any part of an opponent’s boat or sculls by any part of your own boat or sculls. In the early days of professional rowing, fouling an opponent was an accepted part of the game as a contestant would often deliberately foul to gain an advantage. As racing boats became lighter and frailer this practise became less and less accepted and was finally done away with as actual rowing skill was counted as more important than disabling the opposition. Later title or money matches outlawed fouling and generally the man doing the fouling lost the match. However, because contestants faced the opposite way to the way the boat travelled, accidental fouls sometimes occurred particularly as races were often held on rivers that had bends in them. No lanes were marked out as in modern courses and in a close race a foul could happen as both men tried to get around the bend as quickly as possible. It was not unknown for a contestant to engineer a foul against himself to thereby try to win the race. In most matches an umpire or referee would rule on these sorts of fouls as to whose fault it was, usually at the time, but sometimes only after the race had finished. From time to time he would decide that the foul was accidental with no advantage to either sculler, and would order the men to continue racing. Many races were decided on fouls rather than who was the better sculler and many men felt hard done by when the decision went against them. The umpire’s decision was final.
|1831||Sep 9th||Charles Campbell||John Williams||NTT||Thames (Westminster to Hammersmith)|
|1838||Nov 1st||Charles Campbell||Robert Coombes||42 mins||Thames (Westminster to Putney)|
|1846||Aug 19th||Robert Coombes||Charles Campbell||26 mins 15secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1847||Sep 19th||Robert Coombes||Robert Newell||23 mins 46 sec||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1851||May 7||Robert Coombes||Thomas J MacKinney||27 mins 30 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1852||May 24||Tom Cole||Robert Coombes||25 mins 15 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1852||Oct 14th||Tom Cole||Robert Coombes||23 mins 35 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1854||Nov 20th||James Messenger||Tom Cole||24 mins 45 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1857||May 12||Harry Kelley (GBR)||James Messenger||24 mins 30 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1859||Sep 20th||Robert Chambers (GBR)||Harry Kelley (GBR)||25 mins 25 sec||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1860||Sep 18th||Robert Chambers (GBR)||Tom White (GBR)||23 mins 25 sec||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1863||Apr 14th||Robert Chambers (GBR)||George W Everson (GBR)||25 mins 27 sec||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1863||Jun 16th||Robert Chambers (GBR)||Richard A W Green (AUS)||25 mins 35 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1865||Aug 8th||Harry Kelley (GBR)||Robert Chambers (GBR)||23 mins 23 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1866||Jul 4th||Harry Kelley (GBR)||James Hammill (USA)||32 mins 45 secs||Tyne|
|1866||Nov 22nd||Robert Chambers (GBR)||Joseph Sadler (GBR)||25 mins 4 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1868||May 6||Harry Kelley (GBR)||Robert Chambers (GBR)||31 mins 47 secs||Tyne|
|1868||Nov 17th||James Renforth (GBR)||Harry Kelley (GBR)||23 mins 15secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1874||Apr 16th||Joseph Sadler (GBR)||Robert Bagnall (GBR)||24 mins 15 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1875||Nov 15th||Joseph Sadler (GBR)||Robert W Boyd (GBR)||28 mins 5 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1876||Jun 27th||Edward Trickett (AUS)||Joseph Sadler (GBR)||24 mins 35 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1877||Jun 30th||Edward Trickett (AUS)||Michael Rush (rower) (AUS)||23 mins 27secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1879||Aug 29th||Edward Trickett (AUS)||Elias C. Laycock (AUS)||23 mins 29 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1880||Nov 15th||Edward Hanlan (CAN)||Edward Trickett(AUS)||26 mins 12 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1881||Feb 14th||Edward Hanlan (CAN)||Elias C. Laycock (AUS)||25 mins 49 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1882||Apr 3rd||Edward Hanlan(CAN)||Robert W Boyd (GBR)||21 mins 25 secs||Tyne|
|1882||May 1||Edward Hanlan(CAN)||Edward Trickett (AUS)||28 mins||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1883||May 30||Edward Hanlan(CAN)||John A Kennedy (USA)||19 min 4 sec||Point of Pines, Boston USA|
|1883||July 18||Edward Hanlan(CAN)||Wallace Ross (CAN)||27 min 57.5 secs||Odensberg, New York, USA|
|1884||May 22||Edward Hanlan(CAN)||Elias C. Laycock (AUS)||22 mins 46 secs||Nepean, Sydney|
|1884||Aug 16th||Bill Beach (AUS)||Edward Hanlan(Can)||20 mins 28 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1885||Feb 28th||Bill Beach (AUS)||Thomas Clifford (AUS)||26 mins 1 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1885||Mar 28th||Bill Beach (AUS)||Edward Hanlan(Can)||22 mins 51 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1885||Dec 18th||Bill Beach (AUS)||Neil Matterson (AUS)||24 mins 11 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1886||Sep 18th||Bill Beach (AUS)||Jake Gaudaur Snr. (CAN)||22 mins 29 sec||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1886||Sep 25th||Bill Beach (AUS)||Wallace Ross (CAN)||23 min 5 sec||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1887||Nov 26th||Bill Beach (AUS)||Edward Hanlan(Can)||19 mins 25 sec||Nepean, Sydney|
|1888||Feb 11th||Peter Kemp (AUS)||Thomas Clifford (AUS)||23 mins 27secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1888||May 5||Peter Kemp (AUS)||Edward Hanlan(Can)||21 mins 36 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1888||Sep 28th||Peter Kemp (AUS)||Edward Hanlan(Can)||21 mins 25 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1888||Oct 27th||Henry Ernest Searle (AUS)||Peter Kemp (AUS)||22 mins 44 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1889||Sep 9th||Henry Ernest Searle (AUS)||William Joseph O'Connor (CAN)||22 mins 42 sec||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1890||Apr 25th||Peter Kemp (AUS)||Neil Matterson (AUS)||21 mins 13 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1890||May 15||Peter Kemp (AUS)||John McLean(AUS)||21 mins 45 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1890||Dec 15th||John McLean (AUS)||Peter Kemp (AUS)||22 mins 13 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1891||Apr 28th||Jim Stanbury * (AUS)||John McLean (AUS)||22 mins 15 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1891||Jul 7th||Jim Stanbury * (AUS)||John McLean (AUS)||18 mins 25 secs||Parramatta, Sydney (short Course)|
|1892||May 2||Jim Stanbury * (AUS)||Tom Sullivan (NZL)||17 mins 26 secs||Parramatta, Sydney (short Course)|
|1896||Jul 13th||Jim Stanbury * (AUS)||Charles R. Harding (GBR)||21 mins 51 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1896||Sep 7th||Jake Gaudaur Snr. (CAN)||Jim Stanbury (AUS)||23 mins 1 sec||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1898||Jul 4th||Jake Gaudaur Snr. (CAN)||Robert Johnston (CAN)||20 mins 25 sec||Vancouver Harbour|
|1901||Sep 7th||George Towns (AUS)||Jake Gaudaur Snr. (CAN)||20 mins 30 sec||Lake of the Woods, Ontario|
|1904||Jul 30th||George Towns (AUS)||Richard Tresidder (AUS)||21 mins 28 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1905||Jul 22nd||Jim Stanbury * (AUS)||George Towns (AUS)||19 mins 4 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1906||Jul 28th||George Towns (AUS)||Jim Stanbury (AUS)||19 mins 53 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1907||Mar 2nd||George Towns (AUS)||Edward Durnan (CAN)||22 mins 27 secs||Nepean, Sydney|
|1907||Aug 3rd||William Webb (NZL)||Charles Towns (AUS)||20 mins 35 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1908||Feb 25th||William Webb (NZL)||Richard Tresidder (AUS)||20 mins 28 secs||Wanganui, New Zealand|
|1908||Dec 15th||Richard Arnst (NZL)||William Webb (NZL)||19 mins 51 secs||Wanganui, New Zealand|
|1909||Jun 21st||Richard Arnst (NZL)||William Webb (NZL)||18 mins 15 secs||Wanganui, New Zealand|
|1910||Apr 4th||Richard Arnst (NZL)||George Whelch (NZL)||21 mins 51 secs||Akaroa Harbour, New Zealand|
|1910||Aug 18th||Richard Arnst (NZL)||Ernest Barry (GBR)||20 mins 14 secs||Zambezi River, Northern Rhodesia|
|1911||Jul 29th||Richard Arnst(NZL)||Harry Pearce (AUS)||19 mins 46 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1912||Jul 29th||Ernest Barry (GBR)||Richard Arnst (NZL)||23 mins 8 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1912||Oct 14th||Ernest Barry (GBR)||Edward Durnan (CAN)||22 mins 31 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1913||Jul 21st||Ernest Barry (GBR)||Harry Pearce (AUS)||24 mins 9 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1914||Sep 7th||Ernest Barry (GBR)||Jim Paddon (AUS)||21 mins 28 sec||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1919||Oct 27th||Alf Felton (AUS)||Ernest Barry (GBR)||25 mins 40 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1920||Aug 31st||Ernest Barry (GBR)||Alf Felton (AUS)||24 mins 32 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1921||Jun 11th||Richard Arnst (NZL)||Pat Hannan (NZL)||22 mins 34 sec||Wairau, New Zealand|
|1922||Jan 5th||Darcy Hadfield (NZL)||Richard Arnst (NZL)||19 mins 46 secs||Wanganui, New Zealand|
|1922||Apr 18th||Jim Paddon (AUS)||Darcy Hadfield (NZL)||19 mins 19 secs||Wanganui, New Zealand|
|1923||Jul 21st||Jim Paddon (AUS)||Darcy Hadfield(NZL)||19 mins 46 secs||Richmond|
|1924||Aug 12th||Jim Paddon (AUS)||Alf Felton (AUS)||17 mins 55 secs||Brisbane|
|1924||Sep 20th||Jim Paddon (AUS)||Major Goodsell (AUS)||17 mins 7 secs||Richmond|
|1925||Mar 21st||Major Goodsell (AUS)||Bill McDevitt (AUS)||22 mins 20 secs||Clarence|
|1925||Jun 27th||Major Goodsell (AUS)||Pat Hannan (NZL)||21 mins 31 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1925||Nov 7th||Major Goodsell (AUS)||Jim Paddon (AUS)||22 mins 50 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1926||May 3||Major Goodsell (AUS)||Tom Saul (AUS)||23 mins 11 sec||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1927||Sep 5th||Major Goodsell (AUS)||Bert Barry (GBR)||24 mins 13 secs||Burrand Inlet, Vancouver|
|1927||Dec 6th||Bert Barry (GBR)||Major Goodsell (AUS)||21 mins 40 secs||Burrand Inlet, Vancouver|
|1930||May 31||Ted Phelps (GBR)||Bert Barry (GBR)||22 mins 45 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1930||Oct 11th||Ted Phelps (GBR)||Bert Barry (GBR)||22 mins 48 secs||Thames (Putney to Mortlake)|
|1932||Sep 5th||Ted Phelps (GBR)||Major Goodsell (USA)||17 mins 2 secs||Long Beach, California|
|1933||Sep 1st||Bobby Pearce (CAN)||Ted Phelps (GBR)||19 mins 26 secs||Lake Ontario,|
|1934||Sep 5th||Bobby Pearce (CAN)||W G Miller (USA)||19 mins 52 secs||Toronto|
|1938||Sep 9th||Bobby Pearce (CAN)||Evans Paddon (AUS)||20 mins 35 secs||Toronto|
|1948||Nov 20th||Evans Paddon (AUS)||Max Fisher (AUS)||17 mins 20 secs||Parramatta, Sydney|
|1949||May 7||George Cook (AUS)||Evans Paddon (AUS)||15 mins 09 secs||Evans River|
|1950||April 22||Evans Paddon (AUS)||George Cook (AUS)||21 mins 58 secs||Evans River|
|1952||April 5||Jim Saul (AUS)||Evans Paddon (AUS)||20 min 33 secs||Richmond River|
|1952||Sept 13th||Evans Paddon (AUS)||Jim Saul (AUS)||21 min 50 secs||Richmond River|
|1953||June 13||Evans Fischer (AUS)||Evans Paddon (AUS)||20 min 55 secs||Richmond River|
|1954||Aug 7th||Evans Fischer (AUS)||Evans Paddon (AUS)||20 min 57 secs||Clarence River|
|1957||May 25||Evans Fischer (AUS)||Evans Paddon (AUS)||20 min 46 secs||Clarence River|
- Bill Beach, Bobby Pearce and Evans Fischer all retired undefeated.
- James Renforth died while champion. Sadler later rowed for an open title.
- Peter Kemp gained the title twice other than by races; once by formal forfeit from Beach, once upon the death of H Searle.
- Richard Arnst gained the title once other than by a race; on the forfeiture of E Barry.
- Charles Towns ad Bill McDevitt both held the title by the forfeiture of George Towns and Jim Paddon respectively. Neither successfully defended it.
- R Chambers & E Paddon either gained the title once each by forfeit, or alternatively, one of their races was for an open title after the retirement of the holder.
- "Remembering Putney's 'greatest oarsman'", Wandsworth and Putney Guardian, Newsquest Media Group - A Gannett Company, 2008-11-10, retrieved 2009-02-02
- Whitehead, Ian, "The Sporting Tyne", 2002, ISBN 0-901273-42-2.
- Collins, Tony, "Encyclopedia of traditional British rural Sports", 2005
- Wigglesworth, Neil, "A Social History of English Rowing",
- World rowing history - professional racing
- * http://www.graftonrowing.asn.au/history/stanbury_home.htm for details of Jim Stanbury
- http://www.westernsydneylibraries.nsw.gov.au/westernsydney/peter.html for details of Peter Kemp
- http://www.cshof.ca/hm_profile.php?i=190 for details of Jake A Gaudaur (snr)
- http://www.nswrowers.com/history-gc.html for details of George Cook