Which Rowing Race?


As I mentioned in an entry yesterday, the issue of June 1932 of Boys’ Life not only has a short story published, “The Kings Navy”, but it also has a ‘rowing cover’. At first, one would believe that the illustration on the cover relates to the short story inside the magazine, but that is not the case. If you look closely, you might find that the cover illustration, which is made by artist Sidney Riesenberg, is not from a fictional race and geographical place. We can see only two crews racing, so the question we might ask ourselves is: which is the most famous rowing race in America? Well, the one between Yale and Harvard, of course. The young men on the left, and one of them is reporting the race ‘over the wire’, are sitting and leaning out from (I would never dare to to that!) the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, which goes over the Thames River, which is the boarder line between the cities of Groton (on the east side) and New London (on the west side) in Connecticut.

Nowadays, most of the races between Yale and Harvard go upstream, but in Riesenberg’s illustration the boats go downstream, having the finish line just under the bridge. In 1932, the race was rowed on 24 June downstream and Harvard won, at 21:29, against Yale’s 21:42. The previous time the race when downstream was in 1930.

How can I be so sure of the location? Well, look closely in the upper right-hand corner of the illustration – there is the silhouette of the most famous building along the Thames River: Harvard’s boat house Red Top!

This year, the race is going to be early, already on Saturday 28 May.

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