Women Rowing In Style

The 1951 and 1952 German champions in style rowing: Ruth Roloff, Rosemarie Bick, Lore Häger, Hanna Müller and coxswain Elvira Lasarewitz of PSV Bremen.

A little footnote to the HTBS entry Rowing Skills & Rowing Relay Races on 23 August could be another relatively unknown rowing discipline, ‘Style Rowing for Women’, or, ‘Stilrudern für Frauen’ as it was called in Germany, which seems to be one of the few countries where these unusual rowing competitions were held on a regular basis. According to the German Rowing Association’s website the first style rowing regatta for women was held in 1919. There was even a national championship for women in coxed quadruple sculls in Germany between 1937 and 1969 (during 1951-1969 in the DDR, East-Germany; see the bottom for links with the names of the champions and their clubs).

However, I am having a hard time finding information about this discipline, and if women in other European countries at one point or another also competed in ‘style’ instead of ‘speed races’, or maybe both. Of course, this special type of competition was a historic relic from the time when women’s rowing was to beautify lakes and rivers with their presence, not to compete or race whom would cross the finish line first. (See also Rowing Women as Belles des Bateaux, or To Say Nothing of the Cat.)

More than fifteen years ago, when I was still living in Sweden, I wrote a very short piece about style rowing, and, if I remember it correctly, the course was something around 335 metres – odd distance, I know – and the umpires would check the crews’ style during their row down the course, meaning their technique, esthetic ‘Eleganz’, choreography, togetherness, etc. The crews would start with a certain amount of points, which would be deducted along the way depending on lack of the elements mentioned above, or mistakes made during their row.

Anyone who knows more about this, in our time, ‘odd’ rowing discipline is more than welcome to contact HTBS, and I will post the information on this blog.

The 1962 DDR champions Helga Schmidt, Ingrid Fischer, Antje Thieß, Renate Boesler, and coxswain Ursula Bader of TSC Oberschöneweide.

The two photographs in this entry are from the website of Rüsselsheimer Ruder-Klub 08 e. V., and it was also there I found the following two links with lists of the German champions in ‘Doppelvierer mit Steuerfrau, Stilrudern – Frauen, 1937-1955’ and ‘DDR-Doppelvierer mit Steuerfrau, Stilrudern – Frauen, 1951-1969’.

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