Remembering Ewart Horsfall

Leander eight
The 1912 Olympic champions in the eights. Left to right: Ewart Horsfall, Edgar Burgess, Angus Gillan, Alister Kirby, Stanley Garton, Leslie Wormald, Philip Fleming and Sidney ‘Cygnet’ Swann. Sitting Henry ‘Ben’ Wells.

Göran R Buckhorn writes:

Forty-one years ago, yesterday, Ewart D. Horsfall, M.C., died at an age of nearly 82. He was educated at Eton and later went to Magdalen College, Oxford. Already having a good reputation as an oarsman, as a freshman, he rowed in the Oxford boat that won The Boat Race in 1912, and some months later he was the youngest man in the Leander crew who took the Olympic gold medal in the eights at the Stockholm Games. The following year, he again won The Boat Race, now as the stroke (the first crew to win the race, though still being behind at Barnes Bridge), but was in the losing crew in 1914.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Horsfall signed up in the Rifle Brigade but later joined the Royal Flying Corps. In 1916, he was awarded the Military Cross and in 1918 the Distinguished Flying Cross. Returning from the War, he raced in the Oxford eight in the King’s Cup at the 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta. The Oxford crew, who was coached by Harcourt ‘Tarka’ Gold, was beaten in the final by a crew from the First Australian Imperial Force, which in the initial stage of their visit to England had been coached by their countryman Steve Fairbairn of Thames RC.

Horsfall stroked the Magdalen eight to victory in the Grand Challenge Cup and the Stewards Challenge Cup at the 1920 Henley Royal Regatta. He also stroked the Leander eight, which took a silver medal at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, losing by half a length to U.S. Naval Academy. Horsfall took his last Henley Regatta cup in 1922, stroking a Leander eight in the Grand. Between 1920 and 1925, he coached Oxford’s Blue boat.

In 1947, Horsfall was elected a Henley Steward and the following year he was the team manager of the British rowing team at the 1948 Olympic Regatta at Henley.

In the March issue 1974 of the British magazine Rowing, signature ‘R.B.’ wrote about Ewart Horsfall:

Ill health, the legacy of a first world war flying accident, took him away from the rowing scene nearly twenty years ago. Yet he was one of the most prolific race winners of this country, notwithstanding the fact that the war deprived him of five years of the prime of his rowing career.

Today we remember Ewart Horsfall, a great oarsman.

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