What a Rowing Tie Will Tell

Chris Dodd (centre) and his promoting tie at Henley Royal Regatta earlier this month. Photo: Tim Koch.
Chris Dodd (centre) and his promoting tie at Henley Royal Regatta earlier this month. Photo: Tim Koch.

26 July 2016

The eagerly awaited documentary The Boys of 36 and Greg Denieffe’s observation (on Twitter) of the ‘subtle marketing’ tie that Chris Dodd wore at Henley this year remind us that there are two anniversaries to celebrate as the Games in Rio loom.

The Boys of ’36 is about Daniel James Brown’s story of the Washington crew who took the Berlin Olympics by storm 80 years ago.

The image of The Eight by Cyril Power on Dodd’s tie is the cover of his splendid book Pieces of Eight, a story of the British eight under Bob Janousek that challenged the East Germans in Montreal 40 years ago.

Brown’s Boys in the Boat is a gripping read about the Depression in the 1930s and how boys with odds stacked against them triumphed on the America’s last Frontier as well as on the lake at Grünau.

Chris Dodd’s Pieces of Eight is about the Czech who hand-picked a crew from opposite ends of Britain’s social classes and restored GBR to the Olympic and world medal podium, setting the path that led to rowing clawing its way to the top of British sport and the top of the international table.

As Rio promises a great Olympic regatta, now is the time to enjoy significant slices of history – rowing and social. Pieces of Eight is a brilliant piece of work. It was published by the River and Rowing Museum and is available from the museum shop or online here.

Pieces of Eight-coverSome voices about Pieces of Eight:

Sir David Tanner, Britain’s performance director, said of it: ‘Chris Dodd’s entertaining and incisive book on the “Janousek years” illustrates perfectly the inspirational leadership of a small group of movers and shakers in British rowing in the 1970s who put GB back on the international map.’

Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, stated when the book was published in 2012: ‘Pieces of Eight is a masterpiece. If you want to know why rowing is one of Britain’s “Formula One” Olympic sports, you should read this book.’

Sir Matthew Pinsent said: ‘A book that captures the mood, personalities and tensions of the rowing scene in the last throes of the pre-Redgrave era brilliantly. It is loaded with details and secrets that are new to me.’

Sport historian Prof. Tony Collins remarked: ‘Pieces of Eight is a fascinating book, full of drama and colour, in which the world of top-class rowing in the 1970s is vividly brought to life.’

Mike Sweeney, president of Henley Royal Regatta, said: ‘Forty years ago no British crew even reached a final, and the average finishing position was tenth. To understand how the transformation began, Pieces of Eight is essential reading.’

Sir George Cox, who followed Mike Sweeney as chairman of selectors in the 1970s, declared: ‘This is the story of the crews that turned the fortunes of British rowing. It is a story that needed telling, and only Chris Dodd could tell it with such insight.’

Lastly, what HTBS wrote about the book, you will find here.



  1. It was my pleasure to have donated a copy of The Eight by Cyril Power, which appears on the cover of Chris’ book, to the River & Rowing Museum, the publisher of Pieces of Eight.

  2. Dear Patrick ~ I have been in contact with Chris D., who told me that he got the tie at a Vortisist exhibition at the Fine Art Museum in Boston years ago. I have checked the museum’s shopping site, it’s not there anymore. Sorry……

  3. Why settle for the tie that Chris recently wore at Henley? Why not get the original artwork?

    The Eight by Cyril Edward Power (1872-1951) is a study of a racing eight observed from Hammersmith Bridge during the trials for Head of the River Race on the Thames. Executed in 1930, The Eight is a dramatic study of rowers in action, using the curves of the athletes’ bodies and oars to convey the motion of the boat through the water.

    So you want a copy? Bonhams sold an original linocut for £70,900 back in December 2014!

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