These Old Wooden Boats

Gathered to look at rowing boats at the Mystic Seaport Watercraft Collection, from left to right: Quentin Snediker, director of the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard and the Clark Senior Curator for Watercraft at Mystic Seaport; Dana Hewson, former vice president for Watercraft Preservation and Program and the Clark Senior Curator for Watercraft at Mystic Seaport; Janis Mink, active master rower; Göran R Buckhorn, HTBS rowing history hack; Tom Weil, NRF board member, rowing historian and HTBS contributor; Peter Dickenson, volunteer at Mystic Seaport Watercraft Collection; Bill Miller, NRF board member and rowing historian; and Tom Sanford, board member of the NRF and active master rower.

1 June 2017

Göran R Buckhorn writes:

On 22 October 2014, HTBS wrote about the sad occasion when the National Rowing Foundation’s Rowing Hall of Fame at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, was packed up – including some rowing historians. The artefacts that had been on display were moved into storage and we still are not sure where it will be on display next. There are two, three very good options, but it is too early to say where the rowing stuff might end up. As soon as there is a decision, it will be revealed in this space!

A part of the collection of the National Rowing Foundation (NRF) is still at Mystic Seaport – the boats that belong to NRF. Yesterday, a group of rowing history buffs and Mystic Seaport watercraft staff met to go through the collection of boats and racing shells at the museum’s boat storage, which contains around 400 of the watercraft of Mystic Seaport and some shells of the NRF.

The latest donation to the NRF’s boat collection, in 2016, was a beautiful restored single scull which had belonged to the famous American amateur sculling champion Constance Sutton – always referred to as ‘C.S.’ – Titus, who was beaten by Frederick S. Kelly in the 1902 Diamond Challenge Sculls at Henley Royal Regatta, a cup Kelly eventually won (he would win two more Diamonds titles). Titus did take a bronze medal in the single sculls at the Olympic Games in 1904. Among many rare pieces of American rowing history in the NRF collection is John ‘Kell’ Kelly’s V Mary and all boat types built by George Pocock, training wherries, single sculls, pairs/doubles, fours and eights.

One of rowing historian Tom Weil’s favourite boats in the collection is the 1871 6-oared in which the U Mass Amherst Aggies won what was probably the first legitimate U.S. intercollegiate national championship regatta.

The group had not gathered to swap rowing stories of old – which always takes some time – instead, it was to sort out which boats and oars in the museum’s boat storage belong to the museum and which belong to the NRF, a daunting task for many, but not for this highly organised group, well sort of…

At this year’s WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport, on 30 June – 2 July, the museum’s boat storage space will be open certain times for visitors of the show.

Update (1 june): In an article published yesterday, 31 May, on Row2k, “PNRA Boathouse Expansion Plan Includes Doubling Space, Parking; Slated to Start Spring 2018”, Ed Hewitt writes about the Princeton National Rowing Association (PNRA) on the shores of Mercer Lake, New Jersey, and the planned expansion PNRA is working on. PNRA Executive Director Kris Grudt is quoted saying that ‘The final size of the expansion will depend on where we end up with our fundraising.’ Hewitt continues to write:

Grudt added that the majority of the expansion will consist of indoor workout space, expanded locker rooms, and a couple additional boat bays including a heated shop bay; the more extensive version of the plan also includes potential office space for USRowing as well as a home for the National Rowing Hall of Fame and Museum, which is now without a home after having left Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.

Yes, this is one of the options that the NRF is considering, but the key words in the quotes above are ‘the more extensive version of the plan’ and ‘fundraising’. Read Hewitt’s article here.

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