Tim Koch travels in cyberspace to the land of his ancestors.
While the British claim to have invented (or at least codified) rowing as a sport, Germany and Austria-Hungary were among the earliest and most enthusiastic of the countries that subsequently adopted it as a popular pastime, both quickly developing their own traditions. Notably, many boathouses in the two Germanic nations were large, elaborate affairs, unlike most of those in Britain. I speculate that most of the finance for these came from two sources. Firstly, the ruderclubs often had attached restaurants and cafes that were open to all and which must have brought in a welcome income. Secondly, there was – and is – a tradition not just of racing boats over short distances, but also of long-distance touring in slow and stable craft. I suspect that the latter less demanding pastime kept a large membership on the books, effectively subsidising the racing members. Both of these factors may have made many Germanic clubs more family orientated and women-friendly than their strictly ‘men only’ equivalents in the UK.
I hope that this very random collection of pictures that I have collected over time goes at least a little way to illustrating Germany’s and Austria’s love of rudersport.