12 March 2019
By Göran R Buckhorn
HTBS editor Göran R Buckhorn reflects on 10 years in cyberspace.
What have I done?
Exactly 10 years ago, today*, I posted the first article on a blog I called ‘Hear The Boat Sing’ (HTBS). I stole the name from a line in a poem written by one of my rowing ‘heroes’, Steve Fairbairn.
To be honest, I didn’t expect that much would come of my blogging. I mean how many people would actually be interested in what a Swede, sitting in a small village in Connecticut, had to write about rowing history? And I was right, not many people paid any attention at first, but I kept plugging along.
Although, I had enjoyed rowing at my Swedish club, Malmö Roddklubb, in the south of Sweden, my racing for the club had been mediocre at best. But one thing that I did like was writing about rowing for the club’s newsletter and then for the Swedish Rowing Association’s magazine. In 1990, my rowing buddy Per Ekström and I were appointed editors of the association’s magazine, which we called Svensk Rodd [‘Swedish Rowing’], which proved to be misleading, as we wrote as much about rowing outside of Sweden as in the country. As I concentrated on rowing in Britain for Svensk Rodd, it was natural that I would continue to write about it on HTBS.
I felt HTBS needed a logo and maybe some clever words describing what the blog was about. I found an image of a single sculler that could be used for free. A couple of years later, I realised that the image of the man in the single sculls had been used by boatbuilder George Sims, Twickenham, England (see also here). Then I thought that starting out by saying ‘This website covers all aspects of the rich history of rowing…’, I had opened doors to publish whatever I wanted on rowing. I still follow that mantra; any well-written text coming my way might very well be published on HTBS, even if the word ‘oar’ or ‘boat’ are only mentioned once. To me, it’s a ‘rowing article’.
Two things happened that lead me to believe that I was doing something right with HTBS. One reader contacted me saying something along the lines of ‘it’s remarkable that the best website on English rowing is written by a Swede living in America…’ That felt good. The second thing was that a reader by the name of Tim Koch in London contacted me asking if he might publish an article on HTBS. Of course, I said. One article became two, then three, then four… and the rest you all loyal readers know by now: Tim is a valuable writer for HTBS. And other readers approached me about a contribution, and two and three… Now the boat started to move. Joining the crew were Greg Denieffe, Hélène Rémond, Louis Petrin, Philip Kuepper, Chris Dodd, Tom Weil and William O’Chee. Most of these eminent persons are still regular contributors to HTBS. And let’s not forget the ‘irregulars’, who now and then send an article, which will be published on HTBS. We cannot do without them.
It’s noteworthy that you will find articles on HTBS by the world’s most prominent rowing historians, journalists and writers – and let me be honest, after 10 years as the editor of HTBS, I’m still amazed to read their names and their articles on something that more or less began on a whim.
Later this month there will be a celebratory luncheon hosted by Tim Koch at Auriol Kensington Rowing Club, Hammersmith in London, for the 10-year-old. (Sorry, all the seats are already taken, but try to book a seat for the 15th anniversary!) I’m sad that I will not be there, but I’m sure I will see a full report from the festivities on HTBS.
The other evening, I took the website’s IT staffer, Mrs B., out to dinner to mark the anniversary. We spent a nice evening at a restaurant overlooking the Mystic River. During my 10 years at the HTBS helm, and I have mentioned this many times, she is the one who makes the boat float and has done so from day one. To her, all HTBS contributors (regulars and irregulars) and to all you wonderful readers – Thank You!
*Despite that the first article gives 13 March 2009 as a date, it was the 12 March.