In Britain at least, most adults learning to row at a typical club would probably start in a sweep eight. From this, they may then go into a coxed four. As they improve, they could progress to a coxless four or to sculling, perhaps beginning in a single. I consider the pair the last craft to be mastered; you can put two ostensibly good rowers together in a sweep two-person boat and it still may not work. Whatever a rower’s path through different boat types, it is natural to think of rowing or sculling boats as only having crews of one, two, four or eight. However, as the following examples show, other options are available. I have only included rowing and sculling craft and not boats that are paddled – even though some traditional canoes, such as the ‘Snake Boats’ of India, can carry a huge crew.
No reflection on Henry Fieldman’s abilities but there is a story that when Steve Redgrave and Andy Holmes were training for the coxed pair in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, cox Pat Sweeney was sometimes not available, so they replaced him with a heavy toolbox.
The Iroquoi Tribes (who prefer the name ‘Haudenosaunee Confederacy’) live in the Northeastern part of North America in both the U.S. and Canada. To most of us, the best-known tribe in the Confederacy is the Mohawk. According to a University of Houston website: ‘The Iroquois built big thirty-foot-long freight-carrying canoes that held 18 passengers or a ton of merchandise. Emptied, even those canoes could be portaged by just three people’.However, the boat pictured in this old postcard does not appear to be a traditional craft. It seems to be rowed, not paddled, and it does not look like a light elm bark canoe construction.