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.
The Greek trireme was a large boat with three banks of oars. These ships were about 120 feet long and required 170 men to operate the oars!
The rowers seats were as follows:
62 thranitai in the top row (thranos means “deck”). They rowed through the parexeiresia, an outrigger which enabled the inclusion of the third row of oars without significant increase to the height and loss of stability of the ship. Greater demands were placed upon their strength and synchronization than on those of the other two rows.
54 zygitai in the middle row, named after the beams (zygoi) on which they sat.
54 thalamitai or thalamioi in the lowest row, (thalamos means “hold”). Their position was certainly the most uncomfortable, being underneath their colleagues and also exposed to the water entering through the oarholes, despite the use of the askōma, a leather sleeve through which the oar emerged.
Steering was done by a single helmsman known as kybernetes, so that maybe takes it to 171, excluding others on the boat not “rowing”
Small correction: the Leviathan (not Leviathon) built for the Oxford University Boat Club was launched on 13 November 1951, eight years earlier than written above. Wondering about the Swedish church boats. Ladies need to go to church too. Did they row, or were they stuffed into the boats as passengers, or not go to church at all?
Thank you, Teresa, for the corrections. They have now been made in the article.
Regarding if women rowed the church boats – yes, they did. At certain occasions the women just had to. The Sunday church service also became a social gathering, and as such food and drink were plentiful after the service. As a result, the men were often too drunk to row back home to the village, so the women took to the oars. It was not uncommon that the different villagers raced the boats home, and if needed, the women raced, too. During the summer months, there are still church boat races in Sweden with men’s crews, women’s crews or mixed crews.
As of 2015 Stampfli U.K. was offering a triple. Aimed at crews who either were a club member short for a quad or as a way of always boating squad members in a crew boat when you had odd numbers. No need to put out one person in a single alongside doubles and quads. Also some triples around based on converted bow coxed pairs. More about re-using a hull that became redundant when this category was dropped from international competition?
The ‘ram dam’ is also known as a ran dan, ran’dan or Ran-dan; I’ve seen the “n”s used more frequently than the “m”s. See, e.g. The desk Standard dictionary of the English language, James Champlin Fernald, Frank H. Vizetelly – 1922 Page 644 ran’dan, n. 1. [Eng.] A boat rowed by three persons, the one amidships having two oars and the others one each. 19th century references to them are not terribly uncommon, and they can be found in coxed and uncoxed forms.
I rowed in an eight without a coxswain – not a coxless eight boat as such as there was a seat for a cox but it was unoccupied. This was in 1997 in Germany at Rheinfelden on the German/Swiss border on the river Rhein which is a very wide river. It was also not particularly busy with the exception of a few very large barges. The boat ( a carbon Staempfli )was stroked, and steered, by a very experienced club member who had rowed in a GER LM4-, using the same footplate mechanism as one would have in a coxless pair or four/quad. I think I was sat at 4 and remember it being a distinctly strange experience !
I’ve rowed a coxless eight! On Lake Cayuga. We steered with pressure. It went just fine.
Caryn, if the rest of the crew was up to your double Olympic Gold winning standard, I am not surprised that it went well! However, for most of us, coxless eights are probably not a good idea.