OG 1960: When Men Rowed Wood

The German winners of the 1960 Olympic eights, Ratzeburger Ruderclub, with their coach, Karl Adam (in a white cap in the middle).

23 June 2021

By Göran R Buckhorn

Exactly a month from today, the 2020 Olympic rowing will start on the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo.

Sixty years ago – well 61 to be exact, but who is counting the pandemic year anyway? – the rowing world was gathering at Lago di Albano, the volcanic crater lake 26km south-east of Rome, for the Olympic rowing.

At the 1960 Games, Vyacheslav Ivanov, of the Soviet Union, won his second Olympic gold medal in the single sculls. As we know, he would take his third gold in the boat class at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo.

For the second time there was a united team rowing for Germany. The united team won the coxed pairs, coxed fours and the eights. After having won gold in the eights since 1920, the USA ended up without a medal, in fifth place in the final. The German eight was from Ratzeburger Ruderclub, which was founded in 1953 by their coach Karl Adam.

Here is an almost four-minute video from the Olympic rowing on Lake Albano, a regatta where the oarsmen still rowed wood!


  1. Ratzeburger Ruder Club, THE rowing club of the sixties!
    So many memorable top International races won by that club in the decade.

  2. Quite so, Ratzeburger Ruderclub was very successful and for a special reason.

    In Germany in that era competition was only between crews made up of members of the same rowing club. That was good for strong competition among the many rowing clubs and for members’ strong allegiance to their own club. It meant, however, that the best individual German oarsmen were not able to be combined to form crews for international competition.

    Karl Adam solved this handicap by inviting the best individuals to join his club and learn his style and training method, the start of the success of Ratzeburger Ruderclub

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