On the eve of the 1947 Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race, the Daily Mail wrote:
THE MAN WHO’LL WIN THE BOAT RACE.
Light or Dark Blues first, come Saturday, George Sims of Hammersmith is the winner. He built both boats….
Boats are built entirely without blueprints or drawings, to plans carried in George’s head. They are made of Empire woods, Honduras cedar for the skin, English sycamore for the ribs, Canadian silver spruce for the keel. Orders come from all over the world – Canada, the US, Holland, Norway and Sweden.
The recent news that the “one-off” building of the first wooden eight to be made in Britain in perhaps over forty years is underway is a good reason to revisit a picture magazine article of 1939. It showed that year’s Oxford boat under construction by boatbuilder George Sims, then based in the Rutland Boathouse sited behind the Rutland pub in Hammersmith, West London.
Presumably, the methods of constructing a wooden eight have not changed very much over the years, though there are probably more power tools used and fewer neckties worn. Prices may also be different as in 1939 Oxford paid Sims £120 for its new boat.
As the examples below show, for many years newspapers and magazines were endlessly fascinated with who was going to build the Oxford and Cambridge boats and the press went into great detail regarding the technical aspects of the construction.