23 July 2022
By Sarah Risser
Sarah Risser continues her story from yesterday about the North West International Rowing Association (NWIRA), which was founded in 1886 by the Minnesota Boat Club, the now-defunct St. Paul Boat Club, and the Winnipeg Rowing Club to expand competitive opportunities for rowing throughout Minnesota and Western Canada.
During its earliest years, the NWIRA Regatta featured just six events: the junior and senior single, double, and straight four. The senior straight four was considered the signature event. Association rules required all member clubs to enter a senior four-oared crew. Over the years, the NWIRA has grown significantly. Today, eleven clubs from Minnesota and Western Canada comprise the Association, and the regatta features over 50 events, many of them with dedicated trophies.
The NWIRA’s impressive collection of trophies is an important part of its character and rich history. The Manitoba Railway Company was the first to donate a trophy, a silver pitcher for the overall winner the first regatta, held at Lake Minnetonka in 1886. The following year, Sir Donald A Smith, vice president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, donated a stunning silver cup for the winner of the senior four, which Winnipeg captured, according to the papers, in grand style. In 1914, Sir Thomas Lipton presented the Association with a jaw-dropping silver cup, the Lipton Cup, which stands over three feet tall and is bestowed on the overall winner, the team that has amassed the most points over the course of the regatta. Over the years many stunning trophies have been donated, and together they comprise a spectacular collection.
The Association’s most recent acquisition is the Henry Zietlow Memorial Trophy for the Junior Men’s Single. Henry was an active and beloved member of the Twin Cities rowing community. He captained the junior team at the Minnesota Boat Club (MBC) in St. Paul and actively sought out opportunities to race in the junior men’s single, competing at the NWIRA, the Head of the Rock, and the Head of the Charles before enrolling at Bowdoin College and embracing collegiate rowing.
After completing just one semester at Bowdoin College, Henry was killed in a tragic crash on January 14, 2019, when a driver illegally hauling a trailer crossed the center line into his lane. Months after his passing, family friend and long-time rower and coach, Jaymie Korman, initiated a memorial trophy to honor Henry, his favorite event, and contribute to the rich legacy of the NWIRA.
The connections between Henry, the rowing community, and the artist who crafted the trophy, William P Reimann, run deep. Henry’s teammates on the MBC junior team, Grace and Sovigne Gardner, are Reimann’s granddaughters. Reimann is not only a renowned sculptor but also an accomplished sculler in his own right. Reimann is well known for his large Plexiglas and steel sculptures in addition to stonework, metalwork, and figurative graphite and ink drawings. According to his website,
Reimann gained early recognition for his extraordinary artistic versatility and technical genius…his works were exhibited at—and entered in the permanent collections of—the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York before he completed his graduate work.
Reimann joined the Cambridge Boat Club (CBC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1972 where he connected with his long-term rowing partner Pete Peterson. Reimann has been training, racing, and logging impressive mileage ever since. At 86, Reimann continues to row and sculpt with joyful enthusiasm and brilliance. As he was finishing the trophy in early July of 2022, he had already logged more than 1000 miles on the Charles River.
The base of the Henry Zietlow Memorial Trophy, crafted from black walnut, is really a work of art. The particular walnut slab was given to Reimann by his double partner Pete Peterson. The original tree grew on Peterson’s property within Adirondack Park on Long Lake. After the tree was cut down, the wood was stored for 40 years by the Petersons prior to making its way to Reimann’s studio where he held onto it until he found a suitable project.
Reimann captured Henry’s dedication and drive by sculpting the figure with a focused, serious, demeanor. He balanced this brilliantly with a playful floppy mop of hair and checkered socks. The socks and uni are a nod to Bowdoin College, where Henry was so happy to row.
The process of making the trophy is documented beautifully by Reimann’s daughter Katya, who managed the entire process.
The 117th Annual NWIRA is going on right now in Kenora, Ontario (on July 22nd and 23rd). The Junior Men’s Single event is heavily subscribed, with 16 entries. Henry’s spirit and Reimann’s artistic brilliance will certainly inspire the young men vying to win this trophy to row with determination and joyful enthusiasm.