The Frank C is named in honor of the late Frank Cunningham, legendary coach at Stan Pocock’s Lake Washington Rowing Club. It was originally built for the Washington Athletic Club to compete in the trials for the 1960 Olympics. Six years earlier, four young men had approached Stan Pocock about trying out for the 1956 Olympic games. The Washington Athletic Club (WAC) had agreed to sponsor them and Stan built them a rudderless four, remembering his grandfather’s advice that rudderless boats are faster.
That might be true on a calm day but the day of the race, the WAC fought a strong headwind which blew them into a log boom in the final few meters of the race – a race they were winning – against competition they had beaten 2 days earlier.
The thought must have tormented the WAC crew: “If only…” I knew it did me. I’m not sure those men ever forgave me for having put them in that rudderless boat.– Stan Pocock, Way Enough
He wasn’t about to make that mistake again. When time came for the 1960 Olympic trials, Stan built the Washington Athletic Club’s straight four with a rudder (the boat that’s now the Frank C..) But the crew never made it to the finals.
Stan’s other boat, the HOH did make it to the Olympics – and won, along with his Lake Washington Rowing Club crew. It was the only gold medal won by a U.S. rowing team that year.
Fast forward 40 years. The LWRC donated the HOH to Rat Island Rowing Club who raced and restored it. We did such a good job, Stan was awestruck.
I have not been able to get out of my mind’s eye the picture of that beautifully-restored four up there at Port Townsend, the one used by the four men from the then fledgling Lake Washington Rowing Club to win the 1960 Olympic Gold Medal. (It was the kind of loving care evident in the restoring of that boat along with all the other excellent rejuvenating of old wooden shells that prompted my urging Tytus to act as he did.) That boat really ought to be hanging up in the ceiling of the Pocock Memorial Rowing Center. After all, my Dad and I built the boat and I coached the crew that used it to win the Gold. – Stan Pocock
In exchange, he gave us her sister ship – the Washington Athletic Club’s straight four (with rudder!)
I happen to own a straight four, the “Washington Athletic Club”, which originally was donated to the LWRC by the WAC. It languished over at the UW during the time that LWRC was more or less out of business. In going over the records at our shop, I discovered that we had never billed the WAC for the boat (we never should have been in business), so I laid claim to it and it has ended up at the Rowing Center. As far as I know, it is in very good shape, other than maybe needing a coat of varnish. – Stan Pocock
When the Washington Athletic Club first came to us, we called her the OHO (an anagram of HOH)
It was eventually restored and befittingly renamed the Frank C.
The boat rows like a dream and everyone holds their breath in the morning crew assignments, hoping they’ll get the chance to row her. The Frank C. has screamed first across the finish line more than once. And that’s as good as gold to us!