Legacy of Wooden Boats
RIRSC is unique and well-known for our passion for restoring and rowing wooden shells. Over the years the club, or individual members, have rowed and maintained these historic boats. Each boat has a unique history, here are some examples:
The Hoh, a straight four, was built by Stan Pocock, and the Lake Washington crew he coached rowed it to win the gold medal in the 1960 Olympics. Years later it was donated to the Port Townsend club, where it was restored by a group of rowers that included Ted Shoulberg, Stephanie Ingram, Ole Kanestrom, Steve Chapin and Jim Buckley. After it was later damaged when a crew bashed it on rocks in a high wind, Steve Chapin did such a masterful job of patching a hole in the hull that Stan asked that the boat be given a place of honor at the George Pocock Rowing Center, where it has been on display since 2005.
Many long-term Port Townsend rowers learned to sweep in the Quinault. Stan Pocock thought the boat was built about 1949 as a “bat (interbattalion) boat” – the double hull to add strength and durability to boats built for Navy’s interbattalion rowing program. The Quinault was built for the University of Washington . Guy Harper (UW Crew ’54) rowed stroke in the Quinault when his freshman crew beat “The Great Eight” Navy crew in 1951 IRA. It was donated to Western Washington University, then Everett Rowing HS program, then the fledgling Port Townsend Rowing Club (later the Rat Island Rowing Club) where it became the club’s flag ship – and literally the only rowing shell we had for our entire first year (1998).
The Ristretto, built in 1979 for lightweight men or women, was acquired by a consortium of local rowers a few years ago. A “ristretto” is barista lingo for a coffee brew that is strong but not bitter and means “to pull short” - owners Jim Buckley and Roger McPherson agreed would be a fitting name for the boat, since it described their rowing technique.
The Ménage à Trois is the sistership to our older Stämpfli boat "Triple" (below), donated by the Nicomekl Racing Club in Surry BC at the behest of our own Ted Shoulberg. We are all familiar with Pococks, but Stämpfli is actually the oldest operating rowing boat manufacturer in the world, founded in Zurich 1896 by Johann Friedrich August Stämpfli. During the 1910s the company experimented with the design of a U-shaped hull rather than the more common semi-circle shape. This proved to be successful and many shells switched to the new design. Read more about this boat in a blog post here.
The Triple is a Stampfli bow coxed pair that has been converted into a three-person shell. It was purchased in Canada and is privately-owned.
The Small Wonder was the first eight-oared shell made for ordinary sized women. It consisted of two fours cobbled together by Stan Pocock and Frank Cunningham because of their concern that shells were built for 6’4” 200-pound men. Frank observed that women rowing these large boats looked like “chipmunks on a log.” The Small Wonder and its oars are 10% smaller in every dimension than a standard shell. “Frank’s Little Women” rowed the Small Wonder in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The passage of Title 9, which equalized opportunities for women participating in sports, resulted in many boats being built for women, and the Small Wonder was donated to the Wooden Boat Foundation. It has been rowed by the Tuf as Nails crew on occasion.
The Lucy Pocock Stillwell is not one of our boats, but the custom-built Lake Washington Rowing Club's flyweight coxed quad is nevertheless a special kind of shell that deserves a write up of her own. Like the Small Wonder, Stan built the Lucy for women, only the "Shrimps" who row her are cox-sized and no taller than 5'2". Using the lines from a men's pair, the rowing stations were scaled down to accommodate her crew.