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The Making of the Boys of ’36 – And Our Supporting Role

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Early last Summer, with still no word about when (or even if)  Daniel Brown’s bestseller  Boys in the Boat  movie would begin production,  buzz started circulating throughout the rowing community about a different kind of production.

Rumor had it that a separate PBS documentary was in the works.  Producers Mary Carillo  (sports journalist and athlete) and sports documentarian Margaret Grossi were coming out West to mine for gold,  looking to immerse themselves in the culture that gave rise to  the Olympic gold medal-winning “Boys of ’36”.  Naturally their trail took them out to Port Townsend, where Steve Chapin still builds Pocock Wooden singles in a shop dripping with the kind of atmosphere that  location scouts dream about.  This was very hush hush and we all took blood oaths to keep quiet about it…until now!

While they were here, we couldn’t let them go without delivering on a promised photo-op in the Frank C. one of our historic Pocock wooden quads.


Mary Carillo (S) Margaret Grossi (3), Frank W (2) and Linda W (C).

Meanwhile, plans were underway to provide a Pocock eight for the actual shoot, which took place in Seattle’s Conibear shell house. The UW Crew traded their sleek purple lycra for fuddy-duddy white cotton tees, black shorts and ankle socks. The Kathy Whitman had just been restored, so she stayed home in the boathouse. The Husky Challenger, older and more like the original, would make the trip and fill in as stunt double for her sister ship, the Husky Clipper.

Dianne Roberts, crew of HuCha (Tuf as Nails’ nickname for the Husky Challenger) accompanied her charge, along with camera gear and her unparalleled professional eye. The results are breathtaking! More photos here

Adoring fans Steve Chapin and Ted Shoulberg chauffeured HuCha’s  “stretch limo” into Seattle and were also at the shoot.


UW Husky Crew doffed old-school rowing clothes. (Photo courtesy Dianne Roberts)


Once she felt the old familiar white wooden macon blades hit the water, the Husky Challenger sprang to life. (Photos courtesy Dianne Roberts)

From what we’ve seen,  the PBS documentary  Boys of ’36 (airing August 2, 9pm ET)  is very exciting and hopefully just the first of many amazing stories surrounding the Northwest’s golden age of rowing and the Pocock legacy.

Ancient Mariner Lenny O’Donnell wrote: The NW Rowing community really rallied in support of the upcoming PBS documentary …Rowing Archives and the Ulbrickson Family provided rare footage and photos. And, yes, more great stories on NW rowing are in the pipeline!

Great job Mary Carillo, Margaret Grossi and the whole PBS team! We can’t wait to see it!

Here are some sneak previews!

Update 8/16

Thanks to Margaret Grossi, Daniel Brown and others for the privilege of having our own pre-screening of this magnificent documentary to a SOLD OUT CROWD!! (Northwest Maritime Center)


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