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The “New” Stämpfli Wooden Triple

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

While the rest of us were trifling with riggers and foot stretchers during the 2015 HOTL, Ted Shoulberg, Rat Island’s Most Interesting Man in the World  lookalike was rubbing elbows with the rowing elite at Conibear .


Separated at birth?

In the course of  Ted’s  conversation with Jon Moss of the Nicomekl Rowing Club in South Surrey, B.C. the subject of the Stämpfli  Triple came up.  It turned out they had one just like the one in our boathouse, but it was hardly ever being used. In his usual delicate manner, Ted asked “Can we have it?”

As it turns out, NRC’s demographics are very similar to ours. They are an older club that started with a couple of old big 8s and went down the same long road transitioning into a sculling club.. They have 22 club boats and 18 private boats – all stored  in a pole barn building on city property. They share our love of classic wooden racing boats and they wanted a good home for their triple.

A few emails and links to our website convinced them we were serious about wooden racing shells – and the deal was on.  A fellow NRC member, Malcolm was refurbishing the decks on a Graeme King single and needed new moulding cut to exact specifications  . Thanks to master craftsman Steve Chapin we were able to provide them with 48ft. of 5/16 half round – a gift, at Jim Mason’s suggestion.

With not a minute to spare the swap was made Saturday January 2, in between Keystone ferry runs,  and the beautiful Menage a Trois (yes the name is on the hull) was delivered to our doorstep.


Ted writes: It is in good shape but needs refinishing. Jim M has put it on his list after the Frank C.   Jim’s first refinishing project as my student was the first Triple…. now I get to work under his direction ” No Drips”

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.


The Stampfli signiture U-Shaped hull makes the boat faster but a little more tender

Like George Pocock, Johann handed the business to his son with the onset of composite shells. Stämpfli kept building wooden shells alongside its composite line into the 1990’s. In 1991, Stämpfli was acquired by Janousek Racing Boats, headquartered in Surrey, U.K.

Ted is guessing the Menage a Trois was built around the 1980s and reports that the boat is in better condition than ours. The finish is worn but the outside has been gossimered with varnish.

Jim Buckley writes : The “triple” was built as a bow-coxed Stämpfli pair/double, we’re guessing in the late 1970′s or early 80′s,. The new work to make it into a triple involved extending the cockpit forward to allow a third sliding seat to be installed where the coxswain sat in a semi prone position with most of his body under the bow deck. 

You can see on the splashboard where the cox'n station was converted into a third sliding seat

You can see on the splashboard where the cox’n station was cut and converted into a third sliding seat

Ted adds: All triples are coxed pairs redone – So not just anyone can get in that boat. – One person needs to be a lightweight . The  other 2 can be any weight but they all have to be good rowers. When Jim, John and I rowed it together it was very unstable.

It can also be rowed as a “three” with the bow seat (Cox) sculling and the other 2 rowing sweep.  In the past, the triples were entered as a quad at Lake Washington’s Head of the Lake race. According to LWRC’s  John Robinson, next year, they will introduce a category just for triples.

Won’t that be fun for our new fleet of two classic wooden Stämpflis!

More photos here and  here 


At 2004 Head of the Lake –  Ted Shoulberg  John Collins and Jim Buckley  “didn’t come in last in the only Triples race in the country. All of us had a great time.” according to Buckley

Update 10/16

The M-A-T is currently in Steve’s shop where Jim Mason is working on her. More details to come!~


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