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The Small Wonder

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

Marsha Wiener

The Small Wonder, the first eight-oared shell made for ordinary sized women consisted of two fours cobbled together by Stan Pocock and Frank Cunninham 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 than a standard shell. “Frank’s Little Women” rowed the Small Wonder in the late 1880s and early 1900s. 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.

 Image above by Diane Roberts – Members of Tuf as Nails and Rat Island Rowing Club prepare to raise the Small Wonder to the ceiling of the Public House Grill on Water Street where it will be stored. Diane writes, “The Small Wonder was the first 8+ built specifically to accommodate women – it was made from two 4+ boats by Stan Pocock and Frank Cunningham so their cox’ns (often tiny women) could row. It is about 4 feet shorter than the Challenger”


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