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Author: Lisa Taylor

Competitive Women’s Rowing in Britain Since 1945: The Shadow of the Nineteenth Century

In recent years, the participation, visibility and success of competitive women’s rowing has increased exponentially. Yet progress with regard to competitive rowing has been uneven, and access to competitive opportunities remains limited and conditional – especially when these opportunities form an important part of the historical identity of the sport in Britain. The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, for example, has only involved men’s and women’s openweight crews (Blue Boats and Reserves) on the same day, on the same course, since 2016.  Henley Royal Regatta, one of the most prestigious events in the rowing calendar in Britain and abroad, offers...

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‘Seventeen men and a girl chasing one another up the Thames’: Sue Brown and the 1981 Boat Race

The Boat Races are a contest not only of brawn but also of brain. Alongside the eight athletes in the boat sits the cox: responsible for steering, managing and motivating the crew from Putney to Mortlake. The intricacies of this particular course – its stream, tides, and bends – show clearly how much of a decisive role coxing can play in a race. This year’s open weight Boat Races saw Matthew Holland in the cox’s seat for the Cambridge women’s Blue Boat, and Victoria Warner for Isis, the Oxford men’s reserve crew. Both illustrate the unique position of the...

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Liberté, Egalité, Sororité – or a lot of nonsense about rowing shorts?

The launch of European Women’s Rowing Championships in 1954, sanctioned by FISA, demonstrated institutional anxieties around the women’s sport, even as it introduced an important new competitive destination for female athletes. The launch of the first European Rowing Championships for women, held in Amsterdam in 1954, was a milestone in the women’s sport. For female rowers in Britain, this was not to be their first taste of international competition: clubs had occasionally competed in locations from France to Poland and Australia in the 1930s and late 1940s, and at the three International Women’s Regattas which immediately preceded the European...

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