1897 Season

Andrew O'Dea
Andrew O'Dea
  Lee F. Austin
Lee F. Austin
 Results | Summary | W Winners 

Season Results


Season Summary

Wisconsin rowed mostly against club crews, including the Minnesota B.C., beating them all.

The Badger varsity also went east to Yale in 1897 and lost to a Yale team which that season had broken the record over a two mile course with a time of 10:54. The New York Times account of the race read:

From start to finish the visiting crew gave Yale a good battle. Yale crept steadily to the lead, and by the time a quarter of a mile had been traversed was nearly a length ahead. The crews, who had both caught the water at a forty-to-the-minute stroke, now let down somewhat, and Yale was timed rowing about thirty-two to the minute and Wisconsin thirty-four. That was the stroke maintained from the start to the finish of the race.

At the mile stake Yale had nearly a length of clear water between her shell and Wisconsin’s, and the blue continued to draw gradually away till half a mile from the finish. The stroke Langford of Yale dropped his pace down to about thirty, and the Wisconsiners, who, despite their light weight, seemed full of life, hit up a lively stroke till they crossed the line. They rowed on good form throughout the race, while Yale seemed not to catch the water forcibly

Both eights rowed evenly, Yale spurting ahead as soon as Referee Richard’s pistol was fired, and never being overtaken, although the Yale was lowered during the last half mile, and the Wisconsin crew decreased the distance between the two boats by half a length. It is estimated that 5,000 saw the race on Lake Saltonstall.

The timers were the coaches of the two crews, Robert J. Cook for Yale and Andrew O’Dea for Wisconsin, and the judges were Commodore Waite for Wisconsin and J. W. Curtiss of New York for Yale.


The two varsity crews had boatings in following order:

Yale Position Wisconsin
Rogers Bow Walter (or A. F. ?) Alexander
Whitney No. 2 Sutherland
Campbell No. 3 Chamberlain
Greenway No. 4 Ollson
Bailey (Captain) No. 5 Lake
Allen No. 6 Lee Austin (Captain)
Griswold No. 7 Anderson
Langford Stroke Seymour Marshall
Green Coxswain Harry Crandall


The Fourth Annual Minnesota Boat Club Race

On July 4 (?), UW rowed against the Minnesota B. C. in Minnesota . Paul Echkhardt’s June 1948 crew history in the Wisconsin Alumni suggests Wisconsin prevailed. {Note: A careful review of the St. Paul Pioneer Press for the summer of 1897 (June through August) uncovered no evidence of a race in 1897, despite several articles over that summer giving prominence to other rowing events.}


At the IRA’s:

Two races were held on the Poughkeepsie, as Yale refused to participate in a five-way meet. Unable to persuade Harvard and Yale to row at Poughkeepsie, Cornell rowed in a three-way regatta on the Thames River in New London, Connecticut; the finishing order was Cornell, Yale, Harvard.

In endless speculation, the press made much of the differences in the weight of the crews: Yale the heaviest at 172; Harvard averaging 167 even with a light stroke (155); and Cornell the lightest at 160 with no man over 168. The coaches were Harvard’s Rudy Lehmann, with his English reserve and rigging; the shy and uncommunicative Charles Courtney of Cornell and the blustering, irascible Bo Cook at Yale.

An estimated 100,000 spectators watched a finish of the ‘first’ Regatta on June 25 in this order: Cornell, Yale, Harvard. In the ‘second’ Regatta, on July 2, the finish was Cornell, Columbia and Penn. The Frosh races were June 23, finishing Yale (9.11.5), Harvard and Cornell and on June 30, Cornell, Columbia and Penn.

A week later, on the 4-mile Poughkeepsie Regatta course on the Hudson River, Cornell (20:47.8) defeated Columbia and Penn, in that order.

An 1897 story of Cornell Coach Charles Courtney is worth telling here:

Courtney was an absolute despot on training discipline. Positively no drinking or smoking in or out of season, walk to and from campus to the boathouse, and follow a strict nutritional diet were among his rules. He learned that five of his varsity…yielded to the seduction of strawberry shortcake. He dropped them out of hand, summoned substitutes, and won the Poughkeepsie Regatta two weeks later (twice) with what was ever afterward known as ‘the strawberry shortcake crew.’ By contrast, at the Harvard camp, where there was a small ‘retinue of servants,’ the men enjoyed a glass of claret at every meal save breakfast and a goblet of champagne after a particularly hard day’s work.

-Bob Kane (A History of Cornell Athletics, Cornell University Press, 1992


Alonzo A. Chamberlain
Harry R. Crandall
R. T. Logeman
Israel Mather
Lester C. Street


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