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Peter Mallory's Blog

By pmallory - Posted on 23 July 2012

9 July 2012

Facebook, at last . . .

I recently broke down and finally joined Facebook in order to try to locate some more of my Western Sprints Champion 1974 Cal State Long Beach Crew (shown below at Burnaby Lake, British Columbia, with our mascot, Jayvee) in preparation for our planned 40th Reunion, but alas, I’m still trying to get the hang of things, and I have come up empty so far. Anybody know why "Get Timeline" stays grayed out when I press it?

That said, please "friend me" on Facebook if you haven't already. Maybe you can help in my current quest. I haven't posted a great deal yet, but I promise to do so regularly starting in the near future, as soon as I can figure a bit more out.

Incidentally, after a month of sleuthing, the people in the Long Beach State Varsity boat that we have still not located are coxswain Patricia Ann Heuser, now apparently living in Melbourne Beach, Florida (but we don't yet know her married name - so close, yet so far!), stroke Chuck Wright, beside her in the photo above, and 3-man Don Henderson. Does anybody know these people today? (By the way, that's actually me on the right. Oh, my! A lot has changed in 38 years!)

Olympic Fever!

Paul Mainds, Chief Executive of the River & Rowing Museum, writes: “We are expecting the Olympic Torch in Henley tomorrow. I was instrumental in getting it here and hatching the idea that it should be rowed from our jetty to Leander. I was not expecting Steve Redgrave to be the torch bearer in the middle of the eight or a ‘red alert’ flood warning on the river … fingers crossed!!!”

I’m sure we’ll be getting coverage of this spectacle in good time from Tim Koch on

These days Susan and I couldn't be more excited about our trip to the Olympics in three weeks. We are walking a couple of miles every morning to get ready. Just getting to the venue from our lodgings at Leander Club in Henley will be a challenge, and none of our British friends have any confidence that it will go at all smoothly. Lot of grumbling about LOCOG, the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, about the impossibility of getting tickets, about broken promises and inflexible and impenetrable bureaucracy.

Anyway, here are some of the travel alternatives. There are railway stations in Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead from which you can take special shuttle buses to the Royal Windsor Racecourse. From there it is a 15-20 minute walk through airport-style security across a temporary bridge over the Thames to Eton Dorney. Or you can drive to one of four park-and-ride lots, two in Windsor and two in Maidenhead, which also have shuttle buses. There are estimates of well over an hour from the time you reach the carpark to the time you reach your seats, and everything begins promptly at 9:30AM each day. There is also boat service from Windsor.

No one on Earth will know how well the system will work until we’ve tried it a few times. Oh, and of course you need to book your rail travel or your space in the carpark in advance, so basically you have to make a guess as to which method is best, and then you’re stuck with your decision. Add in the wettest summer in recent memory and . . . (Let's hope the photo above will be typical of the race conditions every morning all week. Let it rain and blow every afternoon instead!!)

But nobody I have spoken to has suggested that whatever we experience will not be completely worth it for the privilege of seeing the Olympic rowing competition in person. Susan and I are especially blessed in 2012 because we now have so many good personal friends from the U.S. and all around the world to cheer for.

Look for us either at Dorney Lake or in Henley. Our mobile number over there will be 07786145473. Seriously.

Old Oars

Here is the oar I recently restored to commemorate my '74 Long Beach Crew. We hope to mount it in the boathouse, where the exploits of this squad have been largely forgotten.

And here is one of those Pocock decals I received from Stan Pocock as mounted on the Long Beach oar. [Sorry, no images.]

Isn't the grain of the wood awesome? Truly a thing of beauty.

While we're on the subject, I recently received the following email from Guy Harper in Seattle: “In 1954, I bought a single lap strake wherry from George Pocock. Unfortunately, I lent it to a fellow, and a tree dropped on the boat, destroying it. I did save the structural cross member, however, with the decal that stated something like ‘George and Dick Pocock Boats – University Station.’ Stan would know the exact wording. I lost track of that piece and will probably find it somewhere in the shop someday.”

So the evolution of the Pocock logo surely goes back much further than the examples we have tracked down together so far, goes back 100 years in fact. Does anyone have an early 20th Century Pocock decal they can photograph and send me?

I am also now looking for a good photo of a 1960s-era Ayling decal. Can anyone help? And while you’re looking, I am in the market for oars of all types and ages, sweep and scull, any condition. Surely somewhere there are still piles of old oars nobody wants hiding in closets or behind boathouses.

Reading List

I do some of my best reading on trips, so as our trip to Dorney Lake approaches, books are on my mind. Now I know that it is self-importance of the very highest order to imagine that anyone might be interested in my favorite books, but here are some recommendations anyway:

If you have not read Lords of the Sea, The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy by John R. Hale, Viking Press, 2009, get it immediately. It will make you swell with pride as a rower. Oh, and I can't take credit for this recommendation. After you have read this, thank my good friend and mentor, Tom Weil. This book will blow you away.

Then you must forgive me. I am fascinated by the Mallory-Irvine fatal attempt on Mt. Everest in 1924. I'm sure the name George Mallory has something to do with it, but Into the Silence, The Great War, and the Conquest of Everest, Wade Davis, Knopf, 2011, is the latest and best of a long list of books on the subject. Don't forget, both were rowers . . . and the best was Sandy Irvine.

And now, for the first time, there is a book just about Sandy Irvine, Boat Race winner, written by a loving neice, Fearless on Everest, the Quest for Sandy Irvine, Julie Summers, Iffley Press, 2012. Long will his name live.

Now, from left field . . .

The Sign, The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection, Thomas de Wesselow, Dutton, 2012. I first visited the chapel of the Holy Shroud in Turin in 1977, and I have never gotten over it. Carbon dating in the 1980s supposedly proved the shroud was a medieval fake. Don't you believe it. Read this book. The Shroud of Turin may just be the most interesting and meaningful historical artifact in the world. Period. Fascinating book.

Tonight I am watching The Corsican Brothers on television, not the Cheech & Chong version, thank goodness, the 1941 Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. version, and now I am detrmined to read the Dumas original ASAP. Interestingly, I was reading The Three Musketeers during the summer of 1974 with my Long Beach crew, from California to St, Catherines to Princeton to Hunter Island Lagoon back to Princeton and then home. No better companion than Dumas in times of adventure . . . and what greater adventure than the Olympics?

Gennadii Ochkalenko

I believe I mentioned this in the past, but it bears repeating. One of the chapters in my recent book, The Sport of Rowing, that challenged me the most was Chapter 79 on the historical development of rowing in the Soviet Union, and it would never have turned out as well as it did without the enormous help I received from Gennadii Ochkalenko, a master coach from Kiev, Ukraine with decades of international administrative and professional coaching experience. He would like nothing more than to continue his coaching career in the West. His coaching has already taken him around the world from Britain to China, and he has worked with many of the world’s great coaches. He would be a tremendous addition to any serious program that's interested in winning. If you would like more information, please contact me directly, and I will send you his complete resumé.

Now go friend Gennadii Ochkalenko on Facebook! Then check out his photo album. Seriously!

Incidentally, Gennadii has a wonderful facility with the English language. While an American might say there is a fox in the henhouse, Gennadii would say there is a snake among the rabbits. Absolutely charming guy.

And he talks fluent rowing!