The 1906 Championship

Riverside Boat Club 150th Anniversary History Series

By Dick Garver

Riverside Boat Club was one of the most prominent racing clubs in the country in the first decade of the 20th Century, a stature that was confirmed by its senior eight winning the national championship in 1906.  It was a victory embroiled in controversy, however, involving—can you believe it—men’s sweep oars’ drinking. The story is told in the newest edition of the club’s 150th Anniversary History series.

In 1900, Riverside Boat Club’s eight, averaging 145 pounds, won the New England Amateur Rowing Association championship.  The Boston Globe’s long-time rowing reporter and NEARA figure Eugene Buckley proclaimed it “the first racing club in America.”  In 1902, he stated that, “Never in the history of rowing was there greater activity shown in turning out racing crews than is the case at present (at Riverside)”.  Seat selection for its intermediate and senior sweep boats was more competitive than ever. Riverside’s 1903 senior eight, coached by George Faulkner and again New England champion, was considered the best the club had put on the water to-date.  Reflecting the club’s prominence, in 1906 St. Josephs Boat Club’s highly regarded senior four made news by going over to Riverside as a group. Riverside’s ascendancy was confirmed in Worcester on August 11, 1906 when its senior eight claimed the national championship.  

It was a claim that was not without controversy, however.  Riverside and New York Athletic Club rowed to a dead heat in the championship race.  After an interval, the National Association of Amateur Oarsman announced that the race would be re-rowed, even though it was after sunset.    Riverside appeared to win. In the race’s aftermath, a disgruntled NYAC filled charges with the NAAO claiming that Riverside had replaced oarsmen who had been drinking prior to the decision to re-row the race with fresh rowers. The NAAO established a formal investigation.  At its hearing in Boston on March 9, 1907, NYAC’s representative claimed that canoers who had been at the finish line as Riverside prepared to row up to the start of the row-over had asked how the boat would do given the intoxicated condition of one of its members. In a sworn statement they reported that someone in the crew answered, “Don’t worry about us, for we have three fresh men in the boat.”  Once NYAC’s case was concluded, Riverside’s witnesses were sworn, beginning with George Faulkner, who recounted scurrying around in an automobile to reassemble the boat after the decision was announced to re-row the race. He testified that he was positive that no one but the oarsmen who took part in first race were boated in the second. Faulkner was followed by three members of the crew, who corroborated his statement.  

At the hearing’s conclusion, the NAAO lead investigator stated his opinion that, “The Riversides have presented a very strong case, and with the testimony to come, I cannot see how their standing can be affected….I believe the Riversides told the truth.”  The club’s 1906 national championship was upheld. 

Wearing RBC Blue Stripes Can Lead to Stars and Stripe

By Ed Moran


Lauren Schmetterling was clear about her goals when she met with U.S. women’s national team coach, Tom Terhaar.

She told him she wanted to row on the national team and was intent on making it. She had the power and the desire, but Terhaar thought she wasn’t quite ready. She needed work on her technique.

So Terhaar’s suggestion was to move to Boston, join the Riverside Boat Club and start working with head coach Tom Keister. “I’ve made that suggestion to a number of women,” Terhaar said last week. “Tom’s been great for us. They are not afraid to do the work. They erg and they get fit and they get better. It’s a lot easier to fit a new athlete in when they are fit. And they get fit at Riverside.”

Schmetterling followed the advice and trained and developed at Riverside for 22 months, earning her an invitation to the Princeton Training Center in November 2012

For Schmetterling, who won a gold medal at last summer’s world championships in the eight, and a number of notable athletes who row for, or have rowed for, the U.S. women’s team, Riverside was a place that helped make their international careers possible.

Some of the athletes include Olympians Natalie Dell, and Meghan Musnicki, Emily Huelskamp, who won gold in the four last summer in South Korea and four-time national team lightweight Hillary Saeger, who has two world championship bronze medals and one silver rowing in the lightweight women’s quad.

Last week, Saeger was again in the lightweight women’s quad that won senior trials along with the RBC men’s lightweight quad of Andrew Neils, Peter Schmidt, Jacob Georgeson and Kyle Lafferty. They won their senior trials event and now all five RBC athletes will race at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in August.

In addition, Schmetterling, who won another gold medal in the eight at the recent World Cup II at Lake Aiguebelette in France, and Huelskamp are in the mix for the coming world championships.

Talk to any of the women on the U.S. squad who have rowed at RBC, and they will tell say without question that their time at RBC is a big reason they have gotten to where they are.

“Rowing there was absolutely amazing,” Schmetterling said. “Tom Keister will do anything to make sure his athletes succeed and he will take them as far as they want to go. He would stay out with me on the water in my single until he was sure that I was accomplishing what he wanted me to accomplish.”

Musnicki, who also won another international gold on Lake Aiguebelette, remembers her time at RBC as life changing.

“Training at Riverside taught me many different things,” Musnicki said.  “For starters, it forced me to be more independent and reinforced the idea that you are responsible for yourself. Being a part of a club means that you have to make sure your boat gets to the race, you have to make sure your oars get to the race, and you have to know when your race is.”

She said that was not her experience rowing in college where she would get on a bus, be driven to the race, get off the bus and the equipment would “magically appear.” But she also said that while she had to develop an independent mindset, there was plenty of support at RBC.

“It’s like joining a huge family. If you need something or don’t know something, or want help with something, I knew all I had to do was send out a blast to the RBC list serve and within ten minutes my inbox would be flooded with responses.”

And, like Schmetterling, Musnicki credits the coaching she got at the club.

“As far as the coaching staff goes, I feel incredibly lucky to have trained under Tom Keister. Day in and day out he provided me with anything and everything I could need to attempt to advance my skills in small boats.

“I came to him pretty green in the small boat department so he definitely had his work cut out for him, but he kept at it and if it weren’t for him I definitely would not have gotten the invitation to go try out and train at the Princeton Training Center.

“He kicked my butt into shape, getting me physically ready for the training load at the center, and on top of that seemed undeterred in his attempts to round out some of the many rough edges I had in the single and double,” she said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that my journey to the national team began at RBC.  I will forever be thankful for my time there and will always cherish my stripes!”