London 1948 Olympics

London 1948 Olympics

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Rowing

Rowing

Since 1900, the exciting water sport of rowing has been part of the Olympic Games. However, the two most important inventions in crew rowing were introduced long before that time. In fact, as early as 1844, a brilliant Englishman invented the very first outrigger. He discovered that when oarlocks were attached to metal rods and “rigged out” from the side of a boat, they relieved the need for the leverage a wider boat offered. Thus, designers were able to create longer, narrower boats that cut through the water with greater speed, making for a much more exciting race. These long boats led to longer seats on which oarsmen slid back and forth to increase the length of their strokes. However, this sliding motion caused great pain, since the oarsmen were constantly creating body friction against the seat. In 1857, an American rower, quite familiar with the pain, solved the problem by inventing a sliding seat. This transferred the rower’s physical exertion from his back to his legs and also lengthened the strokes he could take. In Olympics competition today, there are races for both male and female singles, and teams in the twelve different classifications. The list of champions for Olympics crew rowing is mainly dominated by the United States’ teams. In fact, America’s supremacy in this sport is evident in the winners’ list of the eight-man event for of the sixteen possible first places, American teams have taken eleven. In 1983 the U.S. Postal Service honored the remarkable and exciting Olympic Games by issuing the colorful stamps that are featured on this First Day Cover.