Five of the best; favourite rowing books
With people around the world in lockdown, World Rowing has put together a list of a cross-section of some rowing’s favourite books. Find a book, curl up and enjoy. In no time we’ll be back on the water again.
5. Coaching: Thor Nilsen, Rowing’s Global Coach by Christopher Dodd
Written by rowing historian Christopher Dodd, this biography walks through the many anecdotes of Nilsen, a coach who brought about a new era to the sport of rowing. The book weaves a magnificent story of coaching, humour and the ultimate quest to develop the sport. Nilsen has influenced countless coaches and athletes both on and off the water, including the eight Olympic gold medallists he personally coached and the more than 40 World Champions.
4. Personal development: Mind over water by Craig Lambert
This is not your typical rowing book. It does not tell the tale of elite athletes striving for Olympic gold, but it does paint an amateur’s view of the sport. Lambert uses thick descriptions and lengthy prose to describe his passion for all aspects of rowing. The book is sprinkled with inspirational quotes, making it fall into the ‘personal development’ category.
3. Olympic: The Kiwi Pair by Eric Murray and Hamish Bond
The book is an insight into the personality, the determination, the teamwork and the sacrifice that are necessary to shape elite international rowers. Told in the first-person perspective from Bond and Murray themselves, it takes the reader along for the ride, making them feel as if they experienced these years alongside the duo. It divulges some of the mucky past, shines light on some of the cobwebs, but it also highlights the triumphs and the ultimate incredible bond between Bond and Murray – the Kiwi Pair.
2. Technical: Biomechanics of rowing, Valery Kleshnev
Written by one of the world’s top rowing scientists, this book uses data to discuss various technical theories in the sport of rowing. The book addresses measurements and technique as well as equipment and rigging. It offers a scientifically driven analysis of some of the most debated technical differences in the rowing stroke, with numbers to back up the theory.
1. Historical: The Boys in the Boat, Daniel Brown
This fabulously written non-fiction tells the story of the nine American boys who fought for gold at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. It paints a vivid picture of the life of each member of the crew, focusing on their journey through the University of Washington through to the Olympic Games. It is intertwined with the story of Hitler’s rise to power and the unprecedented actions of the Nazis in the lead-up to the 1936 Games. The Boys in the Boat is one of the most popular rowing books of all time.
Have you read these top five? Here is an additional list of rowing books by category.
A Lifetime in a Race, Matthew Pinsent
Assault on Lake Casitas, Brad Alan Lewis
Olympic Obsession, Martin Cross
Chariots and Horses, Jason Dorland
Katherine Grainger: The Autobiography, Katherine Grainger
Four men in a boat, Tim Foster
If Not Now, When? Greg Searle
Gold Medal Flapjack, Silver Medal Life, Alison Mowbray
The Power of More, Marnie McBean
Unsinkable, Silken Laumann
The Four Year Olympian, Jeremiah Brown
La course à la faim, Jeremie Azou
The Amateurs, David Halberstam
Don’t Rock the Boat, Peter Wilkins
Inspired, Steve Redgrave
My Life on the Water, Fabiana Beltrame
Rowing and Sculling, Rosie Mayglothling
Nuts and Bolts of Rigging, Mike Davenport
Hanlan's Spirit: Training for Flow, Jimmy Joy
Steve Fairbairn On Rowing, Steve Fairbairn
More Power: The Story of Jurgen Grobler, Hugh Matheson & Christopher Dodd
Training for the Complete Rower, Paul Thompson
Rowing and Sculling, Bill Sayer
Rowing Faster, Volker Nolte
Thomi Keller: A Life in Sport, David Owen
A stroke in Time, Gerard Doran
Bonnie Brave Boat Rowers, Christopher Dodd
Red Rose Crew, Daniel J. Boyne
The Oarsman, Scott Patterson
Tosende Stille, Janice Jakait
Rowing the Pacific, Mick Dawson
Four Mums in a Boat, Janette Benaddi
Stop Drifting, Start Rowing, Roz Savage
The Crossing, James Cracknell & Ben Fogle
Blood Over Water, James & David Livingston
Something in the Water (O’Donovans), Kieran McCarthy
Flat water Tuesday, Ron Irwin
Zweier Ohne, Dirk Kurbjuweit
Schlagmann, Evi Simeoni
The Shell Game, Stephen Kiesling
The Seven Seat, Daniel J. Boyne
Head of the River, Pip Harry
True Blue: the Oxford Boat Race Mutiny, Daniel Topolski with Patrick Robinson
Course Correction, Ginny Gilder