What’s in a name? Rowing club names around the world
A name is important. For an individual, a name is central to their identity. For an organisation, it can influence culture and serve as a shared source of pride. Whether the one who carries the name is a person or a group of people, the selection is seldom taken lightly. From historically significant monikers to locally influenced variations to completely unique titles, the inspiration for a name can come from pretty much anywhere.
This is as true of rowing clubs as it is of anyone or anything else. World Rowing took a look around the world to highlight just a few of the many different ways rowing clubs are named.
Myths and legends
Many club names are rooted in ancient mythology or local legends. Take the Greco-Roman mythic figure of Leander, whose tragic story sees him drown on a swim from Europe to Asia. The story’s hero – not to be confused with his love interest, who is confusingly named “Hero” – is the namesake of Britain’s justly famous Leander Club. The club’s founders presumably chose the name based on the protagonist’s determination rather than his ability to stay afloat and at least two more clubs have adopted the same name – in Canada and South Africa.
One nation with a high number of myth-inspired club titles is the Netherlands. As expected, a maritime theme is present in Greco-Roman names like Nereus (a sea god) and Proteus (the so called “old man of the sea”). There are also notable Norse influences like Aegar (a sea giant) and Vidar (god of vengeance).
When it comes to the myth that rowers seem to have referenced most, however, the story of Jason and the Argonauts may take the prize. It is perhaps only fitting that rowing clubs would be inspired by this legendary crew of ancient Greeks, whose members included figures like the demi-god Hercules. Argo-inspired clubs span the globe from Germany’s RV Argo to Australia’s Melbourne Argonauts Rowing Club to Canada’s Argonaut Rowing Club to Greece’s Nautical Club of Volos & Argonauts to the Netherlands’ WSR Argo, to name a few.
Sometimes, a rowing club takes its name from the individuals or group of people who founded the organisation. Argentina’s renowned Club de Remo Teutonia was formed by several members of the German community in Buenos Aires and took the name of the Teutons, an ancient Germanic tribe.
Another club founded by German expatriates in South America was the similarly styled Club Aleman de Remo Montevideo, literally the ‘German Rowing Club of Montevideo’ in Uruguay.
A more cryptic nod to their club’s creators is the historic ZLAC Rowing Club. Located in San Diego, California, the ZLAC Rowing Club that claims the title of oldest women’s rowing club in the world, received its name by combining the initials of the four founding women’s first names: Zulette, Lena, Agnes and Caroline.
Professional associations or companies have also given their names to rowing clubs such as Egypt’s Police Rowing Club or Japan’s Toyota Rowing Club.
While home-town inspired club names are perhaps the most common around the world from Shanghai Rowing Club in Shanghai, China to Barcelona, Spain’s Reial Club Maritim de Barcelona to Nairobi, Kenya’s Nairobi Ruiru Rowing and Canoe Club, they can also lead to some doppelganger monikers. Take the number of cities called ‘Cambridge’ throughout the English-speaking world, many boasting a rowing club with their city’s name in the title.
The original Cambridge in England along with its rival Oxford, also gave their names to their respective universities and indirectly to two of the first rowing clubs in the modern sport’s history. Cambridge University Boat Club and Oxford University Boat Club are fine examples of the straightforward way many institutions like schools, colleges and universities continue to name their rowing clubs almost 200 years later.
Not all clubs, however, choose to take on their city’s name. Russia’s Silver Forest Rowing Club near Moscow’s famous Serebryany Bor (silver forest) is one of many finding inspiration from the natural world around the boathouse. America’s Mile High Rowing Club and Rocky Mountain Rowing Club, both located at altitude in Denver, Colorado have names that similarly celebrate their unique location.
The sky’s the limit
Of course, a name can come from anyone, anything and anywhere. Take 805 Rowing Club in Oxnard, California, whose name reflects the telephone area code for the region they serve, or Chinook Performance Racing, a virtual network of rowers who come together for real-world races. Chinook’s lack of a bricks-and-mortar boathouse is reflected in their ethereal name shared with a weather pattern of warm wind the sweeps across the heart of the North American continent.
Regardless of what it’s called, a rowing club’s name is first and foremost a reflection of the founders’ motivations. Yet a name can and often does become a source of pride for club members, a focal point for combined efforts and shared aspirations.
World Rowing would like to hear how your rowing club’s name came to be. Message us through our social media channels.