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Starboard stroke rowing machine

Date: c 1957
Overall: 675 x 1310 x 1730 mm
Medium: Metal, wood, plastic, fabric
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Clovelly Surf Life Saving Club
Object Name: Rowing machine
Object No: 00038525
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    This rowing machine known as an ergometer, was designed by John Harrison, a former Australian Olympic rower, and made in Sydney for Glebe Rowing Club by Ted Curtain, a Leichhardt rower and boilermaker and welder. It was fitted with a 'rev' counter and stroke rate monitor to allow a rower's power output to be measured. It was used for training and improving the performance of rowers positioned on the starboard stroke (right side) of a rowing shell. It was made to pair with a bow (left side) ergometer. It is one of about twelve pairs made for Leichhardt, Sydney University, Glebe and Haberfield Rowing Clubs
    SignificanceThe ergometer was initially acquired by the Glebe Rowing Club and later, by the Clovelly Surf Life Saving Club. In both clubs it was used to train rowers.
    HistoryRowing technology remained fairly primitive until the 1950s when Professor Frank Cotton at the University of Sydney invented the ergometer, enabling the coach to measure a rower's stroke technique and power.

    Former Olympic rower and engineer John Harrison, who trained on Professor Cotton's ergometer, designed modifications to a rowing machine developed by Leichhardt rower Ted Curtain, a boilermaker and welder. Harrison designed a new piece of equipment comprising an oar, sliding seat, and foot stretcher attached to machinery. The oar connected to a fly wheel and adjustable scales so that those using the equipment could be tested against their own weight. The machine also contained a spring at the end of the oar which acted as a brake to which constant torque was applied. This reproduced the flexibility of the oar. A 'rev' counter and stroke rate monitor was also incorporated into the machine. This allowed a rower's power output to be measured. Another feature was that separate stroke and bow side machines were produced.

    Harrison and Curtain began building the new machines which were used by Leichhardt, Sydney University, Glebe and Haberfield clubs. The size and expense of the machines meant that production was limited to about 12 pairs.

    The development of computer technology in the 1980s and 1990s led to the sophisticated electronic equipment that dominates rowing today.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Starboard stroke rowing machine

    Assigned title: Ergometer

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