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Navy's First Lightweight Crew

The Beginning of Lightweight Rowing in America: 31 May 1919

The following information is captured by Tom Weil (Yale '70) in his article "Some Firsts That Weren’t – The Beginning of U.S. Collegiate Lightweight Rowing" (22 Jan 2015) published on Hear the Boat Sing.

In 1917 Canadian oarsman and coach Joseph Wright, who had been hired to coach at the University of Pennsylvania the previous year, issued a challenge for collegiate crews to add 150-pound rowing to their eight-oared events. Wright had seen weight class rowing in Canada, and he added 150-pound crews to his Penn program in 1916. As he stated, "This would give the needed opportunity for a great number of good men who try out for the sport yearly, but who are too light to make either the first Varsity or Freshman eight.”

Wright's challenge issued, Yale seated a 150-pound crew and put 12 May 1917 on its schedule to race Penn on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia - which would have been the first collegiate lightweight race in the United States; however, WWI intervened and the event never occurred.

Now fast forward to 1919, and the American Rowing Association finally added a 'Special Eight-Oared Shells (150 Lb. Crews)' rowing event to their Fifteenth Annual Regatta of 31 May 1919 on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

Original program cover
(Photo courtesy of Tom Weil)

And this date, 31 May 1919, now marks the first known record of an intercollegiate men's lightweight crew race in the United States.

Tom Weil, Yale '70, and Yale lightweight oarsman 1966-1970, writes about this event here. And, Tom includes in his article a copy of the program in which two 150-pound crews entered: the University of Pennsylvania and the United States Naval Academy.

Rowed over the Henley distance (1-5/16 miles), Navy won this inaugural 150-pound event by rowing in at 7:02.8 and Penn at 7:14.0.

Rowing for Navy was a Plebe-coxed eight of four Segundos, one Youngster (stroke), and three Plebes with one Segundo and two Youngster spares.

On Saturday, 29 May 1920, at the Sixteenth Annual Regatta of the American Rowing Association Navy and Penn met again but this time were joined by Princeton and Yale - and Penn rowed to victory on the day with the order of finish as Penn-Princeton-Yale-Navy. The American Rowing Association's Committee of Entertainment announcement of this Sixteenth Annual Regatta is available here courtesy of Yale alumnus lightweight rower Tom Weil '70.

Information about Navy lightweight rowing from 1919-1954 is sparse. Navy lightweight boats are known to have rowed several more times in the 1920's and several times in the 1930s but very little archival information is available to learn details....

...But, the rowers in the boat of Navy's First Lightweight Crew are known for our posterity!

The First Navy Lightweight Crew

Position Oarsmen Class Weight (lbs)
Bow John Monas "Colorado PAT" Maloney 1922 148
2 Paul Sylvester "Whitey" Thomson 1922 149
3 Frank Hersey "Herskey" Conant II 1920 150
4 Harold Sheffield "Van" Van Buren 1920 150
5 Arthur Edmond "Art" Pew, Jr. 1922 150
6 Barnett Thomas "BT" Talbott 1920 150
7 Frederick William "Mac" McMahon 1920 150
Stroke David Carleton Sloane 1921 148
Cox Donald Louis "Frenchy" D'Oyley 1922 110
Spare Paul Ralph Heineman 1920 150
Spare Arthur Percy "Perc" Earle 1921 150
Spare Frank Russell "Frankie" Talbot 1921 150

The First Penn Lightweight Crew

Position Oarsman Weight (lbs)
Bow Harold Shevitz 143
2 Waldo L. Miner 144
3 John L. Geis 142
4 Edgar H. Ertel 144
5 Joseph W. Scott 150
6 Samuel D. Goodis 149
7 Henry H. Parcher 150
Stroke Russell McCormack 150
Cox Howard McLoughlin 103

Fifteenth Annual Regatta of the American Rowing Association
Saturday, 31 May 1919
Schuylkill River
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The following article from the 1 June 1919 Sunday morning edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer captures the results and action at the Fifteenth Annual Regatta of the American Rowing Association on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

"Fully 20,000 persons witnessed the race, both banks of the river being lined with hosts of spectators, while every available boat and canoe had its human burden near the finish."

The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1 June 1919
Article courtesy of Lee Walker '57


Race Day on the Centennial of the First Men's Intercollegiate Lightweight Crew Race between Navy and Penn

On 27 April 2019 Navy and Penn met for their 64th annual match races on the Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland. Unfortunately, due to high wind and rough water only two of the scheduled four match races were rowed, i.e. the 1V and 2V races, and the 1V and 2V boatings are captured below for lightweight rowing posterity.

In both races on this Centennial Day Penn rowed to victory.

Navy and Penn Boatings
27 April 2019 on the Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland
Rowed over the international standard distance (2,000 meters)
In Commemoration of the Centennial Year of their first meeting on 31 May 1919

Navy and Penn Boatings
1V 2V
Navy (6:00.0) Penn (5:59.7) Navy (6:13.3) Penn (6:07.0)
Position Oarsman Class Oarsman Class Oarsman Class Oarsman Class
Bow Drew Bennett 2019 Alex Bowlby 2020 Clay Jackson 2019 Jorke Kooijenga 2022
2 Ben Capannari 2020 Justin Meeker 2021 Myles Knight 2022 Andrew Kelly 2020
3 Theo Freidenrich 2020 Alex Beheshti 2021 Tyler Schatz 2020 Nick Hutchins 2021
4 John Schoenewolf 2021 Ed Barry 2021 Noah Chaskin 2020 Vince Armetta 2020
5 Riki Gagnon 2021 Aleksandar Izda 2022 Kaden Dohm 2020 James Gaffney 2021
6 Chandler Washburn 2021 Neel Vallurupalli 2022 Creig Tarrant 2020 Jack Kionaga 2021
7 Ben Skinner 2019 Colley Loum 2020 Andrew Laberee 2022 Jackson Wood 2022
Stroke Duke Brady 2021 Dom Williams 2020 Max Gelbach 2020 Thomas Hogeboom 2021
Cox Pat Urrutia 2020 Julianna Langhorn 2022 Jack Ransick 2022 Larissa Klufas 2020