The Unstoppable Victors Of The 1936 Berlin Olympics: A Story Of Grit And Determination
The Boys in the Boat is an inspiring story about a few young men and their improbable underdog journey – beating the Nazis to take home the gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
You’ll follow these eight working-class boys from Seattle as they fight their way to college, make it onto the Olympic team, and finally, reach the spotlight at the grand finale race.
Along your journey, you’ll learn about different aspects of rowing, such as “the swing,” and how each component affects their performance.
You’ll also gain insight into each athlete’s ups and downs and how faith, determination, and sheer grit helped them power through difficulties along the way.
As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll even discover how something as simple as a lucky stetson and hearty meals played an important role in this legendary event that left Nazi Germany speechless.
Seizing Opportunity In Adversity: The Story Of Joe Rantz And Roger Morris And Their Journey To Make The 1933 University Of Washington Rowing Team
In 1933, many young men tried out to join the rowing crew at the University of Washington.
This was especially attractive to unemployed individuals looking for part-time jobs as the team was willing to provide that.
Unfortunately, the competition was fierce and out of 175 hopefuls, only 80 would make it through by 30 October.
The candidates faced a rigorous set of tests in order to make the team, with Al Ulbrickson (head coach) and Tom Bolles (freshmen coach) making sure they were pushed to their limits in order to test their strength and endurance.
Among these were Joe Rantz and Roger Morris, who studied engineering.
While Rantz came from a rural area where he had built up his strength with heavy equipment, Morris was one of a few London boys who already had prior rowing experience due to having rowed from his family’s summer home on Bainbridge Island all the way to Seattle at the age of twelve.
Joe Rantz: From Rejection And Loss To Using Grit And Determination To Succeed
Joe Rantz had a difficult childhood but he managed to keep his spirits up and worked hard to make the most of it.
At 4 years old, he lost his mother to throat cancer and his father left for Canada.
Joe was then bounced between living with his aunt and living with his brother until Harry returned in 1921 and remarried.
His stepmother Thula rejected him due to being an unwanted reminder of her husband’s first marriage, so at 15-years-old, Joe was sent away to fend for himself in the town of Sequim, Washington.
But that didn’t stop him from succeeding: he poached fish to sell, built a lucrative bootleg alcohol business during Prohibition, played in a local band and even graduated high school with honors.
In the face of adversity, Joe kept on trucking and focused on getting the education he wanted.
His hard work paid off when he was able to attend University of Washington, eventually finding love with Joyce along the way.
Despite facing hardships early on in life, Joe Rantz persevered and found success in the end.
Mastering The Art Of Rowing: Putting Together The Right Team To Achieve Total Synchrony
Assembling the perfect team of eight rowers is an incredibly challenging process.
That’s because these eight individuals have to work together as a unit in order to row effectively.
From getting the right swing technique down, to maintaining a steady pace, and ultimately gliding along smoothly and powerfully in perfect harmony – it takes great skill and practice for each rower to be able to keep up with their teammates.
At the University of Washington, coaches spend months figuring out who should go into which boat.
It’s all about finding the team members who will be able to row in time with each other and fall into that blissful state known as “the swing”, when everyone is working together.
And let’s not forget the key role of the coxswain at the back of the boat shouting orders; they are essential too!
On 28 November 1933, Coach Bolles eventually announced his roster for the freshman team’s first boat assignments.
Ranging from Roger Morris at bow, Shorty Hunt at number two seat, all the way up to Joe Rantz occupying seat number three – this was finally “the” team he believed was capable of perfection on water!
The rest was up to them now…
George Pocock’S Legendary Boats Showcase Washington’S Legacy Of Crafting The Best Racing Shells
The genius of George Pocock and the boats he crafted had a massive influence on the world of rowing.
Originally from England, Pocock became renowned for his expert knowledge in boat-building and rowing technique, which he learned while studying at Eton College.
This expertise enabled him to create some of the most innovative and successful boats in history -first while working for the Vancouver Rowing Club, then at the University of Washington.
His ingenuity was evident when he discovered western red cedar as an ideal material for construction.
Thanks to its buoyancy, lightness, and the ease with which it could be polished for minimal friction on water, these boats brought great success to the University’s rowing teams.
It’s no wonder that even today we continue to build these renowned vessels in Washington State – a testament to just how much George Pocock revolutionized the sport of rowing!
The University Of Washington Rowing Team Relied On Grit And Determination To Triumph Over Racism And Class Struggle At The Poughkeepsie Regatta
The freshman competitions served as a vital stepping stone for the University of Washington team.
With Tom Bolles as the freshmen coach, they had gone undefeated at the Pacific Coast Regatta for six years in a row.
The rowing team also had to contend with their biggest rival from University of California at Berkeley—coached by Kyle Bright, who was an Olympic gold medalist in 1932.
Joe Rantz had struggled to fit in and this served as an additional obstacle for them; under dog was targeted by his peers who often called him “Hobo Joe” due to his apparel and banjo playing skills.
Fortunately, these challenges were met head on when the freshmen team managed to beat their Junior Varsity counterparts in an impressive training race–shaving off two whole lengths!
When it came time for the Pacific Coast Regatta competition, the Washington rowing team put everyone’s doubts aside when they destroyed Berkeley going four and a half lengths ahead while setting a new freshman course record in the process!
This made them even more determined to perform better at the Poughkeepsie Regatta that set off all sorts of tension due to East Coast preppy attitude towards West Coast lumberjacks.
In the face of all these challenges, UW stepped up–silencing naysayers by winning against Syracuse with five full lengths leaving behind a legacy that endured till date.
Ulbrickson Takes A Chance On The Sophomores And Is Rewarded With An Olympic-Bound Team
When the University of Washington’s freshman rowing team achieved unprecedented victories in the Pacific Coast and Poughkeepsie Regattas, their coach, Ulbrickson, gathered them together to let them know that their Olympic dreams were now officially in focus.
The sophomores were all for it, but found themselves facing difficulty as they tried to find the right ‘swing’ that would make them a successful crew.
The other UW teams mounted a fierce challenge against the sophomore boat and regularly beat them during practice battles.
When Ulbrickson eventually got the team into his office to warn them of the danger they faced in not reaching their Olympic goal, this only served to strengthen Roger Morris, Shorty Hunt and Joe Rantz’s bond of friendship who decided between them that they had to make it.
With Shorty famously offering up “I got your back Joe” whenever Joe was struggling, their fierce determination eventually paid off when Ulbrickson took a chance on them at the Pacific Coast Regatta.
With two races won by three lengths and eight respectively and a third race being so close that spectators had to wait for the judges decision which saw them come out triumphant by six feet – it was clear that these boys were destined for greatness!
Pressure Mounts For Coach Ulbrickson As He Chases Olympic Gold At The 1936 Berlin Games
When the Boys in the Boat sailed off to the Pacific Coast Regatta, they had high hopes of sending a boat to the upcoming Olympics.
Though initially their sophomores prevailed at the regatta, it was soon apparent that their junior varsity boat was more powerful and extremely reliable.
Thus, Coach Ulbrickson changed his team’s lineup and promoted them to become his varsity team for Poughkeepsie Regatta instead.
However, despite the freshman’s amazing race at Poughkeepsie and the junior varsity boat securing a clear victory for Washington state, their newly promoted varsity boat unfortunately fell two lengths behind California and Cornell, making Ulbrickson’s hopes for another sweep for them seem impossible.
As talented as they all were, it seemed as though Team Washington still needed more training and stability if they wanted to make it to Berlin for the Olympics.
So despite winning quite early on in the races, it remained unclear if they could actually send a boat out to compete at an international level competition such as the Olympics.
The 1936 Berlin Olympics: Nazi Deception Concealed By Spectacle And Propaganda
The 1936 Berlin Olympics was going to be a major event under the leadership of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.
In preparation for the grand spectacle, Hitler took steps to ensure that the world would view them favorably, while still masking the true nature of his rule.
Leni Riefenstahl was brought in again to direct an enduring Olympics film called Olympia and anti-Jewish signs were taken down from public spaces, along with halting production of anti-Semitic propaganda pamphlets.
At the same time, an unlikely rowing team from Washington was preparing for its own part in these Olympic Games.
Despite a backdrop of political uncertainty about whether or not to boycott The Boys in the Boat trained hard in order to have a chance to compete against some of the strongest teams from across Europe and around the world.
Ulbrickson Forms A Team Of Determined Friends To Challenge The Elite Of Rowing
When Al Ulbrickson decided it was time to create the varsity boat in January of 1936, he knew he had to shake things up and mix up the oarsmen to find the right combination.
Bobby Moch was a given; he was to be the coxswain steering the others.
As for who would fill out the rest of the boat, that would take some trial and error.
Joe Rantz found himself constantly being left out as Ulbrickson kept switching up different teams and combinations until he finally made his decision in March: Don Hume in first position, Joe Rantz second, followed by Shorty Hunt, Stub McMillin, Johnny White, Gordy Adam, Chuck Day and Roger Morris…with Joe Rantz being last to make the cut.
Though Joe didn’t know Don Hume or Gordy Adam very well yet, all eight team members warmly welcomed him when he finally made it onto the boat.
It helped that Joe was already close with Chuck Day and Johnny White from having spent their break from school together constructing The Grand Coulee Dam.
The similarities between these oarsmen were undeniable; they all had similar backgrounds coming from families of modest means who had to work hard to be able to stay in school.
All this adversity put an even larger fire under them all; each one determined to prove something by rowing for Ulbrickson’s varsity boat..
And there was no doubt about it; this particular group of eight combined strength of athleticism with grit and heart proved a great fit that could only find success.
The Husky Clipper Varsity Boat Proves Their Resilience And Mastery Of The Race Through Triumphant Victories At Major Regattas And The Olympic Qualifying Race
The US races were the biggest test of the team’s drive and determination yet, but their success at Princeton secured them a route to The Olympics.
From when Joe was added to the Husky Clipper varsity boat to their victory at the Poughkeepsie Regatta, it was clear this was a determined and talented unit.
At the Pacific Coast Regatta, they triumphed over a Californian team by three lengths.
However, in New York, Bobby Moch had a surprise trick that kept the pace slow while they saved energy for the end.
This tactical move worked brilliantly – despite being four lengths behind with only one mile left in the race, they surged ahead and took home a full length lead!
In Princeton came another momentous occasion; Gordy Adam and Stub McMillin threw off the boat once more with bad pulls.
But once again their strength shone through – Bobby Moch yelled at Don Hume to increase the rate, before Shorty Hunt noted that those final twenty strokes felt like some of the best he’d ever been in any boat!
It was all worth it as their hard-fought victory propelled them towards The Olympics.
The Power Of Determination And Encouragement: How Don Hume’s Near-Death Experience Led The Us Rowing Team To Victory
The Berlin Olympic race was the most difficult challenge the team of rowers from Washington had ever faced.
Not only did they have to face off against Italy and Germany in their home country, but the team had struggled just to get there.
From gaining weight on the journeying ocean liner to the infection suffered by Don Hume, this was anything but an easy contest.
The odds were further stacked against them when they learnt they’d be rowing in lane six, exposed more than all other teams to wind and weather.
Nevertheless, Ulbrickson put Bobby Moch’s lucky hat under his seat as they waited at the start, and off they went in steady strokes – although Hume’s weak condition caused concerns.
With a miraculous last minute speed burst inspired by Moch’s shouts, however, the American boat crossed ahead of both Italy and Germany in the end – a truly incredible feat against immense odds.
In The Boys in the Boat, the authors ultimately leave us with a poignant portrait of determination and triumph.
The eight boys in Husky Clipper achieved something extraordinary—a gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics—despite so much working against them.
They grew up in difficult economic times, had to bear with an ill first oarsmen, and were given the least favorable lane for their race.
Yet, with dedicated training, inspired coaches, and superior rowing boats, this determined group defied all odds and secured victory.
Their story is one of resilience amid adversity that deserves to be remembered.