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Power of Friendship - An International Friendship Regatta 24th to 30th November 2008
    About Us

The Calcutta Rowing Club as its crest suggests, was founded by a small number of enthusiastic  oarsmen in 1858. This makes it one year older than the club founded at Shanghai and probably, the oldest club in the east. Records show that the first boat the CRC owned was a six-oared boat purchased from a Mr. Gavin of Salka at a cost of Rs. 300. The first boat house with a thatched roof was on the bank of the Hooghly near Chandpal Ghat. This boat house was built in 1860 and lasted until 1864 when a disastrous cyclone swept it away-boats and all.

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The successor to this boat-house was built near Fort Point in 1865, but only after much argument with the inmates of the Fort who alleged that it would interfere with the field of fire of some of their guns should an anemy fleet sail up the the Hooghly. An Eight was imported in 1866 and to more in 1870. Unfortunately, no Eight remain in Kolkata today. Upto this time, all the boats had fixed seats, but, about 1872, one of the members of the Club brought back with him from England a sculling boat fitted with a sliding seat. The owner, one Charles Newman, had for some time been propounding his theories regarding this type of seat and he might lay some claim to having been its inventor.

In 1888, the Club had to abandon its boat-house at Fort Point as the land was wanted by the Port Commissioners for their railway and in 1899, a lease was granted for the building of the new boat-house in Strand Road opposite to
Eden Gardens : Rowing took place there during succeeding years, but, became progressively more difficult owing to the increase in the number of steam ferry boats and tugs. Many instances during this period are on record of boats being swamped and their crews having to struggle for their lives, against the strong under-currents of the river and regular rowing on the Hooghly was finally abandoned. Various alternative sites were tried, including Tolly’s Nullah and even the long tank in Eden Gardens which has long since been filled-in. In 1897, however, the Port Commissioners came to the rescue and offered a course on the Dock Basin at Kidderpore which is now occupied by the Coal Dock.

A site was allotted and a boat house built and the Club then had a almost straight ¾ mile course that could take three crews racing abreast. This led to, amongst other things, a visit to Poona in 1899, when the defeat of 1877 was avenged. 1902 was the beginning of an event then called ‘Class Fours’ from which our present Merchants’ Cup has grown. Also in 1902, a Four was sent to Madras and its members succeeded in winning the Fours, Pairs and Sculls.
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Then in 1906, a fresh blow struck the fortunes of the Club as the Basin at Kidderpore was needed by the Port Commissioners foe their building of the Coal Dock and again a search had to be made for alternative water on which rowing could be continued. Late in 1907, permission was granted by the Port Commissioners for rowing to take place on the boat canal near Majerhat Bridge and a move was accordingly made for this far from salubrious piece of water. Despite the vagaries of the water level in the canal, occasioned by the state of the tide and the varying requirements of the dock-rowing  was carried on there until 1928, when the shift was made to Dhakuria Lakes, now known as Rabindra Sarobar. During this period, Regattas were held each year in the monsoon period which was the only time when there was sufficint water in the canal. The 1914-18 War interrupted all rowing. But it was soon

started again afterwards. In 1923 a crew was sent to Rangoon Boat Club for the newly-instituted Burma Bowl. Kolkata succeeded in beating Rangoon on this visit, but lost the following year and again in 1926. In 1926, Merchants’ Cup was donated by the Partners of Messrs Gillanders Arbuthnot & Co. for annual competition and while Hongkong Bank donated the Losers’ Plate Trophy in the year 1983, CRC has been successfully organizing the Merchants’ Cup Rowing Championships every year since 1926 with a break of five years(1942-46) due to Second World War.

By 1929, the excavation of the main part of the Lake was completed and a full 1,000 yards course became available. The same year, 1929, saw the beginning of CRC’s two immediate neighbours, Lake Club, joining the rowing community in Kolkata in 1932, followed by Bengal Rowing Club in 1935. The Calcutta University Rowing Club traces its origin to an earlier date 1918 when it started on the Maniktala Canal; in 1983, the University joined the other rowing clubs on the bank of Rabindra Sarobar.

In 1930, a crew was sent to Madras to take part in a three-cornered contest with Madras and Colombo alongwith CRC’s. In the final, the CRC crew beat Colombo by a length, thus taking a somewhat sweet revenge for their defeat of 1882.

In 1931,  inspired by CRC, the first definite steps were taken to form the Amateur Rowing Association of  the East and, as a result of the endeavour, the A.R.A.E. became active in 1933 when its first Regatta was held at Pune. In 1935, the Viceroy, the Earl of Willingdon presented the A.R.A.E. the now famous trophy bearing his name for Senior Fours. In the same year, CRC veterans, L.H. Macklin and A.V. Venables, also donated trophies for Senior Sculls and Senior Paris respectively. Since those days, A.R.A.E. Regattas have been held every year (with the exception of World War II years) and the names Willingdon, Venables and Macklin today stand for the most coveted rowing trophies in this part of the world. In 1956, CRC presented its vintage Hooghly Challenge Cup to the A.R.A.E. as a trophy for team championship. The A.R.A.E. Regatta is rightly termed the Henley of the East.

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In 1935, at the instance of Lake Club, the head of the Lake Regatta was initiated as an annual inter-club event between the four rowing clubs on Rabindra Sarobar, with a very handsome challenge cup presented by Sir R.N.Mukherjee.

To popularize rowing in all corners of India, the oarsmen of Kolkata formed the first State Rowing Association in India in 1973, embracing all the Rowing Clubs in Kolkata. The West Bengal Rowing Association(WBRA) was duly recognized by the West Bengal State Sports Council and the Bengal Olympic Association. Since 1974, WBRA has been holding the yearly State Rowing Championship with the help of its affiliates.

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And CRC has taken a prominent part. Kolkata took the lead in forming the Rowing Federation of India in 1976 and the First National Rowing Championship of India was organized by WBRA in 1977. In due course rowing in India got its deserved recognition by the Indian Olympic Association and Federation Internationale Sovietes des Aviron(International Rowing Federation). The enthusiasm generated by the formation of the different State Associations and Rowing Federation of India gave the right fillip for inclusion of Rowing events in the Asian Games of 1982 for the first time. India again took the lead in forming-Asian Rowing Federation in 1982 with 10 Asian countries joining the Federation initially. It was in Calcutta Rowing Club that the first Annual General Meeting of the Asian Rowing Federation was held in 1983 and the Club Played the role of a brilliant host.
Calcutta Rowing Club has come a long way sine 1858…………………          
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