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Even since the earliest recorded references to rowing, the sporting element has been present. An Egyptian funerary inscription of 1430 BC records that the warrior Amenhotep (Amenophis) II was also renowned for his feats of oarsmanship. In the Aeneid, Virgil mentions rowing forming part of the funeral games arranged by Aeneas in honour of his father. In the 13th century, Venetian festivals called regata included boat races among others
The first known ‘modern’ rowing races, began from competition among the professional watermen that provided ferry and taxi service on the River Thames in London. Prizes for wager races were often offered by the London Guilds and Livery Companies or wealthy owners of riverside houses. During the Nineteenth Century these races were to become numerous and popular, attracting large crowds. Prize matches amongst professionals similarly became popular on other rivers throughout Great Britain in the Nineteenth Century, notably on the Tyne. The oldest surviving such race, Doggett's Coat and Badge was first contested in 1715 and is still held annually from London Bridge to Chelsea. In America, the earliest known race dates back to 1756 in New York, when a pettiauger defeated a Cape Cod whaleboat in a race.
Amateur competition in England began towards the end of the Eighteenth Century. Documentary evidence from this period is sparse, but it is known that the Monarch Boat Club of Eton College and the Isis Club of Westminster School were both in existence in the 1790s. The Star Club and Arrow Club in London for gentlemen amateurs were also in existence before 1800. At the University of Oxford bumping races were first organised in 1815, while at Cambridge the first recorded races were in 1827. The Boat Race between Oxford University and Cambridge University first took place in 1829, and was the second intercollegiate sporting event (following the first Varsity Cricket Match by 2 years). The interest in the first Boat Race and subsequent matches led the town of Henley to begin hosting an annual regatta in 1839.
During the Nineteenth Century, as in England, wager matches in North America between professionals became very popular attracting vast crowds. The Detroit Boat Club was established as the first rowing exclusive club in 1839.In 1843, the first American college rowing club was formed at Yale University. The Harvard-Yale Regatta is the oldest intercollegiate sporting event in the United States, having been contested every year since 1852 (excepting interruptions for wars).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_rowing#History

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Additional Photos by Goncalo Lopes (Bluejeans) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9250 W: 115 N: 13285] (64251)
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