Under the title of "Tired of Bob Cook," the Boston Globe contains an article on the prospects of boating at Yale, and also an interview with the celebrated oarsman, Michael F. Davis of Portland, who has been visiting Yale lately, and has had several conferences with the boating men. Mr. Davis is reported to have given the following views on boating matters.
"I will say, though, that Yale has always made a mistake in looking so earnestly for beef to fill her shells. Beef may be advantageous in the rushline of a foot-ball team, and I believe no doubt it is, but I certainly believe boating authorities make a great error in paying so much attention to weight. Naturally a heavy man possessed of proportionally increased strength is a desirable person, but I have often noticed that college crews pay more attention to securing men of weight than to an investigation of the sinew which the candidates may possess.
"Another mistake which I consider a grave one is in the method of training commonly followed. In nearly all American colleges one of the methods of training oarsmen is to run them from one to five miles per day in the hope of thus increasing their staying powers. This I believe to be wrong, for assuredly if a man was training for a running race, he would not practice throwing the hammer. To my mind the only desirable training for a race is to work at the oars or weights.
"Again, the boat should be adapted exactly to the individual men who will occupy the seats in it, and we should not expect a crew to adapt themselves to the boat. If I was ordered to provide a boat for an eight-oared crew, I should first ascertain every measurement of every man in it, and then adapt the rigging of each slide, etc., exactly to the man who would occupy it.
"The stroke is another problem which should be carefully studied, and the idea of first fixing a stroke and then training your crew to pull it, is sheer nonsense. We hear altogether too much about a thirty-eight, forty or forty-two stroke, and the men who advocate such a course have not carefully considered the matter. A crew should be trained to pull the highest stroke the men are capable of keeping up for the distance they are to row. If I should coach a crew of giants who proved themselves capable of holding a sixty stroke for four miles, I would have them pull it, and not train to pull a thirty-eight stroke, because some winning crew or other pulled that stroke in 1776. In the 1885 race, Capt. Flanders was censured for setting his men a stroke beyond what they were accustomed to; but he did merely what any stroke oar would naturally do. That is, run up the stroke as high as his crew would follow, if he failed to discover the rival shell behind him.
I think it nonsense for Yale and Harvard to form an agreement against the employment of a professional coach. There is no question about the benefit a crew so coached will receive, and although I would not promise to coach them to victory, I certainly would promise them a great deal of improvement. There is now no question that the Harvard crew of 1885 was largely carried to victory by the advantages received from the coaching of Mr. Faulkner."