Host City: Athina, Greece
Date Started: April 24, 1906
Date Finished: April 24, 1906
Participants: 167 (167 men and 0 women) from 6 countries
Youngest Participant: Giorgio Cesana (14 years, 9 days)
Oldest Participant: Luigi Diana (40 years, 343 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 4 athletes with 3 medals
Most Medals (Country): France and Italy (6 medals)
The rowing events of 1906 were conducted on the open water in the Neo Phaliron Bay, as were the swimming and diving events. As with the swimming, several of the rowing events had to be postponed on 25-26 April [12-13 April] when heavy winds raised the Phaliron sea into huge waves which made the holding of rowing events dangerous. There were six events held in the 1906 rowing competition: single sculls, coxed pairs over 1-kilometer, coxed pairs over 1-mile, coxed fours over 2000-meters, 6-man naval rowing boats over 2000-meters and 16-man naval rowing boats over 3000-meters.
A few notes are in order. The single sculls event was held over 1000-meters. It is listed in the official program as "Course de Canoë". However, this only appears to be a Greek difficulty translating French in the official results and the program. There were only two rowers in this event, both from France, and the winner was Gaston Delaplane. Pictures in the French sporting magazine, La Vie Au Grand Air show pictures of Delaplane in a standard scull. Interestingly, in the official entry lists, there are no entries listed for the singles event.
It is highly unusual that there were two coxed pairs events, one over 1-kilometer and one over 1-mile, and I have no explanation for why this was so. The Belgian team in this event, the Orban brothers, Max and Rémy, representing the Société Nautique de Gand, came to Athens on their own with no coxswain. Apparently they did not know that a coxswain would be required. They recruited a young Greek man named Theofilakas Psiliakos, who served as the cox for them in both events. In the 1-mile event this combined Belgian-Greek team finished second, earning them a silver medal.
The naval rowing boats events are always listed as for 6-man and 16-men. However, the boats were headed by coxswains as well so in actuality there were 7 and 17 men in the boats in the two events. The terminology in the English-language press was also slightly different than usually seen in Olympic reference books. They termed the coxed pairs and coxed fours the "2-oar gigs" and "4-oar gigs." The larger boats were termed the "6-man galleys" and the "16-man galleys."
The top rowers in this era were considered to be the British, and possibly the Canadians. Britain's top sculler was Frederick S. Kelly who had won the Diamond Challenge Sculls at Henley in 1902-03 and 1905. In 1904, Canada's Louis Scholes had defeated Kelly for that title, and he had won several Canadian and American championships. The Americans were not considered quite as good, but still had some good rowers, notably the defending Olympic single sculls champion, Frank Greer, who was American champion in 1903-05 and 1908. None of these three countries were represented at Athens in 1906 Olympic rowing.