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AUSTRALIA TRIUMPHANT., Issue 10476, 20 November 1897, Supplement
A GRAND SCULLING RACE. [From Our Special Correspondent.] London, October 1. I have seen many sculling races on the Thames, some of them extremely close and exciting, others the reverse, but only once have I seen a race over the championship course which kept me so lopg on the tenterhooka of uncertainty as that 'twixt George Towns (Australia) and W. A. Barry (London), decided between two and three of the clock last Monday afternoon. It wae, without doubt, one of the beßt sculling rac-js ever witnessed, and recalled the evermemorable struggle between William Beaoh and Jake Gaudaur, the principal difference being that neither man in this latter contest ever looked like collapsing, but was always ready to respond to spurt with spurt right up to the finish. The day, as it happened, was an ideal one for the race. The morning's foggy mist had cleared by noon, and old S-.il held nearly undisputed sway in the heavens, whilst a gentle wind blew on the Surrey Bhore in the direction of the current. The tide upon which ..the men rowed was somewhat sluggish, but in spite of this the full distance was accomplished in 22min 34sec by the winner, a fact which speaks well for the staying power of both men.
It was close upon a quarter past two when , Towns and his antagonist hacked down to the ; f respective Btakeboat3 at Putney Bridge. j The Australian, having won the toss, selected ! the Surrey side, which perhaps gave him a trifling advantage. For a few minutes the two men sat looking at one another, motionless as statues, and then Mmultaaeously dipped their scull?. A3 was expected, B*rry at once forced the pice, and by means of a fast doz?n to Towns's tan strokes drew to the front. By the time that the Star and Garter was abeam the Londoner had drawn nearly clear ; but, settling down to his work, Towns so6n sent his crafi'd nose up to Barry's body. At the London Rowing Club scarce half a length's advantage lay with the Englishman, and half a mile from the start this lead had been reduced to one of a few feet. Barry put in a brilliant dash, and, drawing away again, claimed three-parts of a length'd leid at -the Craven S'.epj (3nin 9iec). The wash of a launch here caught both men, but Towns came off worst, and Barry seized his opportunity to once more draw clear. Halfway up the Fulham Football Ground the Londoner had a full length and a-half the best of matters, and at. Walden's wharf began to edge over into his opponent's water. But Towns had no mind to ba "washed," and responding to Tom Sullivan's signals quickened up a trifle, with the result that Barry had to give way just as the mile post was reached. The leader passed this mark at smiu 14sec, and Towns was then barely a length to the bad. Having driven Barry into his own water, Towns resumed his old pace, and no soooner had he done so than Barry began to edge back again. But Tom Sullivan was always on the alert, and the moment his protegd was in danger of being back-washed he signalled for a spurt. Towns again answered, and the Londoner barely essapod the fatal touch. On this occasion, however, the Australian kept up the pressure and cut down Barry's lead to half a length by the time the " Tea Rose " oil wharf was abeam. Both men were now striking at about the same rate (32 per minute), and inch by inch Towns gained on his opponent till opposite Harrod's wharf he had drawn level. For a space the men rowed stroke for stroke, Towns taking a good look at his man the while. Then, apparently satisfied with what he saw, the Antipodean seemed to pub a trifle more "vim" into his work. The effect was immediate. Towns began to draw ahead, and by the time he reached Hammersmith Bridge the Australian had a long length the best of the argument. Once clear of the bridge Barry, in answer to encouraging shouts from both banks of the river, spurted gamely, and by the time the Doves was reached had cut down Towns's lead to a quarter of a length, whilst at the Old Ship, Chiswick, the racing craft were nearly nose and nose again. Now the crucial straggle began. Passing Chiswiok Eyot Barry gained a foot or two, but Towns came again, and at the Church claimed a trifling advantage, which at the Ferry he had made into a quarter length. As the contestants shot across the river to Thorneyeroft's the Australian slowly but surelv drew ahead, and at the Torpedo Works "had a lead of over half a length. A splendid spurt from Barry, however, enabled him to get on terms again, but Towns's response enabled the latter to get ahead, and by the time Landsdale road was reached the Cornstalk was neirly a length to the good. The Australian now began to work over in front of Barry, arid in answer to his pilots signals the Londoner made a desperate attempt to gain the touch. Towns, however, was alive to the danger, and gradually gave way. He lost a trifle in doing so, and his lead at Barnes Bridge was barely half a length. Negotiating the abrupt bend in the river just beyond, Towns lost a little more, and at the White Hart (George Bubear's hostelry) only a few feet remained to the Australian's credit. Towns,, however, was still rowing with plenty of power, and passing Ashleigh College was once more possessed of half a length's lead. Barry
now made a desperate effort to overhaul his man. It was a;"red-hot" dash he made, and in a dozjn cutshe reduced Towns's advantage to a yard or less. Bub as the fire died out of his effort Towns drew away again. A passing tug nearly swamped both scullers at this point, but the - Australian got into his 'stroke again quicker than Barry, and soon after showed nearly a length in front. The two boats were now dangerously close to one another, and the Australian's supporters felt sick with apprehension as Barry made a fierce dash for the touob,. Had he_gained. it Towns would, of course, have lost the race, he being clearly in Barry's water. Happily he waß not napping, and with a couple of vicious tugs at his sculls—he seemed to fairly lift his boat out of the water —Towns managed to get clear in time. Barry came at him again as he eased np, and with one last determined Bpurt out the Australian's lead down to half a length. But that was the beßt he could do, For by this time the winning post was at hand, and Towns shot past the judge a full half-length ahead of his plucky opponent, 22min 34sec from the start.
And so ended as good a race as one could wish to see. The friends of the beaten man are naturally making excuses for him. They say that he was overtrained and weak. Certainly for a man of his altitude (he is over 6ft) he stepped into his boat very light, only about 10at 81b. But that is the nature of the man. He never carries flesh, and I question whether his normal weight exceeds list. He might have been stronger at a few pounds heavier, but to say that he was weak is to talk nonsense. No overtrained man could have spurted as Barry did continually in the last mile of Buch a race and finish up at thirty-three to the minute, and, moreover, though " baked," he was by no means completely spun out when the end came. Undoubtedly Towns appeared to be considerably the fresher of the two at the finish, but the elation of victory probably accounted for something. That Barry's party, including himself, thought him good enough for the day is evidenced by the fact that they laid 7 to 4 and 2 to 1 on the Londoner at the start whenever they, could find anybody to accommodate them. The race, a3 you doubtless know, was for £IOO a side. Originally tho men talked of £2OO, but Tom Sullivan did not care to risk more than the century on Towns's behalf. I fancy that he thought Barry would turn out too speedy for the man from Hunter River, and, indeed, not a fortnight ago mine host of the Union Arms expressed to me a wish that he could get a little more speed into Towns.
On the way back to Putney on the umpire's boat several Newcastle gentlemen expressed a desire to bring Jem Wray and Towns together on theTyne, but Sullivan, who knows Wray's strength to an ounce or so, refused to entertain the idea of a match unless Wray would consent to give a start to his fellow-countryman. Barry's party were also on the job,,and offered to make another match on the condition that Sullivan laid £l5O to £IOO oo Towns. The ex-champion smiled blandly at this philanthropic offer, but intimated that he was not in the mood for giving odds just at present. The air, indeed, was thick with challenges on Monday evening. William Haines offered to scull. Sullivan on the Tyne for £IOO, or to take Barry as a partner and double-scull Towns and Sullivan over the Thames course for a similar stake.' A match between Haines and Sullivan is not unlikely to ensue.
AUSTRALIA TRIUMPHANT., Issue 10476, 20 November 1897, Supplement
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