PRACTICE IN THE OLD ARMORY 1896
Courtney was the inventor of the
rolling seat for oarsman, and all of the sculls
used by Cornell during his time at the University
were built to his specifications at the boathouse
by his assistant, John Hoyle.
is also credited with developing the "Courtney
or American style" of rowing as opposed to the
"English style." Courtney's rowers did not lean
way back on the pull-through, and he didn't insist
on a certain number of strokes per minute, relying,
instead, on each crew finding its own natural
pace with a good run on the boat after each stroke.
He was also one of the first coaches to use photography
to analyze his crews' procedures and performances.
In June of 1920, one of Courtney's
long-held wishes came true -- the big IRA race,
usually held at Poughkeepsie, came to Cayuga Lake.
Mobile grandstands were built on railroad flatcars
on the tracks that paralleled the water's edge,
so that spectators could stay even with the boats
throughout the race. Two of Cornell's three teams
swept the field.
had gone into semi-retirement in 1916, and shortly
after the big race he fully retired. In the spring
of 1920, he and his wife left their home in Ithaca
to spend the summer at Farley's Point on Cayuga
On June 17, 1920, after returning
from a morning on the water, he died at age 71.
On June 12, 1976, the village of Union Springs
held a regatta in memory of Charles Courtney -
using the same course he raced on in 1872, when
he first met the Cornell navy.
Many thanks to
Pat Kimber at the Frontenac Museum in Union Springs
for providing the photos for this article. -Ed.