Ready All! George Yeoman Pocock and Crew Racing

Gordon Newell
Foreword by Dick Erickson

  • Published: July 2015
  • Subject Listing: History / Western History; Sports; Pacific Northwest/ History
  • Bibliographic information: 188 pp., 68 bandw illus., 8.5 x 11 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

In the 1920s, an upstart West Coast college began to challenge the Eastern universities in the ancient sport of crew racing. Sportswriters scoffed at the "crude western boats" and their crews. But for the next forty years, the University of Washington dominated rowing around the world.

The secret of the Huskies' success was George Pocock, a soft-spoken English immigrant raised on the banks of the Thames. Pocock combined perfectionism with innovation to make the lightest, best-balanced, fastest shells the world had ever seen. After studying the magnificent canoes built by Northwest Indians, he broke with tradition and began to make shells of native cedar.

Pocock, who had been a champion sculler in his youth, never credited his boats for the accomplishments of a crew. He wanted every rower to share his vision of discipline and teamwork. As rowers from the University of Washington went on to become coaches at major universities across the country, Pocock's philosophy-and his shells-became nationally famous in the world of crew.

Drawing on documents provided by Pocock's family, photographs from the University of Washington Crew Archives, and interviews with rowers who revered the man, Newell evokes the times as well as the life of this unique figure in American sport.
The late Gordon Newell was the author of several books on maritime history, including Pacific Tugboats and Mighty Mo, The U.S.S. Missouri: A Biography of the Last Battleship. The late Dick Erickson was University of Washington varsity crew coach from 1968 to 1987.

"Ready All! offers a fascinating journey into the life and work of George Pocock, the master boatbuilder whose profound wisdom matched his skill in the workshop. A sage, a mentor, an artist, and an oarsman, Pocock shaped the lives of countless rowers, and this book captures the essence of his soul."
-Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat
Foreword by Dick Erickson

1. Apprentice Watermen on the Thames
2. Making Do on the Pacific Northwest Frontier
3. Building Shells in the Tokyo Tea Room
4. Building Airplanes at the Red Barn
5. "Clumsily Built Western Boats"
6. "Eight Hearts Must Beat As One"
7. "There Are No Fast Boats, Only Fast Crews"
8. Olympic Gold
9. Races 'round the World
10. Remembered Crews and Coaches
11. The Later Years


"As a youth in Britain, Pocock learned the rudiments of boat building from his father, who crafted boats for young Etonians. Forced to emigrate by straitened economic conditions, he journeyed to the Pacific Northwest intending to find work as a lumberjack. Fortunately for the University of Washington in Seattle, he was persuaded to establish shop there and began making shells of outstanding quality. They were so good, in fact, that Washington won its first intercollegiate title in 1923, defeating the Eastern teams that had ruled the sport for decades. One of his greatest triumphs occurred in 1936 when the Washington team won an Olympic gold medal in Germany, but he had numerous other successes as both boatman and coach until his retirement in 1963. There are many fine photos, including some of special interest from the 19th century, and a foreword by the coach of Washington's varsity crew."
-Publishers Weekly