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Kingfish

Vessel Number: HV000485
Date: 1947
Dimensions:
Vessel Dimensions: 9.14 m (30 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
KINGFISH is a single scull built in 1947 at Abbotsford NSW. It was built for Olympic sculler Mervyn Wood by A&H Green. He won the gold medal in the single sculls at the 1948 London Olympics in KINGFISH, 16 years after Australia's last gold medal for rowing, when Bobby Pearce won the same event in 1932. Wood also won the 1948 Diamonds event at Henley Royal Regatta, 17 years after Pearce had also won the Diamonds. Pearce had also used A&H Green sculls for his victories. KINGFISH showed that Greens had been able to build sculls to the highest international standard for almost two decades. Wood became one of Australia's best scullers with a number of state and national victories and a second Diamonds win in 1949. KINGFISH was sold in the UK and remains there in good condition.
DescriptionKINGFISH was built in cedar veneer planking with cedar cockpit structure and canvas decks by A&H Green whose shed had always been on the point at Abbotsford on the Parramatta River. They were renowned locally and internationally for their high quality sculls and shells ever since Bobby Pearce began using their craft in 1930 for his complete domination of single sculling until he retired in the 1940s. Green-built boats won numerous events over four decades and the business closed in the mid 1950s. The name KINGFISH refers to a popular fish from the mackerel family sought after by recreational fishers along the coast.

Wood had begun rowing at Sydney High School in the early 1930s. In 1936 he was a cadet with the NSW police force and rowed at number 5 in the Police Force eight. This crew was chosen to represent Australia in Berlin at the 1936 Olympics. They were well beaten by other crews, but Wood enjoyed the experience and was fascinated by the single sculls which he watched while there. Returning to Australia he remained with crews in the eights and represented NSW in three Kings Cup events up until 1939. In that year he changed to a single scull and won the NSW title in a second hand boat called AUDREY that cost him 15 pounds, complete with oars. From 1940 onwards during the war he was unable to row until December of 1945, when he returned to his scull and began to compete again.

After the war he won the national championships and was selected in 1948 to represent Australia at the London Olympics. Funds were raised to help him stay in London beforehand to train, and he rowed in KINGFISH, the new scull built in 1947. He was not considered a favourite, and his strong but slow rate was considered unusual by most observers. He had coached himself and felt his style came from pulling on the big single oar of an eight where he had begun his rowing. It was however an effective style over longer courses, and helped him come from 400 metres behind to win the final of the Diamonds at Henley Royal Regatta in July 1948 in the lead up to the Olympic races. This win also gave him the Philadelphia Gold Cup as recognition of his status as the world amateur single scull champion. The previous Australian win for both of these had been in 1931 by the legendary Bobby Pearce.

He was then made the favourite for the single scull event and amongst the Olympic field were two other past winners of the Diamonds, Sepheriades from France and Kelly from the USA. All three Diamonds winners won their heats. Wood had an easy progression to the final in his semi-final despite the poor conditions, easily beating Sepheriades while Kelly exhausted himself in his heat and was beaten across the line by unfavoured Risso from Uruguay. In good conditions on August 19 Wood started fast and had a one length lead by 700 metres, eventually winning by 14 seconds from Risso.

After the Olympics KINGFISH remained in the UK, it is understood the Australian team manager sold the boat and it went to a private owner. Its rowing history there is not well documented, but it changed hands and the current owner has refitted it with new riggers and seat in the style that it had in 1948. It remains in operating condition. Wood continued to win single and double scull events, defending the Philadelphia Cup in 1950. From 1948 onwards he is understood to have always rowed in craft built by A&H Green, and other sculls in Australia are also attributed to his ownership, but in some instances there is no confirmed record of him using the craft. He represented Australia again and was flag bearer for the Australian team at both the 1952 and 1956 Olympics.
Vessel Details
Current status:non-operational
Deck layout:decked with cockpit
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:oar
Hull material and construction:cold mouldedcold-mouldeddouble diagonaltriple diagonaldouble-diagonaltriple-diagonal
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:overhanging stem
Hull shape:round bottom
Deck material and construction:other

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