Bruno Cipolla, the ‘Rower Whisperer’

by Giuseppe Lamanna (translated by Gillian Shaw) source text

He who rules the waves, writes history. This quote entered the collective memory via the British Naval Admiral, Horatio Nelson, but which is now more closely linked with one of the most important but least considered roles in rowing: the coxswain. What’s more all eyes are on the rowers during races and not on the ‘little’ great men who ‘whisper’ from the bows or the stern.

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The legendary Bruno Cipolla

The rowing stroke is like an unbroken chain of instants and rowers live from one to the next, without really taking much notice of what has just or is about to happen. A luxury denied to the cox, because their job is not to ‘enjoy’ the journey, but to predict the future and to change the final outcome by using their voice. And this is just what Bruno Cipolla did in 1968 at the Mexico City Olympics, who as cox steered the coxed pair of Renzo Samba and Primo Baran to Olympic gold.

The ‘Rower Whisperer’

Bruno Cipolla’s story is not just one of the past, it is even more valid now. After almost half a century has passed since that medal, this great athlete continues to have fun in boats; his purpose is to pass on his passion and experience to the youngsters who have recently taken up rowing.

Are coxswains born or made, Bruno? Continue reading

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