Stan Pocock Awarded 2012 USRowing Medal of Honor

by Ed Moran, photo courtesy of Pocock Rowing Center | Sep 27, 2012
PRINCETON, N.J. – USRowing is pleased to announce that Stan Pocock, an innovative boat builder, oarsman and life-long collegiate and international champion coach, has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 USRowing Medal of Honor.

PRINCETON, N.J. – USRowing is pleased to announce that Stan Pocock, an innovative boat builder, oarsman and life-long collegiate and international champion coach, has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 USRowing Medal of Honor.

Given in recognition to a member of the rowing community in the United States who has accomplished extraordinary feats in rowing, it is the highest honor USRowing can bestow. Pocock, 89, will be honored at the Golden Oars Awards Dinner on Wednesday, November 14, at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

“It is impossible to think of rowing without considering the contributions that Stan Pocock has made to the sport,” said USRowing Chief Executive Officer Glenn Merry. “From the evolution of equipment to training Olympians to grass root clubs, Stan embodies the essence of rowing. It is with great pleasure that USRowing recognizes his leadership, passion and love for rowing with the Medal of Honor this year.”

“How about that,” said Pocock. “What a way to end up a life. I just can’t believe how good I feel about this. I really appreciate the honor very much and I’m very excited.

“I think it’s a culmination of my life in rowing,” he said. “I’ve been in it for a lot of years now, starting when I was a little boy. I went all though rowing at the University of Washington and coaching at the University of Washington and coaching the graduate oarsmen that took me to far places with the crews that were developed at the Lake Washington Rowing Club and then to row with Ancient Mariners (masters rowing group) when they formed in the mid-1980s.

“And then coaching masters level women, mostly through my late years, and then with all my years of building boats for oarsmen all over the world and now and I can look back on this great long life of service to the rowing world and feel like this honor that I have been given is a culmination to all of that,” he said. “I’m so happy to have that effort that I’ve put into the rowing world recognized with this great award.”

Pocock was born into a rowing family the son of George Pocock, who founded the Pocock Racing Shells boat building company with his brother, Dick, in Seattle, Washington, in 1913. Pocock’s father introduced him to rowing when he was a teenager and then taught him the art of building boats.

He attended and rowed at the University of Washington, graduating with an engineering degree. After graduating, Pocock coached at Washington from 1947 though 1955 and then became the first coach the Lake Washington Rowing Club when it was founded in 1958.

During his time at Washington and Lake Washington, Pocock coached multiple crews that represented the United States at the Olympics, winning several medals including gold in the men’s four in 1960 in Rome, Italy. Pocock also developed and coached crews that competed in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. The elder Pocock made the journey with the competing crews and left his son behind to mind the shop.

Because travel to the Games was done by steamer, Pocock was left alone in the Pocock shop for two months, and the engineer in him led him to start playing with the design of the rowing shells. He introduced the use of fiberglass in boat building by eliminating the wooden ribs that ran the length of the wooden shells every 12 inches with a “cedar sandwich skin. It was a cedar outer skin with a fiberglass lining, which took the place of the ribs,” he explained.

Pocock built three of the boats that summer without his father’s knowledge. “You, know what happens when the cats away,” he said. “When he came home, he was pretty angry. I can remember him saying, ‘I’ve got my reputation to uphold’ and I said, ‘well if you don’t try things you don’t grow.’” Pocock sent one boat to nearby University of Washington and one to a high school in New Jersey and stayed in close contact with both crews while the boats were being tested.

He held the third in the shop with the intention of offering it for sale if the first two worked out, which they did. But the third boat was never sold, Pocock said, and is kept at the Pocock Rowing Center.

Pocock continued with the boat company until 1985 and continued making innovations to boats, including creating the first complete fiberglass shell in 1961.

In the early 1990s, Pocock and his sister, Patricia, wanted to created an appropriate memorial for their father and with the help of many other members of the rowing community, they founded the Pocock Rowing Center, which opened in 1994.

He continues to be a strong presence at the center and attends and speaks at several events including the kickoff fundraiser for Campaign 2012, created to help athletes training for the London Olympics and for the junior rowing program.

Pocock’s autobiography, “Way Enough! A recollection of a Life in Rowing,” published in April 2000, chronicles his time in the sport.

USRowing recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions and achievements in the sport in 12 categories.

Five of the awards will be given at the Golden Oars Dinner including the USRowing Medal of Honor; Male Athlete of the Year, awarded to Glenn Ochal; Female Athlete of the Year, awarded to Oksana Masters; Jack Franklin Lifetime Achievement Award, to be announced Oct. 1; Jack Kelly Award, to be announced Oct. 2; Anita DeFrantz Award for Advancing Diversity in Rowing, to be announced Oct. 3; and the Isabel Bohn Award for Achievement in Adaptive Rowing, to be announced Oct. 4.

Seven additional USRowing Awards will be given November 29-December 2 at the 2012 USRowing Annual Convention in Oklahoma City, Okla. They include the John J. Carlin Service Award, to be announced Oct. 8; Clayton W. Chapman Award, to be announced Oct. 9; Joan Zandbergen “Mama Z” Award, to be announced Oct. 10; Julian Wolf Award, to be announced Oct 11; Man of the Year Award, to be announced Oct. 15; Ernestine Bayer Award (formerly Woman of the Year), to be announced Oct. 16; and the Club of the Year Award, to be announced Nov. 11.

Seven Fan’s Choice Awards also will be given at the Golden Oars Awards Dinner. They include the National Team Rower of the Year; Junior Rower of the Year; Masters Rower of the Year, Collegiate Rower of the Year; Junior Coach of the Year; Masters Coach of the Year; and Collegiate Coach of the Year. All seven winners will be announced Oct. 24.

For more information about the Golden Oars Awards Dinner in New York City, visit To purchase a ticket or secure a table, visit

The 2012 USRowing Annual Convention and Advanced Coaches Conference is open to individual members of USRowing. All attendees should update their membership information prior to arriving for registration. Information for membership and convention registration can be found at

About USRowing

USRowing is a nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States. USRowing’s official suppliers include Boathouse Sports, Vespoli, WinTech, Filippi, Croker Oars, Rudy Project, Concept2, Nielsen Kellerman, PowerHTV and Ludus Tours. USRowing also receives generous support from the National Rowing Foundation and its corporate sponsors and partners ANXeBusiness Corp, Voxer, EZ Dock, EMCVenues and Whole Foods. For more information, visit The USRowing National Team program relies on strong partnerships to enable continued success. New opportunities exist to support the teams through the next quadrennial, culminating with the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. America Rows, which supports diversity in rowing, and the USRowing adaptive programs also benefit from corporate support. For more information, please contact Beth Kohl at
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