Bishops Diocesan Rowing Club is and has been a home for many men who attend this prestigious school in the heart of Cape Towns Southern Suburbs.
Rowing is difficult at the best of times, and the weather in the Western Cape does not make the job of the coaches any easier! Describing the sport of rowing is a complex art form that combines the entire body to leaver the boat past the point of the blade’s connection with the water. Sounds simple enough! Around 60% of the power comes from the leg drive, 20% from the body swing and 10% from the arms drawing towards the chest. Rowing is a complex interaction of technique, strength, stamina, teamwork and, most importantly, mental toughness. Rowing is incredibly demanding of one’s time, social life, physical and mental ability.
Ultimately rowing is a sport that feeds the soul, develops resilience and grit, enables one to manage academics and time constraints and incredible fitness.
1975 – 1978
Chapter 1 – A Family Affair
A School so proud of Cricket and Rugby, so adverse to the abnormal, especially the abnormality that is rowing. So often a sport which is side-lined. Bishops was devoid of rowing for much of its rich history until 1975.
Until the vigour and oomph of a newly immigrated Manx family led to eldest son Tim Rideout arriving at Bishops in August 1975 (White House), after finishing prep school at Mostyn House in Cheshire. Tim strongly disliked contact sports such as Rugby and Hockey (and managed to dodge them for his time at Bishops), and was no good at Village Cricket. Somewhat in desperation his father John Rideout, himself having been 1st VIII Bedford Modern School and the Royal Agricultural College thought Rowing might provide a more acceptable sport. After discussion with Headmaster Anthony Mallett, it was agreed that Rideout could attempt to start a Rowing Club, but the school would not be providing any funding. So in early 1976 Mr James, one of the school staff who lived in the White House tower, became the school representative in charge of rowing organisation, with Mr Rideout as coach and responsible for all on-water activity. Rideout was also a member of the Alfred Rowing Club who agreed to the use of their boats and facilities at Zeekoevlei. An invitation went out to boys (and parents) to sign up for rowing which involved a not insignificant extra fee to cover the hire of a bus to get to and from the vlei twice a week.
Taking everyone rather by surprise over twenty boys enrolled, with a substantial contingent from White House. Mr Early, another Alfred’s member, was enrolled as Assistant Coach due to the numbers. Within a year there was a 1st VIIi (Phillip Myburgh, S Stapleton Cotton, John Sedgwick, Jan Moll, Charles Arton, MP Dichmont (Capt), John Dunn and Tim Rideout, with RJ Chuter as cox), and in 1977 the club hosted a visit from Shrewsbury School 1st VIII. Mr Ian Garlick, of the department store family, donated a set of wooden sweep oar blades painted in the school colours as the first equipment owned by the club. Multiple crews rowed in the annual Western Province and Alfred’s regattas in 1977.
Mr James did sterling work back at White House collecting the fees, running the accounts and managing the bus bookings, but curiously never visited the vlei.
Chapter 2 – The Rideout Cup
Bishops first South African Schools Championship representation as a School was only a year later in 1977 (check the school magazines for reports). By the next year, Rowing at the school had grown (over 40 boys) and Bishops again attended SA Schools Champs, an impressive feat bearing in mind the timeline and since the acceptance of the sport in the school as one of its own was missing – the exclusion of funding and coaching staff being the biggest drawbacks. The First Eight of this year (Mark Burton-Moore, Jan van Eeden, Grant Meldrum, Sean McGovern, Mark Doyle, Charles Arton, John Dunn, Greg Young, Tim Rideout and cox RJ Chuter), still disproportionately White House, presented John Rideout with a “cup” (a large pewter tankard) as an appreciation for all that he had done for them and Rowing at Bishop’s.
The Rideout Cup is now presented annually at the Bishops rowing dinner, in acknowledgement of the rowers who encapsulates the essence of a Bishop’s rower – which stems from the roots and attitude which was required to build this club.