George Pocock believed that anyone who had the desire to row should have the opportunity to participate in the sport and pursue excellence at the highest level. Today, the George Pocock Rowing Foundation continues the work he began and upholds his philosophies, visions, and ideals.
Through building and supporting rowing programs and facilities, the Pocock Foundation promotes access to rowing, excellence in rowing, and uses rowing as a means to foster physical activity, health, leadership, and community engagement.
VISION: Everyone has the opportunity to row and strive for excellence on the water.
MISSION: To build and support high quality programs and facilities that promote access to rowing, excellence in rowing, and use rowing as a means to foster physical activity, health, leadership, and community engagement.
VALUES: The George Pocock Rowing Foundation, drawing on the life and legacy of George Pocock, believes that access to sport and excellence in sport are synergistic values. We believe that by making rowing and rowing institutions available to the broadest range of participants possible the sport will grow in viability, prominence, and vitality and regional and national performance will improve. We hold excellence and access to be two sides of the same coin and use this belief to guide our decision making.
Access – We make the rich experiences of rowing available to a diverse population and individuals are included and engaged as a vital part of something larger than themselves.
Excellence – We inspire individuals to realize their fullest potential on and off the water.
The Pocock Foundation was created in 1984 by people who were passionate about the sport of rowing and the benefits it can provide. There were initially three goals:
Since its inception in 1984, the Pocock Foundation has played a role in the development of the Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center, Pocock Rowing Center, Renton Rowing Center (new in 2014) along with other facilities in Lake Sammamish, Portland and Vancouver, WA. Dozens of high performance athletes have been supported, including Olympians Anna Cummins, Lia Pernell and Sloan DuRoss. Lastly, the Pocock Foundation has been involved in bringing the region together to compete through events like Row for the Cure and NW Ergomania! and to learn through the Kossev Consortium.
A fourth objective focused on community outreach was added in 1994. Since then, the Pocock Foundation has enjoyed a rich history of working with successful outreach programs, including the Lakeside Education Enrichment Program (LEEP), Girls Row and Row to the Future- its most recent and largest initiative. Row to the Future’s model, unique among urban sports, leverages school and community partnerships to create an innovative network of youth program opportunities- improving access to participation and empowering students to make healthier lifestyle choices now and in the future.
Born in England in 1891, George Pocock learned the art of boat-building from his father, the boat-builder at Eton College. He began sculling at the age of 12, and won his first race at 15. In 1910, he won the London Bridge-to-Chelsea race, a grueling four-and one-half mile event open only to professional watermen- a race his brother Dick had won the year before.
In 1911, George and Dick Pocock relocated to British Columbia, where, after a series of odd jobs, they were commissioned to build two single shells for the Vancouver Rowing Club. Word of their skills spread quickly. In 1912, Hiram Conibear, coach of the rowing team at the University of Washington, persuaded the two brothers to move to Seattle, to build boats for the UW crew. By 1913 they had made Seattle their home.
Soon their shells were making the Pocock name famous by winning races, and by the early 1920s orders were coming in from all of the major colleges where rowing was practiced. Although Dick had moved on, George continued to operate the business, and frequently acted as an unofficial assistant coach and advisor to the UW crew. In 1936, the UW eight won Olympic gold in Berlin in a Pocock shell. When American crews in Pocock boats won again in 1948 and 1952, boat-builders the world over began copying his designs and techniques. Yet he remained modest about his contributions, saying “there are no fast boats, only fast crews.”
George Pocock was an early proponent of high school rowing programs, and kept his prices low so that high schools could afford his boats. Although plastics and composites began replacing wood in the 1960s, the Pocock boats remained the “gold standard.” By 1970, George had handed of most of the boat-building operation to his son Stan, although he maintained an active interest. At his death in Seattle in 1976, it could be fairly said that no other person had had a greater influence on American rowing.
In 1999, the Seattle Times prepared a list of the top 100 figures in Seattle sports during the Twentieth Century. George Pocock was number thirteen. Below is an excerpt from the Seattle Times article:
His influence turned Seattle into a center for rowing, and as UW rowers became coaches elsewhere, his shells – and his philosophy – spread… through his leadership, rowing has become the sport for all ages as a singular or group activity. The blending of rowing and life – in his words: “Harmony, balance, rhythm. There you have it. That’s what life is all about.”
When Stan Pocock was a young man, he followed the tradition of boat-building and apprenticed with his father, George. Stan grew up in Seattle, was an oarsman at the University of Washington and graduated with a degree in Engineering. In the late 1960’s, management of the Pocock Racing Shells became Stan’s responsibility while George devoted himself to constructing cedar single shells.
Stan proved himself not only as a natural in boat-building, but coaching as well. In addition to coaching at the University of Washington from 1947 through 1955, he was the first coach for Lake Washington Rowing Club upon its formation in 1958 and coached several gold-medal winning crews in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games.
Stan continued with Pocock Racing Shells until 1985, and during that time made many innovations to the racing shell, including creating the first fiberglass shell in 1961.
In the early 1990’s, along with his sister Patricia, Stan made a strong push to create an appropriate memorial for their father, George. With his effort and vision, along with support from many community members, the George Pocock Memorial Rowing Center (PRC) opened its doors in 1984.
Stan continues to be a strong presence at the PRC, attending events and speaking as often as possible. His autobiography, Way Enough!, is available at the PRC and an incredible recollection of a long life in the Northwest rowing community.
Happy Pocock Day! In honor of the life and legacies of George and Stan Pocock, the PRC community spent the morning reflecting on the notion that the act of rowing – the beauty of it, the difficulty of doing it well, and with others, somehow has a positive influence on our lives, and how we […]
In honor of the new Sarah Hirst Smith II racing shell that was dedicated this weekend, we asked Sarah to submit a short essay on her background and connection to PRC. From her start on the elite sculling team under the tutelage of Julie McCleery and Emil Kossev, to her own coaching success at Pocock, […]
The Power of a Boathouse | Author: High school rower from Renton Rowing Center I am a rower; I believe in rowing. February of my junior year of high school, I felt lost: my grades were slipping, I was fighting with my family, and I didn’t know what was next for me. For some reason, […]
Evening on the Docks | Renton Rowing Center Benefit
Saturday, July 21
Doors at 5:30pm
Tickets are $40 each
57th Annual Summer Extravaganza Regatta
Green Lake in Seattle, WA
Saturday, August 4th
7:00am – 5:00pm
Free for spectators!
Windermere Summer Splash & Corporate Cup Regatta
Green Lake in Seattle, WA
Saturday, August 18
9:00am – 3:00pm
FREE Family Event with kids activities, food tents, and boating.