Date Born/Est
05 Jul 1812
Date Died/Ceased
12 Jul 1870
Biographical Display
HARRY CLASPER, oarsman, boat designer, boatbuilder, coach, publican

Clasper, Henry (Harry), 1812-1870, professional oarsman and boatbuilder. Born at Dunston near Gateshead, he died at Newcastle-upon-Tyne where he had become something of a folk hero. Married with thirteen children. A good sculler and proficient in a pair-oar, his most successful races were, however, in coxed fours. He won the professional fours championship of England on seven occasions - 1845, 1848, 1849, 1856, 1857, 1859 and 1862. But his most important contribution to rowing was his innovative boats that became the model for the modern racing shell. He first produced a keelless, shell, outrigged four in 1844 and subsequently extended the design to sculling boats, pairs and at least one eight.

Ian Whitehead in The Sporting Tyne (2002) outlines his shortcomings as a publican and his 'lapse in overtraining his teenage son', but summarises Harry Clasper as 'a great oarsman, boat designer and builder: he was a very successful stroke oar, a superb team leader, a good sculler and a highly skilled coach. But he was not perfect. He could be difficult, pig-headed and stubborn. However, those were also the qwualities that him successful! Whe his crew were beaten... he did not accept it as the natural order of things. He analysed the reasons for the loss and immediately set out to put things right.
Place Of Birth
North Island/New Zealand
Place Of Death
Newcastle-on-Tyne/Tyne and Wear/England


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