On the evening of Thursday 9 November 2023 Gavin Jamieson, author of ‘Water’s Gleaming Gold’ will be speaking at the Leander Club in aid of the Leander Trust. His newly launched biography recounts the story of Hugh ‘Jumbo’ Edwards, a double Olympic gold medallist, World War II fighter pilot and legendary Oxford coach.
Jamieson is expected to share an anecdote that did not feature in his book: an incident of high jinks following Jumbo’s Grand Challenge Cup victory in 1930, at Henley Royal Regatta. Jumbo was racing for London Rowing Club. It had been 40 long years since London had won this most prestigious of events, and under the coaching of Steve Fairbairn they had finally defeated their rivals Leander.
For Jumbo the victory was all the more sweeter in the context of his Boat Race record. He had collapsed in the Oxford boat in the 1926 Boat Race, ensuring an easy victory for Cambridge. Told never to row again, and blamed by the rowing correspondents as too young and too unfit, Jumbo gained his revenge at Henley in front of the ‘pink cap brigade’. The London crew celebrated long into the evening, and under the cover of darkness, Jumbo clambered onto the roof of Leander and ripped down the fluttering flag. The following morning, the rising sun lit up the new flag: the blue and white colours of London Rowing Club flying proudly above Leander.
One year later, Jumbo would win the Grand, the Stewards and the Goblets in the one regatta, and in 1932 won two Olympic gold medals in Los Angeles. He was finally recognised as one of Britain’s finest oarsmen.