Our recent report on the Henley Royal Regatta sparked a serious debate about class and style. One commenter’s position that “people should know their place” in regards to attending and dressing for such high-end events struck a chord in particular. Which led us to wonder whether Henley and its ilk are really the bastions of unrepentant snobbery that some make them out to be. Many seem to be of the opinion that rowing is only for the rich, and that the “ridiculous” blazers worn by rowers and clubmen are merely a way of rubbing the proles’ noses in it. So we decided to ask Jack Carlson (photographed above by Jason Varney) to stick an oar in.
A three-time member of the U.S. national rowing team, Carlson has won the Henley Royal Regatta, the Head of the Charles Regatta, and the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. A native of Boston, he first began his rowing career as a coxswain at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols school in Cambridge, Mass., which was the first American high school to win at Henley in 1929. Last year he published Rowing Blazers, a gorgeous paean to the flamboyant garments that have occasioned so much criticism, with photography by F.E. Castleberry of Unabashedly Prep. Oh, and he also has a degree from Georgetown and a Ph.D. in archaeology from Oxford.