DEAD SEXY: ned hanlan (for robert)
Hanlan was born to Irish parents; one of two sons and two daughters. His mother was Mary Gibbs, his father, John, was first a fisherman and later a hotel keeper on the Toronto Islands. The Hanlan family originally lived at the east end of Toronto Island, but a severe storm in 1865 pushed their little house into the harbour. It washed ashore near the north end of Gibraltar Point, at the island’s west end. A few years later, Ned’s father built a small hotel there, and the area started becoming known as Hanlan’s Point, long before Ned became famous. Young Hanlan used to row several kilometres every day across the harbour to go to and from George Street public school, Toronto. He developed speed to bring freshly caught fish to sell at market before other fishermen arrived to compete.
It seemed only a matter of time before he would try competitive rowing, for regattas were held virtually on his doorstep. In 1871, when he was 16, Hanlan entered his first race, for three-man crews of “fishermen,” who were considered professionals because they were thought to have an occupational advantage over the amateur gentlemen. His boat was unsuccessful. But the amateur rules were changing: increasingly the receipt of money prizes, rather than ascriptive class status, was becoming the criterion of professionalism. Hanlan was accepted into amateur competition in 1873 and here he quickly shone. In his first singles race he won the championship of Toronto bay. Then, in 1874, wearing the blue shirt and red headband which became his trademark, he beat the redoubtable Thomas Loudon three times in succession – once for a side bet of $100, a sizeable risk for him – and won the prestigious Dufferin Medal. The following year he took the Ontario championship.
These victories and a growing calendar of rich stake races led a group of Torontonians in 1876 to form a syndicate club to back him as a professional. The club’s first decision was to purchase a sleek English-made shell and equip it with two recent innovations, a sliding seat and swivel oarlocks. Both helped the rower lengthen the stroke, and thereby the pull on the water. The sliding seat was particularly important. Before its introduction, rowers seeking greater reach had to move across the stationary seat on greased chamois pants, an awkward, often painful manœuvre.
Hanlan quickly rewarded the confidence and technological astuteness of his investors. In September 1876 thousands watched the “Boy in Blue” capture the professional singles in the highly publicized Centennial Regatta in Philadelphia. Although many “laughed at his ambition,” according to a contemporary American newspaper, he beat most of North America’s best scullers on a three-mile (5 km) course with a turn in the record time of 21 minutes 9½ seconds, winning a purse of $800 for himself and a bounteous betting harvest for his supporters. Hanlan and his club next set their sights on national championships. These had to be won through the “challenge system,” which governed most 19th-century sports, rather than participate in an annual event called a championship, in which any qualified athlete could compete, reigning champions held their titles until they were defeated in a negotiated one-on-one challenge. Obtaining a challenge was often as difficult as the event itself. Fortunately, Hanlan’s growing celebrity and his solid backing made him financially attractive as an opponent and he was able to get the challenges he wanted without undue delays.
On 15 Nov. 1880 he raced him on the Thames River’s historic Putney to Mortlake Championship Course of about four and a quarter miles. Some 100,000 spectators lined the banks. Harry Kelley piloted the Australian, and Bright performed the same office for Hanlan, but the race seemed to be over before they reached Hammersmith Bridge. The Canadian won in a time of 26 minutes-12 seconds and three lengths ahead, and thus he gained the World Title. The Stake was £400. In doing so he became Canada’s first world sporting champion in an individual or singles event. News of Hanlan’s success, spread by telegraph and newspaper, touched off a rare moment of communion among English-speaking Canadians. His victory also enriched “hundreds” of Ontarians “from Judges to peanut vendors” (Toronto Globe) who had backed him with cabled wagers.
Ummmm… this movie… SERIOUSLY!
Hanlan’s Point Beach is a public beach situated at 43°36′55″N 79°23′28″W on Hanlan’s Point near Toronto, Ontario on the shore of Lake Ontario. A kilometre long part of the beach was officially recognized by the city in 2002 as being clothing optional. As is common for most public nudist-friendly venues, males make up a large percentage of the users of the beach, but women can make up to one quarter of the total on popular weekends. Recent years continue to see an increase in the number of families who attend. The beach is a popular destination for the city’s large gay community.