Passionate Pursuit of Craft: King Designs Rowing Shells

Graeme King, American Craftsman

From the MiTek series on the American Craftsman, comes the story of Graeme King, a man who hand-crafts racing shells for the sport of rowing. This story comes from the visual storytelling artist, Tadd Myers, a photographer who has captured the heart of the American craftsman in a pictorial masterpiece.


Excellence takes time, as Graeme King of King Racing would know. He got his start hand-crafting rowing shells at the tender age of five, and has never since stopped honing his skills on this timeless art form.

American Craftsman

At age sixteen he started rowing for the South Australian Railways Institute Rowing Club, while simultaneously pursuing a boat-building apprenticeship. Soon he was confident enough to strike out on his own to build a 1X with a wide span beyond what was typical in clubs at the time. Ten-time state sculling title holder and President’s Cup winner Norm Talbot was an early advocate of King’s boats. In 1970 he received a King 1X of his own and rowed it to victory at the 1971 Australian National Championships. Legendary coach Howard Croker also took notice, and invited King to the US to serve as the Harvard boatman. For three years King made boats for the Harvard team before returning to his hometown of Adelaide, Australia to continue building his legacy.


With boat sales going strong on both continents, King then decided to make Putney, Vermont his home base in 1983. Shells he made have been to many US National Championships—and won them.


Not only are Graeme King’s designs fast and powerful, they are also extremely durable. Boats King created thirty years ago are still in use today—proving the lasting value of his craftsmanship.


This story was sourced from the American Craftsman Project website, with permission by the author, Tadd Myers. MiTek appreciates the heart of the American craftsman – the men and women who perform their work according to principles of integrity, hard work, quality and a desire to forge something that will create not just a lasting product, but a lasting relationship.