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The Rudderless Pair cover

  • Keywords
    • Rowing,
    • UBC rowing team Canadian,
    • Olympic training,
    • Olympic trials 195UBC,
    • Olympic rowing team,
    • Mexico Olympics,
    • Royal Canadian Henley

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The Rudderless Pair
An Olympic Journey
by Lyle D. Gatley

In 1967, Lyle Gatley was challenged by a friend: if he could survive two months’ rigorous training, he bet, Gatley could become an Olympic contender in the sport of rowing. At six foot five, he perhaps had the right stature, but was nonetheless a complete novice when it came to the sport.Nevertheless, he accepted his friend’s dare and joined the University of British Columbia’s rowing program. Gatley not only managed to survive these first two months but—astonishingly—very quickly did go on to become an Olympic contender for men’s pair rowing. Alongside his rowing shell partner, Jack Ulinder, an even more recent newcomer to the sport than himself, Gatley would earn a spot at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, rising above all those in their UBC cohort on the strength of less than a year’s worth of training. In this compelling and inspiring memoir, Gatley chronicles his and Ullinder’s meteoric rise to the Olympic stage, retelling the story of his recruitment into the sport and his evolution from amateur to accomplished oarsman. He candidly recounts the challenge of being a novice in highstakes competition with those with years’ worth of experience, detailing the intensive training it demanded of him. Emphasizing the value of hard work, hope, and resolve in the face of unlikely odds, his story is sure to inspire athletes with Olympic aspirations—and anyone else who harbours dreams that feel beyond their reach.

LYLE GATLEY is a rower, teacher, family man, builder, and coach from British Columbia, Canada. He has had long careers as a rower, coach, and secondary school teacher, and represented Canada at the 1968 Mexico Olympics alongside his rowing partner, Jack Ulinder—an experience that would inspire this, his first book. He is a member of the Canadian Rowing Association and a founding member of the Delta Deas Rowing Club in Ladner, BC— an organization for which he has served on and off as coach, builder, president, and rowing member for fifty years. Alongside his passion for rowing, Gatley likes to go hiking, play guitar, and read. He lives in the tiny Vancouver Island village of Cowichan Bay with his wife, Donna, and her pet parakeet, Jo-Jo, close to their entire family. Want to get in touch? Gatley can be reached at


Lyle D. Gatley
Kevin Gatley
John Ulinder

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