STAGING Sad news of the death of Daniel Topolski - British Rowing

Sad news of the death of Daniel Topolski

A legendary Oxford coach and rower, author, commentator and journalist, Dan Topolski died on Saturday at the age of 69 following a period of ill health.

Tributes have been paid from across the world of rowing, for a man who led Oxford to 10 straight wins in the Boat Race between 1976 and 1985.


In all, Topolski coached Oxford for 15 editions of the Boat Race, winning 12, and coached GB crews at two Olympic Games. He rowed in two Boat Races for Oxford – winning in 1967 and losing in 1968 – and represented GB five times between 1969 and 1978.

Topolski’s award-winning account of the infamous 1987 race, True Blue, would later be made into a classic rowing film starring Dominic West and Bill Nighy.

Obituaries for the charismatic coach can be found on the Daily Telegraph and Guardian websites.

Annamarie Phelps, British Rowing Chairman
“Dan lived and breathed rowing. He was always positive, enthusiastic and great fun to be around, even in recent times while coping with his ill health. It was fantastic to see him in Amsterdam at last year’s World Championships where he had won in the LM8+ in 1977. His presence at rowing events across the world will be missed by so many from across the whole rowing family, as we have seen from the tributes flowing in.”

Colin  Smith, former President of Rowing Australia
“It was with great sadness that I read of the sad passing far too soon of Dan Topolski. Dan exemplified what is so special about our sport globally, and will be missed but never forgotten by the global rowing community. I have very fond memories of Dan as an athlete (we rowed against each other at the 1975 World Championships in Nottingham), as a very successful coach for Oxford and as a superb rowing commentator.
“Dan was a special rowing friend  and will be sadly missed in Australia also. Our thoughts are with Dan’s family, and the GB Rowing community.”

Sir Steve Redgrave:

“Dan was a good friend and a rowing man through and through, a great rower and sculler, Oxford blue, world champion, Henley steward and a loyal club man before turning his hand to coaching.
“Rowing will miss him dearly, and so will I.”

Martin Cross, on The Blogging Oarsman:
“Naturally, one was drawn to this figure who was not, in any sense of the word, “conventional”. That was part of his appeal – he was a child of the 60s, with everything that entailed… He was very alternative – if you’d have seen him, you’d never have guessed that he was actually one of the most determined, committed rowing coaches in the world.
“The sport will miss him, and it’s important to say that the sport is better for him.”

Sir Matthew Pinsent:
“RIP Dan Topolski Oxford Blue, World champion, Oxford coach and Henley Steward. What a pleasure to share our sport with him.”

Gary Herbert:
“Today I lost my dear friend, mentor & wing man, Dan Topolski. I will treasure EVERY minute we had together. #RIPDan”

Katherine Grainger:
“Very sad news about the death of Dan Topolski, coach, athlete, steward, commentator and all round entertaining enthusiast of rowing. The sport will miss him dearly as will all of us. Thoughts are with his family.”

Constantine Louloudis:
“Very sad to hear of the death of Dan Topolski, a legend of the sport. It’s a privilege to have known him and benefitted from his experience.”

George Nash:
“RIP Dan Topolski. One of the good guys.”

Helen Glover:
“A sad loss to the rowing world. RIP Dan Topolski.”

Will Satch:
“A true legend that will be sorely missed RIP.”

Brianna Stubbs:
“Dan Toploski was widely loved and respected by the international rowing community- thoughts going out to his family.” 

(Photo Credit: Pete Spurrier)