John Coates OBE was Britain’s Chief Naval Architect, and also a key figure in the rebirth of BRLSI in the early 1990s. In retirement he co-designed a full-scale reconstruction of an oar-driven ancient Greek Trireme warship, and co-founded the Trireme Trust to oversee its construction and use. The Greek Navy built the ship, named Olympias, and the Trust organised a series of sea trials from 1987 onwards.
On Tuesday October 11th Prof Boris Rankov, one of the crew who ran the Olympias trials (and famous as a six-times winner of the University Boat Race with Oxford), will be at BRLSI to give the John Coates Memorial Lecture on Triremes, describing how their three-tier oar arrangement gave them such speed and agility that they could win battles simply by ramming their opponents into submission.
There will also be a chance to see the Olympias in action, with the first showing of a video shot on board the ship in 1990 by feature film director Christopher Miles. The footage lay untouched for 20 years until the BRLSI Antiquity Group arranged the video’s production as a tribute to John Coates, with John’s narration script read by his son Julian, and editing by BRLSI Director Paul Stephens. John Coates and Boris Rankov both appear in the video, which sees the Olympias’ crew attempt a new speed record for the ship in the Straits of Poros, Greece.
The lecture starts at 7.30pm – entry is £4/£2 on the door, or £6/£4 in advance from Bath Box Office.