Bob Rowland won as many speed boat races as any person of his era, but was well known for his all around athleticism. He was born in South Norfolk, now Chesapeake, and graduated from the College of William & Mary. Rowland made his home in Portsmouth for many years where he was an avid golfer, winning several championships. While at William & Mary, his track high hurdle record of 14.9 seconds in 1939 stood for many years.
From 1950 through 1952, Rowland won the Virginia & Maryland Gold Cup of racing, and in 1951, won the Calvert Silver trophy for Unlimited Class Boats at Louisville, Kentucky. The same year, he won the Southland Sweepstakes for 266 cubic inch boats at St. Petersburg, Florida.
In 1951-1952, he won the PresidentÕs Cup Regatta in Washington, D.C. Again in 1951-52, he won the Gold Cup for Unlimited Hydro Planes at Red Bank, New Jersey, and in 1952 won the National Sweepstakes.
In 1951, Rowland was inducted into the National Marine Racing Hall of Fame and was chosen by other members of the Hall of Fame as the ÒOutstanding Speed Boat Racing Driver in America.Ó
In 1952, he was the National High Point Champion of the 266 cubic inch Hydroplane Class. He had previously set the world record in 1951 for the same class in 5-mile competition when he drove 83.48 miles per hour at New Martinsville, West Virginia.
Rowland was elected to the All-American Racing Team, which turned out to be his last full year of open competition in speed boat racing in 1952.