Rowing at the 1952 Summer Olympics – Men's coxed four
The men's coxed four competition at the 1952 Summer Olympics took place at Mei Bay, Helsinki, Finland. It was held from 20 to 23 August and was won by the team from Czechoslovakia. There were 17 boats (85 competitors) from 17 nations, with each nation limited to a single boat in the event. The gold medal was Czechoslovakia's first medal in the men's coxed four. Switzerland earned its third consecutive silver medal, and sixth medal in seven Games dating back to 1920 (the only Games in that time where the Swiss team did not win a medal was 1932, when no Swiss boat competed). The reigning champion United States took bronze.
This was the ninth appearance of the event. Rowing had been on the programme in 1896 but was cancelled due to bad weather. The coxed four was one of the four initial events introduced in 1900. It was not held in 1904 or 1908, but was held at every Games from 1912 to 1992 when it (along with the men's coxed pair) was replaced with the men's lightweight double sculls and men's lightweight coxless four.
The coxed four event featured five-person boats, with four rowers and a coxswain. It was a sweep rowing event, with the rowers each having one oar (and thus each rowing on one side). The competition used the 2000 metres distance that became standard at the 1912 Olympics and which has been used ever since except at the 1948 Games.
Based on a previous decision, each boat raced a minimum of two races before it could be eliminated.
The competition featured five rounds (three main rounds and two repechages).
Quarterfinals: 4 heats, 4 or 5 boats each, top 2 in each heat (8 total) advanced to the semifinals while others (9 boats) went to the first repechage.
First repechage: 3 heats, 3 boats each, top 1 in each heat (3 total) advanced to the second repechage (not the semifinals) while all others (6 boats) were eliminated.
Semifinals: 2 heats, 4 boats each, top 1 in each heat (2 total) advanced to the final while all others (6 boats) went to the second repechage.
Second repechage: 3 heats, 3 boats each, to 1 in each heat (3 total) advanced to the final while all others (6 boats) were eliminated.
Final: 1 heat, 5 boats, determining medals and 4th and 5th places.
Four heats were rowed on 20 July. Three of the heats had four teams and one had five teams, with the first two teams to qualify for the semifinals, and the remaining teams progressing to the round one repechage.
Five teams reached the final, which was decided in one race held on 23 July. While conditions had been favourable on the first three days of racing, the day the finals were held saw wind at considerable force. This wind died down later, but the coxed four was the first race of the day and the results were affected by the strong wind.