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History of Bundaberg Rowing Club

Chapter 3 — New Era

Their efforts were so successful that new two-story premises were erected in 1924. It is reasonable to assert that the sense of achievement aroused by this venture was a factor in the advent of the club's new era of prominence in Queensland rowing.

During this 1920-1930 decade Bundaberg crews won the Queensland champion eights three times and the champion fours five times, the eight-oared crews having contested the King's Cup twice as State representatives. Eddie Rackemann (1925) was the stroke of the first successful eight, Dave Young (1927) the second and Johnny Lawrey (1930) the third, the two last-mentioned taking their crew to the King's Cup event. Dave Young and Johnny Lawrey stroked the title-winning four-oared crews in the years they won the eights, adding to the treble scored by Arthur Wilkinson and Eddie Rackemann in successive years.

As the club's first crew to contest the King's Cup Australian eight-oared Championship, Dave Young's 1927 crew warrants a special place in Iocal rowing history. Other members of the crew were Percy Feeney, Herb Zunker, Arthur Hassam, Jim Cullen, A. Bragg, Bob Lyndon, Johnny Lawrey, and Ron Clemence was cox. Several members of this crew were to make notable contributions to the club's modern development.

1927 First Bundaberg King's Cup Crew

First Bundaberg King's Cup Crew 1927

John Lawrey (bow), Robert Lyndon (2), A Bragg (3), Jim Cullen (4), Arthur Hassam (5), Herb Zunker (6), Percy Feeney (7), David Young (str), Ron Clemence (cox)

The King's Cup event that year was contested on the Derwent River, near Hobart, in exceptionally choppy waters. The Bundaberg shell did not have washboards, a deficiency that led to the crew's downfall after it had held second place behind Western Australia for two and a half miles of the three mile course. But the boat shipped so much water that eventually it swamped. Western Australia won the event, New South Wales (second) and Victoria (third) swamping as they crossed the finishing line, and Tasmania and Queensland struggling to the finish almost submerged.

1927 Queensland Eight

1927 Queensland Eight from the Interstate Programme

Lawrey's crew in 1930 finished third in the Cup event rowed at Mannum (South Australia). It holds the distinction of being the lightest ever to contest the event. Hassam was the only other member of the 1927 crew to join that crew and he again achieved the honour in 1935 when Bob Howard was stroke and annexed the State title for Bundaberg. The crew, which was unplaced in the event at Sydney, included Herb Zunker, making a King's Cup return after eight years, and his brother, Arthur. The next generation of Zunkers was to make a great impact on Queensland rowing after World War II.

The two elder Zunkers and Arthur Hassam were in still another Queensland title-winning eight, the 1936 crew stroked by Laurie Lister, who had been bow in Bob Howard's King's Cup crew. Hassam was a member of four State four-oared title winners, too. Lawrey was in three, stroking two of them (1930 and 1935), in addition to stroking two successive (1929 and 1930) champion lightweight fours of Queensland. In this last-mentioned championship event Roy Slean and Cec Roebuck established impressive records, Bob Slean was in four successive (1929 to 1932) winning crews, stroking the last two, Roebuck rowing No. 3 in all four and going one better to be No. 3 in 1933 for Alan Hooper who had been No. 2 for Slean.

Roebuck and the two Rickert brothers, Ernie and Christie, were to span the war years and also earn State title successes in the immediate post-war period. Roebuck rowed bow in the two State champion fours crews of 1946 and 1947 stroked by Ernie Rickert and including Christie Rickert. The Rickerts, both of whom had rowed in Nev Cullen's State champion eight-oared crew of 1941, were members of Col Zunker's 1948 State champion eight. They also were members of the same Zunker's State fours title crew of that year.

That was a splendid year for the club, as Nev Cullen also won the State single sculls title.

Ron Clemence, who coxed each of the pre-war Bundaberg eight-oared crews that raced in the King's Cup event, was to earn the highest honours in rowing administration after the war.

1941 Men's Eight

1941 Bundaberg Eight

Back row L to R: E Rickert, C Rickert, Cliff Cullen (Coach), F King, G King
Front row L to R: W Shorten, P Stribe, Nev Cullen, G Wallace, R Kennedy

The thirties marked the advent of Nev Cullen, who was to become Bundaberg's "Mr. Rowing" of modern times. He had rowed in Lawrey's State title-winning four in 1935 and stroked the 1941 eight which won the Queensland title before rowing was suspended for the rest of the war period.

Early in that decade, too, Bundaberg scullers came to the fore again to recall the deeds of Paddy Christsen nearly 20 years earlier. Joe Richardson won the single sculls State title in 1932 and Geoff Boreham in 1933. Percy Sorrensen won in 1938 and 1940 and Rob Slean in 1941, repeating the performance in 1947 after competitive inter-city rowing was re-established.

It was a belated yet just consolation for Sorrensen, for in 1919 he had stroked a Bundaberg club four that won the State championship event, only to be disqualified when officials ascertained that Sorrensen previously had earned a cash prize of 10/- ($1) in a cycling race, thus breaching his amateur status.

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