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History of Leichhardt Rowing Club

On these Bright Waters - A Centennial History of Leichhardt Rowing Club 1886-1986
Reproduced with permission of the author Merle Kavanagh

13. The Last Decade

This was ushered in with the 90th Anniversary Dinner, again organised by Stan Jones, on 27th September 1976 at Drummoyne Rowing Club which was attended by over 150 members, old members and representatives from various other clubs and organisations.

In March the following year an old boys' eight was boated, the first time for some years and the Old Oarsmen's Union went from strength to strength. 1976/77 was the most successful season for fifteen years for the oarsmen and a very creditable start for the "leading ladies" with six girls, Kathy Richmond, Louise Fisher, Jane Piper, Kim Gentle, Pauline Bellemore and Karen Williamson being chosen as State Representatives for New Zealand and Karen with Fiona Renfrew chosen for the N.S.W. Women's Lightweioht Four. The girls won the Junior Pennant and were runners-up in the Senior Pennant in 1977, gaining both of these the following year. In 1977 the Len MacPherson Trophy for the oarswoman who gained the most points at N.S.W.Rowing Association regattas was instituted and in 1978 the Leichhardt Rowing Club Trophy for the Host Improved Oarswoman was awarded for the first time.

1978 NSW Champion Women's Four

1978 NSW Champion Women's Lightweight Four

Bow: Sandra Rourke, 2: Jenny Rourke, 3: Karen Williamson, Str: Kim Brown, Cox: Gary McPherson, Cch: Len MacPherson

The girls continued to win regularly at regattas, winning the Senior Four title (Vickie Baxter, Jenny Rourke and Karen Williamson) and the Open Quad Sculling title (Denise Phillips and Sandy Rourke) at the National Titles at West Lakes in S.A. (1979). The State Lightweight Four title that year was won by Kim Brown, Sandy Rourke, Leanne Turner and Janelle Williams with Grant Corbett as Coxswain. Two oarsmen, Ross Ullo and Ray Harwood took the State Lightweight Pair with Cox, Grant Corbett, the club's first State Championship for fourteen years.

1979 NSW Lightweight Pair Champions

1979 NSW Lightweight Pair Champions

Bow: Ross Ullo, Str: Ray Harwood, Cox: Grant Corbett, Cch: Mick Lowery

Though they were hampered by the lack of a coach, the girls were represented at regattas, accumulating wins into the eighties, three girls being chosen to row in Canada. The oarsmen achieved less, but the 1980/81 Annual Report notes the success of the club's Men's Veteran Four who competed at the inaugural Veteran Australian Championships and won the Category B (32-38 years) Division. "Their secret training technique of 'dip-and-drag' is definitely not recommended to younger oarsmen" the Annual Report read.

In 1980 voluntary work began on an extension to the clubhouse which was completed in 1983 under the supervision and manual help of Mr. Vic Williamson, allowing more space for storage of boats, with sliding; boat racks installed. Roller shutter doors were installed in lieu of the existing sliding doors on the shed and maintenance was needed on the pontoon and staging, due to age, neglect and vandalism.

Funds came from various sources - the distribution of telephone books; the enormous efforts of the Social/Finance Sub-Committee who ran street stalls, dinner dances, barbecues, catered at regattas and ran Balls; the Old Oarsmen who were a continuing source of support; and particularly the club's patron, Ted Curtain, who helped out financially when it was most needed.

In 1979 Tom McGill's original King's Cup blade was placed in the clubhouse on the 60th anniversary of the A.I.F. crew's win in the Henley-on-Thames Peace Regatta in 1919. Tom rowed in State crews in 1920, 1921 and 1922 and had passed away in August 1978.

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