Scroll To Top

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

16. Women

Over the years the club co-operated with women rowers from the various ladies rowing clubs which were established from about 1910. The Western Suburbs Ladies Rowing Club began in 1910 and later changed its name to Sydney Ladies Rowing Club. Others followed and the sport became more popular for ladies. Leichhardt first programmed a four oar race for ladies in amateur clubs in the regatta held on 7th February 1914 and continued to cater for the ladies for a number of years. The regatta on 14th February 1920 included mixed fours open to members of W.S. Ladies Rowing Club and Olympic Ladies Rowing Club together with Leichhardt.

However, women did not row for Leichhardt until the mid fifties when they carried off the Australian Championship Title over a number of years, and took out a special Challenge Race in June 1957 against Victoria. Women ceased rowing for the club in the sixties.

It was not until the 1971/72 season that the Y.W.C.A. Rowing Club began operations out of the club boatshed, including co-operating with the raising of funds, out the liaison ended about 1974.

In 1972/73 investigations be-an into the commencement of a Women's Section of the Leichhardt Rowing Club and by 1976 the constitution had been altered to allow women to join the club, with voting rights over the age of eighteen. Student girl members from Malvina and Riverside High Schools boosted the ranks of rowers for the club and the 1970/77 season proved to be a success for the women, with two girls chosen as State representatives and two girls in the N.S.W. Women's Lightweight four.

Over the next few years they took out the Junior Pennant (twice) and Senior Pennant, had six girls chosen as State representatives and in 1979/80 clinched both the State and Australian titles. The following year the girls won the N.S.W. Rowing Association Pointscore and one girl won an Australian title. The women were rowing consistently well even though they lacked a coach at one time, and three girls were chosen to row in Canada - Sandy Rourke, Kim Brown and Janelle Williams.

Sandy Rourke was the first woman member to hold a club office, being secretary in 1978 and 1979. Another first for Leichhardt was the election of Shirley Hicks as the first woman secretary of the N.S.W. Rowing Association. In 1985 girl crews from Sydney Girls High coached by Mick Lowrey had some successes. The involvement of women in the club's rowing activities was a tremendous boost to the club at a time when it was in the doldrums.

< previous Chapter 15

> next Chapter 17

top of page

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management