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History of Mercantile Rowing Club

23. Oarsome Foursome (1988-1992)

Chapter Twenty-Three page 1 2 3 4 5


Following their season off Tomkins, Patten and McKay returned to the Senior Squad at the end of 89. This season would culminate with selection of the team for the 1990 World Championships to be held at Lake Barrington Tasmania. Being the first time Australia had ever hosted a World Rowing Championships the Australian Rowing Council was determined to send a full team and put on a good showing.

Following the disappointment of Seoul, they believed they stood a much better chance of success in a smaller boat. Under the coaching of Donaldson and McGann they were joined in a four by Warwick Hooper. The crew performed well through the season and won the National Championship in the coxed four and with Geoff Barden replacing Warwick Hooper also won the coxless four in what was to be a preview of the World Championship.

Following the National Championships Nick Green of MUBC replaced Warwick Hooper and the crew was selected as the 'first preference' four for the World Championships. They were to travel to Europe and compete as both coxed four with David Colvin and coxless four before a decision would be made about which event they would contest at Lake Barrington.

After success at Lucerne Regatta in the coxless four it was resolved that the crew would contest the coxless event in November and David Colvin joined fellow Mercantile members Tony Johnson and Peter Murphy in the coxed four.

The rest is history with the Oarsome Foursome formed in preparation for the 1990 World Championships.

The 1990 World Championships at Lake Barrington were the focus of the season. The following members were selected to represent Australia:

  • Men's Coxless Four — James Tomkins, Sam Patten, Michael McKay — coach Noel Donaldson.
  • Men's Coxed Four — Tony Johnson, David Colvin
  • Men's Heavyweight Eight — Warwick Hooper, James Baker, Simon Spriggs
  • Men's Lightweight Eight — Simon Morrison, Derek Mollison, Malcolm Robertson
  • Women's Eight — Fleur Spriggs
  • Women's Lightweight Four — Rebecca Joyce
  • Women's Heavyweight Coxless Pair — Samantha Stewart, Anna McFarlane
  • Team Manager — Andrew Guerin

The men's four won the world championship and Rebecca Joyce won silver.

1990 Silver medal winning Women's Lightweight Four

1990 Silver Medal Winning Lightweight Four

Rebecca Joyce in stroke seat

The 1989-90 season saw the club win 48 races, by coincidence the same number as in the previous season.

This season was the first in a long while where recruiting had become difficult. An aggressive campaign by Banks and the beginning of a decline in the number of school leavers continuing their rowing meant the Club did not win the State Youth Eight title for the first time in six years.

The lack of success at the junior end of the club was a cause for concern and saw the Committee institute a full review of its direction to ensure improvement in the forthcoming seasons.

On the women's front, the Club boated crfews in all categories for the first time.

1990 National Championship Under 23 Eight

1990 National Championship Under 23 Eight

l-r David Pincus (coach), Bill Webster, Jason Kerr, Warwick Hooper, Simon Quirk, Cory Bernardi, Peter Somerville, Jason Kovacic, Cam Jones, James Baker.

This year also saw the commencement of renovations. Frustrated by the city council, the relocation of the men's changing room and gymnasium was brought forward while the more expensive plans for the bar area and entrance were delayed. Hall hire contributed significantly to revenue this season and that money was used to assist with the renovation. The increase in hall hire was to be a taste of the future for the Club.

Limited financial resources were also a concern. Whilst hall hire would supplement income, subscriptions represented nearly 50% of the club;s income. Interestingly, this amount represented the cost of a new eight.

The Interstate Championships saw good Mercantile representation in Victorian crews. The winning King's Cup crew contained Warwick Hooper, Mal Batten, Tim Howes, Michael McKay, Sam Patten, James Tomkins, David Colin (cox), and Noel Donaldson & Paul McGann (coaches). Ben Dodwell raced in the winning Victorian youth eight, Malcolm Robertson in the winning Victorian Lightweight four, and Rebecca Joyce in the winning women's lightweight four.

Mercantile won the men's pair, men's lightweight pair, men's coxless four, men's coxed four, men's under 23 eight and formed part of the men's lightweight eight. It was a good regatta and made more interesting when compared to that of the AIS with a budget of $1,000,000 and Mercantile with a budget of 10% of that.

1990 Men's Lightweight Pair

1990 National Championships Men's Lightweight Pair

l-r Martin Owen (coach), Richard Wraith, Simon Morrison

The Captain's trophy was again won by James Tomkins and Sam Patten, the Bailey Trophy for coxwains was won by David Colvin and the R A Cooper Memorial Trophy won by the Captain Jeff Lawrence. This was an unusual situation but shows the unusual amount of effort put into the Club by Jeff Lawrence.

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