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History of Mercantile Rowing Club

25. The Rise of the Professional Coach (1996-2000)

Chapter Twenty-Five page 1 2 3 4 5


The 118th year brought a new President in Andrew Guerin and the continuation of Celia Patterson as Captain. One of our great highlights of the year was the presentation to Georgina Douglas the award of female athlete of the 1998 National Championships. A well deserved honour for such a magnificent championships.

1998 Champion Rowers at Championships

Gina Douglas and Haimish Karrasch, 1998 Australian Rowers of the Year

Most importantly from an administration point of view, the year saw the introduction of our first professional coach in Peter Somerville. Peter had been a member for 10 years and an experienced rower. His passion for coaching took him to Canberra where he was the AIS apprentice coach. His passion for success and a desire to build a career made him an obvious candidate for the first incumbent.

Alan Peckham was our Chairman of Selectors and there was good work undertaken in developing the intermediate level of rowers. The Club was the most successful Club at the State Championships winning eleven Championships from novice to senior. Paul Somerville worked hard in this area and was awarded the RA Cooper Memorial trophy as Club member of the year for his endeavours. It was hoped at the time that a new era of pot hunters might develop. Certainly the level of rowing activity was improved considerably. The annual report noted that if 1997 was seen as a low point in terms of the number of members competing then 1998 was the year the sleeping giant awoke.

The roll of honour Australian representatives was impressive with the following members being in Australian teams: Christine Camiller and coach Peter Somerville and Simon Gadsen (Under 23), Michael McKay, James Tomkins, Drew Ginn, Ben Dodwell, Georgina Douglas, Katie Foulkes, David Colvin and Noel Donaldson (senior).

The international results were also excellent with Simon Gadsen taking gold at the Nations Cup and Christine Camilla seventh in the lightweight single. At the World Championships success abounded with Georgina Douglas coached by Noel Donaldson finishing eighth in the single scull. Katie Foulkes coxed the women's eight which finished fourth. Rebecca Joyce stroked the lightweight quad to a fifth placing.

The men performed brilliantly with Michael McKay combining with Drew Ginn to take silver in the coxless pair. James Tomkins stroked the coxed pair to gold with Brett Hayman steering. These members combined in the coxed four to take another gold. The three crews were coached by Noel Donaldson. Ben Dodwell finished fourth in the coxless four and David Colvin coxed the men's eight to a sixth placing.

1998 World Champion Men's Four

1998 World Champion Men's Four

l-r Brett Hayman, Drew Ginn, Nick Green, James Tomkins, Michael McKay

The Club made a significant change in it's equipment purchases to include two sculls, the first club sculls purchased for a very long time. A coxless pair the "J R Harvey" and coxless four the "David Boykett" were also purchased.

The Clubhouse was the recipient of further investment from the proceeds of Barrel's Bash with a new gymnasium. The continuing work of Barry Gross and David Yunghanns was critical in these endeavours.

Phil Batters was working in the background keeping social rowing alive with his "Inebri 8" group. This group gradually expanded to provide a great base of members who both supported and provided a valuable contribution to the Club.

Mercantile members figured highly in the Victorian team also with Drew Ginn, Ben Dodwell, James Tomkins, Michael McKay, David Colvin (cox) and Noel Donaldson (coach) winning the King's Cup. Georgina Douglas, coached by Noel Donaldson, won the Nell Slatter Trophy. These two combined again to win the ULVA Trophy. Travis Johnston, Anthony Deague, Mike Kelly, Mitchell Russian (cox) and Simon Morrison (coach) won the Noel Wilkinson Cup and the Under 23 eight Championship.

1998 Victorian Men's Youth Eight

1998 Victorious Men's Youth Eight

At the National Championships club members were in the winning the men's coxed and coxless fours, men's under 23 eight and Georgina Douglas won the women's single scull.

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