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australian rowers profiles and history

B Bartholomew

Maryborough Rowing Club (QLD)

1882 - Queensland State Championships Men's Four three seat - First

Jack Pritchard in his history of Queensland Rowing "Rowing in Queensland 1880-1995" reported on the early Championship races as follows.

In 1880, it was decided that races be held for the Champion Four of Queensland for amateur oarsmen only, and the first race was conducted at Maryborough on May 24, 1880, over 2 miles. The race was described as the "Maryborough Challenge Race for the Four-oared Gig Championship of Queensland" and was won easily by the home crew of J.McWatters (B), R.A.Sim (2), W.S.Sim (3), J.Sim (S) and A.J.Sim (Cox). 

A Brisbane Rowing Club crew travelled to Maryborough for this race and rowed in a new carvel gig built by Donnelly of Sydney. The Brisbane crew would have travelled to Maryborough by steamer as the railway line to Maryborough was not opened until July 17, 1891, with the completion of the Brisbane to Gympie section.

And later ....

There was no Queensland Rowing Association in existence at this time and accordingly each district which felt they had a good enough crew staged a championship race. This appeared to be an amicable arrangement between the rowing centres since all clubs entered when they felt they had a crew of sufficient calibre and could afford the expense. The Championship Four of Queensland was the premier event because all centres had four-oared boats, and Maryborough and Rockhampton did not possess eight-oared craft. The first eights race rowed at an Association regatta was an open eights race on December 17, 1892, in Brisbane between Commercial Rowing Club and the Breakfast Creek Rowing Club. 

These races would have been rowed in clinker built fours not unlike the school tub fours known to many oarsmen, but possibly of lighter construction and were rowed with fixed seats. The report of the 1881 race has Commercial R.C. rating 36 to 38 and Brisbane R.C. on 38 to 42 per minute. In 1882 the time for the race was 19 minutes 4 1/2 seconds. They bred them tough in those days. 

And later ....

May 24 (the Queen's Birthday) had always been looked upon as Regatta Day in Maryborough, and the next Champion Four was held there in 1882. Four crews started, two from Maryborough R.C. and one each from Wide Bay R.C. and Commercial R.C .. After a see-sawing race Maryborough R.C. won from Commercial R.C. by two lengths with Maryborough third. The winning crew was G.C.D.Forster (B), H.J.Fetherston (2), B.Bartholomew (3), A.Willmott (S) and R.McDowall (Cox). 

Steve Roll and Andrew Guerin
December 2020

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