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australian rowers profiles and history

John D Castle

Yarra Yarra Rowing Club (VIC)

2/11/1941 - 14/9/2012 

John was a talented and successful senior rower who came from a non-senior rowing club. He was identified from the junior ranks with only junior wins before being selected into the State team in 1961. His rise from school rowing in 1958 to State Team in 1961 and then World Championship team in 1962 was meteoric and an indicator of his talent.

He represented Australia in the 1962 world championships and was a King's Cup winner on 2 occasions.

1962 Australian Four at Lucerne - John on the right

John joined Yarra Yarra in the 1958/59 season from Wesley where he rowed in their first crew. Not only was he one of the club's best rower, he also served on the club's committee in the 1969-70 season, and then moved into the Captain's role in the next season.

Some of his big races which he did not win included:

1958 - APS Head of the River, Wesley College seven seat - Fifth

1962 - World Championships, Men's Four, bow - Fifth

Recorded race wins

1959 - V.R.A. Metric regatta, maiden eight (7)

1961  - Yea regatta, junior four (3)

1961  - Albert Park regatta, junior four (3)

1961  - Victorian championships regatta, junior four (3)

1961  - Colac regatta, junior four (3)

1961  - Barwon regatta, junior eight (7)

1961  - Kings Cup Adelaide, Australian championship eight (bow)

1964 - Victorian championships regatta, senior four (bow)

1964 - Henley regatta, senior four (bow)

1964 - Barwon regatta, senior four (bow) and Senior four coxless (bow)

1964 - Colac regatta, senior four (bow)

1964 - M R C 2 ½ mile championship regatta, senior eight (7)

1965 - Head of the Yarra, open eight (7)

1965 - Footscray regatta, senior eight (3)

1966 - Sydney regatta, senior eight (3)

1966 - Kings Cup Tasmania, senior eight (2)

1966 - Metropolitan regatta, open eight (7)

1967 - Banks regatta, senior four (bow)

1967 - Footscray regatta, senior four (3)

1968 - Henley regatta, senior four (3)

1969 - V.R.A. Melbourne regatta, maiden eight (coach)

1969 - Upper Yarra regatta, maiden eight (coach)

1969 - Metric regatta, maiden eight (coach)

John had had a double scull named after him in 2010.

This photo is of the 1966 Kings Cup finish. John rowing two on bow side.

From the 1960/61 Yarra Yarra Rowing Club annual report:-

The most notable was the selection of John Castle of Yarra Yarra for the bow seat of the successful Victorian Kings Cup crew. This was the first time a Yarra Yarra oarsman had gained selection in a Kings Cup crew.

From the 1961/62 Yarra annual report:  


As Corio Bay, who won the coxed four event, have withdrawn from World Championship event in Switzerland, we understand that the composite crew comprising of P Edwards (Melbourne Rowing Club), R Jones (University Boat Club), J Castle (Yarra Yarra Rowing Club), J Howden (Yarra Yarra rowing Club) are now eligible to take their place, as this crew finished second to Corio Bay.

We congratulate the crew and wish them the best of luck.

From the 1965/66 Yarra annual report:- As part of the opening address:-

In addition, we were honoured in having John Castle and Rob Jones selected in the Victorian Kings Cup eight, which registered a magnificent win in Tasmania.

As part of the captain’s report:-

Our congratulations go to John Castle and Robin Jones for being selected in this year’s Victorian VIII which won the Kings cup in Hobart. 

These selections were in the days before the AIS & VIS existed. It was unusual for a crew member to be selected from ranks below senior level. The second Kings Cup win came after a revolt by the selected crew members, so a second crew was selected. John was in this crew. 

John naming a pair in his honour in 2010

From the Yarra Yarra Rowing Club newsletter 'Yarra Yabbie' 20/9/2012

It is with great sadness that we note the recent passing of Wal Oakley and John Castle.

Both contributed much to our club, notably, John recently donated the two oars that are displayed upstairs.

We extend our condolences to both families.

Jim Skidmore and Andrew Guerin
June 2024

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