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australian rowers profiles and history

Mal H Corben

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

Mal joined the club in 1960 as a novice along with other mates, Mac Read and Graeme Smith. The trio successfully won their second race, (not even as novices), but as 'beginners'. It was held in September 1960 on Preston's Lake Edwards, which seemed to Mal to also be some form of rubbish tip, in a tub four. The trio progressed to being members of a successful Mercs maiden eight which won regattas in November 1960.

Continuing this rapid rise, Mal was selected into the Mercs lightweight eight to race in the Victorian Championships on the Barwon in December 1960.

By the end of the season, Mal was an obvious recipient of the F R Browne Trophy for the most improved novice.

The next season was equally interesting starting with rowing bow in the club's lightweight eight at the Victorian Championships, which was this time raced on the Lower Yarra. Bill Wallace, Mercantile Club Captain, and coach of the crew, had elected to also row in the five seat. Bill had won many a Championship, a past lightweight and open weight rower. (Lightweights has to weigh in at 10 stone 10 pounds in those days, slightly lighter that the 70 KG or 11 stone of today). Race day was quite eventful. The necessity to try to dramatically lose weight on the hot dry day, by also being shut up in a VW with its engine running and heater on, became legendary. Sadly it has copied by many lightweights in subsequent years. Mal still claims to have pulled the biggest puddles, but sadly the crew lost by a mere 2 feet.

But the season did have a good finish with Mal rowing in the bow seat of the winning Mercs lightweight eight at the inaugural National Championships at Ballarat at Easter 1962. 

1962 National Championship Lightweight Eight with Mal in the bow seat

Presentation of National Championship trophies
Mal second from the right hand side

It also marked the end of Mal's rowing career with a transfer of employment to Portland.

Although living well away from the boathouse these days, Mal remains one of the staunchest members of the Club, maintaining his membership and keeping an interest in Club activities. 

Great work.

Andrew Guerin
April 2023


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