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australian rowers profiles and history

Fred Coverdale

Hobart Rowing Club (TAS), then Mercantile Rowing Club (TAS) then Sandy Bay Rowing Club (TAS)

Fred was a champion sculler, rower and coach.

Fred Coverdale as Interstate Champion in 1913

Fred in the stroke seat of 1911 Tasmanian Crew

The following summary of Fred's rowing career and personality was published in the Sporting Globe on 31st October 1923 shows he was also a modest and unselfish oarsman.

Great Oarsman

Coverdale's Personality

Tasmanian rowing enthusiasts recognise no more popular figure in the world of the oar than Fred Coverdale, who has been connected with the sport for 23 years. 

Though he is a champion oarsman his modesty in his achievements almost reaches the border of bashfulness. This trait in his character has been the outstanding feature of his participation in the sport. 

On more than one occasion he has placed club and State interests before personal interests is, and has shown the true sporting spirit in allowing excellent chances of success in big events to be subservient to the interests of the crew with which he rowed.

 With a natural inclination for the river, Coverdale took to the oar at the age of 16 years and with careful coaching and steady practice brought him to the front of Tasmanian rowing. His form was not only up to State standard, but in 1919 he was regarded by all rowing enthusiasts in the Commonwealth as the best man for the amateur sculling championship of Australia. 

His skill as a stroke was also widely recognised, and no man was better fitted for the position of stroke of the Tasmanian eight. To help the State and endeavor to win the laurels for Tasmania in the eight-oared event Coverdale unselfishly agreed to stroke the crew and thus forfeited the excellent chance he had of winning the championship in the sculls. Such a fine spirit is shown only by a man of great character, who thinks only of loyalty to his club and State. With these qualities Fred Coverdale is richly endowed. They are only exceeded by his intense modesty. 

His winning performances are so numerous that he finds it difficult—in fact, impossible—to recall each in detail. Twenty-three years' connection with the sport is not easily remembered in detail, but his principal achievements in racing boats include the Australian amateur sculling championship in 1913 and runner-up in the same event to Jack Towns. 

He has stroked several interstate eights and won many sculling events in Tasmanian waters. More than 60 important events as stroke of leading eights or in the sculls stand to his credit. 

Coverdale started his career with the Hobart club, and later was associated with Mercantile. In 1906 he joined the Sandy Bay club, and has been the leading figure in that club for 17 years. 

Doubt as to the selection of a stroke for the Tasmanian eight never exists in the minds of oarsmen in Tasmania if Fred Coverdale is available. 

His exceptional prowess as an oarsman and his unassuming nature have made him the favorite of the Tasmanian public in the world of rowing. Genial features, slightly tanned by the sun, a fine expanse of shoulders, and a solidity of build not seen in the average type of oarsman, make him an attractive figure on appearances, and his quiet disposition and pleasant smile inspire one to seek his friendship. 

His great record will stand for many years in Tasmanian rowing circles, and he will always be remembered with pride by sportsmen of the island as a man who put the interests of his State first, those of his club second, and his own last.

1909 Tasmanian Championships certificate

Known Key Rowing Participation

1909 - Interstate Championships, Men's Scull - Second

1910 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight, stroke - Third

1911 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight, stroke - Third

1912 - Interstate Championships, Men's Scull, favorite for race but capsized soon after the start and did not finish

1913 - Interstate Championships, Men's Scull - First

1928 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight, coach - Third

1929 - Southern Districts Tasmanian crew, coach - First

1930 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight, coach - Fourth

1931 - SATIS School's Head of the River, umpire

1932 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight, coach - Sixth

1949 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight, coach - Fourth

Steve Roll and Andrew Guerin
April 2024


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