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australian rowers profiles and history

Berry Durston OAM

WA Rowing Club then University of Western Australian Boat Club (WA)

Died: 19 January 2007 aged 66 years old

Berry first attended the Interstate Championships in 1960 as a 19 years old as the six man of the WA crew. This crew won the King's Cup and was then selected as the eight for the Rome Olympic Games. Berry then competed in five further WA crews with his last in 1971.

Berry got his Australian umpires licence in 1977 and has umpired at every Interstate Championships bar two since then. He has also been a member of the jury at two World Championships and a national technical official at the Sydney Olympic Games. He retired from active umpiring at the Australian level in 2004.

Berry continued to be very active in rowing administration in WA after a long career in both national and WA administration including Presidency of both associations. He is also a life member of both Associations.

Berry in the six seat of the 1960 Olympic Eight

1960 - King's Cup six seat - First

1960 - Olympic Games - Men's eight six seat - eliminated in repechage (aged 19 when selected)

1961 - King's Cup - six seat - Third 

1962 - King's Cup - six seat - Second 

1963 - King's Cup - six seat - Third 

1965 - King's Cup - four seat - Third 

1971 - King's Cup - six seat - Fifth 

1973 – Team manager WA team

1974-79 & 1990-2002 - Councillor for WA on Rowing Australia 

1977 - Life member of AWARA

1979-83 - President Rowing Australia 

1983 - AWARA President

1988+ - Treasurer of AWARA

1990 - World Championships -jury 

1993 - Life member of Rowing Australia 

1994 - World Championships -jury

2000 - Olympic Games - National technical official

2004 – Retired as an active RA umpire

Berry contributed a huge amount to the sport of rowing particularly in the development of the sport in WA. Whilst his record in administration has been admirable, it has been in the development and support of club rowing where his greatest legacy lies.

The following dedication to Berry was contained in Bill Cooper's history of WA rowing "Home and Dry" published by Rowing WA in 2008.

Berry Durston passed away, aged 66, on 19 January 2007. During a rowing career which spanned 50 years, he competed under five different colours and, toward the end of his life, was also a member of the Swan River Rowing Club.

An enthusiastic boat race official, Berry gained his Western Australian licence in 1971, his Australian licence in 1977 and his FISA licence in 1986. Despite his presence on the jury at almost every Association and National Regatta over 30 years, and on three occasions at international meetings, it was as an administrator that his contribution was the most valuable.

His talent first came to light in 1958, when he was officially commended for his work as the Association’s publicity officer. He was to serve on the Executive Committee for a total of 31 years, including 11 as president, one as secretary and 19 as treasurer. In this last capacity, he soon acquired an Australia-wide reputation for his skill in attracting money and his frugality in spending it. At the same time, the complete refurbishment of Rowing WA headquarters at Canning Bridge and the opening of the Bayswater Rowing Centre were tangible reminders of his ability, not only to get things done, but to pay for them as well.

As president of Rowing Australia between 1979 and 1982, he oversaw the start of  Reinhold Batschi’s successful career as the first national director of coaching, the entry of rowing into the Australian Institute of Sport, and the increasing sophistication of the procedures for the selection of representative crews.

Berry received due recognition for his enormous contribution to the sport, being made a life member of Rowing WA in 1978 and of Rowing Australia in 1983. In 2000 he was admitted to membership of the Order of Australia and, later in the year, received the Western Australian Sports Federation’s Award of Merit.

Finally, since one of Berry’s last achievements was to persuade Rowing WA to officially authorise and support the writing of this book, it is only fitting that it should be dedicated to his memory.

Andrew Guerin
March 2005 - Updated December 2021

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