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australian rowers profiles and history

Peter Gill

Yarra Yarra Rowing Club (VIC)

Born 16/6/1940

Peter first joined the club in 1954 as a student member from University High School and raced successfully for the Club from 1956.

His contribution did not stop there. He served as:

Peter spent many years as assistant regatta secretary, these not listed in annual reports, nor is his active research into club history, which goes back to very early in his membership.

His work was recognised with life membership in the 1993/94 season. Also, two single sculls have been adorned with his name, the first in 1989, and the second in 2009. 

However, perhaps his greatest achievements for the club have been the gathering of the club’s history over many years, despite there being missing information in some annual reports, also lost information. Yarra Yarra's rich history has been brought to life through his endeavours. He remains the club's archivist in 2024.

1958 Victorian Championship Lightweight Eight with Peter in two seat

1958 Lightweight Four at Wentworth Regatta with Peter on the right

Regatta wins:-

1956 - novice regatta, novice four (2)

1956 - V R A regatta, lightweight four (stroke)

1957  - Barwon regatta, lightweight eight (2)

1957 - Henley regatta, lightweight eight (2)

1958 - Victorian championship regatta, lightweight eight (2)

1958 - Wentworth regatta, lightweight four (2)

1959 - Bairnsdale regatta, maiden pair (bow)

1960 - Ballarat regatta, maiden eight (2)

1960 - Novice Regatta, novice scull

Peter front right in 1960 after a maiden eight win at Ballarat

From the Yarra Yarra Rowing Club newsletter Yarra Yabbie no 35, 1990-3-20

”Peter Gill”- New tub scull, christened by his daughter Emily. Club historian since our centenary year and responsible for tracking down many of our trophies from long ago in display cabinets.

1989 boat christening of the "Peter Gill" - Peter and daughter Emily

2009 christening “Peter Gill”

2009 Peter & family: granddaughter Amelia, daughter Sarah Jan & Peter

From Yarra Yabbie 2016-8-21:

Celebrating 60 years of Peter Gill

Special shout out to our much loved club historian – Peter Gill, Peter not only celebrated a birthday recently, but also celebrated 60 years as a Yarra Yarra member. Congratulations Peter.

“From Yarra Yabbie 2017-6-29

Boat names – Peter Gill

The ‘Peter Gill’ was named after one of our long serving members.

Peter first joined the club in 1954 as a student member and in1993 became a life member of the club. Peter rowed competitively as a lightweight in most boat classes. Peter served on the committee for four years and was social secretary for one of those years. Peter also held the position of regatta secretary for a couple of seasons. Peter is still very active around the club and is part of the archive committee who are also planning the clubs 150th birthday celebrations.

From the Yarra Yabbie no 49 July 2020

Meet Jim Skidmore (club Patron) and Peter Gill (club archivist) 

Between them, Jim and Peter have about 130 years of YYRC membership. Peter joined first in 1954 as a schoolboy, and Jim one year later as a junior.

They have seen a lot of changes since then: women members, Masters racing, a renewed fleet, a splendid new boathouse, and a very different regatta schedule.

“We raced 2.5 miles from the mouth of the Maribyrnong to Spencer Street; and other championship races started at the head of Victoria dock to Spencer street or to the Polly Woodside, “ Jim said. “These courses weren’t buoyed, and we had a lot of clashes. Our crew was disqualified in one regatta after three crashes.”

They both attended other regattas that are no longer run, in places such as Yea, Yarrawonga and Colac, where the regattas sometimes coincided with the opening of the duck shooting season (yikes).

Jim and Peter rowed together in a lightweight 8, winning the lightweight premiership for YYRC in 1957, finishing their successful campaign at the Easter regatta in Mildura and Wentworth.

“We borrowed boats for that regatta,” Peter said, “We raced at Mildura on the Easter Saturday, then entertained ourselves on Easter Sunday while the local clubs tied all the boats together and towed them to Wentworth, ready for us by Monday morning.

Jim towed the YYRC trailer for many years, but he laughed about some of the early arrangements, “We hired trucks and stacked the boats on the tray backs, wedged between bags of straw,” he said. “People walked their boats to Albert Park Lake on long trolleys with bicycle wheels.”

Both Jim and Peter have contributed to YYRC for many years, as boat race officials, members of the committee (Jim served 20years as treasurer), and the regatta committee which organised Yarra Yarra regattas between 1978 and 2007.

Jim’s proudest achievement was his narrow second place in trials for the Tokyo Olympics 1964. That story started earlier, with his purchase with Allan Rice of a double scull named Bottles (best thing since they put beer in bottles), which is now displayed in the ceiling of the clubhouse. The two of them rowed to the mouth of the Yarra every day, then spent Sundays re-adjusting the riggers.

Olympic trials were in Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra. Jim tied the boat to his car for the drive. “It hung out 10 feet front and back,” he said. “We had a great race, but unfortunately lost by 0.3 seconds. Mind you, we had won every 2X race in Victoria that season; that is, the Henley”. 

The crew wasn’t coached, but Peter took 8mm film, which they compared with footage of 2X races from the UK Henley. 

Both Peter and Jim work hard on the club’s archives and trophy displays, and look forward to resuming their Wednesday evening rowing sessions later in the year. 

Peter’s history

Joined 1954, Life member 1993/94

wins in 4+, LW4+, LW8+, 2+, 1x

Committee member 1957 to 1962, including as social secretary and from 1989, 14 years as regatta secretary

Interested in club history since early in membership, now in charge of club archives.

A splendid article (with a photo) about Peter rowing with Jim Skidmore, and coxed by Jim's daughter Linda, was published in the Age on 26th March 2021. This article helped to publicise the YYRC 150th Anniversary celebrations, and a copy is displayed in the boathouse.

Peter Gill and Jim Skidmore

Jim Skidmore
June 2024

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