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australian rowers profiles and history

Albert Hoof

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

Albert Hoof – died 1st December 1906

It is always sad when a young person dies, but when it is a person universally liked and respected in the rowing community, is the Club’s Vice-Captain and he dies whilst rowing, it is particularly difficult. It was clear that he was the a highly regarded administrator who would have led the sport in the next generation. Not only an enthusiastic and thorough administrator, but a “splendid organiser”.

He was not a noted oarsman, rowing in maiden, junior and club races, and not troubling the judges too often. However he was a superb Secretary to the Club and when he died, superb Vice-Captain.  The annual reports in the years prior to his death showed that he also organised club functions and even the musical programme for one major commemorative event.

The 1906-07 annual report stated as follows:

It is with deep regret that your Committee opens the 27th Annual report with a reference to the sad death of your Vice-Captain Albert E. Hoof. As you will remember, Mr. Hoof was drowned on the lst December last through the swamping of a four­ oared boat at the junction of the Saltwater and Yarra Rivers. Every effort to save him was made by his comrades in the boat and others near at hand. It is impossible to estimate the loss sustained by the Club and rowing generally by Mr. Hoof’s death. Universally respected, an enthusiastic club man and splendid organiser, he has been missed at every turn. As evidence of Mr. Hoof’s popularity and the shock to the rowing community, our Committee received letters of sympathy from some fifty rowing clubs throughout the Commonwealth.

The Victorian Championships Pair was scheduled on the same day of his death. The VRA annual report noted as follows:

The race was originally scheduled for 1st December 1906 but owing to the lamentable drowning of Mercantile member Albert Hoof in a swamping of a four oared boat on that day, it was postponed. Hoof was a most active and popular member of the rowing community and his loss cast a gloom over the rowing community. The VRA annual report continues: The Committee cannot speak too highly of the excellent service rendered this Association and rowing generally by the Late Mr Hoof.. .

Given that Albert had in the years earlier agitated against the VRA Committee, this is high praise indeed. In 1905, there was a dispute with the VRA regarding the disqualification of a Mercantile crew at the Henley on Yarra Regatta. He clearly got the support on most people at the VRA meeting as a vote to note that Mercantile had no confidence in the VRA  was carried with only two dissenters. Albert Hoof was the main speaker for the Club.

Clearly he was a person who was regarded as having a future leadership role in the sport.

Whilst there is no reference as to whether Albert could swim or not, the Club has forever since regarded the ability to swim as a requirement for active rowing at the Club. Other Clubs followed this lead.


Andrew Guerin
October 2018

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