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australian rowers profiles and history

Ron G Mitchell

Yarra Yarra Rowing Club (VIC)

Ron was the consummate rowing club member for most of his life. So much so it is still difficult to enter the boathouse and not expect to see him. To all clubs, Ron was the life and soul of his club - always there as a rower, coach, administrator, repairman, boat race official, and every other role. Alf his contribution to Yarra Yarra Rowing Club was immense.

Joined 1950/51 

Life member 1987 

Ronald Gilroy Mitchell passed away 20/6/2018 aged 86 years

Committee 1960/61,1969/70, 1970/71, 1973/74, 1974/75. 

Captain 1971/72 - 1972/73, 

Vice president 1977/78, 1978/79, 1981-1987, 1990-2001

Regatta secretary 1984/85

Ron for many years has served as a boat repairer & shed maintenance handyman.

A delegate for Yarrawonga & Mildura rowing clubs at VRA meetings.

Also spent many years as a regatta official.

Regatta wins:-

1951 - Camperdown regatta, lightweight four (2)

1951 - Lake Colac regatta, lightweight four (2)

1952 - Lake Colac regatta, lightweight pair (stroke)

1953 - Yea regatta, lightweight pair (stroke)

1954 - V R A regatta, lightweight pair (stroke)

1955 - Henley ¼ mile sprint regatta, maiden eight (stroke)

1955 - Bairnsdale regatta, lightweight pair (stroke)

1955 - Sale regatta, lightweight pair (stroke)

1955 - Upper Yarra regatta, lightweight four (stroke)

1957 - Barwon regatta, lightweight eight) 4)

1957 - Henley regatta, lightweight eight (4) and Lightweight four (2)

1958 - Wentworth regatta, Lightweight four (bow)

1959 - Albert Park regatta, junior pair (bow)

1959 - Bairnsdale regatta, lightweight pair (stroke)

1971 - Universities regatta, men’s maiden pair (coach)

1971 - Yea regatta, men’s maiden four (coach)

1971 - Mildura regatta, men’s maiden four (coach)

1978 - Metropolitan regatta, men’s maiden four (coach)

1978 - Dimboola regatta, men’s maiden eight (coach)

1978 - Horsham regatta, men’s maiden eight (coach)

1978 - V R A special regatta, men’s maiden eight (coach)

1978 - V. R. A. Melbourne regatta, men’s maiden eight (coach)

1978 - Nagambie regattamen’s maiden four (coach) and Men’s maiden pair (coach)

1978 - Yarrawonga regatta, men’s maiden four (coach)

1979 - Rutherglen regatta, men’s maiden four (coach)

1979 - Henley on Maribyrnong, men’s junior four (coach)

1979 - Henley on Yarra regatta, men’s junior four (coach)

1979 - Scotch Mercantile regatta, Men’s maiden pair (coach)

1979 - Mildura regatta, Men’s maiden pair (coach)

1979 - Yarrawonga regatta, Men’s novice pair (coach)

1980 - Rutherglen regatta, Men’s novice pair (coach)

1980 - Victorian Universities regatta, Men’s novice four (coach)

1980 - Banks regatta, Men’s novice four (coach)

1980 - Footscray regatta, Men’s novice pair (coach)

1980 - Mildura regatta, Men’s novice pair (coach)

1980 - Wentworth regatta, Men’s novice pair (coach)

1983 - Banks regatta, Men’s maiden pair (coach)

1983 - Henley on Maribyrnong, Men’s maiden pair (coach)

1983 - Henley on Yarra regatta, Men’s maiden pair (coach)

1985 - Yarrawonga regatta, Men’s intermediate pair (coach)

1986 - Nagambie veterans regatta, men’s “D” four (coach)

1988 - Horsham regatta, Men’s novice four (coach)

1988 - Wendouree Ballarat regatta, Men’s novice four (coach)

1988 - V. R. A. Championships regatta Carrum, men’s novice eight (coach)

1988 - Yarrawonga regatta, men’s novice eight (coach)

1990 - Rutherglen regatta, men’s novice eight (coach)

1990 - Metropolitan regatta, women’s novice four (coach)

1990 - Warrnambool regatta, women’s novice four (coach)

1990 - Yarrawonga regatta, women’s novice four (coach)

1991 - Yarra Yarra regatta, Men’s senior “C” pair (coach)

1991 - Colac regatta, men’s open pair (coach)

Ron had a number of boats named in his honour. In 1973 an eight, 1983 a Quad scull, 1992 a coxless four, 1997 a coxed four,  2010 a double scull/ coxless pair.

1958 Lightweight four Wentworth Ron seated centre row in middle

1968 Head of Yarra veteran crew Ron in bow seat 

From the Yarra Yarra Rowing Club newsletter 'Yarra Yabbie' no34, 1990-3-20

“Ron Mitchell” The big splash by sister in law Betty. Reconstructed racing four as Quad scull. Just been around a long time.

From the Yarra Yabbie no 42, 1992-3-20

We had a successful Christmas break-up with two boats christenings. 

Ron Mitchell a rebuilt racing 4. (Veronica Mitchell wife of Ron’s nephew David) made the big splash.

From Yarra Yabbie 2010-10-26

Ron Mitchell – B R O of the year

Congratulations also to Ron Mitchell, who was recently awarded Rowing Victoria’s inaugural Bob Duncan award for his long service to umpiring and his commitment to good and fair umpiring at all regattas. Any members keen to follow Ron’s example and chip in to Boat Race Official (B R O) duties at regattas should talk to Captain of Boats Stu Poole.

From Yabbie 2017-7-26

Boat Names-‘Ron Mitchell’

Ron Mitchell joined Yarra Yarra rowing club 1950 and was a successful lightweight rower. Ron served on the committee, was captain, Vice president, coach, regatta secretary, boat repairer & shed maintenance handyman. Ron also spent many years as a regatta official. He was elected as a life member in 1987. Over the years there have been several boats named after him to recognise his contribution to the club.

From Yabbie 2018-6-23

Ron Gilroy Mitchell Vale

It is with sad news that we advise you of life member Ron ‘Mitch” Mitchell passing away peacefully on 20 June

Ron joined Yarra Yarra Rowing Club in 1950 and held many positions on the committee throughout his time at club. Ron held the roles of captain, vice-captain, vice president, coach, regatta convenor, boat repairer, shed maintenance and the club general handyman over the years.

To honour his contribution to the club, Ron was made a life member in 1987.

Ron was introduced to Yarra Yarra through Jim Hume with whom he shared the passion of 

Playing rugby with Stan Bulmer in the early 1950’s.

Ron embraced rowing and shared many wins throughout his rowing career with John Gillespie, Jim Wilson, and Stan Bulmer in the early 1950’s.

Ron had a broad range of interests beyond YYRC, including the Masonic Lodge, Rugby and 

Shipping. He had developed an excellent knowledge of Paddle Steamers in Australia, and he often gave splendid talks about Australian Indoor shipping whilst sitting on the balcony sharing a beer with his friends. 

Having grown up in Jerilderie, Ron will be remembered fondly going ‘bush’ after many country regattas to explore parts of Australia beyond the beaten track.

Thank you for your contributions to Yarra Yarra Rowing Club. May you rest in peace.

2013 representing Yarra laying a wreath at the rededication of the Oarsman’s Cenotaph 

1992 Ron in white shirt christening “Ron Mitchell”

The bow preserved for the new boathouse

2010 Boat christening Ron with niece Diane

From the 2017/18 annual report:-

Vale Ron Mitchell

The following is the eulogy written for Ron’s funeral by YYRC’s president, Stuart Critchell and presented by Peter Gill on behalf of Yarra Yarra rowing club.

Ron’s family, friends, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you to Ron’s family for allowing this opportunity to say how much Mitch means to Yarra Yarra Rowing Club. Because he meant a lot.

I met Mitch- I always called him Mitch-in about 1988 when I first started rowing at Yarra Yarra. I had the privilege of being coached by Mitch along with the club’s vice president Jack Chatziyakoumis.

I am extremely sorry and disappointed that I am unable to attend the funeral because I knew him well and was very fond of Mitch. I know that Jack is sorry that he cannot make the funeral. Jack and his wife Gail are somewhere in Germany cycling.

I thank Mitch’s great friend and club historian, Peter Gill, for speaking on behalf of YYRC.

These are the things I will always remember of Mitch.

Firstly, his appearance never changed. From the day I first met him until the last few years he looked exactly the same. And he looked exactly the same as in the photos taken of him in the 1970’s that adorned the old shed. The man was ageless- or did he always look that old?

Mitch was a lot of fun. He always enjoyed a beer, and a chat on the shed’s balcony. And so knowledgeable – such a wide range of interests, from vintage motor bikes, to shipping and rugby. He was genially warm and funny, and had his own eccentric way of expressing himself. Like g’day Mitch, how are you? FAN- BLOODY-TASTIC, he would say, or I’m knackered and for the next ten minutes he would regale you with his long list of ailments from his days of racing motor bikes and playing rugby! 

Mitch was a great friend to all at Yarra Yarra Rowing Club whether young or old. The young members loved Mitch and would gravitate to him at the country regattas or in the pub afterwards when he had dinner for he was such good company. He was also always a welcoming presence to new members and visitors to our club. 

In rowing it is a tradition to name a boat after a member who has made a distinguished contribution to the club, Mitch had a passion in teaching rowing beginners learn in what we call a “tub boat” it was not hard to find a name for a new tub boat- we have had the “Ron Mitchell “and “Ron Mitchell 1” and “Ron Mitchell 2”, etc.

Mitch’s contribution to Yarra Yarra spanned over 60 years and is well documented. He started racing in the 1950’s as a lightweight rower I can only imagine what a fierce competitor he must have been.

He was a great committee man having held the role of “club captain”- which is no small task and was also Vice president. As I mentioned before he was also a volunteer coach. He represented Yarra Yarra over many years as a boat race official with his great friends from Yarra Yarra especially at the country regattas. And who could forget Mitch in overalls and engineers cap in the old shed fixing boats and things.

Mitch’s contribution was finally recognised in 1987 when he was made a life member of Yarra Yarra rowing club.

Mitch was much more than this to Yarra Yarra. He was a great friend to all, he was warm, welcoming great company and caring.

We love and miss Mitch.

Rest in peace Ron. The shed is not the same without him.

Vale Ron.

From the 2017/18 annual report as part of the president’s report:-

A few words on the passing of Ron Mitchell I sign-off. Mitch was a real icon of our club for over 50 years Mitch was or had been a competitor, boat ace official, Committee man, boat man and a great friend to many with connection to YYRC. Mitch was a life member actively involved at YYRC until his quite sudden onset of dementia. Ron is at peace now and now we miss him.

1994 Ron on right at club dinner Ted Woolcock on left.

2006 Ron on regatta duties Essendon regatta

2008 Ron inspecting the dry river bed at Dimboola

2010 Wentworth regatta Ron an umpire 

Jim Skidmore
June 2024

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