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australian rowers profiles and history

G Harvey Nicholson

Melbourne University Boat Club (VIC)

1970 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championships selector

1973 – World Junior Championships jury

1976-82 – Councillor for Victoria on AARC

FISA umpire

Life member of the Victorian Rowing Association

The following profile was included in Well Rowed University, the 150 year history authored by Judith Buckrich and published in 2009.

Harvey Nicholson - From the Nicholson family collection and reproduced with permission


Born in 1917, Harvey was an all-round athlete whose sports at school were athletics, ski­ing, rowing and later, rugby. He was Captain of Scotch College, and both Captain of ath­letics and Stroke of the first eight in 1936. He studied Law at the University, was awarded Blues in athletics and skiing, and resided at Ormond College, where he coxed just before the War. Following a serious knee injury suffered while playing rugby at University, and complications arising from the operation, Harvey's athletic career came to an end. He began coaching crews for Ormond and then for MUBC. 

During the Second World War he was a Captain in the army's history unit witnessing, among other events, the signing of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. 

Harvey became a MUBC committee member in 1948 and in 1949 he was a coach and selector at the Club. From the start, he championed extra collegiate crews and wanted the Club to be open to anyone who wanted to row. 

From 1949 until the 1980s, he was probably the most influential member of the Club. He was first elected President in 1952 and was re-elected four times, totalling twenty-two years-the longest period being 1972 to 1983. His coaching technique emphasised the accumulation of miles on the water and his crews were always superbly fit. He pioneered the filming of oarsmen from a speedboat kept at a constant pace alongside the racing shell. He then showed the footage (with the 8mm film strips spliced to make continu­ous 'loops') to enable each rower to study their technique. He initiated the visits to Japan that were the Club's first formal international forays. He established the Club newsletter Mubc which he largely produced for most of the period from 1961 to the 1980s. For some years, he was one of the few people in Australia to be accredited as an official with FISA for World Rowing Championship regattas. 

Harvey was regarded as a benevolent dictator in the administration of the Club. Not everyone liked his style of coaching. While some members felt it lacked focus on tech­nique, and regarded him as a better trainer than a coach, others felt the results his crews achieved demonstrated his effectiveness as a coach. Everyone however acknowledged his dedicated and unstinting contribution to the Club; his unceasing efforts to maintain contact with past Club members; his extremely effective fundraising efforts in support of the Club and the Club's international oarsmen; and the fact that, above all, he had a lifelong love for, and was a great student of the sport of rowing. His two sons Peter and Michael were both brought up with a similar love of rowing and they were important influences within the Club in their own right. 

Harvey devoted himself to the Club in a way that compared with no other member, except perhaps for John Lang. 


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