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australian rowers profiles and history

J H Williams

Commercial Rowing Club (QLD)

The following record of racing of Williams was published in the Brisbane Courier Monday 16 December 1907, page 2 -

By stroking the Commercial crew which brought back to his club the Championship eights, J. H. Williams set the seal on a record which is worthy of special mention. 

He won his Maiden and Junior Fours some twenty years ago, in 1888. His merits were quickly recognised, for he rowed bow in the Commercial crew which won the Champion Fours of Queensland in the following year. In the latter year he also visited Melbourne with the crew which the late Ernest Winter took south for the purpose of winning the Champion Fours of Victoria. 

Between 1891 and 1894 he won the Champion Fours of Queensland four times, two Senior Fours, two Open eights, and a double sculling event. Opportunities, so far as Williams was concerned, were nil for the next few years, but in 1897 he won two Senior Fours and a Senior Eight. As a matter of fact his career as a racing oarsman had been regarded for some time past as over. "Youth will be served," said the authorities, and Williams was omitted for several years from the intercolonial and representative club crews. However, the best performances in a very fine record had yet to be accomplished. 

For the first twelve years of his membership Williams had never been entrusted with the stroking of any of his club's crews, having usually rowed either No. 2 or bow. The opportunity, however, came in 1902, when stroking a crew at the May Regatta he won the Senior Fours in brilliant style, and since then he has annexed, generally from the stroke seat, the Championship Eights six times, a Champion Fours of Queensland, a Champion Fours of the Brisbane River, and numerous other senior four and eight oared races.

In addition to open events Williams has a long list of victories in club regattas, and he was also one of the four which in 1893 performed the fine feat of rowing from Brisbane to Ipswich, a journey of forty-eight miles, in four hours fifty two minutes. In 1903 he was given, for the first time, the stroking of the Queensland Interstate Eight, his crew coming second to Victoria, and in front of all the other States.

This was not the end of the racing for Williams who went on race for at least another 5 years.

Extracted by Andrew Guerin
January 2023

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