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australian rowers profiles and history

Richard Wraith

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

Richard excelled as a rower, coach and administrator for most of his life. He continues to enjoy the sport by rowing in a Mercantile masters eight with many of his peers.

Richard had his first row as a boy with his grandfather and renowned coach, Keith Bilney. He then took up rowing at Wesley College at the end of year 8.

In response to the question of why rowing, Richard responded: I was really good at cricket up to year 8 but it took way too long and was too boring. My grandfather had already introduced me to rowing and it was much more active and fun so a really easy choice. An unlikely early win at a year 8 junior school regatta against the teachers was a possible insight into why Wesley won in 1984.

His most memorable races were quite a mixture. Obviously, his Head of the River and National Championship wins whilst at school are up there. Also his National Championship in the lightweight pair when that was, at that time, a highly competitive event, was clearly a very important race. But there are some others of interest. His win in the 1988 Victorian Championship Lightweight Eight ranks well as the crew was largely full of uncredentialled rowers against two crews from MUBC who were full of highly credentialed rowers. Furthermore, MUBC was coached by a former Mercantile coach who had defected to MUBC. It was a sweet victory. Racing successfully with his cousin in America was a great thrill. Finally, Richard recalls the many Dimboola regattas where after imbibing well the night before, and sleeping under the stars, and then racing the next day, usually with success.

Richard racing in 1988 at the Under 23 Trans Tasman Regatta at West Lakes

Celebrating the National Championship Lightweight Pair win in 1990 at Lake Barrington

Why did he join Mercantile? My grandfather was a renowned coach and member at Mercs and that Palf [David Palfreyman] coached the Wesley first crew I rowed in and Pincus [David Pincus] coached me in year 10. There was no other place to go.

Your correspondent did not get off unscathed in the interview being accused of pushing Richard into many administrative tasks at the Club from his early years in the 1980s, right through to 2013. Having coached and team managed Richard and having gained a good appreciation of his excellent administrative skills, the comments are well grounded.

The details

1984 - APS Head of the River Schoolboy first eight, bow- First

1984 - National Schoolboy Eight Championship, bow - First

1984 – Trans Tasman Juniors Men’s Eight, stroke

1985 - National Junior Scull Championship - Third

1985 - National Junior Double Scull Championship -Second

1985 - Californian Junior Scull Championship - First

1985 - Californian Junior Pair, bow - First

1985 - American Lightweight Junior Sculling Championship - First 

1986 - Victorian Youth Eight Championship, stroke - Third

1986 - Victorian Championship Senior C Eight, stroke - First

1986 - National Under 23 Lightweight Scull - Second

1987 - Treasurer Mercantile Rowing Club

1987 - National Under 23 Lightweight Scull -First

1988 - Co-Vice Captain Mercantile Rowing Club

1988 - Victorian Lightweight Eight Championship, stroke - First

1988 - Progress Press Junior Sports Star of the Year

1988 - National Under 23 Lightweight Scull - Second

1988 – Trans Tasman Under 23 Series Australian Men’s lightweight scull and double scull

1988 - Australian University Sculling Championship - Second

1989 - 1991 - Co-founder and organiser of the Yarra Bank Sprints, which was recognised by Concept 2 as the "The Australian Indoor Rowing Championships". 

1989 - Vice-Captain Mercantile Rowing Club

1989 - Melbourne University Inter-Collegiate Men's Eight (Trinity College), 5 seat- First

1989 - Victorian Under 23 Lightweight Pair, bow - First

1989 - National Lightweight Four Championship, stroke - Finalist but final not conducted due to a cyclone

1989 - National Lightweight Eight Championship, stroke - not conducted due to cyclone

1989 - Vice-Captain Mercantile Rowing Club

1990 - National Lightweight Pair Championship, bow - First

1990 - National Lightweight Four Championship, bow- B final

1990 - National Lightweight Eight Championship, 2 seat - Second

1992 - Australia University Sculling Championship - Fourth

1992 - Australia University Pair Championship, bow - First

1992 - Awarded Blue for rowing

1992 - National Under 23 Lightweight Four, coach - Second

1993 - VIS Scholarship holder

1993 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship two seat - Third

1994 - Co-Vice Captain Mercantile Rowing Club

1994 - Interstate Championships Men's Lightweight Four selector

1995 - Captain Mercantile Rowing Club

1996 - Co-Captain Mercantile Rowing Club

1996 - Victorian Youth Eight Championship, coach - Second

1996 – Interstate Championship team manager

1997 - Victorian Youth Eight Championship, coach - First

2000-13 - Regatta Secretary Scotch Mercantile Regatta

Andrew Guerin
June 2021

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