Scroll To Top
History of Rowing Queensland

History of Rowing in Queensland

Chapter 2  1901-1945 Federation to WWII

Back to Chapter 2 Part 1 1901-1910

Next to Chapter 2 Part 3 1920-1930

Chapter 2 Part 2 - 1910-1920


The annual general meeting of the Q.R.A. was held on August 23, 1910. The office bearers appointed were:-

Patron - His Excellency the Governor, Sir William MacGregor 

President - Hon. J.T. Bell, M.L.A. 

Vice Presidents - H. Baynes, J.H. Brooks, F.S.N. Bousfield, James Clark, J.N. Devoy, A.H.G. Drury, P. Frankel, D. O'Connor, R.H. Roe, Most Rev. Dr. Donaldson, Rev. H.H. Dixon, Hon. E.J. Stevens, M.L.C. 

Chairman - R.H. Roe

Honorary Secretary - J.E.H. Brown

Honorary Treasurer - W.M.T. Mood

The regatta officials elected were:­

Umpire - R.H. Roe 

Starter - A. Westaway

Timekeeper - C.H. Briggs

Judge - M. Largey

Handicapper - A. Burton

The Champion Fours regatta was held in Maryborough on October 15, 1910. In the Champion Sculls there were three starters - M. Sullivan of Wide Bay R.C., J. Sullivan of Wide Bay R.C. and J.G. Smith of Commercial R.C.. The scullers alternated in the lead but finally M. Sullivan won from J. Sullivan and J.G. Smith third. 

In the Champion Four five crews started - Fitzroy R.C., Maryborough R.C., Wide Bay R.C., Bundaberg R.C. and Commercial R.C.. Fitzroy went to an early lead and held it throughout to win by six lengths to Maryborough and two lengths to Commercial. The winning crew was - S. Roberts (B), A. Farmer (2), D. Jones (3), A.R. Pashley (S) and D.G. Graham (Cox).

The All Schools' Four-oar race was rowed over 3/4 mile downstream to the Domain on November 26, 1910. Brisbane Grammar School won by 2 feet to Southport High School. 

The winning crew was:- C.L. Cran (B) C.E. Scott (2) R.B. Taylor (3) J.P. Kennedy (S) and G. Lane (Cox).

The Champion Eight was held on the Hamilton Reach in Brisbane on February 11, 1911, with three crews entered - Toowong R.C., Brisbane R.C. and Commercial R.C.. The race was rowed into a rain squall headwind. Toowong led out at the start but Commercial soon took command from Brisbane and Toowong. These positions were then unchanged, Commercial winning by five lengths to Brisbane and a further three lengths to Toowong. The winning crew was - C. Lind (B), W.C. Poulsen (2), S.L. Quinn (3), S. Black (4), J. Tighe (5), J. Ferguson (6), J.G. Howie (7), L. Eastman (S) and R.F. Thompson (Cox).

Once again the event was a major social occasion, the umpire's launch carrying the Premier of Queensland, the Hon. D.F. Denham and the Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr. Donaldson, as well as the Q.R.A. official party. 

During March, the death occurred of the Hon. J.T. Bell. He had been the first chairman of the Q.R.A. and had been its president for the past five or six years. He had been instrumental with his brothers, William and Colin, in causing Queensland to be represented in the intercolonial eight-oar race. 

The Interstate Championship regatta was held on the Parramatta River on May 6, 1911. In the Champion Sculls, C. McVilly of Tasmania had the race all his own way after the first 100 yards, and defeated 

J.R. Towns of New South Wales by eight lengths with the outclassed H.E. Stevens of Victoria in third place. 

In the Eight-oar Race over 3 miles 167 yards, the crews got away evenly but after a half mile New South Wales had a length on South Australia then Tasmania and Victoria. Near the finish Victoria sprinted to pass South Australia and Tasmania but New South Wales won by two and a half lengths to Victoria with a canvas to Tasmania, two lengths to South Australia, then Queensland and Western Australia. 

The membership of the Commercial R.C. in 1910/11 was 100 active, 6 honorary and 28 Life members. Their fleet was listed as:-

3 carvel racing eights, 1 clinker eight, 2 carvel fours, 2 racing clinker fours, 3 practice clinker fours, 1 open four (presumably a tub four), 2 combined double sculling and pair-oared boats and 2 tub pairs. 

The Championship Y.M.C.A. Fours of Australia over two miles was rowed in Hobart on April 15, 1911, and was won by a Brisbane composite crew of J.F. Marr (B-CRC) C. Collin (2-CRC) F. Sherwood (3-BRC) and C. Rudd (S-BRC).

An article in the Daily Mail of July 1, 1911, states:-

The advance programme of the Olympic Games has now been issued. The rowing items are eights, four and sculls, to be rowed in Sweden on 18th and 19th July, 1912. Entries close on the 18th May, 1912, and two crews are allowed from each nation in each event. No entry fee is charged, but the men in each crew must be members of one club. The amateur status of each entrant must be guaranteed by the association which governs the sport in his country, and all entries must be made by the governing organisation, through the local Olympic committee. No allowances will be made to visiting crews, but the Swedish committee have made arrangements to procure board and lodging at reasonable rates if applications are received in good time. After all we have heard regarding an international contest in rowing, the conditions of the race as specified above come as a disappointment. The scheme is not such a big one as was first thought, and is of more an inter club than an international character. I think it scarcely likely that any crews from Australia will make such an expensive trip for races that would carry very little national significance.

In the Queenslander of September 9, 1911, appeared a large photograph of the members of the Townsville Ladies' Rowing Club plus their male coxswains. The ladies in their sailor style tops, long skirts and large hats numbered about thirty two members. 


The Champion Fours regatta was held in Rockhampton on October 14, 1911. In the Champion Sculls there were three starters - W.M. Callaghan of Rockhampton RC., A. Swensson of Brisbane RC. and J.F. Marr of Commercial RC.. Callaghan led out from Swensson and Marr. At the mile and a half Callaghan had two lengths on Marr with Swensson dropped off. Marr drew level with three quarters of a mile to go and pulled away to win by a couple of lengths to Callaghan with Swensson right out of it at the finish. 

In the Champion Four there were four crews - Commercial RC., Bundaberg R.C., Fitzroy RC. and Maryborough RC.. Maryborough led out but after half a mile Fitzroy had three quarters of a length on Maryborough with Bundaberg and Commercial following. After the mile Fitzroy had six lengths on Bundaberg with three lengths to Maryborough. Fitzroy continued on strongly to win by seventeen lengths from Bundaberg, then three lengths to Maryborough, and Commercial further in the rear. The winning crew was - S. Roberts (B), D. Jones (2), W. Stanley (3), A.R. Pashley (S) and G. Murdoch (Cox). 

Bundaberg won the Under 20 Four, Rockhampton the "Bulletin" Four, Fitzroy the Senior Four, Rockhampton the Invitation Four and J. Marr of Commercial won the Handicap Sculls. 

The All Schools' race over 3/4 mile downstream to the Domain was held on November 4, 1911. Southport High School won by two lengths to Brisbane Grammar School. Rockhampton Grammar School had entered for the race but were unable to make the journey. 

The winning crew was:- H.C. Anderson (B) J.W.B. Gribble (2) A.F. North (3) R.H. Nimmo (S) and L.B. Chapman (Cox). 

Apparently to compensate for not rowing in the All Schools' race, a Rockhampton Grammar School crew raced the Brisbane Grammar School over 3/4 mile on the Bridge Reach on Monday, December 17, 1911. The race was won easily by Brisbane Grammar, but Rockhampton hung on grimly and finished fast. This was the first meeting of the two schools. 

Interstate Challenge races in fours for women were initiated on January 29, 1912, when a Queensland four from the Brisbane Ladies' Rowing Club journeyed to Melbourne to race the Albert Park Ladies representing Victoria and a Warrnambool RC. crew. This was the first occasion in Australia on which ladies had raced in clinker outriggers with sliding seats. No distance was mentioned for the race. The Queensland crew won by two feet in a fighting finish to Victoria in second place and Warrnambool retired about halfway. The Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, who represented a Queensland constituency was well pleased at the result and congratulated the crew on their success. 

The Queensland Ladies were :- Misses R. Grose (B) H. Burston (2) W. Lea (3) I. Roberts (S) and Master E. Butler (Cox). 

The Champion Eight-oar Race was rowed on the Hamilton Reach in Brisbane on April 27, 1912. Unfortunately the steamer which was to carry officials and spectators from Queens Wharf did not arrive, and there was nothing for it but to get to Hamilton by road to see the finish. The crew of the steamer had been given leave to record their votes in the election and had not returned to their duties. Luckily the starter had gone down earlier but the race was still delayed for several hours. The first view the watching crowd at Bulimba Point had was Commercial appearing to have a length on Toowong with Brisbane well behind. Commercial increased their lead to win by three lengths to Toowong with Brisbane seven lengths further back. 

The winning crew was - C. Lind (B), G.R.H. Gill (2), B.F. Caniffe (3), E. Hudson (4), S.L. Quinn (5), W. Mooney (6), S. Black (7), L. Eastman (S) and T. Sullivan (Cox).

The Interstate Championships were held in Perth on May 11, 1912, and Queensland was excused from sending any crews. The course was on the straight three miles from Applecross to Mill Point on the Swan Water. 

There were three scullers in the Interstate Champion Single Sculls over two and one half miles - G.E. Rogers of Western Australia, H. Green of New South Wales and F. Coverdale of Tasmania. Coverdale capsized shortly after the start and with Rogers being no match for Green, the New South Wales sculler won very easily by four lengths. 

In the Interstate Eight-oared Championship Race over 3 miles, Victoria and Tasmania led out but after a mile Victoria were a length in front of Tasmania. The Victorian crew won by two lengths to Tasmania, then South Australia and New South Wales, and Western Australia swamped and did not finish. 

In a pamphlet written by Dr. F.W. Whitehouse in 1971 entitled Brief notes on the history of the University of Queensland Boat Club, St.Lucia, Qld. it is noted that the University of Queensland Boat Club was founded on April 23, 1912, and used the facilities, shed and boats, of the Commercial R.C. for their first year. The Boat Club made its first appearance in regattas on September 13, 1912, in a maiden eights race. The following year they built their own shed on the Domain. They held their first annual inter-club regatta on October 11, 1913. 

The Brisbane Ladies R.C. conducted a successful regatta on June 22, 1912, on the Customs House Reach near their shed. This was the fourth regatta the club had promoted. The events were rowed in heats of two boats each, and finals. The races conducted were Pairs over 300 yards, Senior Pair Oar Race over 1/4 mile, Grammar School Girls' Handicap in Pairs over 300 yards and Mixed Doubles ( distance not specified). The pairs would have been tub pairs. 

The Twentieth Annual Report of the Q.R.A. for the 1911/12 season was presented at the A.G.M. held on August 28, 1912. 

It started off with a listing of the clubs and their memberships:-

As at July 31 1912


Southport High School



Wide Bay


*These clubs not having as yet furnished returns, last year's figures were inserted.

The Australian Olympic Eight 

The victories of this crew at Henley, culminating in the defeat of Leander in the final, aroused much enthusiasm. Congratulatory messages were sent to New South Wales, and the Chairman, on behalf of the Association, cabled congratulations to Mr. Alex Thompson, the manager of the crew. Although Leander in tum defeated them (ultimately winning in the final) at Stockholm, the first crew to leave Australia for the Old World had achieved remarkable success, that must do much to popularise rowing. 

Improvement of Rowing in Queensland. 

At the last A.G.M. the report of a sub-committee appointed to deal with this subject was presented and adopted. Amongst other recommendations made was the formation of a Committee of Coaches. This committee had been formed of members nominated by the various metropolitan clubs. Mr. Burton was appointed President, and at the inaugural meeting held in June he read a carefully prepared address on coaching, and the correct style of rowing. Arrangements had been made for the printing and distribution of this address, together with diagrams, showing the correct positions in rowing. 

The regatta officials were:- R.H. Roe (Umpire), A.J. Westaway (Starter), M. Largey (Judge) and C.H. Briggs (Timekeeper). 

The Balance Sheet showed the following:-

One Steak Eight£45.0.0J Edwards (oars)£  9.0.0
Subs estim to produce  14.0.0 Trophies29.0.0
Credit at Bank 14.6.5 Balance36.6.5



The Champion Fours regatta was held in Brisbane on the Milton and Bridge Reaches on October 19, 1912. The course was upstream from the Dry Dock to Kayes Rocks for the eights, with the sculls starting a half mile upstream of the Dry Dock. There were five starters in the Champion Sculls - J.F. Marr of Commercial R.C., J. Sullivan of Wide Bay R.C., W. Christsen of Bundaberg R.C., A. Swensson of Brisbane R.C. and R. Baynes of Fitzroy R.C.. Swensson led out from Sullivan with Marr handy. Sullivan took the lead soon after Victoria Bridge but Marr then took over and at the halfway mark was leading comfortably. Marr won by five lengths to Sullivan with Christsen a canvas back in third place.

In the Champion Four there were six entrants - Fitzroy R.C., Bundaberg R.C., Maryborough R.C., Wide Bay R.C., Brisbane R.C. and Commercial R.C.. At the bridge Maryborough was leading and Brisbane in the rear. After one mile Fitzroy had a three length lead and at the mile and a half still had a length lead. Brisbane retired after one and three quarter miles. After 2 miles Bundaberg had half a length on Fitzroy with Maryborough four lengths behind. Bundaberg won a splendid race by six lengths to Fitzroy who were half a length ahead of Maryborough, then Wide Bay and Commercial. The winning crew was -

J. Johnson (B), S.G. Annable (2), E.K. Campbell (3), W. Wells (S) and H. Ryan (Cox).

Southport High School won the Under 20 Four, Commercial the Junior Four and Maryborough won the Senior Four. Unfortunately, all races were late in starting with the final race, the Senior Four, not getting under way until 6 p.m.. 

The All Schools' Four-oar race was rowed over 3/4 mile on a downstream course to the Domain on December 7, 1912. Southport High School won by 3/4 length to Brisbane Grammar School. 

The winning crew was:- D.S.L. McLean (B) A.R. Sexton (2) J.W.B. Gribble (3) H.C .Anderson (S) and A. Linton (Cox). 

The Champion Eight was held on the Hamilton Reach in Brisbane on December 21, 1912, with only Commercial R.C. and Toowong R.C. starting. Toowong took a small lead at the start and after half a mile had a clear length which they increased slightly in the middle stages. Every spurt from Commercial was answered by Toowong and despite a final surge in the last 200 yards Toowong won by a length. 

The winning crew was - G. Osbaldiston (B), R.D. Leslie (2), T. Mellers (3), L. Petrie ( 4), S. Henderson (5), W. Taylor (6), A. McDonald (7), A. Petrie (S) and G. McKenzie (Cox).

The Henley-on-Brisbane regatta was held on the Merthyr Reach on April 12, 1913. One of the major rowing events was a Ladies' Interstate Four-oared Championship over one half of a mile, between crews from Queensland and Victoria. The Victorians rowed with great dash, and put in a faster stroke, getting a slight lead in the earlier portion of the race. The Queenslanders, however, rowing a long, steady stroke and well together, caught the leaders about 100 yards from the finish, and coming along with a splendid swing, finished about two feet in front. A splendid race, which evoked great enthusiasm, and continued cheers for winners and losers. The Queensland crew, from the Brisbane L.R.C., was Miss R. Grose (B), 

Miss H. Burston (2), Miss W. Lea (3), Miss I. Roberts (S) and Mr. E. Butler (Cox). The Victorian crew, from Albert Park L.R.C., was Miss E. Crippen (B), Miss M. Talbot (2), Miss E. Calder (3), Miss M. Nogel (S) and Mr. J. Counahan (Cox). 

Other races on the rowing programme were Handicap Sculls, Under Twenty Fours, Ladies' Double Sculls, Merthyr Fours, Double Sculls, Mixed Eights (Ladies and Gents), Ladies' School Pairs and Challenge Eights. The Ladies' School Pairs were from St.Hilda's High School, Southport. 

The Interstate Championships were rowed on Port Adelaide on April 26, 1913, in what could only be described as intolerable conditions. In the Interstate Sculls only J.F. Marr of Queensland and F.V. Coverdale of Tasmania were entered. Coverdale quickly went to the lead which he maintained to win by ten lengths from Marr, who never gave in and was warmly cheered for his effort. The scullers got some protection by hugging the Peninsula side of the river.

In the Interstate Eight-oar Race over 3 miles 726 yards, the crews delayed a lot before embarking. At the start it was out of question for the crews to venture into midstream and the starter went over to the Peninsula side where the water was less choppy and where there was some chance of the crews hearing him. The crews continued to twist about and it was reported later that Victoria who was drawn on the extreme left would not leave room for Western Australia and Queensland to come up. At last in desperation the starter intimated that he would let them go as soon as they were anything in a line. When the Tasmanians considered the formation good enough they started to dig in the oars, South Australia and New South Wales followed suit and the remaining crews quickly recognised that the race was starting itself. At that moment the Western Australia boat was almost side on, but the crew quickly headed her upstream and battled along with the rest. When all the boats were under way the starting gun was fired. New South Wales appeared confused, hesitated and made what appeared to be an appeal. Almost immediately they started to row again but had scarcely got under way when a poppet string broke and they stopped. After the crews had gone about half a mile Tasmania was leading South Australia by half a length with Victoria a couple of lengths back. Shortly after this Queensland, who had no washboards, sank. At about one and a half miles to go South Australia had two lengths on Tasmania. With a mile to go South Australia began to draw further away from Victoria and Tasmania. At this stage Victoria began to sink. The Tasmanian vessel was also waterlogged, the coxswain having lost his bailer overboard. Before coming to the three quarters of a mile to go Western Australia filled and they pulled to shore and emptied it. South Australia, with the coxswain bailing vigorously with a billy can, crossed to calmer water and were safe. The Tasmanians, about 200-400 yards behind, progressed slowly half submerged to the finish where they sank. Western Australia who had resumed rowing after emptying their boat came in third. The newspaper article was headlined "FUNNIEST ON RECORD. COXSWAINS AND BILLYCANS", but somehow it would not be likely that the crews would appreciate the humour. The race finished in semi darkness. 

In the Toowong R.C. annual report for the 1912/13 season it was announced that the Q.R.A. had inaugurated a timetable for events, beginning with the maiden eights in February and ending with the champion eights in December. Formerly all events from maiden to champion were decided between August and February, the consequence being that, by the time the Interstate selection took place, the men were tired. 


The Champion Fours regatta was held in Bundaberg on October 25, 1913. In the Champion Sculls, J.G. Smith of Commercial R.C. defeated M. Sullivan of Wide Bay R.C. who gave up a quarter of a mile from home. 

In the Champion Four, the Bundaberg crew led all the way to win by a dozen lengths from Fitzroy and Toowong, with Maryborough fourth. The winning crew was - J. Johnson (B), S.G. Annable (2), E.K. Campbell (3), W. Wells (S) and H. Ryan (Cox). 

In 1913, the Diocese of the Church of England took control of Southport High School and changed its name to The Southport School. 

The All Schools' Four-oar race over 3/4 mile was held on the Bridge Reach on December 6, 1913. The Southport School won by one and a half lengths to Brisbane Grammar School, followed by Rockhampton Grammar School. 

The winning crew was:- S.R. Dowling (B) L.O. Lawless (2) C.M.C. Bere (3) T. Collings (S) and E.L. MacMillan (Cox).

The Champion Eight-oar Race was held on Hamilton Reach in Brisbane on December 20, 1913. A strong south-easterly was blowing and the water was very choppy. The question of altering the course was considered but the officials held that the original course was quite rowable. The race was timed to start at 4 p.m. on slack water and had this been done the subsequent disaster would doubtless have been avoided. At the appointed time only Toowong and Brisbane crews were at the starting point. After waiting some time the starter ordered the crews to get afloat but his orders were utterly ignored. The No. 2 Commercial crew then arrived to say their No. 1 crew had swamped on the way down. At 5.15 p.m. the boats were got in line and sent away by word of mouth in as bad a start as the Brisbane River has witnessed, some of the crews apparently not hearing the cry until everyone on board one of the spectator craft shouted at them. After a quarter of a mile the Commercial No. 2 crew led by a quarter of a length to Toowong. At the mile the two Commercial crews were level and at this point Brisbane swamped. At the two mile mark the Toowong cox was bailing for dear life and then they swamped. With half a mile to go the Commercial No. 2 crew swamped, so the No. 1 crew stopped rowing and all members bailed. Getting under way again they crossed the line in 24 min. 19 sec. against a usual time of 18 min.. The winning crew was -

M.D. Brown (B), H.F. Kipping (2), A.E. Williams (3), W.J. Barnes (4), P. Nicholson (5), R.S. Billington (6), S.D. Roberts (7), L. Eastman (S) and J. Twigg (Cox).

The Interstate Championships were rowed on the Lower Yarra on May 2, 1914. The Interstate Sculls was rowed downstream and C. McVilly of Tasmania outclassed L. Davis of Victoria winning by twelve lengths with E. Thomas of South Australia a further two lengths back. 

The Interstate Eight-oar Race was then rowed upstream over two and a half miles. On the first attempt the crews had travelled three quarters of a mile when South Australia and New South Wales clashed in a part of the course narrowed by a moored dredge and New South Wales broke a blade. In the restart Western Australia went to an early lead with Queensland again in last place. After three quarters of a mile the five crews were almost abreast. At the mile and a half Western Australia led from South Australia and Tasmania. In a sprinting finish Tasmania won by one third of a length to South Australia, five feet to Western Australia, two lengths to Victoria, six lengths to New South Wales and Queensland outdistanced. 

The All Schools' Four-oar Championship was rowed on June 20, 1914, over 3/4 mile on the Bridge Reach, downstream to the University boathouse. In rough conditions, The Southport School defeated Brisbane Grammar School by 1 1/2 lengths. 

The winning crew was:- T.F. Collings (B) L.O. Lawless (2) C.M.C. Bere (3) S.R. Dowling (S) and E.L. MacMillan (Cox).

In the Commercial R.C. Annual Report for the 1913/14 season it was noted that only a few regattas had been provided by Q.R.A. during the season and it was suggested that the Q.R.A. was not doing enough - clubs should run status regattas themselves. In regard to their fleet the comment was made that the club had two carvel fours and three racing clinker fours - the two older racing clinker fours were in need of replacement, but could possibly be replaced by carvel fours if the Q.R.A., as expected, decided at the A.G.M. to cater only for best and best boats. One class of boat instead of two would be much easier for the club. 


The Champion Fours regatta was rowed at Maryborough on October 10, 1914, in favourable conditions. In the Champion Sculls there were four entries - W. Christsen of Bundaberg R.C., M. Sullivan of Maryborough R.C., R. Baynes of Fitzroy R.C. and J.G. Smith of Commercial R.C.. A good start was affected. In the first mile Christsen and Sullivan stopped temporarily owing to a slight collision. At the mile and a half Christsen led by two lengths to Sullivan. Christsen maintained his lead and won from Sullivan, Baynes being nowhere. Smith did not finish. 

In the Champion Four there were six crews - Commercial R.C., Maryborough R.C., Fitzroy R.C., Bundaberg R.C. and two Wide Bay R.C. crews. After an even start Commercial drew away after half a mile. After one mile Commercial led by three lengths to Maryborough. Maintaining their lead through the second mile they then went away in the final stretch to win by twelve lengths to Maryborough, then two lengths to Fitzroy, then Bundaberg and the two Wide Bay crews. The winning crew was - S. Goldsmith (B), H. Kipping (2), J. Marr (3), L. Eastman (S) and J. Twigg (Cox).

The Champion Eight held in 1915 resulted in a row-over for Commercial R.C.. The race was rowed on a Friday afternoon, March 26, 1915, on a course from Kayes Rocks on Toowong Reach to the Dry Dock. The winning crew was - E.H. Sullivan (B), H.F. Kipping (2), P. Nicholson (3), B.F. Caniffe (4), T. Caniffe (5), W.G. Beard (6), J.F. Marr (7), L. Eastman (S) and J. Twigg (Cox).

Owing to the disruption caused by the Great War in Europe and the heavy enlistments in the armed forces, the Interstate Championships were cancelled until the cessation of hostilities. 

The All Schools' Four-oar Championship was rowed on June 12, 1915, over 3/4 mile on a downstream course from Commercial R.C. to the University boathouse. The Central Technical College won by two lengths to The Southport School with Brisbane Grammar School third. 

The winning crew was:- C. Lamb (B) R. Fraser (2) R. Board (3) J. Dowrie (S) W. Burnett (Cox) and W. Kelly (Coach). This crew comprised the stem four of the Commercial R.C. No.2 maiden eight.

At the date of the Commercial R.C. annual general meeting (August 16, 1915), the membership had fallen off considerably because of enlistments, and the club had already lost 4 members killed in action. 

Apart from the Championships, the Q.R.A conducted regattas on August 29 and September 26, 1914, and on April 5 and May 15, 1915. 

The Q.R.A inaugurated a Premiership scheme in 1914/15, and it was won by Commercial R.C.. 


The Champion Fours regatta was held in Rockhampton on October 16, 1915. In the Champion Sculls, W.H. Christsen of Commercial R.C. won in the easiest manner by twenty lengths from S. Annable of Bundaberg R.C.. 

In the Champion Four five crews started - Rockhampton R.C., Fitzroy R.C., Bundaberg R.C., Maryborough R.C. and Commercial R.C.. From an even start Maryborough and Commercial led for the first half mile where Commercial took command. Rockhampton gradually worked their way up and took the lead at the mile and a half. Although challenged by Bundaberg, Rockhampton won by two lengths from Bundaberg with Commercial a further eight lengths back, and Maryborough and Fitzroy following. The winning crew was - J. Deacon (B), J. Kirkham (2), J. New (3), A.R. Pashley (S) and A. Fleming (Cox).

The All Schools' Four-oar Championship was rowed on June 3, 1916, over 3/4 mile upstream to Commercial R.C.. The Central Technical College crew won by half a length to The Southport School with Brisbane Grammar School third. 

The winning crew was:- J. Bale (B) K. Baird (2) C. Lamb (3) J. Dowrie (S) W. Burnett (Cox) and H.F. Kipping (Coach). 

The Q.R.A. Premiership for 1915/16 was won by Bundaberg R.C.. 


The All Schools' Four-oar Championship was rowed over 3/4 mile on the Bridge Reach downstream from Commercial R.C. on June 2, 1917. The Brisbane Grammar School won by two lengths to The Southport School, then Clayfield College and Central Technical College. 

The winning crew was:- C.R. Boyce (B) T. Lawton (2) A.A. Baynes (3) A.K. Stewart (S) and J.G. Hoare (Cox). 

This was the first appearance of Clayfield College in the All Schools rowing. They boated from Breakfast Creek, and later changed their name to Brisbane Boys' College, and later still, their location to Toowong. 

The Commercial R.C. Annual Report for 1916/17 said active members were down to 26 plus 18 Central Technical College student members. From March 1, 1917, accommodation for boats and property had been provided for members of Brisbane Grammar School R.C.. 


In August 1917, the Commercial R.C. agreement to provide facilities and coaching to the Central Technical College expired, and the club decided not to renew the agreement. Accommodation was provided for a considerable part of 1917/18 to the Church of England Grammar School R.C.. 

Rowing at Brisbane Grammar School started as a school sport about 1880. There was no school club, but the boys who took part in rowing were accepted on generous terms as members of the original Brisbane R.C. at South Brisbane, until its demise in 1885. They then became members of the Breakfast Creek R.C. in 1887 and when Breakfast Creek R.C. changed its name to Brisbane R.C., members again of the Brisbane R.C..

Up until 1913 the school rowing had laboured under difficulties. The kindness of the Brisbane R.C. enabled boys at the school to become members on special terms; but a desire was felt to possess their own boats and their own rowing club. A school meeting was called in 1913, addressed by the captains, and asked to subscribe to buy a clinker racing four for the school. The necessary funds were raised and a four was ordered from Edwards and Sons, Melbourne. 

In October, 1915, the Brisbane Grammar School R.C. started its separate existence, under the Presidency of Mr. Bousfield and with Mr. Pennycuick as Secretary and Treasurer. The membership was limited to forty at first, and the roll of members was full. The club was originally housed in the Brisbane R.C. shed, and later in the Commercial R.C. shed. 

In 1917 a rowing shed was erected. With the assistance of the Head Master and old boys, the finance was arranged and in 1922 no debt existed. In 1922 the fleet had expanded to two light fours, two heavy fours and two tub pairs (from Annals of the Brisbane Grammar School, 1869-1922 by Stuart Stephenson published in 1923). 

The rowing interest in the school was no doubt encouraged by the Head Master from 1875 to 1909, Mr. R.H. Roe, and the Deputy Head, Mr. F.S.N. Bousfield, both of whom acted as Chairman of the Q.R.A. for some years, as well as acting as boat race officials for the regattas. R.H. Roe was also a Vice-President of the Breakfast Creek R.C.. 

On December 15, 1917, the Brisbane R.C. conducted a regatta on the Milton Reach. The main races were the Champion Sculls of the Brisbane River over 1 1/2 miles, won by R.D. Baynes of Wide Bay R.C. on a row-over; the Champion Fours of the River over 2 miles, won by Commercial R.C.; Champion Under 20 Fours of the River, won by Wide Bay R.C., plus Maiden Fours, Handicap Sculls, Junior Fours and Trial Fours. The competing clubs were Brisbane R.C., Commercial R.C., University of Queensland B.C., Wide Bay R.C. and Maryborough R.C.. 

On April 1, 1918, the Champion Fours and Sculls of the Burnett River were rowed at Bundaberg, both won by Bundaberg crews. In the other races, Bundaberg won the Trial Fours, Commercial the Under 20 Fours, Brisbane the Junior Fours, and Bundaberg won the Maiden and Senior Fours. 

The Q.R.A. conducted a status regatta on the Bridge Reach on April 20, 1918. The report stated that this was the first status regatta, apart from Championships, since they were suddenly suspended something like five years previously. The time spacing is more than likely a trifle incorrect, although the Commercial R.C. Annual Report for 1913/14 was complaining of lack of status regattas. 

The races conducted were:- Maiden Eights over 1 mile, won by Commercial R.C. from University Boat Club and Brisbane R.C. 

Under 20 Fours over 3/4 mile, won by Commercial from Brisbane Grammar School, University and Brisbane Grammar School.

Maiden Fours over 1 mile, won by Brisbane Grammar School from Brisbane R.C., B.G.S., University and two Commercial crews. 

The All Schools' Four-oar Championship was rowed over 3/4 mile on the Bridge Reach on June 1, 1918, and was won by The Southport School by four lengths to Brisbane Grammar School, then Clayfield College and Central Technical College. 

The winning crew was:- T.E.D. Marks (B) Y.O. Yates (2) T.L. Sparkes (3) C.R. Dixon (S) and I.F. Champion (Cox).

The Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools' Association was formed in 1918 to control sports activities between the associated schools, and this All Schools' race is the first listed in their official record of rowing events. 

The office bearers elected at the 1918 A.G.M. were:-

Patron - His Excellency the Governor, Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams 

President - James Clark, 

Chairman - E. Colclough,

Honorary Secretary - E.C. Hempsted

Honorary Treasurer - F. G. Sherwood.


The Jack's Day regatta was held in Brisbane on December 14, 1918. The Champion Four of the Brisbane River was won by Brisbane R.C. and the Champion Sculls of the River by A.A.Baynes of Commercial R.C..

In 1913 the Toowong R.C. had purchased a new eight and had gone into overdraft to finance the purchase. When the war started in 1914, thirty one of the forty members of the club enlisted and shortly thereafter the club closed for the duration. Unfortunately, no arrangements had apparently been made for anyone to look after the finances and the overdraft escalated with unpaid interest. Finally in 1919, the bank foreclosed and sold the boatshed and boats to recoup their loan. The shed and equipment were sold to the Christian Brothers Schools R.C. whose shed was to be erected between Commercial R.C. and Brisbane Grammar School sheds on North Quay. The survivors of Toowong R.C. returning from the war in 1919 found they had no shed or equipment and the club ceased to exist for a second time. 

The Q.R.A. regatta in Brisbane on January 27, 1919, for the Champion Four and Champion Sculls was the first held since the 1915 ruling "That no State Championship be held during the term of the war". Rockhampton R.C. were unable to boat a crew, the last flood having swept away their boatshed. 

The Champion Sculls race over 2 1/2 miles was rowed from just below the Victoria Bridge to just past the Regatta Hotel on Coronation Drive. By the time the scullers reached the bridge the race was a procession, the order being Christsen, Kelly, Baynes and Smith, with quite some lengths between each. At the mile, Kelly went to the lead but after a mile and a half Baynes asserted himself and went on to win by six lengths. The placings were - A.A. Baynes of Commercial R.C., B. Kelly of Brisbane R.C., W. Christsen of Bundaberg R.C. and J.G. Smith of Commercial R.C.. 

The Champion Four over three miles started at the Dry Dock and there were three crews entered. After a good start, Brisbane R.C. forged ahead at the bridge, closely pressed by Bundaberg R.C .. At the halfway, the Wide Bay R.C. crew was gaining steadily and at the gasworks had a length lead. Wide Bay held off strong challenges to win by a length to Brisbane and Bundaberg, who dead-heated for second place. 

The winning Wide Bay R.C. crew was: - A. Bodimeade (B) E. Thefs (2) B. Bemdt (3) N. Goodwin (S) and E. Anderson (Cox). 

The Championships of the Mary River were held at Maryborough on April 19, 1919, with the Champion River Four being won by Brisbane R.C. and the Champion River Sculls by M. Sullivan of Wide Bay R.C.. 

The Championships of the Burnett River were held at Bundaberg on April 21, 1919, with the Champion River Four being won by Brisbane R.C. and the Champion Sculls by W. Christsen of Bundaberg R.C.. 

In 1919, the boys' section of Clayfield College changed its name to Brisbane Boys' College. 

The All Schools' Four-oar race was robbed of much interest by the influenza epidemic, The Southport School suffering most with all boarders being sent home. The race was rowed on June 14, 1919, after being postponed for two weeks because of the influenza epidemic. The course was over 3/4 mile downstream to University boathouse. The Brisbane Boys' College won by 1 1/2 lengths to Central Technical College with Brisbane Grammar School third. 

The winning crew was:- W.L. Boyd (B) A.E. Junner (2) J.G. Cameron (3) O.J.S. Macdonald (S) A.P. Douglas (Cox) and Dr. V. McDowall (Coach). 

The Annual Report of the Q.R.A. for the 1918/19 season recorded with regret the circumstances of the closing down of the the Toowong R.C.. It also noted the resurrection of the Fitzroy R.C. with a name change to Leichhardt R.C., the old Fitzroy R.C. having been taken over by the Leichhardt Football Club. The Q.R.A. had written to all States in the later part of 1918, with a view to holding the Interstate race in Brisbane in 1919. Only Tasmania was agreeable, the majority of the States took the view that it should not be restarted until 1920. 

The 1918/19 Q.R.A. Premiership was won by Brisbane R.C. with 89 1/2 points to Wide Bay R.C. on 71 points and Bundaberg R.C. on 29 1/2 points. 

The office bearers elected at the 1919 A.G.M. were unchanged except for the election of W.C. Seale as Honorary Secretary and C. Stewart as Honorary Treasurer. 


The Champion Fours regatta was held in Bundaberg on November 1, 1919. The Champion Sculls over two and a half miles saw three starters - A. Baynes of Commercial R.C., W. Christsen of Bundaberg R.C. and J.G. Smith of Commercial R.C.. Baynes went to the front early and, pulling beautifully throughout, won by eight lengths to Christsen with a similar distance to Smith. 

In the Champion Four over three miles, there were seven crews in the race which was rowed against the tide. The crews were - Bundaberg R.C. (Sorrensen), Bundaberg R.C. (Limpus), Brisbane R.C., Wide Bay R.C. (Champ), Wide Bay R.C. (Goodwin), Rockhampton R.C. and Commercial R.C.. In an early steering problem Wide Bay (Champ) pushed over on Bundaberg (Limpus), who in turn pushed the Rockhampton crew which lost several lengths, and eventually finished fourth. For the first two miles it was a very even race between Bundaberg (Sorrensen) and Brisbane, but from then on Sorrensen gradually drew away to win by four lengths. The crews finished - Bundaberg R.C. (Sorrensen) first, Brisbane R.C. (Maguire) second, Wide Bay R.C. (Champ) third, Rockhampton R.C. (Pashley) fourth, Bundaberg R.C. (Limpus) fifth, Commercial R.C. (Eastman) sixth and Wide Bay R.C. (Goodwin) seventh. Subsequent to the running of the race, the Bundaberg R.C. crew was disqualified since the stroke, N. Sorrensen, was considered to be a professional. The debate had been in progress since December 2, 1918, when Bundaberg had applied for re-instatement of N. Sorrensen who had competed as a professional in local cycling. The subject had been debated in many meetings throughout the year because of lack of a witnessed declaration from Sorrensen, and his competing in a professional cycling event in May, but Bundaberg allowed Sorrensen to row without Q.R.A. clearance on the strength of a Queensland Cyclists Union telegram message to the effect that Sorrensen had been reinstated by the Union.

The championship was then awarded to the Brisbane R.C. crew of:- T. Kelly (B) J. Maguire (2) G. Macfarlane (3) P. Maguire (S) and W. Farmer (Cox).

A newspaper article of January 26, 1920, stated that the Advisory Committee of the Q.R.A. had selected the following crew to represent the Ladies' Rowing Club in the Interstate Fours in Brisbane in May ­Misses Buzacott (B), Bruce (2), Petrie (3), Munce (S) and Law (emergency). 

The Champion Eight was held over three miles on the Hamilton Reach in Brisbane on February 28, 1920, with Wide Bay R.C., Brisbane R.C. and Commercial R.C. competing. The Wide Bay crew led throughout and won by ten lengths from Brisbane with Commercial third. The winning crew was - A. Bodimeade (B), A. Fairlie (2), E. Barcham (3), R. Hunter (4), D. McDowell (5), R. Goodwin (6), E. Coleman (7), H.N. Goodwin (S) and C. McDowell (Cox).

At the function held on the Saturday night to entertain the visiting oarsmen the Q.R.A. Chairman, Mr. E. Colclough, stressed the point that the Q.R.A. had the interest of the country at heart. 

The other regattas conducted for the season were the Q.R.A. regatta in Brisbane on November 8, 1919, for the Brisbane River Fours and Sculls, the Rockhampton regatta on November 29, 1919, for the Fitzroy River Fours, Q.R.A. regattas in Brisbane on December 13,1919, and January 31, 1920, for maiden eights and other club events and the Bundaberg regatta on April 5, 1920, for the Burnett River Fours and Sculls. The Henley-on-Brisbane was conducted on October 18, 1919, and the only result quoted in the Q.R.A. report was the win of a University Boat Club crew in the Combination Fours Grand Final. The crew was - G. Leckey (B) P. Anthony (2) F. Marshall (3) and J. Dowrie (S).

The Commercial R.C. Annual Report said "Active participation in rowing by the Christian Brothers R.C. was still to materialise although prospects were bright". 

T. Canniffe of Commercial R.C. was the only metropolitan member in the Queensland Interstate Eight.

The Interstate Championships were held on the Hamilton Reach on May 15, 1920, the first such regatta after the Great War. The programme was expanded from the eights and sculls to include the conduct of the Ladies' Championship Four-oar of Australia over three quarters of a mile, with three entrants - New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland. New South Wales led out from South Australia and Queensland on even terms. South Australia gradually overhauled New South Wales, but Queensland made an effort and for a short time was in front. South Australia however, sprinted and won by a length from Queensland with New South Wales third. 

The wining crew was - Mrs. M. Field (B), Miss G. Reed (2), Miss E. Arnold (3), Miss D. Arnold (S) and Mr. J. Twigg (Cox). The cox was a Commercial R.C. coxswain. 

The Queensland crew was - Miss C. Buzacott (B), Miss H. Bruce (2), Miss D. Petrie (3), Miss E. Munce (S) and Mr. W. Sullivan (Cox). The Queensland crew was coached by Mr. E. Colclough. 

The ladies raced for a splendid sterling silver trophy donated by the Queensland United Licensed Victuallers' Association. Officially known as the U.L.V.A. Trophy and affectionately referred to as "Bertha" by the female rowing community, the trophy shows a young oarswoman holding her oar, dressed in wide brimmed hat, sailor top, billowing bloomers and lace-up shoes and stockings. The trophy was made from one hundred silver guineas. 

The Australian Women's Rowing Council was formed at this regatta and thereafter staged their own championships up to 1975. 

The Interstate Sculling Race was fought out over two and a half miles by G. Westbrook of Tasmania, M. Goodsell of New South Wales, J. Barton of Victoria and A.A. Baynes of Queensland. Baynes quickly took a small lead on Barton but Westbrook drew level after a quarter of a mile. It was soon evident that these were the only two in the race. After one mile Baynes led Westbrook with the others well back. After one and a half miles they were level and with three quarters of a mile to go Baynes had a canvas lead. With five hundred yards to go Baynes spurted and Westbrook responded but Baynes won by two lengths from Westbrook, ten lengths to Barton and Goodsell was "a furlong" away. After his win, Mr. D.S. Carter of the Olympic Council sought out Baynes with a view to finalising arrangements for an early departure for the Olympiad at Antwerp, but Baynes would not be hurried and said he had to consult his employers first.

The Interstate Eight-oar Race over three miles saw a full field of six starters. The start was at least three quarters of an hour late and Queensland was the main offender appearing on the scene long after all the others. Queensland led out briefly, but South Australia and Victoria soon drew level. After one mile South Australia led with Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania on equal terms, then New South Wales and Queensland falling further behind. At the half way mark South Australia led by two and a half lengths to Tasmania and Western Australia fighting out second place. At the two mile mark South Australia still held two and a half lengths on Western Australia with half a length to Tasmania. South Australia won by four lengths to Western Australia, three lengths to Tasmania, then New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland a bad last. The No.4 man in the South Australian crew, A.V. Scott, was one of the A.I.F. crew which won the King's Cup at Henley. 

The other race on the programme was the All Schools' Championship Four of Queensland over one mile, with the starters being - Brisbane Boys College, Church of England Grammar School, Brisbane Grammar School, The Southport School and Central Technical College. The crews got a fine start with Southport getting a lead, shortly to be displaced by Brisbane Boys College (better known as Clayfield College), then Church of England Grammar School. Four hundred yards from home B.B.C. and C.E.G.S. were fighting out a desperate finish with Southport rapidly overhauling them. Southport won by three quarters of a length to C.E.G.S., with B.B.C., B.G.S. and Central Technical College following. 

The winning Southport School crew was:- F.M. Burkitt (B) C.S. Roberts (2) A.L. Murphy (3) R.H. Moyse (S) and J.T.H. Michod (Cox). 

This was the Church of England Grammar School's first appearance in the All Schools' Championship. 

Following A. Baynes' win in the Interstate Sculling Championship an article appeared in the Brisbane Courier of Friday May 21, 1920, in which it stated that Baynes was not expected to go to the Antwerp Olympics. Mr. A. Baynes, Senr., stated that the thing was altogether too hurried, as his son might not succeed in a strange boat. There was also the question of sending George Towns with him as his mentor and with the world championships looming this presented another difficulty. And last, but not least, his profession could not be entirely neglected, and his father suggested he might later on go after the Diamond Sculls. The team left from Melbourne by steamer on May 23, so it must be presumed that A. Baynes did not go to the Olympics. 

Mr. A.C. Limpus (Bundaberg) assisted by E. Sherras acted as starter for the Interstate Eight and Sculls races. Messrs. J.N. Devoy, F.W. de Little, D. O'Connor and E.H. Ruddle carried out the respective duties of starter, umpire, timekeeper and judge for the Ladies' Interstate Fours and the All Schools' Championship. 

The Q.R.A. Annual Report for 1919/20 paid tribute to the 85 oarsmen (529 enlisting) who made the supreme sacrifice in the 1914/18 war. 

The Q.R.A. Premiership was won by Brisbane R.C. with 107 points to Wide Bay R.C. on 97 points and Commercial R.C. on 45 points. 

The rowing season was apparently not without controversy. The Brisbane R.C. requisitioned a special general meeting (date not stated) and the Chairman, E. Colclough, ruled that the meeting was properly called under the Constitution, but that the business defined "That Brisbane R.C. be granted the right to race the Wide Bay crew for the right to represent the State in May, 1920." was not in order. 

The ruling was disagreed with by the majority of those present and E. Colclough vacated the chair. The President, J. Clark, being elected as chairman, he counselled conciliation, and suggested the withdrawal of the motion. As this was not done, Mr. Clark vacated the chair, and with a number of members present, left the meeting. 

It was not stated in the report, but presumably the meeting then collapsed. 

The regatta officials listed in the annual report were - Umpire -A.J. Westaway, Judge - Hon. J. Donovan, M.L.C., Starter - H.C. Kerr (resigned April 12, 1920), Timekeepers - G.R.H. Gill, F. Wheeler and A.A. Watson.

The list of affiliated clubs and their memberships were:-

Brisbane Ladies R.C. 40
Brisbane Boys' College B.C. 46
Brisbane Grammar School B.C. 53
Brisbane R.C.  63
Bundaberg R.C.78
Commercial R.C. 135
Leichhardt R.C.  99
Maryborough R.C.40
Rockhampton R.C.93
Southport High School B.C.89
University of Qld. B.C.35
Wide Bay R.C.  50


Even taking the ladies and the schools out of the numbers gives a membership of 593. 

The annual report states that the Q.R.A. was the first governing body in the Commonwealth to permit lady rowers to assist in the administration of the sport. The wisdom of such action was exemplified by the excellent assistance rendered by the Brisbane Ladies' R.C. and their Delegate (Miss Abercrombie) in connection with the Ladies' Four-oar Championship of Australia. 

Consequent upon the Patron, the late Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, leaving Queensland during the year, the Lieutenant Governor (Hon. W. Lennon) kindly accepted the position, which he held until the arrival of the new Governor in December, 1920. Mr. C. Stewart resigned as Honorary Treasurer during the year and A.L. Mercer was appointed by the committee to replace him.

The office bearers elected at the 1920 A.G.M. were:-

President - D. O'Connor, 

Chairman - G.R. Howard Gill 

Honorary Secretary - W. Seale, 

Honorary Treasurer - J.P. Gregg. 

On June 22, 1920, the Brisbane R.C. boatshed and plant was destroyed by fire. The 1919/20 Brisbane R.C. Annual Report stated that a new fleet had been placed on order, and in the meantime they purchased, in January 1921, the previous boatshed and fleet of Toowong R.C. from the Christian Brothers Schools R.C., and after experiencing delays in getting a new site from the Brisbane City Council, erected the boatshed on the stumps of the old boatshed. 


Back to Chapter 2 Part 1 1901-1910

Next to Chapter 2 Part 3 1920-1930

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management