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History of Rowing Victory Inc

History of Rowing Victoria Inc

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Chapter 12 page 1 2 3 4

A revolution in Australian rowing took place in 1979 with the arrival of Reinhold Batschi as the Australian coaching director. The changes he brought to the sport were lasting and significant. By 1986, he coached Australia to a world championship in the men's eight for the first time and changed how Australian crews were coached, trained and selected. He was the driving force behind rowing being introduced into the Australian Institute of Sport.

The appointment arose after Australia's poor performances at 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games. 1976 team manager John Coates realised that change was required for Australian rowing and started the process of persuading the State Associations of the need for an international coach to be hired to show us how to improve. Being a purely amateur sport with conservative administrators, this was not an easy task. With help from a respected President Robert Aitken, the States were persuaded. The choice of Reinhold Batschi was inspired and Australian rowing have not looked back on unsuccessful days ever again.


The 1980 Victorian Season was busy, exciting and successful in many a sense. Many agreed that the highlight of the year was the presentation of the Australian Interstate and National Championships at Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, in March. The five-day regatta was proclaimed by many to be the best Australian Championships ever presented, and the greatest display of rowing in Ballarat since the Olympic Regatta of 1956. The regatta reached fever pitch for the blue-ribbon event, the Interstate Men’s Eight, in which Victoria emerged triumphant by a narrow margin to claim the coveted King’s Cup for the second year in succession. 

The spectacle was witnessed by Sir Zelman Cowan, Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia and Lady Cowen.

In addition to this, Victoria brought home the Wilkinson Trophy, ULVA Trophy, Victoria Cup and the Slatter Trophy. 

Early in the season an astonishing 23 Victorian athletes and coaches represented Australia at the World Rowing Championships in Bled, Yugoslavia. Whilst no medals were won, impressive performances were nonetheless evident from the Men’s Eight who placed 4th, Women’s Four who came 6th, and the Lightweight Eight and Four placing 6th. Many of these athletes would take a short period of respite before beginning preparations for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, Russia.

Members of the Victorian Rowing Association took great pride when it was announced that Mr Robert Aitken was to be made a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours list for his services to Rowing. Recognition was also extended to Mr Ray Todd, a life member of the Association who had the new judge’s box at Lake Wendouree named after him for his services to rowing.

In the State Premierships, Melbourne University Boat Club were successful in winning the Champion Club and Senior Premierships, whilst Powerhouse Rowing Club lay claim to the Lightweight Premiership. Banks Rowing Club took home the Junior First Division Premiership whilst Yarra Yarra Rowing Club won the Junior Second Division Premiership.

Melbourne Grammar along with coach Mr Tony Smith, built on last year’s success by winning the APS Head of the River Regatta in a time of 4:36.0.

This year, The Old Oarsmen’s Association of Victoria, on behalf of Mr Noel F Wilkinson, made the significant gesture of donating a perpetual trophy for the Youth Eight-oared Championship of Victoria.


This year saw a number of standout performances from Victorian athletes and some significant developments in the structure of the Victorian Rowing Association.

The Victorian Oarsmen Charles Bartlett and Simon Gillet did their state proud when they made up the gold medal winning Lightweight Coxless Four at the World Rowing Championships in Hazewinkel, Belgium. Victorian Oarsmen also represented Australia at the Moscow Olympics, in which the Men’s Eight and Women’s Coxed Four achieved fifth placings.

The King’s Cup Regatta, held in conjunction with the National Championships on the Hinze Dam in Queensland, saw a brave row from the Victorian Eight, who unfortunately were unable to repeat the success of the previous season and had to settle for a second-place finish. The Victorian Ladies however continued their previous season’s success in style, winning all three Championship events. At the National Championships, Victorian club crews were successful in winning ten of the available Championship races.

Mention must be made of Noel F Wilkinson, Life Member and ex-Treasurer of the Victorian Rowing Association, when it was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List that he had been awarded a British Empire Medal for his service to the sport of rowing.

Another highlight of the season was the first Veterans’ Regatta, successfully conducted by Nagambie Rowing Club. 

Such was the increased demand for a regatta of the likes, with the development of Veterans’ rowing continuing in recent years. This season saw a ten-man squad with a coxswain, comprising members of the Banks, Hawthorn, Melbourne University and Richmond Rowing Clubs, travel overseas to take part in the 7th FISA Veteran Regatta in Denmark, where the E Class four-oared crew of Dimsey, Todd, Baddeley, Jopling and cox Pinder won gold medals. These athletes also competed and were victorious in regattas in England, including the 31 mile marathon event in Boston, capping off a spectacular and wondrous campaign.

Melbourne Grammar were successful in winning the APS Head of the River Regatta for the third consecutive year under the watchful eye of coach Tony Smith. 


Victorian oars people were not lacking for inspiration at the early stages of the season, as Charles Bartlett and Simon Gillet of the Australian Lightweight Coxless Four repeated their success of the previous season in a superb gold medal display to become the only Australian rowing combination to win successive world titles.

Victorian women’s rowing continued to go from strength to strength. At the King’s Cup Regatta held on the Nepean River in Penrith, the ladies’ crews built on their success of previous seasons with wins in all three Australian Championship Events. Andrew Cassidy too had a magnificent row in his single scull to win the President’s Cup.

Planning and work began on the on the State Water Sports Centre at Carrum. In anticipation of it’s completion, a submission was made to conduct the 1985 Australian Interstate and National Rowing Championships as major event to celebrate Victoria’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

In the State Premierships competitions, Corio Bay emerged as the Men’s Champion Club Premiership and by a record points score, the Men’s Junior First Division Premiership. The Ladies’ State Premiership was won by YWCA Rowing Club.

At the Victorian State Championships at Ballarat, the presence of the Mayor, Mayoress and Councillors of the City of Ballarat were much enjoyed and appreciated.

The Associated Public Schools of Victoria successfully conducted the annual Head of the River Regatta on the Barwon River in April. Melbourne Grammar School, coached by Tony Smith, won its fourth successive Head of the River in a heart stopping finish on the line.

During the season, a number of rowing promotions took place in both metropolitan and country areas, with regattas held at Bairnsdale and Sale, the first for almost thirty years.

In November 1981, a Level One Coaching Seminar was conducted under the watch of Mr Reinhold Batschi, with sixty-seven aspiring coaches in attendance and qualifying for the Level One Standard. The number of schools developing their rowing continues, with 25 schools having initiated rowing programmes as part of their rowing curriculums over the past two years.


1.Primary source has been the Victorian Rowing Association annual reports - refer appendix 16

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