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History of Rowing Victory Inc

History of Rowing Victoria Inc

5. The rise of Henley on Yarra (1900-1909)

Chapter 5 page 1 2 3 4


Some extracts from the Victorian Rowing Association annual report.

The banks of the Upper Yarra were ablaze with enthusiastic spectators eager to witness the best combination eight racing that Victorian oarsmen could offer as the season began in October. It was ample preparation for the rowing gentlemen who would go on to compete fiercely in the various regattas held in Victoria that year, at Nagambie, Barwon, Ballarat and Rutherglen to name but a few.

As the competition drew to a close, Albert Park would emerge victorious in the battle for the Premiership, and in doing so win the Championship Eight Pennant.

The Interstate Eight-Oared Race was contested in Adelaide this year, and resulted in yet another fine victory for the dominant Victorian eight. To assist the Inter-State Eight, funds were raised at a Theatre party at Her Majesty’s Theatre in April.

The Annual Dinner of the Association was held at the Vienna Café in June and proved to be a very enjoyable function for all who attended.


Some extracts from the Victorian Rowing Association annual report.

Spectacular racing was witnessed as the season was formally opened at Footscray in October, when a number of combination eight-oared crews took to the lake and did battle. The high quality of racing observed was indicative of what was to come during the season, at events such as the Upper River Regatta, and the Nagambie, Rutherglen and Seymour Regattas. The Albert Park Rowing Club were victorious in winning the Premiership, as well as the Championship Eight Pennant.

The annual Interstate Eight Race was held on home waters in Melbourne this year, and the Victorian crew extended their unbroken succession of wins in the event to ten, beating the Queensland crew into second place convincingly.

The competitors and visitors in connection with the Interstates Races were entertained at Theatre Parties, Smoke Nights and Dinners all organised by the Victorian Rowing Association. These were well attended and enjoyable for all.


Some extracts from the Victorian Rowing Association annual report.

Spectators lined the banks of the Yarra and stood atop the Princes Bridge to witness the 1904 season begin with combination eight-oared racing. Sixteen crews competed and put on a spectacle which left rowing enthusiasts and competitors eagerly looking forward to the rest of the season. Regattas such as those held at Nagambie, Footscray, Barwon and Ballarat were highly successful and well contested.

This year the inaugural Henley-on-Yarra was born, and was a fantastic success.

Ballarat Rowing Club were successful in winning the Premiership and the Championship Eight Pennant.

The annual Interstate Eight Race was held at Brisbane in May, and resulted in an eleventh consecutive triumph for the Victorian Crew.


Some extracts from the Victorian Rowing Association annual report.

Albert Park was the arena where Combination Eight-Oared Races marked the opening of the 1905 season, in which 13 crews competed for glory. This event was to kick off an entertaining and engaging rowing season for oarsmen, spectators and the rest of the Victorian Rowing Association. The Albert Park Rowing Club were the most consistent performers at the season’s multitude of regattas, and hence were awarded the Premiership for the year. The Ballarat Rowing Club would claim the Championship Eight Pennant.

Victoria could enjoy success at the Interstate Races, which were held at Sydney on the Parramatta River in May. All six states were present and witnessed a tremendous showdown between Victoria and Tasmania, which the Victorian Crew would ultimately win by a length. Unfortunately, the winning form could not be replicated by P C Ivens who finished third in the Sculling race.


Some extracts from the Victorian Rowing Association annual report.

Rowing enthusiasts and admirers of sporting competitions lined along the Princes Bridge in October, where eight-oared combination races marked the formal opening of the season on the Yarra. A record number of entries for this class was received, with no fewer than 25 crews competing. The winning crew was made up of athletes from the Hawthorn, Albert Park, Essendon, Mercantile, South Melbourne and Yarra Yarra Rowing Clubs.

For the first time in the history of the Interstate Eight-Oared Championship of Australia, the race was rowed on the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia. With the exception of Queensland, all states of the Commonwealth would contest the competition. The Tasmanian crew retrieved their defeat from Sydney in the previous iteration and laid down a Herculean performance to see off the Victorian Crew by half a length. The Tasmanian representee in turn, would lose by some twenty lengths to the Victorian Sculler, P C Ivens of Mercantile Rowing Club, in the Interstate Sculling Race.

Domestically, Albert Park Rowing Club were untroubled in their quest to win the Premiership, performing exceedingly well with great consistency in the many regattas throughout the season.

In an interview in Western Australia in 1906, the highly regarded boatbuilder and coach Syd Edwards was asked why Victorian rowing was so successful. His answer has some historical interest as he highlights that in the early days of rowing in New South Wales, used whale boats rather than racing boats. Thus Victoria had a good start on NSW. He then went on to say that the still water in Melbourne enabled rowers to row better and throughout the year. Thia natural advantage was in his view important. Finally, he highlighted that rowers were within an easy walk from the city, and further, there were many boathouses in the same area on the Yarra River. This kept the interest in the sport at a higher level than elsewhere. These natural advantages were regarded as significant and he highlighted that the differences in personnel were not an issue.


Some extracts from the Victorian Rowing Association annual report.

The traditional season opening took place on the Upper Yarra in October, with the spectacle of combination Eight-Oared Racing. 128 athletes made up a total of 16 crews, and what followed was a tremendously enjoyable afternoon’s racing. Albert Park Rowing Club were dominant across many classes of racing at the superbly organised Henley-on-Yarra, Seymour, Nagambie and Bairnsdale regattas amongst others, and were rewarded for their efforts with the Senior and Junior Premierships.

The 31st Annual Interstate Eight-Oared Race was held in South Australia for the second time, and all states of the Commonwealth were represented. Victoria achieved the unprecedented feat of winning the competition for the 25th time out of 31 racing occasion since its inception in 1878. On the same day in Adelaide, the Interstate Sculling Championship was held, and resulted in a spectacular win for P C Ivens of Mercantile Rowing Club.

During the season, the committee of the Victorian Rowing Association made the justifiable decision of purchasing a best eight for the use of future crews representing the state in the Annual Interstate Contest.


Some extracts from the Victorian Rowing Association annual report.

In light of the fact that many clubs were holding eight-oared races on the date which was usually selected to commence the opening of the season, it was decided that the Champions Sculls would be the most suitable occasion on which to kick the season off in October.

The 32nd Annual Interstate Eight-Oared Championship of Australia was rowed in Melbourne on the River Yarra in May, and resulted in a thoroughly deserved win for the strong willed crew from New South Wales, Victoria had once again to be satisfied with a second place finish, made easier in light of New South Wales’s tremendous ability. P C Ivens, the elected athlete for the Interstate Sculling Race, to be held on the same day, was unable to compete in the race owing to indisposition, however his clubmate, H Brasch, received permission to act as a second Victorian Representative, and duly rowed a fine race to finish in second place behind the Tasmanian Sculler.

The Henley Regatta Committee, Albert Park Rowing Club and the Metropolitan Fire Brigades’ Board showed the highest level of hospitality to the visiting state crews.

Mercantile Rowing Club proved victorious in the fiercely contested Senior Premiership, following consistently competitive displays at the likes of Henley-on-Yarra, Nagambie, Colac and the Annual Regatta. Footscray City Rowing Club claimed the Junior Premiership.


Some extracts from the Victorian Rowing Association annual report.

The official opening of the season was celebrated with the Championship Sculling Race in October, to commence what was a busy and successful season for the Victorian Rowing Association and it’s members. Regattas such as Henley-on-Yarra, Seymour, Colac and Footscray were capably and successfully carried out. The conclusion of the domestic racing season saw Albert Park secure the Senior Premiership, whilst South Melbourne were successful in attaining the Junior Premiership.

Tasmania were the winners of the coveted Australian Eight-Oared Championships, which was contested on the Hamilton Reach, Brisbane, with the Victorian Crew in second place following a hearty performance. 

In a sadder development, Victorian oarsmen mourned the loss of Vice-President, Mr Thomas Ellison. During the year a presentation of a large framed group of the Committee and Office-Bearers of the 1908 season was made to the esteemed president of the Victorian Rowing Association, Mr Henry Gyles Turner, to mark the record of an incredible 25 years of Presidentship.

In other news, a Bill was passed through both Houses of Parliament for the regulation of traffic on the Upper Yarra, this Act would be administered by the Ports and Harbours Department.



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