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History of AAGPS Head of the River Rowing Regatta

1951 NSW AAGPS Head of the River

Record Crowd of 25,000 Sees Shore Win Race. (Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Apr 1951)

A crowd estimated by police at a record 25,000 saw Shore win by 1 ½ lengths from St. Joseph’s College in the G.P.S. Head of the River race yesterday.

The King’s School eight was third. Spectators began flocking to Penrith at 9 a.m. They traveled in 30 buses chartered by the schools, in more than 2,400 cars, and in trains. Penrith police said the car traffic was the heaviest Penrith had seen.

The race was rowed under slightly overcast skies, with smooth water. Shore’s stroke, Bill Chenhall said: “It went like clockwork. Everything is due to Bill Thomas’s Brilliant coaching”.

At the end of the race members of Shore crew did not throw their coxswain, Larry Etherington, into the river near the weir. It is probably the first time in the history of the race that this traditional ceremony did not take place. It is understood that Shore’s headmaster, Mr. L.C. Robson had instructed his crew not to throw the coxswain into the river because of the drowning of an Adelaide University student recently in a ducking “rag.”

For Shore’s coach, Bill Thomas, an old Shore boy, the win meant success in his first year as a G.P.S. coach. Thomas, who is a State King’s Cup crew representative, took over the coaching of Shore this year. He replaced Mr. Robson, who was the most successful G.P.S. coach since 1928.

Mr. Robson, through illness, gave it over to his son, Alistair, in 1949. Jim Burrell last year acted in an advisory capacity. Thomas as never lost a major start in rowing. He successfully coached the Sydney University crew when it won the Australia title in 1947 and again at Perth in 1948.

Grammar School’s crew probably lost any chance of rowing into a place when its No. 2 oar, David Nelson, broke a swivel standard as the crew rowed up to the start. The boat had to come back to have the swivel standard replaced. The crew had to row up to the starting point and then row the full course of a mile and a half. 


Senior 1st Eight

Major Rennie Trophy


1 ½ lengths

½ length

1st Shore – Bow: J.W.L. Vivers, 2: J.C. Warden, 3: V.H. Treatt, 4: E.H. Bawden, 5: A.J. Pennefather, 6: W.B. Bortham, 7: A.J.C. Sendall, Str: W.H.B. Chennall, Cox: L. Etherington, Cch: W.G. Thomas

2nd St. Joseph’s College

3rd The King’s School

4th High

5th Grammar

6th Newington

7th Scots College

8th St. Ignatius’ College

Senior 1st Four

Yaralla Cup


¾ length

½ length

1st Newington – Bow: C. Hinrichsen, 2: K. Dyne, 3: R.Clifton-Bligh, Str: R. Thompson

2nd The King’s School

3rd Shore

Senior 2nd Four


1 foot

2 lengths

1st Shore – Bow: R.F.S. Ballhausen, 2: G.A. Julius, 3: T.D. Lloyd, Str: R.S. Lovegrove

2nd Newington

3rd The King’s School

Senior 3rd Four




1st           St. Ignatius’ College – Bow: P. Proust, 2: W. O’Brien, 3: P. Brown, Str: T. Dalton

2nd          Newington

3rd          Shore

Senior 4th Four


1 length

¼ length

1st           St Ignatius’ College – Bow: J. Pascalon, 2: P. Meagher, 3: G. Crawford, Str: E. Morgan

2nd          Shore

3rd          Grammar

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