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History of AAGPS Head of the River Rowing Regatta

1978 NSW AAGPS Head of the River

Wash almost put gallant Grammar out of river race. (Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Apr 1978)

Sydney Grammar broke a 23-year drought to win a sensational GPS Head of the River race on the Nepean River, Penrith, yesterday.

Grammar’s lightweight eight-oar crew overcame all odds including a near sinking and two false starts to win the classic rowing event for the first time since 1955. Making the best of the swift, muddy river Grammar covered the 2400 metres in 7 min 14.9 secs.

Brilliantly coached by Don Craig and former New Zealand international coach Rusty Robertson, Grammar surged across the line a third of an length clear of former titleholders Newington with St. Joseph’s 1 ½ lengths further back third.

Throughout the season the Grammar crew, with Robert Glen the coxswain and Jeremy Bracken in the bow, has proved the outstanding school rowing set yesterday they looked superior.

By halfway they were almost two length clear of Scots with Shore third. But soon afterwards Newington, winners of the race in 1976 and 1977, began to produce the challenge which would give the race its gripping climax.

Over the final 500m Grammar had to pull out all stops as Newington pegged back the leeway with every stroke. However Grammar, conceding almost 10kg per man to the heavier Newington crew, held on.

Later it was revealed that Grammar almost missed the start when swamped by wash from a passing power boat. They frantically bailed out the shell to prevent it from sinking and arrived at the starting line only just in time.

There was further drama when St. Ignatius’ twice broke the start and failed to hear the recall signal as it was drowned out by helicopters hovering overhead. The race finally started 18 minutes late, but if the delay had any effect it certainly didn’t show on the faces of the jubilant Grammar crew.

The regatta was a roaring success for Grammar who also captured the second eights, with a brilliant win over St. Ignatius’ with St. Joseph’s finishing third. Craig and Robertson were almost beside themselves with joy with the effort put in by the gallant Grammar crew.

“I was worried that we were conceding too much weight to crews like Newington and Scots, but the lads gave me everything they had and showed what a magnificent crew they are,” said Craig.


Senior 1st Eight

Major Rennie Trophy


¼ length

1 ½ lengths

1st Grammar  – Bow: Jeremy Bracken, 2: John Cantor, 3: Chris Blunsden, 4: Peter Finley, 5: Robert Newlinds, 6: Lachlan Jones, 7: Greg Middleton, Str: George Hamilton, Cox: Robert Glen, Cchs: Don Craig and Rusty Robertson

2nd Newington - Cch: Michael Morgan

3rd St. Joseph’s College

4th Scots College

5th Shore

6th The King’s School

7th High

8th St. Ignatius’ College

Senior 2nd Eight


1 length

1 ½ lengths

1st Grammar – Bow: P. Bennet, 2: A. Blumer, 3: A. Kite, 4: D. North, 5: P. Boven, 6: P. Hill, 7: R. Sheldon, Str: R. Greenwood, Cox: D. Grimes

2nd St. Ignatius’ College

3rd St. Joseph’s College

4th The King’s School

5th Scots College

6th Shore

7th Newington

8th High

Senior 1st Four

Yaralla Cup


3 lengths

½ length

1st Scots College – Bow: M. Campbell, 2: I. Moore, 3: P. Brown, Str: I. Poole, Cox: J. Farquhar

2nd St. Ignatius’ College

3rd Shore

4th The King’s School

5th St. Joseph’s College

6th Newington

7th Grammar

8th High

Senior 2nd Four


1 length

1 ½ lengths

1st Scots College – Bow: T. Cassidy, 2: R. Macinnes, 3: R. Powers, Str: C. McKenzie, Cox: B. Cross

2nd Shore

3rd St. Ignatius’ College

4th St. Joseph’s College

5th Grammar

6th Newington

7th High

8th The King’s School

Senior 3rd Four


½ length

3 lengths

1st           Shore – Bow: H. Cooke, 2: C. Powis, 3: R. Hall, Str: T. Isaksson, Cox: G. Francis

2nd          Scots College

3rd          Grammar

Senior 4th Four


1 ½ lengths

2 ½ lengths

1st           Shore – Bow: B. O’Sullivvan, 2: B. Nettleton, 3: D. Hart, Str: T. Ferris, Cox: N. Murray

2nd          St. Joseph’s College

3rd          Scots College

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