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History of AAGPS Head of the River Rowing Regatta

1985 NSW AAGPS Head of the River

Why the Head of the River no longer enjoys the life of a party – Sydney Morning Herald (Phil Derriman, 1985)

The GPS Head of the River tomorrow will attract many fewer spectators than it used to – 20,000 or so probably, compared with up to 50,000 in the 1960’s – but, contrary to a widespread belief, the media are not entirely to blame.

It is common to hear people complain these days that the newspapers and television stations all but ignore the event.

“Years ago the papers would be full of it,” they say. “Now it goes only a couple of sentences. No wonder the Head of the River is not as big as it used to be.”

It is true that the event nowadays receives only a fraction of the publicity it did 20 years or more ago, but it is also true that, on balance, the competing schools prefer things as they are.

In the early 1970’s the Head-masters decided that the revelry which took place along the river bank had got out of hand and they agreed among themselves that the Head of the River ought to have a lower profile. 

There were reports of heavy drinking and various other forms of wild behavior, and the chief offenders were said to be old boys who had only recently left school and who still considered it fun to play up at a school function.

Then, in the mid-70s, the schools took the further step of moving the race time from 4:30pm to 1:10pm, the intention here being to prevent the revelers making a full day of it. This, plus the subsequent introduction of random breath-testing, has meant that the Head of the River is now a much more sober occasion.

The GPS schools have tried to turn the spotlight away from the Head of the River once before.


Senior 1st Eight

Major Rennie Trophy


¾ length

1 length

1st Shore – Bow: P. Chapman, 2: D. Forbes, 3: P. Murphy, 4: C. Huxtable, 5: D. Dix, 6: S. Schweikert, 7: I. Wiesener, Str: R. Burgess, Cox: H. Smith

2nd Newington

3rd The King’s School

4th St. Joseph’s College

5th Sydney High

6th St. Ignatius’ College

7th Scots College

8th Sydney Grammar

Senior 2nd Eight


1 length

¼ length

1st Shore

2nd St. Joseph’s College

3rd Newington

Senior 1st Four

Yaralla Cup


3 lengths

1 ½ lengths

1st Shore – Bow: S. Cosgrove, 2: T. Bartlett, 3: S. Muffett, Str: D. Bull, Cox: C. McDonald

2nd The King’s School

3rd Newington

Senior 2nd Four


1 ¼ lengths

½ length

1st Shore

2nd Newington

3rd St. Joseph’s College

Senior 3rd Four


2 lengths

1 length

1st           Shore

2nd          St. Joseph’s College

3rd          Newington

Senior 4th Four


1 ½ lengths

1 length

1st           Sydney Grammar

2nd          Shore

3rd          St. Ignatius’ College

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