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History of NSW Combined High Schools Rowing Regattas

NSW Combined High Schools Rowing History

1999 to 2004 – The South Grafton Era

For the 1999 CHS regatta on the Manning River at Taree, the U16 Fours and Novice Fours were finally dropped from the competition while Championship Eights returned.  The program of events stabilised at the six championship events, three U16 sculling events and three U14 sculling events for both sexes that have remained set for these age groups ever since; the only change being one of terminology in 2003.

Sydney Boys HS returned to the competition in 1999 after a three year absence although they were beaten by South Grafton HS in the Champion Eight and Four. South Grafton HS’s overall strength resulted in their winning eight events plus the three pointscores for Boys, Girls and Champion School. The only Sydney school to feature in the boys events was Kirawee HS, winning Mens Champion Pair for the second time as well as Mens Champion Double Sculls with Daniel Stewart going on to Australian representation. 

This began a period of six years from 1999 to 2004 in which South Grafton HS dominated CHS rowing, being Champion School in each of those six years as well as winning four Boys and five Girls Pointscores. During that time, the strength was certainly in the North Coast Region with Maclean HS the next most successful school in the number of events won, being second behind South Grafton in nine of the eighteen pointscore trophies awarded. The only school to challenge this North Coast dominance was Taree HS who won the Girls Pointscore in 2001, winning 25 events during the period compared to 34 for Maclean HS and 54 for South Grafton HS.

The victorious South Grafton HS squad of 2003. The trophy for Champion School is held aloft by the student in the front row 3rd from right. The Girls Pointscore trophy is at centre rear.

2001 – The Final Program of Events

In 2001, the final addition was made to the CHS championship program with the introduction of Under 15 events in Single, Double and Quad Sculls, giving a full program of thirty events. In 2003, a change in nomenclature saw the labels “U14”, “U15” and “U16” become “U15”, “U16” and “U17” to maintain consistency with NSW Rowing Association and Rowing Australia terminology. One final change was made for the 2010 regatta with the distances of U17 events extending from 1000m to 2000m. The program has remained stable since 2001, including all of the events currently conducted: Single, Double and Quad Sculls for Under 15, 16 and 17 year age groups as well as Championship events in Single, Double and Quad Sculls, Pairs, Fours and Eights for both boys and girls. 

2005 to 2011 – The Maclean Era

After playing second fiddle to South Grafton HS for the previous six years, Maclean HS prevailed in 2005 to win the Girls Pointscore and the title of Champion School. Maclean retained the Girls Pointscore trophy from 2005 to 2011 and were second behind Sydney Boys HS in the Boys Pointscore for five of the six regattas conducted in that time. Of the 180 events run during this period, Maclean HS won 52, well ahead of the next most successful school Sydney Boys HS on 39. These results earned Maclean HS five titles of Champion School in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.  Maclean could well have added to these successes but were denied the opportunity due to flooding on the Clarence River in 2009 and the Nepean River in 2012 which resulted in the cancellation of both championship regattas.

Sydney Boys HS and Sydney Girls HS Dominate

After a period of seven years in which they had either not attended or had entered limited squads, Sydney Boys HS returned to CHS competition in full strength in 2003. For the twelve regattas conducted over the 14 year period from 2003 to 2016, Sydney Boys HS was to be unbeaten in the Mens Champion Eight, beaten only once in the Mens Champion Four and clear winners of the Boys Pointscore at every regatta as well as taking out 44 of the 108 mens under age events conducted in that time.  Their domination of the boys half of the program gave Sydney Boys HS the title of Champion School in 2006, 2013 and 2014. This stranglehold on the boys competition was terminated in 2017 by Sydney Boys HS’s non-attendance at the Grafton regatta.

Sydney Boys HS – Champion Mens Eight 2006
T.Hurrell, B.Angell, J.Tiedgen, A.Farrow-Palmer, S.Gribble, A.Szabo, A.Pham, S.Cunningham, Cox: A.Huang

2003 also saw the beginning of a similar period of dominance for Sydney Girls HS in girls events. This started with success in both Womens Champion Eight and Womens Champion Four in 2003 and continued with wins in either or both of those two events for the next eleven regattas. Although Sydney Boys backed up their championship wins with a significant number of firsts across all age groups, Sydney Girls did not achieve overall success for another ten years. In 2013, with five age group winners supporting success in the Champion Eight and Four, Sydney Girls HS took out the Girls Pointscore for the first time since 1995. Sydney Girls have maintained that advantage ever since, winning 40 of the 68 womens events conducted over the last five years to convincingly win the Girls Pointscore in each of those years as well as being Champion School in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The Hunter and South Coast Regions

While the schools attending CHS championship regattas have been predominantly from metropolitan Sydney or the North Coast Region, schools from the Hunter Region have been well represented during the last 20 years. For the first 30 years of the competition, Taree HS was the sole Hunter Region representative, being the sixth most successful school in the history of CHS Rowing. After sporadic attendances during the 1990s, schools from the Hunter Valley became regular competitors in the 2000s with 7 Newcastle based schools winning events, the most successful being Merewether HS on 9 wins and Maitland Grossmann HS with 11. Schools from the South Coast Region have made limited appearances at championships regattas with Nowra HS on 3 wins the only school to make any impression.

Maitland Grossmann HS - 2016

Some Statistics

Over the 51 championships conducted since the first regatta in 1965, Sydney Boys HS has been the most successful school with 168 wins restricted to boys events (31.7 % of the boys results and 17.2% of the total across boys and girls).  The three North Coast Region co-educational schools have been the next most successful, winning events in both boys and girls disciplines; Macelan HS - 154 wins (15.8% of the total), Grafton HS – 111 wins (11.4%) and South Grafton HS – 91 wins (9.3%). Sydney Girls HS rounds off the top five with 84 wins in girls events (18.9% of the girls and 8.6% of the total). The remaining schools with ten or more wins are Taree HS – 78 (8.0%), Nepean HS – 44, Murwillumbah HS – 25, North Sydney Girls HS – 23, Mackellar Girls HS – 12, Maitland Grossmann HS – 11, Penrith HS – 10 and Homebush Boys HS – 10. 

The sixteen regattas conducted in the 2000s have been overwhelmingly dominated by four schools that between them have won 310 of the 463 events conducted in that time; 101 wins to Maclean HS, 85 to Sydney Boys HS, 64 to South Grafton HS and 60 to Sydney Girls HS. Fully two thirds of the trophies have gone to these four schools with the remaining 153 wins shared by 35 other schools. Of these, Grafton HS with 43 wins and Taree HS with 27 have been the next most successful with Maitland Grossmann HS on 11 the only other school in double figures.

CHS Rowing – an Ongoing Asset

The Combined High Schools Championship Regatta has held a significant place in the regatta program of New South Wales for over fifty years. Aspirations for CHS success have driven the enthusiasm of many young rowers giving them inspiration and a purpose in their sport. CHS Rowing will continue to be a valuable nursey for the development of state and national champions as well as providing an ongoing source of Australian representative rowers well into the future.

 Most Successful Schools in CHS Rowing as at 2017

Sydney Boys High School
168 wins
26 Boys Pointscores
5 Champion School
Maclean High School
154 wins
2 Boys Pointscores
7 Girls Pointscores
11 Champion School
Grafton High School
111 wins
4 Boys Pointscores
6 Girls Pointscores
5 Champion School
South Grafton High School
91 wins
6 Boys Pointscores
5 Girls Pointscores
6 Champion School
Sydney Girls High School
84 wins
7 Girls Pointscores
3 Champion School
Taree High School
2 Boys Pointscores
4 Girls Pointscores
4 Champion School

Nepean High School
44 wins
2 Boys Pointscores
5 Girls Pointscores
2 Champion School

Murwillumbah High School
25 wins
North Sydney Girls High School
23 wins
2 Girls Pointscores

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