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History of the South Australian Schools Head of the River rowing regatta

1896 South Australian Schools' Head of the River

Saturday, 21 March – Port River:

The 1896 edition was another 1-mile duel between St. Peter's College and Prince Alfred College in fours. The Evening Journal wrote that the crews were racing with the stream on the course between Robinson Bridge to a point near the "No. 1 beacon".

For the fourth straight year, St. Peter's were victorious over Prince Alfred College by a convincing margin of four-and-a-half lengths.


The Evening Journal wrote of St. Peter's victory in the 1896 race:

"Mr. Playfair gave the word "Go" at about 11 o'clock, and both crews striking the water almost simultaneously went away at a great bat, but whereas the work of the blues was clean and dashing, that of the reds was ragged and clumsy. The latter crew rowed too deep altogether, and besides splashing vigorously with their oars, they screwed right out of their craft, which wobbled furiously at the outset. In short, the reds were outclassed, and by the end of the first minute the Saints, who had rowed 22 strokes in the first half and 20 in the second half, or 42 for the whole minute, had the race in hand. In the second minute they put in 39 strokes, and then they slowed down to 34 in the third minute, to 32 in the fourth minute, and to 31 in the fifth minute. The P.A.C.'s had not gone half the distance when they showed signs of distress, stroke especially, and the further they went the more uneven and awful became their style. Instead of pulling together every man was setting a stroke and watching his oar. Before the end of the wharfage was reached stroke stopped absolutely "done." He, however, pulled himself together and made another attempt, and his pluck was cheered by the sympathetic company on the launch. All this time the blue-and-whites were slowly paddling home, and such a "soft tiling" had they on that they became careless, and once or twice the time on the stroke side was noticed to be uneven. And the coxswain, who had nothing to flurry him, steered the worst of courses, passing inside all the buoys and hugging the shore instead of getting as far into the middle of the stream as possible and securing the advantage of the ebb. Nearing Luff Point, Cowan, the P.A.C. stroke, fell back exhausted, and Kelly-, balancing the boat with his oar, two and bow propelled her. Tho blues, who had quickened their stroke, seeing what had come o'er their rivals, stopped rowing in the middle of the minute, and so prevented the strokes being taken on the last 60 secs. Cowan, who was "dead", again pulled himself together, and a cheer broke from the launch as he once more set his comrades a stroke. The end of it all was that the representatives of the older institution passed the post the victors by four and a half lengths, the time being 6 min. 57 sec."

Organising Committee:

South Australian Rowing Association


Starter: Mr. R. Playfair

Umpire: Mr. C. B. Cox

Judge: Mr. H. Leschen

First Four

The Blackmore Shield

1 mile

Time: 6 min 57 sec

Margin: 4½ lengths

1st St. Peter's College – Bow: E. A. Wooldridge, 2: H. H. Dutton, 3: G. V. Padula, Str: J. H. Gosse, Cox: Bickford

2nd Prince Alfred College – Bow: P. P. Thomas, 2: C. E. Bennett, 3: W. A. Kelly, Str: F. G. Cowan, Cox: E. G. Nation


THE COLLEGE BOATRACE. (1896, 23 March), Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912), p. 3, Retrieved April 5 2023, from

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