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History of the Tasmanian SATIS Head of the River rowing regatta

1916 SATIS Head of the River

Sunday, April 15

In 1916, a provision by the Tasmanian Independent Schools Association was made for the “Head of the River” for four-oared boats.  The six schools that were involved in this inaugural race were:

-    Friends’ High School,

-    Hutchins School,

-    Launceston Church Grammar School,

-    Leslie House School,

-    Scotch College, and

-    St. Virgil’s College

The Hutchins School Magazine, June 1916 provided some of the following details of the event. The Derwent River hosted the inaugural event, in which it was raced on a one-and-a-half-mile course which began near Government House and finished opposite the naval jetty.  However, the Derwent experienced difficult conditions that day, with heavy rain and strong wind present.  Nonetheless, the conditions had eased by the time it was 3:30pm, which was the original time of the race start.  The two leaders of the race, Leslie House and Launceston Church Grammar School, were involved in a “magnificent tussle” to be crowned champions.  In the end, the lightest crew in the race, Leslie House, won by the narrowest of margins over Launceston Church Grammar, with The Friends’ School in third.  Despite the poor weather, a large number of supporters of the various schools spectated the race.  


Below is an excerpt from the Hutchins School magazine from June 1916 providing some further details of the inaugural race:

“The course was a straight-out one and half miles, from a point above Government House Point to a point opposite the naval jetty. The crews were got away to an excellent start, except in the case of Scotch College, who were rather slow off the mark. Launceston Grammar, Leslie House, and Friends' soon went out together, and off Government House Point, they were going neck-and-neck, about a length ahead of Hutchins, who had a couple of lengths to the good from St. Virgil's, while Scotch College were half a length awry last. Off the gunpowder jetty Leslie House and the Launceston Grammar School were together, and fighting every inch of the way, while Friends' were lying handy, about a length behind, St. Virgil's, a light crew and rather short of training, were fourth, but were tiring visibly. Some little way behind, Hutchins were about on equal terms with Scotch College. It was a ding-dong go from this point to the finish between Leslie House and the Launceston Grammar School. Both crews showed fine form and plenty of grit and determination, and the Leslie House boys, though lighter than the Northern crew, and perhaps not quite their equals in point of style, though both were good, drove their boat along splendidly. Their cox, too, steered with excellent judgment. Nevertheless, the issue was in doubt to the very last; indeed, it looked as if the Launceston Grammar were going to get the decision, for as they approached the line their boat had its nose in front but the Leslie House crew came at it gamely and won right on the last stroke. They got in ahead. and lifted their boat over the line a couple of feet ahead of their rivals. Friends' were three quarters of a length away third, and Hutchins had pulled up and were about the same distance away fourth. The Leslie House crew a splendid race, and fully deserved their win. They have been training from the Buckingham shed, and their performance reflected credit on their coach, Mr. Don Hughes. But, indeed, there was not much to choose between the first three crews, and average form shown all of them was ahead of that seen in any previous schools’ race. The time was particularly good.”

First Four

1½ miles

No Time Taken

Margins: 2 feet, 3/4 and 3/4 length

1st Leslie House School – Bow: S. Finlay, 2: H. Oldmeadow, 3: A. James, Str:  F. Skinner, Cox: E. Montgomery, Cch: Don Hughes

2nd Launceston Church Grammar School – Bow: C. Deane, 2: M. Douglas, 3: V: Collins, Str: H. Jones, Cox: G. Fowler, Cch: S. B. Gravenall

3rd Friends’ High School – Bow: P. Wishaw, 2: A. Kerr, 3: J. Reid, Str: F. Pringle, Cox: D. Crisp, Cch: J. Pearce 3

4th Hutchins School – Bow:  W Allison, 2: R. A. Black, 3: A. Crouch, Str: N. Hay, Cox: P. R. Upcher, Cch: R. Bullow

5th Scotch College – Bow: A. Wigan, 2: A. Harris, 3: F. Brown, Str: C. Gardner, Cox: A. Beaufoy, Cch: C. Coogan

6th St. Virgil’s College – Bow: W. Oakford, 2: H. Broderick, 3: F. Fitzpatrick, Str: A. Parer, Cox: R. Monks, Cch: J. Dunn


“Sporting Island: A history of sport and recreation in Tasmania” by David Young 2005, Sport and Recreation Tasmania

“Looking back, Rating High: A History of Australian Rowing” Volume 1 by Robin Poke

Hutchins School Magazine, June 1916

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