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History of the Tasmanian SATIS Head of the River rowing regatta

1927 SATIS Head of the River

Saturday, April 30 - Derwent River:

The 1927 Head of the River was raced on the Derwent River. The regatta was raced on the one-mile course which started at Government House Point. 6 crews entered the race for the 1927 regatta:

-    Clemes College,

-    Friends’ High School,

-    Hutchins School,

-    Launceston Church Grammar School,

-    Scotch College, and

-    St. Patrick’s College

Although the crowd was lower than previous years due to reduced publicity, the 1927 Head of the River was ultimately defined by significant controversy. As reported by The Mercury, once the six crews were underway, the first foul involved Friends’ High making contact with St. Patrick’s boat, who subsequently hit Launceston Grammar  and Scotch College. All 4 crews raised their hands in protest, with a restart ensuing.  Whilst turning around for the restart, Launceston Grammar’s boat was taking on water. Friends’ again collided with St. Patrick’s when the second start began, and both boats momentarily stopped rowing. This effectively ruled them out of taking out the Golden Fleece Cup. Meanwhile, Launceston Church Grammar narrowly avoided this second instance through a “short, rapid burst”. The “lumpy” water meant that Grammar were taking more water on which impeded their ability to win the race. Hutchins School overtook them in the last half of the race to win by two lengths.


The Mercury delves into the controversial 1927 regatta:

“Scotch College drew the favoured position on the western shore. Next to Scotch were Grammar, and then St. Patrick's, Friends’ High, Clemes College, and Hutchins in that order. Considerable delay occurred on the line on account of the tendency of one or two of the crews, notably St. Patrick's, to "jump" the line on the fast-running tide. The water at this time was moderately calm, although the rising wind was every minute increasing the slight slop. Mr. J. Sharp sent the crews away to a fairly even start, Hutchins, perhaps being the slowest. After the first ten strokes or so 'it was apparent that a foul was inevitable. The coxswain of Friends' High was steering obliquely to his right, and bearing in upon St. Patrick's. Opposite Government House Point the foul took place. Friends' High struck St. Patrick’s, who were forced in on Grammar, and Grammar, in attempting to keep dear of an entanglement, fouled with Scotch College. The four crews concerned, raised their hands in protest, and all the crews were recalled to the starting line. Hutchins and Clemes were rowing almost level with the other crews when the foul occurred. During the entanglement the canvas of Grammar's boat was ripped several inches square by a blade in St. Patrick's boat, and when the crew turned round to return against the wind and tide to the starting line a considerable amount of water was shipped through the rent in the canvas. At the second start the crews hit the water together. Friends' High again veered to the right and fouled with St. Patrick's opposite Government House Point. Both crews stopped rowing, and, although they rowed over the course, they were, to all intents and purposes, out of the race Grammar barely escaped being entangled once more, the crew escaping by a short, rapid burst. Hutchins were keeping well out in the middle of the river, and it was difficult to judge their position in relation to the other crews. After the first half mile had been traversed, Grammar held a lead of a length from Scotch, who were rowing about level with Hutchins, and about half a length in front of Clemes. Grammar were rowing about 30 to the minute, and Scotch .28. Hutchins were riding the "lumpy" water fairly comfortably, and striking at the rate of 30, passed Scotch College. Opposite the Mercantile boat house, Hutchins and Grammar were level. but Grammar were visibly tiring, and in the next 50 yards Hutchins had gained a clear length's advantage. Scotch were hanging on grimly about a length behind Grammar, and Clemes were only half a length further back. Grammar’s boat was heavy with the water that had been shipped, and although the crew were called upon several times, they were not able to make the slightest impression on the leaders. Hutchins crossed the line a dear two lengths in front of Grammar. Scotch finished third, one and a half lengths behind Grammar. Clemes were fourth a length further back. The official time was 6min. 33sec.”

The Mercury also stated that after the race, Launceston Grammar had lodged a protest for the race to be re-rowed. However, Mr. E. Watchorn, the Tasmanian Rowing Association’s Chairman, as well as Mr. Sharp (starter) and Mr. Ife (umpire) deemed that the race did not need to be re-rowed.  After a “long and heated” discussion, the headmaster of Launceston Grammar Rev. J. W. Bethune withdrew the protest.  

Following this race, this issue was resolved by the Headmasters Association, in which they declared that the race result was cancelled

Organising Committee: 

Tasmanian Rowing Association


Starter: Mr. J. H. Sharp

Umpire: Mr. G. W. R. Ife

Judge: Mr. E. Sorell

Timekeeper: Mr. A. P. Golding

First Four

Golden Fleece Cup


1 mile

Time: 6 min 33 sec

Margin: 2, 1½, 4 lengths

1st Hutchins School – Bow: C. McDougall, 2: R. Radcliffe, 3: R. Cane, Str: J. H. Warner, Cox: J. T. Stops

2nd Launceston Church Grammar School – Bow: P. Stephens, 2: C. R. Millen, 3: A. G. McCallum, Str: G. Cooper, Cox: W. Loney

3rd Scotch College – Bow: R. Salier, 2: J. Richards, 3: G. Armstrong, Str: F. Bowling, Cox: B. Wardlaw

4th Clemes College – Bow: A. Palfreyman, 2: K. Nicholson, 3: D. Varley, Str: H. Long, Cox: A. T. Palfreyman

5th St. Patrick’s College – Bow: J. D. Brickhill, 2: R. Grimes, 3: W. Fryett, Str: A. Janson, Cox: J. O’Byrne

6th Friends’ High School – Bow: W. Wells, 2: F. Gourlay, 3: D. Jones, Str: G. Gibson, Cox: C. Reynolds


HEAD OF THE RIVER. (1927, 2 May), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 2, Retrieved 6 May 2020, from

Hutchins School Magazine, Midwinter 1927

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