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History of the Tasmanian SATIS Head of the River rowing regatta

1939 SATIS Head of the River

Saturday, April 1 & Monday, April 3 - Derwent River:

First Four:


The 1939 Head of the River race was rowed twice on the Derwent River. 6 crews entered in both races:

-    Clemes College,

-    The Friends’ School,

-    Hutchins School,

-    Launceston Church Grammar School,

-    Scotch College, and

-    St. Virgil’s College

The original race was on Saturday, April 1. However, "The Voice" newspaper reported that five of the six crews outside the finishing buoy as it was not clearly marked. Despite Scotch College crossing the line in first, only St. Virgil’s College finished inside the correct buoy. St Virgil’s did not accept the win and a re-row was decided by the Headmasters of all schools involved. 


The re-row was on Monday, April 3. Unlike the original race, The Mercury wrote that the race was rowed over ¾ mile and was characterised by challenging conditions. The re-row race was a strong headwind and without a following tide. The Friends’ School, who finished 4th on the original race, won the Golden Fleece Cup for the first time since 1933. Clemes College finished in 2nd, whilst the original winners Scotch College finished in 3rd. The Mercury reported that Friends’ in the Saturday race were heavily interfered, whilst Scotch had an ill crew member who collapsed after the race. Nonetheless, Friends’ thoroughly deserved the win.

Second Four:

The juniors also raced on Saturday, April 1 and did not require a re-row. Over the ½ mile distance, 5 crews raced: 

-    The Friends’ School,

-    Hutchins School,

-    Launceston Church Grammar School,

-    Scotch College, and

-    St. Virgil’s College

Launceston Church Grammar extended their winning streak of the junior race to 5 years in convincing fashion. They won by 4 lengths over The Friends’ School.


First Four:

The Mercury’s report of the First Four race on Monday, April 3 1939 is below: 

“Friends' and Scotch College were first to show out from the others. Clemes was inclined to be sluggish, and took time to settle down. After the first 200 yards had been covered Friends' held a slight lead over Scotch and Grammar, with Clemes close up, followed by St. Virgil's and Hutchins. Friends' was rowing with a powerful drive, and was holding a handy position on the outside course. At the half-distance Scotch started to move up, and Clemes College was then rowing better as a combination. Grammar was keeping well up, but Hutchins was dropping back and St. Virgil's was moving up. With a couple of hundred yards to go Friends' held a lead of three-quarters of a length over Scotch. Clemes was then coming up with a great burst. In a thrilling tussle to the line Clemes passed Scotch, and was moving up with every stroke on Friends', but the latter crossed the line with half a length to spare, with Scotch a third of a length farther back in third position. Grammar was two lengths behind Scotch, and the fast-finishing St. Virgil's crew half a length farther back. Hutchins did not complete the course.”

The Friends' School (on the far side) winning the 1939 First Four
(Source: The Mercury, 4 April 1939)

Winners of the 1939 Golden Fleece Cup - The Friends' School
(Source: The Mercury, 4 April 1939)

Second Four:

The Voice provided the following report of the Second Four race on the Saturday: 

“Driving the blades through the water with great power, Grammar won the junior event comfortably. In the first fifty yards they began to draw away from Friends, and when the half-distance had been covered, they had the race in their keeping. One of the most accomplished crews ever turned out by the Public Schools, they crossed the line four lengths ahead of Friends with St. Virgil's a length away. Hutchins were fourth. Scotch College stopped rowing and did not complete the course.”

Organising Committee:

Tasmanian Rowing Association


Starters: Mr J. H. Sharp & J. Murray

Umpire: Mr. R. Beauchamp

Judges: Mr. C. L. Colvin & H. M. Owen

First Four

Golden Fleece Cup

¾ mile

No Time Taken

Margins: ½, ⅓, 2, ½ lengths

1st The Friends’ School – Bow: J. Carr, 2: L. Reynolds, 3: B. Elliott, Str: R. Johnston, Cox: N. McRae

2nd Clemes College – Bow: H. Cole, 2: B. L. Saunders, 3: R. F. Allwright, Str: B. L. Conolan, Cox: H. Ward

3rd Scotch College – Bow: P. F. Davies, 2: I. S. Smith, 3: W. T. Robinson, Str: D. S. Symonds, Cox: I. R. McDonald

4th Launceston Church Grammar – Bow: D. Finlay, 2: H. Evans, 3: E. Ducrow, Str: R. F. Thomas, Cox: B. Walker

5th St. Virgil’s College – Bow: A. Johnston, 2: J. McCann, 3: L. Bower, Str: H. Cosgrove, Cox: J. Johnston

6th Hutchins School – Bow: D. Eldershaw, 2: P. Saunders, 3: G. Gray, Str: T. Chambers, Cox: O. Young

Second Four

½ mile

No Time Taken

Margins: 4, 1, ½ lengths

1st Launceston Church Grammar – Bow: P. Lord, 2: B. Randall, 3: D. Lovibond, Str: F. Court, Cox: G. Green

2nd The Friends’ School – Bow: B. Walker, 2: W. Dunbabin, 3: D. Meffent, Str: D. Peacock, Cox: W. Peacock

3rd St. Virgil’s College – Bow: R. Hill, 2: L. Mehegan, 3: P. Sattler, Str: R. Willicombe, Cox: J. Purdon

4th Hutchins School – Bow: N. W. Cornock 2: F. G. Douglas, 3: I. G. MacDonald, Str: R. A. Pitt, Cox: I. G. Bezette

5th Scotch College – Bow: R. Anderson, 2: D. Bulman, 3: D. Paton, Str: G. Ingles, Cox: M. Blaubaum


HEAD OF THE RIVER FIASCO REROW ORDERED (1939, April 1), Voice (Hobart, Tas.: 1931 – 1953), p. 2, Retrieved 19 May 2020, from

HOW FRIENDS’ SCHOOL WON HEAD-OF-THE-RIVER (1939, 4 April), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 13, Retrieved 19 May 2020, from

Hutchins School Magazine, June 1939

ROWING HEAD-OF-RIVER RACE (1939, April 4), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 13, Retrieved 19 May 2020, from

WINNERS OF THE HEAD-OF-THE-RIVER RACE (1939, 4 April), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 13, Retrieved 19 May 2020, from

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