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History of the Tasmanian SATIS Head of the River rowing regatta

1949 SATIS Head of the River

Saturday, April 30 - Derwent River 

First Four:

6 crews, over one-mile, vied for the Golden Fleece Cup in 1949 on the Derwent River: 

-    The Friends’ School

-    Hutchins School

-    Launceston Church Grammar School

-    Scotch College

-    St. Patrick’s College, and

-    St. Virgil’s College

A strong northerly wind made the water choppy, and accordingly, The Mercury detailed that crews attached splashboards to combat the difficult conditions. The crowd was approximately 5,000 people,which was considered as one of if not the largest to witness the annual regatta.  Hutchins got off to a good start and were in front for the first ½ mile. However, the lower rating Friends’ crew took the lead in the second-half to win by a convincing margin of 2 lengths. It was Friends’ first win of the title race since 1939, making it their fourth win overall. 

Second Four:

The ½ mile Second Four race of 1949 saw 5 entrants: 

-    The Friends’ School

-    Hutchins School

-    Launceston Church Grammar School

-    Scotch College, and

-    St. Virgil’s College

The Mercury commented that the Second Four race was enthralling given three crews (Scotch, Friends’, Launceston Grammar) rowed side-by-side for the entire race. Scotch ended victorious by just 2 feet over Friends’, and, Grammar just a canvas behind in 3rd. It proved to be a landmark win for Scotch, as Launceston Grammar’s victories in the junior category had been running since 1935. 

(There was no Third Four race in 1949)


First Four:

The Mercury reported the following of Friends’ win on home water: 

“Starter Ray Fagg got the six crews away to a good start. Sacrificing length for rating, and striking 40, the Hutchins School crew, on the outside, established an early lead from Friends' and Grammar, with Scotch and St. Virgil's close up. At the half-mile mark the high rating began to tell on the light Hutchins combination, which surrendered the lead to Friends'. Rating a steady 32, with a hard and fast catch, easy recovery and good slide control. Friends' seemed to have the race well within its keeping at this stage. Grammar, in third position, was rating a shade less than 30, and could not pick up the water fast enough. With a little more than a quarter of a mile to go, Friends' went away to a two-lengths lead from the tiring Hutchins crew. Grammar, which had been close tip to Hutchins, started to drive its boat with more determination, and, lifting the rating to 33, passed Hutchins with only a few hundred yards to go. Without increasing its rating Friends', appearing to have plenty in reserve, crossed the line with two lengths to spare from Grammar, with Hutchins 1¼ lengths away third. After a scratchy scare, the young, light and inexperienced St. Virgil's crew showed good form and finished strongly to defeat the favourites, Scotch College, for fourth place. Scotch College, although up with the leaders soon after the start, dropped back with every stroke and provided the surprise of the day by finishing well behind."

The Friends' School winning the 1949 Head of the River
(Source: The Mercury, 2 May 1949)

The Friends' School bringing their boat ashore after winning the Golden Fleece Cup in 1949
(Source: The Mercury, 2 May 1949)

Second Four:

The Mercury wrote about the exciting Second Four race below: 

“From the start it was obvious that three crews-Scotch, Friends', and Grammar-would fight out the finish. All three crews rowed the half-mile course neck and neck, and with 50 yards to go the result was in doubt. However, a resolute finishing burst by Scotch, in which the crew lifted its rating to a fighting 36, gave it the decision by 2ft. from Friends' with Grammar only half a canvas away third.”

Organising Committee:

Tasmanian Rowing Association


Starter: Mr. R. Fagg

First Four

Golden Fleece Cup

1 mile

Time: 6 min 20 sec

Margin: 2, 1¼ lengths

1st The Friends’ School – Bow: D. Faulkner, 2: G. Macfarlane, 3: P. Hindrum, Str: J. Butler, Cox: S. Lester

2nd Launceston Church Grammar – (crew unknown)

3rd Hutchins School – Bow: J. W. Cooper, 2: D. E. Kirby, 3: R. Cuthbert, Str: R. Valentine, Cox: M. G. Darcey

4th St. Virgil’s College – (crew unknown)

5th Scotch College – (crew unknown)

6th St. Patrick’s College – Bow: J. Grubb, 2: M. Caswell, 3: L. Hoare, Str: G. Phillips, Cox: J. Oldfield

Second Four

½ mile

Time: 3 min 35 sec

Margin: 2 feet, ½ canvas

1st Scotch College – Bow: R. G. Peacock, 2: R. J. Kalbsey, 3: R. Kelly, Str: A. E. Taylor, Cox: J. Glasson

2nd The Friends’ School – (crew unknown)

3rd Launceston Church Grammar – (crew unknown)

4th Hutchins School – Bow: I. T. Darcey, 2: J. P. Morris, 3: E. G. Butler, Str: H. Shepherd, Cox: J. B. Briggs

5th St. Virgil’s College – (crew unknown)


FINISH OF THE BIG RACE FOR THE SCHOOLS’ CLASSIC (1949, 2 May), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 16, Retrieved 4 June 2020, from

FRIENDS’ SCHOOL WINS HEAD-OF-RIVER RACE IN CONVINCINGLY STYLE (1949, 2 May), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 16, Retrieved 4 June 2020, from

Hutchins School Magazine, June 1949

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