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History of the Tasmanian SATIS Head of the River rowing regatta

1951 SATIS Head of the River

Saturday, April 28 - Derwent River 

First Four:

6 crews participated in the 1951 Head of the River on the Derwent River over 1 mile: 

-    The Friends’ School

-    Hutchins School

-    Launceston Church Grammar School

-    Scotch College

-    St. Patrick’s College, and

-    St. Virgil’s College

Conditions were ideal for racing with The Mercury detailing that a slight tailwind was assisting the crews. Launceston Church Grammar took the early lead before being overtaken by St. Virgil’s and Friends. St. Virgil’s managed to stay in front of Friends across the line. This was St. Virgil’s College’s second ever win of the Golden Fleece Cup, to which they won their first in 1935. 

Second Four:

Over ½ mile, 6 crews contested for the Second Four in 1951: 

-    The Friends’ School

-    Hutchins School

-    Launceston Church Grammar School

-    Scotch College

-    St. Patrick’s College, and

-    St. Virgil’s College

The Mercury described the Second Four of 1951 as an exciting one with only a length or so between the top 3 crews. Ultimately, St Virgil’s also took out this category.

Third Four:

The Third Four race was held the day before (Friday, April 27) in which The Mercury noted that St. Virgil’s also won. This made it the first time the school won all three categories in the same year.


First Four:

The Mercury wrote the following on St. Virgil’s breakthrough victory: 

“Lively water and a slight following breeze made conditions ideal for rowing. Launceston Grammar, rating only 36, was the first to show out to an even start, from Friends' and St. Virgil's. Friends' stroke, R. Noble, set his crew a high rate over the first quarter mile, never dropping below 38. A quarter of the way down the course, Launceston Grammar had a slight advantage from Friends', with St. Virgil's and Hutchins close up. Hutchins struck a patch of rough water caused by a motor launch encroaching on the course and dropped back to last at the half-way mark. The crew had another stroke of bad luck when bow man J. B. Biggs lost his stretcher. Half-way down the course, Grammar, rating a steady 30, dropped back to second behind Friends', rating 32, and St. Virgil's (30). St. Virgil's stroke, M. Counsel, keeping his crew well together, took the rating up to 36 just past the half-way mark. With smooth slide control, a powerful catch and plenty of length, St. Virgil's forged ahead from Friends. Friends' fought back gamely, but could not match the rugged St. Virgil's crew, and dropped back with every stroke. Approaching the finish, St. Virgil's was a good length clear of Friends', with Grammar and Scotch locked together in a good finishing burst. Friends' stopped rowing as soon as the finishing gun went, and Scotch, with an inspiring finish in which stroke man D. F. Mitchell lifted the rating to a fighting 38, raced into second place. The fast finishing Grammar crew caught the drifting Friends' crew, and they crossed the line in a dead heat.”

Winners of the 1951 Golden Fleece Cup for First Fours - St. Virgil's College
(Source: The Mercury, 24 April 1951)

Second Four:

The Mercury wrote this account about the Second Four race: 

“St. Virgil's, Friends' and Grammar had a thrilling tussle over the first part of the junior race of half a mile. Rowing with good precision for a junior crew, St. Virgil's took the lead at the half-way mark, and, increasing its rating, forged ahead to win by a length from Friends', with Grammar only a canvas away third.”

Third Four:

The Mercury noted that St. Virgil's also won this race, which was held the day before the regatta (Friday, April 27).

Organising Committee:

Tasmanian Rowing Association



First Four

Golden Fleece Cup

1 mile

Time: 4 min 58 sec

Margins: 1¼ length, dead heat

1st St. Virgil’s College – Bow: G. B. Cole, 2: D. R. Hughes, 3: J. W. Fitzgerald, Str: M. A. Counsel, Cox: J. Crawford

2nd Scotch College – Bow: K. B. Cullen, 2: R. M. Steward, 3: N. T. Campbell, Str: A. R. G. Peacock, Cox: D. F. Mitchell

=3rd Launceston Church Grammar – Bow: J. S. Prell, 2: P. R. Stephens, 3: M. J. Fisher, Str: A. E. C. Thomas, Cox: B. G. Henry

=3rd The Friends’ School – Bow: R. Pharoah, 2: K. Laughton, 3: B. Jackson, Str: R. Noble, Cox: C. Lester

5th St. Patrick’s College – Bow: J. Doran 2: L. O’Shea, 3: P. Carey, Str: B. Turner, Cox: K. Thomas

6th Hutchins School – Bow: J. Briggs, 2: D. Purvis, 3: E. Solomon, Str: R. McIntosh, Cox: M. Darcey

Second Four

½ mile

Time: 3 min 16 sec

Margins: 1 length, 1 canvas

1st St. Virgil’s College – Bow: G. P. Pullen, 2: J. F. Wilmshurst, 3: A. J. Armstrong, Str: M. McKee, Cox: G. P. Harrington

2nd The Friends’ School – Bow: G. Dudgeon, 2: C. Walton, 3: N. Brice, Str: K. Gatehouse, Cox: M. Philp

3rd Launceston Church Grammar – Bow: T. M. Busby, 2: E. L. Hudson, 3: D. J. Rose, Str: W. R. S. Chamberlain, Cox: B. L. R. Larter

4th Scotch College – (crew unknown)

5th Hutchins School – (crew unknown)

6th St. Patrick’s College – (crew unknown)

Third Four

½ mile

No Time Taken

Margins: (unknown)

1st St. Virgil’s College – (crew unknown)


Southern Crews For Head Of River (1951, 24 April), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 16, Retrieved 5 June 2020, from

ST. VIRGIL’S SCOOPS POOL IN HEAD-OF-RIVER (1951, 30 April), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 17, Retrieved 5 June 2020, from

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