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History of the Victorian APS Head of the River rowing regatta

1913 Head of the River

Wesley College continued their winning ways at the forty-sixth Head of the River with a tight win over Scotch College on the Upper Yarra course. This was to be the end of their long run of victories. The heats were conducted on 9th May with the final on 10th May.

Xavier showed their improved form by narrowly being beaten by Scotch in their heat. They were coached for the first time by David Ross.

No second crew races were conducted.


Starter: Mr T Davies

Head of the River

Time: 5min 14 secs
Margins: 1/2 length and 1 1/2 length

1st Wesley College - Bow: G G Selleck, 2: R Parkin, 3: Walter Morris Felix Gamble, 4: C J McKenzie, 5: K A Corlett, 6: L J P Govett, 7: K F Abernethy, Str: C S Wood, Cox: J Mann, Cch: Charles Donald
2nd Scotch College - Bow: John G Morrison, 2: Roy G Anderson, 3: James St G Sproule, 4: Leslie F Edmunds, 5: W Keith Blair, 6: Charles DeB Hogg, 7: James R Morrison, Str: Geoffrey O Robertson, Cox: Hugh A Kane, Cch: Albert G Lindblade
3rd Melbourne Grammar - Bow: L Morton, 2: J V Wischer, 3: F D'A Power, 4: F G Greive, 5: F E M MacKay, 6: K D Watson, 7: E W Austin, Str: A D Thompson, Cox: F V Wallis, Cch: A J Shepherd

1913 winning Wesley College crew

Wesley made the first move after the start and then were never caught. The race was tight but both Scotch and Grammar lacked the dash to break through the Wesley crew. It was reported that in the heat of battle, that both the Scotch and Grammar crew felt the strain of their respective heats the day before.

It was reported in detail in the Age as follows:

The water was quite smooth when the three clinker-built eights were paddled to their respective stations, the Scotch on the north, Wesley in the centre, and Melbourne Grammar on the south. Wesley certainly had the best position. With very little difficulty Mr. T. Davies effected an excellent start, all three crews striking the water simultaneously. They were rowing about the same number of strokes per minute, but Wesley, getting a fine grip and rowing with perfect evenness, quickly established a lead, and at the Anderson street bridge they were a canvas in front. They gradually increased the advantage to three-quarters of a length at the big bend.

At this point G. O. Robertson, the Scotch College stroke, called on his men. They quickened up and spirted magnificently, but could not materially decrease the lead of the Wesley crew, swinging along with the evenness of a machine. Melbourne Grammar, who had the worst station, were rowing hard, but dropping back, and they were now a clear length behind Scotch. Again the Scotch spirted, and at Brander's Ferry they were less than half a length behind the lenders.

The excellent condition of the Wesley men told its tale. Two men in the Scotch boat were very tired, splashing a little and laboring. Faultlessly steered by J.T. Mann, Wesley kept themselves well in hand, and, though Robertson made yet another great effort, his crew was outrowed, and the holders won by a clear half length. Melbourne Grammar were steered a rather wide, course, and they finished one length and a half behind the Scotch.

The time was 5 min. 14 sec., about 1 sec. slower than last year; but, as the winners' coach explained, the tide was pretty dead. During the last quarter of a mile great excitement reigned when it was seen that the Scotch, rowing more strokes than their opponents, appeared to be gaining. But, try as they might, they could not shake the Wesley men, whose leg work, swing and evenness would have done credit to any crew.

The Wesley stroke and other members of the triumphant eight were carried shoulder high to their shed, and little J. Mann, the delighted cox., with his megaphone still strapped to his face, was similarly honored. Each cox deserves praise; there was no question of fouling or of interference of any description. Probably the happiest man in Melbourne after the race was C. Donald, the Wesley coach, himself the winner of 115 races as oarsman and sculler. He sat in the University Boat Club's pavilion watching his young heroes dressing, and was too pleased to give expression to his thoughts. The secret of their success is skilled coaching and a fixed determination to train thoroughly.


Other crews competing were:
 Xavier College
- Bow: F A Loughnan, 2: R V Hardiman, 3: W J Flanagan, 4: H D Quinlan, 5: T J Dixon, 6: H W Neate, 7: J A Clarebrough, Str: Jim F Cody, Cox: F Honan, Cch: David Ross
Geelong Grammar - Bow: A D McLeod, 2: E R Whitteron, 3: G P Douglass, 4: C Robert Hunt, 5: C A Hawker, 6: K M Ronald, 7: J Webster, Str: A Davenport, Cox: J C FitzNead, Cch: A F Garrard
Geelong College - Bow: A W Gunn, 2: N A Longden, 3: W J Reid, 4: G S McArthur, 5: J G H Sprigg, 6: G A N Mitchell, 7: A A W Hooper, Str: T P Murray, Cox: R N Campbell, Cch: William H Pincott 


Heat results:
E1: 1st WC, 2nd GC, Margin 1.5 lengths. GC led early but a solid row by WC enabled them to push through to win without being pressed.
E2: 1st SC, 2nd XC, Margin: 2 feet. SC on centre station led early but XC caught them and then over took the SC crew. At the start of the Henley reserve, SC were still a third of a length down. SC fought back against a tiring XC crew and with 50 yards to go caught them. SC won by four feet in a superb finish.
E3: 1st MGS, 2nd GGS, Margin: 1/3 length.  The Geelong crew had the better of the start and at one point led by 3/4 length. At the end of the Henley reserve, the crews had drawn level. GGS went away but were caught by a fast finishing MGS crew.

The Age reported the heats succinctly as follows:

There must have been 20,000 people on both sides of the stream.

Heat 1
Wesley College beat Geelong College by 2 lengths.
Heat 2
Scotch College beat Xavier College by two feet
Heat 3
Melbourne Grammar beat Geelong Grammar by 1/3 of a length.


One of the saddest stories of this regatta was what happened to these rowers in WWI. The saddest of all was the Geelong Grammar crew. Six members were killed in action, the cox died of an illness before joining the Flying Corps, and the two survivors, Robert Hunt and Charles Hawker were severely wounded.

1913 Geelong Grammar School crew
Back row: Charles Hawker (5), R Witteron (2), G Douglass (4), J Webster (3), A D McLeod (bow)
Front row: K Ronald (7), A Davenport (Str), Robert Hunt (6). In front: J C FitzNead (cox)


  • The Pincott Club Handbook 2006
  • The Victorian Oarsman by John Lang 1919 - A H Massina & Company
  • Lift her home to victory, lads! A centenary history of Xavier College 1906-2006 by Michael Lefebvre
  • Appendix to A Deepening Roar Scotch College 1851-2001 by James Mitchell, Allen & Unwin 2001
  • MGS first crew names from MGS boatshed
  • HEAD OF THE RIVER. (1913, May 10). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 15. Retrieved February 27, 2017, from
  • HEAD OF THE RIVER. (1913, May 12). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from
  • Photo of the WC crew from the WC boatshed.
  • Geelong Grammar war story from GGS archives

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