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History of the Victorian APS Head of the River rowing regatta

1924 Head of the River

The fifty-seventh Head of the River was conducted on the Barwon being the turn of Geelong Grammar to choose the venue. The course was moved 300 yards upstream due to the demolition of the Barwon Bridge. The heats were conducted on Friday 9th May and the final on Saturday 10th May.

The event as always had many spectators. It was estimated that over 2000 vehicles made the drive from Melbourne with even more people travelling by train.

Head of the River

Time: 5:29.4
Margin: 1 foot & 1.25 length

1st Geelong Grammar - Bow: H C Morphett, 2: R H Duncan, 3: I G Trotter, 4: A B Chirnside, 5: H M Hopkins, 6: J B Bell, 7: W H Morgan, Str: J A Hardy, Cox: P G Law-Smith, Cch: William H Pincott
2nd Melbourne Grammar - Bow: W W Hargrave, 2: A G Zwar, 3: F W Thomas, 4: H Stribling, 5: F H Shore, 6: E H Bawden, 7: T A Tabart, Str: K McCaughan, Cox: C G McMicking, Cch: E W Tulloch
3rd Scotch College - Bow: John C Sloan, 2: Alfred W Hunt, 3: John S Beattie, 4: William I Telford, 5: Thomas C Dunstan, 6: Gibson Shaw, 7: Ronald D Mawhood, Str: Alexander F Sloan, Cox: Bruce McA Foster, Cch: Alexander B Sloan

Melbourne went to the lead early with Geelong second and Scotch last. At Packington Street the same order prevailed with Melbourne leading by only a quarter of a length. At the Mills, Geelong made a huge effort to catch Melbourne. With 50 yards to go Geelong got to the lead and won by only 1 foot in a magnificant race.

The Age reported on the final as follows:

The crowd probably numbered 30,000 or there abouts.

Scotch had the south station, Geelong Grammar had the centre and Melbourne Grammar the north. There was a good deal of splashing at the start, particularly in the case of Geelong Grammar. Melbourne Grammar went off at 42, Geelong Grammar and Scotch at 40. At the end of a minute’s rowing Melbourne Grammar were two feet in front of Geelong, with Scotch a similar distance further back, Scotch rowing at 35 and the other crews at 36. The Melbourne Grammar eight reached Pakington-street in 2 min 38 sec, being 4 sec faster than Geelong Grammar’s and their own time on the previous day. At this point the Melbourne Grammar crew held a canvas advantage from Geelong, who were a similar distance ahead of Scotch. The crews now increased the rate to 38, and Geelong Grammar began to draw up on Melbourne, while Scotch were feeling the strain and dropping back slightly.

At the bridge Scotch were a length and ¼ behind. Nearing the finish Melbourne Grammar raised the rate of striking to 42, Geelong Grammar going to 40 and Scotch were rowing about 36. The Geelong boys, however, had more power behind their blades, and they gradually wore the leaders down, and won on the post by a foot. There was a wild outburst of cheering when the white flag went up to denote a win for Geelong Grammar.

1924 final

Geelong Grammar

Other crews competing were:
Xavier College - Bow: Christopher S J Ryan, 2: C T Gamlin, 3: J A Batchelor, 4: L J S Hobbs, 5: J S Hamilton, 6: L V Lachal, 7: T H Walsh, Str: Norman G Lawford, Cox: G Duane, Cch: Wilfred "Bill" Cahill
Wesley College - Bow: A G Mansell, 2: B F Huntsman, 3: D G Randall, 4: R J Turnbull, 5: V J L Baker, 6: V F Ebbott, 7: A R M Johnson, Str: A J Ralton, Cox: A K Blaubaum, Cch: Charles Donald
Geelong College - Bow: G W Hope, 2: D M McKenzie, 3: J P Swinton, 4: H McI Troup, 5: R C McKay, 6: E W McCann, 7: C G Storrer, Str: H C Fallaw, Cox: D M Dickens, Cch: C J Collyer

1924 XC crew arriving in Geelong

From Lift her home to victory, lads! A centenary history of Xavier College Rowing by Michael Lefebvre

Heat results:
E1: 1st SC, 2nd XC, Time: 5:32.6, Margin 1 length
E2: 1st MGS, 2nd GC. Time: 5:34.2, Margin: 6 feet. GC led to the bridge but the strength of the MGS began to show in a great race. The finishing margin was only 6 feet.
E3: 1st GGS, 2nd WC. Time: 5:30.8, Margin: 8 feet. In another tight race, WC led to the bridge then GGS got in front by a few feet. GGS held on to the lead and won by only 8 feet.

The Age reported on the heats extensively.

It was estimated that the crowd numbered between 15,000 and 20,000.

First Heat - Scotch v Xavier

Scotch had the south and Xavier the centre station, and Mr. Speed had no difficulty in sending the crews off to a fine start. Xavier started at 39 and Scotch at 38. A minute from the start Scotch, rowing at 35, were a few feet to the good. Xavier had slowed to 36, and the blade work of both crews was very clean. Scotch reached Pakington-street in 2 min 40 sec, and were about ¾ of a length in front. Coming on to the temporary bridge it was noticed that the time in the Xavier boat was not good, whilst Scotch were rowing with excellent blade work, and passed under the bridge a length and a quarter in front. Nearing the finish Xavier quickened to 40, and Scotch 38, Xavier drawing up slightly but were still a length behind when the gun was fired. Time: 5 min 32 3-5th sec

Second Heat - Melbourne Grammar v Geelong College

Melbourne Grammar were on the centre station and Geelong College on the south, and there was a slight delay in getting the crews away. Both crews started off at 40, and at the end of a minute’s rowing the Melburnians had a few feet advantage, rowing at 37, the College rowing at 36. The two crews reached Pakington-street on level terms in 2 min 42 sec. Melbourne Grammar rowing a couple of strokes faster than the Geelong boys. Coming to the bridge the Geelong boys were slightly in front, rowing the slower stroke and with a nice east action. Grammar however were determined not to give an inch away and sprinted. The effort brought them level, and they shot the bridge a foot in front of the College boys, despite the fact that their boat rolled a little. Immediately after passing the bridge they began to work up the rate of striking, and finished at 40, rowing a very short stroke. Geelong College finished at 37, and Grammar secured the judge’s verdict by the small margin on six feet. Time 5 min 34 1-5th sec

Third Heat - Wesley v Geelong Grammar

In the third heat Wesley were on the south and Geelong Grammar the centre station. There was no delay in getting the crews away to an excellent start. Wesley went off at a cleanly rowed 42, and gained a few feet on Geelong Grammar, who started at 38. Geelong Grammar however soon made their weight felt, and were level at the end of a minute’s rowing, striking 34 to Wesley’s 36. At Pakington-street, reached in 2 min 42 sec, Wesley were about a foot or two in front. It was noticed that the blade work in the Wesley boat at this point was excellent, the blades being ripped through smarter and cleaner than in the Geelong boat. Nearing the bridge the light blues made a great effort, and though not rowing as cleanly as Wesley, their superior weight began to tell, and they shot under the bridge 5 feet in front. Wesley responded gamely, but were a trifle too powerful, and they had added another 3 feet onto their lead when the finish was reached. Both crews were striking 33 at the finish. Time: 5 min 30 4-5th sec.

Scotch College win the first heat

E2: 1st MGS, 2nd GC, Time: 5:34.2, Margin 6 feet

Melbourne Grammar take out the second heat

E3: 1st GGS, 2nd WC, Time: 5:30.8, Margin: 8 feet

Geelong Grammar win the third heat

Second Crews

(Not conducted at the Head of the River regatta. Second and Third crew races were conducted on 3 May on both the Upper Yarra for metropolitan schools and the Barwon for the Geelong schools.)

Metropolitan race
Time: NTT
Margins: 1 1/2 lengths, 1 foot and 1 length

Barwon race
Margin: 1 1/2 lengths

1st Melbourne Grammar - Bow: J T Thompson, 2: W McKean, 3: K W Danby, 4: S S Miller, 5: S Gibson, 6: D Begg, 7: G Watson, Str: A S Woinarksi
2nd Scotch College - Bow: E Campbell, 2: G Fell, 3: R R Wright, 4: E Cameron, 5: A McLean, 6: K Cameron, 7: R Drummond, Str: K Paterson
3rd Xavier College
- Bow: K Keane, 2: V Breheuey, 3: M McCleland, 4: M Mulqueen, 5: R McMillian, 6: V Burke, 7: N Ley, Str: S Mulcahy
4th Wesley College
- Bow: A A Lee, 2: J C Collis, 3: W Anketell, 4: G Marks, 5: D C Smith, 6: J S Hall, 7: H H Hadley, Str: A W Oakley

Barwon Race:
1st Geelong Grammar - Bow: F M Breton, 2: R G Stephen, 3: R A Stuart, 4: G W Austin, 5: B H Barnier, 6: D P F Bell, 7: D J McKinnon, Str: J S Dobson, Cox: G J Jones
2nd Geelong College
- Bow: J McColough, 2: S V McColough, 3: I W Ross, 4: H D Cumming, 5: C G Baird, 6: W Oliver, 7: E M Hope, Str: W H Sloan, Cox: D M Dickson

Third Crews

(Not conducted at the Head of the River regatta. Second and Third crew races were conducted on 3 May on both the Upper Yarra for metropolitan schools and the Barwon for the Geelong schools.)

Metropolitan race
Time: NTT
Margins: 1 length, a canvas and a length

Barwon race
Margin: 2 lengths

1st Melbourne Grammar - Bow: A X Sambell, 2: A W Lawrence, 3: W King, 4: H S Youncken, 5: G D Watson, 6: T H Fellows, 7: D Walsh, Str: D K Davies
2nd Scotch College - Bow: A Cardale, 2: G Arwood, 3: E Wiescher, 4: R Carnegie, 5: G Fairley, 6: T Chisholm, 7: R McKendrick, Str: R Hood
3rd Wesley College
- Bow: J S Furphey, 2: L R Rowe, 3: H D Storer, 4: J M Dufty, 5: A V Palmer, 6: R I Greenham, 7: J E Taylor, Str: D V McCallum
4th Xavier College
- Bow: K Thompson, 2: R Copwell, 3: J Murphy, 4: J Dynan, 5: T Foster, 6: T H Heayes, 7: W Fox, Str: L J Lockwood

Barwon race:
1st Geelong Grammar - Bow: A A Kenna, 2: H S Black, 3: F S Falkiner, 4: V J H Tunbridge, 5: J H Sutherland, 6: A A Gubbins, 7: T G Vincent, Str: D H Bennett, Cox: A Ellis
2nd Geelong College
- Bow: G Pyle, 2: C Campbell, 3: N Philiip, 4: N Young, 5: O Brushfield, 6: T Hogg, 7: N Murray, Str: B Reid, Cox: R Coto


  • The Pincott Club Handbook 2006
  • 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
  • The Quadrangle May 9 1925 page 21 - results from 1924
  • ROWING (1924, May 3). Geelong Advertiser (Vic.: 1859 - 1929), p. 8. Retrieved March 19, 2017, from
  • ROWING (1924, May 3). Sporting Globe (Melbourne, Vic.: 1922 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved March 19, 2017, from
  • HEAD OF THE RIVER (1924, May 10). The Age (Melbourne, Vic.: 1854 - 1954), p. 15. Retrieved March 19, 2017, from
  • HEAD OF THE RIVER. (1924, May 12). The Age (Melbourne, Vic.: 1854 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

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