Scroll To Top
History of the Victorian APS Head of the River rowing regatta

1936 Head of the River

The crews as published in the Australasian 9 May 1936

The Geelong schools hosted the sixty-ninth Head of the River on the Barwon on 8th and 9th May and finally Geelong College won. The Geelong crew was coached by Charlie Saleh who was to become a highly respected coach and State selector in Victoria and also take a prominant role at Xavier College.

Charlie Saleh in 1950

Wesley College broke the course record in the heat against Xavier.

In the junior regatta, yet another event was added - a race for seventh crews. For the first time Scotch boated more crews than Melbourne Grammar in the junior regatta.


Starter: A L Storrer
Umpire and timekeeper: Edward Kenny
Judge: H Speed
Clerk of Scales: J d’Helin
Despatch steward: J McCabe Doyle

Head of the River

Time: 5:46.8
Margin: 1 1/4 lengths and 1/2 length

1st Geelong College - Bow: T M Collins, 2: T H Kensall, 3: I H Silke, 4: J A Forbes, 5: C W Robertson, 6: D M Calvert, 7: D A Cumming, Str: A W Douglas, Cox: N C Reid, Cch: Charles G Saleh
2nd Wesley College - Bow: T G Treloar, 2: R G Curtis, 3: L F Taylor, 4: H J Firth, 5: J Rudduck, 6: I M Burns, 7: R A McFarlane, Str: D K Parnaby, Cox: J G L Jones, Cch: Charles Donald (W J Young was the original stroke of this crew but fell ill days before the race. H J Firth joined the crew and Parnaby was moved from four seat to stroke.)
3rd Geelong Grammar - T M Stokoe, 2: C C Bird, 3: O J White, 4: C D Smith, 5: K R Knox, 6: G L B Macleod, 7: J J Holden, Str: R H Angas, Cox: A R Walker, Cch: William H Pincott

The stations for the final were:
North - Geelong College
Centre - Wesley
South - Geelong Grammar

The conditions were very different from the heats with a head breeze. At 3pm the starter's gun was fired and all crews got away well. GC got the slightest of leads early. WC fought back but could not take the lead from GC. The net result of thiese efforrts were that WC began to tire and WC extended their lead over GGS. GC finished hard and eventually finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of the other crews who ended up with their own race for second place.

After 28 years of striving to win this event, GC finally became Head of the River winners for 1936.

Finish of the Head of the River

The Age reported as follows:

Mr. Storrer gave the crews an excellent start, and Geelong Grammar seemed to show in front for a few strokes. Geelong College, however, quickly assumed the lead. There was a fresh head breeze, and the starting rates were not high, Grammar and College being 38 and Wesley 36 shortly after the start. Wesley was rowing a fine length, and was about level with College after covering a little more than a hundred yards. Wesley then seemed to drop back a little and at the end of a minute College was about a canvas ahead of Grammar, who had drawn ahead of Wesley. Wesley again moved up and shortly after the ¼ mile was only a canvas behind College, with Grammar about three feet behind Wesley. It was a great race up to this point. College by clean, hard rowing forged a little further ahead of Wesley, and had a lead of a ¼ of a length at the half mile, which took 2 min 50 sec. Grammar, at this stage, was about a ¼ of a length behind Wesley. College was now striking at 35, and had increased the lead to half a length, whilst Grammar had dropped a little further back. With a ¼ of a mile to go Wesley made a big effort and reduced the lead by a ¼ of a length, with Grammar over half a length further back. Wesley felt the effort and College again moved ahead, but a roll checked the pace. Wesley showed distinct signs of stress at this stage, and making a fine effort, College commenced to draw away and Grammar moved up. It looked as though Wesley might fail to finish, but with a great display of determination the boys pulled themselves together, and gain second place from Grammar after a particularly hard effort, but could make no impression of College, who won amidst the wildest excitement by a length and a ¼ in 5 min 46 4-5th sec. Half a length separated Wesley and Grammar.

Other crews competing were:
Melbourne Grammar - R D Meighan, 2: K O Nuendorf, 3: K J Laycock, 4: W T Robertson, 5: T W L Officer, 6: R G Allen, 7: B F Rose, Str: I A Scales, Cox: J E Handbury, Cch: W E "Wally: Ricketts
Scotch College - Bow: William H Glen, 2: Iain O G MacCormick, 3: Gordon R Henderson, 4: Phillip A Jacobsen, 5: Greig McCracken, 6: Henry McL Stevenson, 7: Alexander Strang, Str: G Harvey Nicholson, Cox: Colin E Smith, Cch: Archibald L Dobbie
Xavier College - Bow: Edward Marron, 2: F A Russo, 3: John H Marron, 4: H G Lightly, 5: J P Andre, 6: Paul J Lachal, 7: G T Connolly, Str: John J Bourke, Cox: B England, Cch: Marcus Bourke

Melbourne Grammar First Crew

K.O. Nuendorf (2), K.J. Laycock (3), W.N. Ricketts Esq., W.T. Robertson (4), R.D. Meighan (Bow). Sitting: R.G. Allen (6), I.A. Scales (Stroke), B.F. Rose (7), T.W.L. Officer (5). In Front: J.E. Handbury (Cox)
Photo courtesy of Melbourne Grammar Archives

Scotch College crew

Back row: G McCracken, A Strang, P A Jacobsen, G R Henderson
Front row: H M Stevenson, G H Nicholson, Mr A L Dobbie, I O G MacCormick, W H Glen
Seated: C Smith

Photo from the Scotch Collegian

Known heat results:
E1: 1st WC, 2nd XC, Time: 5:00.8 (course record), Margin: 1 length.
The strong cross breeze suited the neater WC crew which got away well. By Packington Street, the lead was 1/2 length. XC fought back narrowing the led but in the end could maintaing the pace. WC finished strongly in record time.
E2: 1st GC, 2nd SC. Time: 5:09. Margin 1 1/2 lengths.
After a delayed start due to a repair to the GC boat, the crews got away well. GC gradually took a slight lead which it then increased. SC then made a great effort to catch the GC crew and came within a couple of feet before GC answered the challenge. After repelling yet another push by SC, GC went on to win well.
E3: 1st GGS, 2nd MGS. Time 5:06, Margin 1/2 canvas.
This was a race between a well controlled GGS crew and a rugged and strong MGS crew. GGS led early taking a length lead by the 1/4 mile. The MGS had several bad flops in their endeavours to catch the GGS crew. One ocurred just after Packington Street when they got within a canvas. It all came down to a hard fought finish where GGS held on to win narrowly.

The Age reported on the heats:

First Heat

Xavier had the north and Wesley the centre station. Owing to the cold the umpire permitted the crews to start five minutes ahead of time. Xavier rowed ten strokes in the first ¼ of a minute, and Wesley slightly slower. Both crews got away well despite the rough water, and Xavier immediately shot ahead. At the end of a minute’s rowing Xavier were just about half a length in front, rowing fairly well, but not so steady as Wesley. The latter had a fine length and even recovery. Wesley now began to move up, and were only a ¼ of a length behind just after passing the ¼ mile. Xavier now dropped into a dragging style, and Wesley were quick to draw level and take the lead, being half a length to the good after covering half a mile. Rowing with particularly clean bladework and in excellent time Wesley moved further ahead, and Xavier could make no impression, despite several efforts. At the mill Wesley were clear and easing up slightly going on to win by a length in the record time for the course 5 min 0 4-5th sec.

Second Heat

Geelong College had the north and Scotch the centre station. Geelong went off very fast, rowing 11 in the first ¼ and 22 in the first half minute. Scotch started slower, rowing 38 in the full minute. Geelong went ahead quickly, and had half a length at the end of a minute’s rowing. At the ¼ mile Geelong were ¾ of a length ahead and, rowing very cleanly, whilst Scotch were not applying the weight and leg drive quite together. Geelong reached the half mile in 2 min 25 sec., with nearly a length advantage. Coming to the mill Geelong were a length and a ¼ ahead, and the time had become irregular in the Scotch boat. Scotch made a last desperate effort, but it was of no avail and Geelong went on to win amidst great enthusiasm by a length and a half. Time 5 min 9 sec.

Third Heat

Geelong Grammar had the north and Melbourne Grammar the centre station. At the start Geelong broke nearly four inches off the rudder, but this did not affect the steering, Geelong rowed ten in the first ¼, 19 in the half, and 38 in the full minute, Melbourne being slightly slower with 37 in the full minute. The two crews went away well, but Geelong’s start was particularly good, and the crew soon showed in front. They had a ¼ of a length at the end of a minute, and were nearly half a length ahead just after passing the ¼ mile. Melbourne were very hard on the catch, but lost effectiveness by washing out at the finish. Geelong, rowing a clean and hard finish, were ¾ of a length ahead at the half mile reached in 2 min 27 sec. Melbourne, rowing with great vigor, now began to move up, and a great race was indicated. Melbourne rushed, and this detracted a little from their pace. Nevertheless they moved up on Geelong, but checked their effort by a bad roll. Recovering quickly they again moved up, and Geelong raised their rate slightly to hold the dark blues. Melbourne were now a ¼ of a length behind, and with less than a ¼ of a mile to go, looked like being too strong in the finishing effort. However, another very bad roll, in which every stroke rigger went under water, saved the situation for Geelong, and they secured just enough of an extra advantage to withstand the great finish of Melbourne Grammar who failed by a few feet. Time: 5 min 6 sec.

Second Crews

(These races were were not part of the Head of the River regatta. The Melbourne metropolitan schools races were conducted as part of the Junior Eights regatta held on 2nd May on the Upper Yarra. The Geelong crews raced against themselves on the Barwon River.)

Metropolitan race

Time: 2:28.0 (unofficial record time)
Margins: Canvas, 2 feet and 6 feet

Distance: 1/2 mile

Geelong race

Time: NTT
Margin: 3 lengths

Melbourne Metropolitan Schools race

1st Xavier College - Bow: M Fakhry, 2: J Curr, 3: F Haslett, 4: G O’Day, 5: R Kirby, 6: J Gaffney, 7: D Joseph, Str: J Pawson, Cox: M Spehr, Cch: J Bryne
2nd Wesley College - Bow: S Colwell, 2: N Gilmour, 3: C Geyton, 4: K Hartnell, 5: F Whitelaw, 6: W Bromley, 7: H Midgley, Str: H Firth, Cox: J Wilkinson
3rd Scotch College
- Bow: W E Swaney, 2: M V Frew, 3: J A Blanch, 4: O D Jackson, 5: S F Anderson, 6: A Marshall, 7: R C Bretherton, Str: D D Fisher, Cox: H G Boulter, Cch: C B Boyes
4th Melbourne Grammar - Bow: W Johnson, 2: A Lapin, 3: A Skinner, 4: B Meredith, 5: W Luxton, 6: J Goodall, 7: T Neuendorff, Str: R Hancock, Cox: K Westfold-Scot, Cch: I Giles

Melbourne Grammar Second Crew

Photo courtesy of Melbourne Grammar Archives

Xavier and Melbourne got the best of the start. Scotch were last into the start and they suffered from a bad start as a result. By Branders (now Swan Street Bridge), Wesley on the north had a slight advantage over Melbourne with Scotch just behind in third place. Xavier made their move down the staging and got a slight lead over Wesley, with Scoth in third position followed closely by Melbourne. This is how the race ended in a great finish.

Geelong race

1st Geelong Grammar - Rowan, Fisher, Lockwood, Turnbull, Power, Lewis, Callanan, Brown
2nd Geelong College

The Age reported the race as follows: The Grammar School led throughout, and proved too strong from the mill, when they increased the rate of striking and drew away from the College boat to win by three lengths.

Third Crews

(These races were were not part of the Head of the River regatta. The Melbourne metropolitan schools races were conducted as part of the Junior Eights regatta held on 2nd May on the Upper Yarra. The Geelong crews raced against themselves on the Barwon River.)

Metropolitan Schools

Time: 2:06.8
Margin: Dead heat and 4 feet back to third and a further length back to XC

Distance: 700 yards

Geelong schools

Time: NTT
Margin: 1 length

Melbourne Metropolitan Schools

=1st Melbourne Grammar - Bow: A Weir, 2: W Dobbyn, 3: K Speed, 4: K Gilbert, 5: H Byron Moore, 6: P Kirby, 7: F Farrer, Str: D Tuck, Cox: G Young, Cch: W McKean
=1st Scotch College
- Bow: C Malmgren, 2: W Medbury, 3: W Littlejohn, 4: Q Whitehead, 5: G Combes, 6: J Mitchell, 7: A Simmons, Str: J Best, Cox: J Oswell, Cch: J Collie
3rd Wesley College - Bow: W M Flentze, 2: I Chenoweth, 3: M Davies, 4: A Edwards, 5: D Caskill, 6: A Bowen, 7: F Livingstone, Str: D Rogers-Wilson, Cox: J Gleeson
4th Xavier College
- Bow: C McCann, 2: L Hogan, 3: W Blakey, 4: D Prentice, 5: M Munday, 6: W Fowler, 7: A Hughes, Str: R Harris, Cox: R Hennessy, Cch: E Fakhry

XC returned to this race after a break of three years. MGS got the best of the start followed by WC but SC rowed with more power and kept up with them. The first three crews raced almost together until the staging when MGS gained a canvas. SC then spirted and got in front for a second before both crews past the line level with WC a few feet back.

Geelong schools

1st Geelong Grammar - Darby, Lefroy, Thornley, Winstanley, de Wolff, Angus, Tudehope, Jones
2nd Geelong College

In a fairly even race, Grammar School led throughout and warded off a College challenge over the last hundred yards to win by a length.

Fourth Crews

(This race was conducted as part of the Junior Eights regatta amongst Melbourne metropolitan schools held on 2nd May on the Upper Yarra. It was not part of the Head of the River regatta.)

Time: 1:48.0
Margins: 1 foot and 3 feet

Distance: 500 yards

1st Melbourne Grammar - Bow: R Bowron, 2: J Lemaire, 3: W Cock, 4: D Officer, 5: G Risbey, 6: P Pederson, 7: F Spicer, Str: T Miller, Cox: D Tulloh, Cch: H Stott
2nd Wesley College - Bow: B Cairns, 2: I Johnson, 3: J Osborne, 4: H Burton, 5: C Dunning, 6: L Govett, 7: J Rodwell, Str: G Boynton, Cox: J Robin
3rd Scotch College
- Bow: J Opitz, 2: A McK Hepburn, 3: J F M Scholes, 4: A C King, 5: T P Derham, 6: C M Harry, 7: G A Turner, Str: T Darling, Cox: I J green, Cch: W Morgan

Scotch College were the early leaders and maintained the lead through to he staging when they were overtaken in a close finish.

The Agre reported: Scotch College gained a lead soon after the start, but MGS was in front at the Henley staging, with Wesley and Scotch together. Only a few feet separated the three crews as they raced alongside the staging, and in a thrilling finish MGS gained the verdict by a foot from Wesley, with Scotch only 3 feet away. Time: 1 min 48 sec.

Fifth Crews

Time: 1:43.6
Margin: 3 feet

Distance: 500 yards

1st Scotch College - Bow: A Gray, 2: R M Aitchison, 3: A R Beattie, 4: A M Hall, 5: M A Barr, 6: W C McNaught, 7: S P Hancock, Str: J A S Jolly, Cox: A B Chivers, G Harvey Nicholson
2nd Melbourne Grammar - Bow: J Wisdom, 2: J Whittington, 3: I Arnold, 4: W Massina, 5: R Patkin, 6: K Humpries, 7: C Harvey, Str: K Murray, Cox: J Wallis, Cch: R Handock

SC led all the way in this close race. MGS challenged and nearly broke through. Scotch College commenced to draw away at the staging, and won by three feet in 1 min 43 3-5th sec.

Sixth Crews

Time: 1:51.0
Margin: 1 3/4 lengths

Distance: 500 yards

1st Melbourne Grammar - Bow: T Williams, 2: I Williams, 3: G Cromie, 4: L Hall, 5: W Meredith, 6: J McCallum, 7: A Gardner, Str: J Griffiths, Cox: D Nathan, Cch: I Giles
2nd Scotch College
- Bow: P W Gratham, 2: L P Hancock, 3: R A McKimmie, 4: H T Robotham, 5: J P Gill, 6: J B Hipwell, 7: K L Blackham, Str: P I Rosenblum, Cox: R A Mullett, Cch: J A Blanch

The SC crew got away well gaining an early half length lead. Unfortunately for them, half way down the staging they had a bow side crab and continued to row without gaining the oar back in position. The crew eventually stopped but they had lost too much ground. Despite a convincing finish, SC could not catch the winning MGS crew.

Seventh crews

Time: 1:43.6
Margins: 3/4 length and 4 feet

Distance: 500 yards

1st Scotch College seventh crew - Bow: S Wilson, 2: H G Fleming, 3: J B Leckie, 4: O Whitney, 5: G Sprigg, 6: G Bourne, 7: L Jarvis, Str: J Inkster, Cox: F Smith, Cch: G Harvey Nicholson
2nd Melbourne Grammar seventh crew - Bow: G Sutcliffe, 2: G Larkins, 3: C Stock, 4: R Leckie, 5: R McKenzie, 6: A Moore, 7: H Springall, Str: P Vennermark, Cox: C Adey, Cch: J Goodall
3rd Scotch College ninth crew
- Bow: D M Wittaker, 2: A L Burns, 3: J S Parsons, 4: I A F Clarke, 5: Bruce D Guerin, 6: K R Muir, 7: W J Douglas, Str: A L Rogers, Cox: N D Wright, Cch: R C Bretherton
4th Scotch College eighth crew - Bow: J R Allison, 2: J R Armstrong, 3: W J Proud, 4: K A Hansen, 5: J A K Wicks, 6: J N Duckett, 7: R M Harris, Str: R FR C Campbell, Cox: R J Carter, Cch: R C Bretherton

The Scotch crew led from start to finish in a good time. This showed the depth of Scotch rowing in that year. The SC eight crew had the misfortune of a crab approaching the line allowing their ninth crew to defeat them.


  • The Pincott Club Handbook 2006
  • Scotch Collegian 1936
  • 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
  • FIRST HEAT. (1936, May 9). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 25. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from
  • GEELONG COLLEGE SCORE FIRST WIN IN HEAD OF RIVER. (1936, May 11). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from
  • V.R.A. Championships. (1936, May 4). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from
  • GEELONG SCHOOLS. (1936, May 2). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 16. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from
  • The Australasian 9th May 1936

< previous 1935

> next 1937

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management