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history of psa head of the river rowing regatta western australia

PSA Head of the River

The PSA was formed in 1905 by the Headmasters of Christian Brothers College, Guildford Grammar School, Perth High School, and Scotch College. Wesley College was admitted in December 1951, Christ Church Grammar School in October 1956 and Trinity College in 1968.

Perth High School was re-named Hale School in December 1929. In 1938 the Boarders and some day students from CBC moved to Mount Henry to commence Aquinas College. The College colours and membership of the PSA was also transferred to Aquinas College. CBC continued with the remaining day students. In 1962 CBC Moved to East Perth site and was re-named Trinity College.

PSA Head of the River winners

Hamer Cup summary

Head of the River scene at Champion Lakes in 2017

Photo: Piotr Dancewicz

The first Public School Boat Race of Western Australia was rowed on the Swan on Saturday, the 28th June, 1899 (Coronation Day), the starting point being the Bent Tree (a familiar landmark in those days), a position practically opposite the present Tearooms adjoining King’s Park, and finishing in a direct line with the Royal Perth Yacht Club, a distance of little over half a mile.

The race was the outcome of negotiations between the Headmasters, and a meeting which was held the 3rd March 1899, the following gentlemen were present: Mr. H. Speight (Scotch College) , Rev. Bro. M. P. Nunan (CBC) , Mr. F. D. Stevenson (Hale School), Mr. A. O. McClenaghan (St.Peter’s College), and members of the W.A. Rowing Association, the following conditions were approved of:-

  1. That any bona fide scholar from The High School, CBC, Scotch College, Guildford Grammar School, St. Peter’s and Mr. Howard’s (the latter two being Fremantle Schools) be eligible to compete, (St. Peter’s competed in 1899 and 1900, and Mr. Howard’s School did not compete).
  2. That the race be rowed for the Headmasters’ Cup (presented by the Headmasters) and gig boats be used (1899).
  3. The Housing of College Crews: CBC, Hale School (W.A. Rowing Club), Scotch College (Swan Rowing Club), St Peters (Fremantle Rowing Club), and coaching be given by senior oarsmen.

Lead researcher for this chapter in David Colvin.


PSA Head of the River Timeline

1899 Head of the River rowed in gigs
1900-1902 Rowed in heats using W.A.R.C. practice boats.
1903-1909 Rowed in specially built School Fours, thus enabling all crews to be started together. The selection of new course, starting from Crawley side of the Brewery and finishing at the Narrows (Mill Point). In 1903 and 1904 it was 7 furlongs (approx. 1400M). In 1905 the new one mile course was introduced over the same area of the river.
1905 Foundation of the Associated Public Schools’ Associations. All Athletic contests and records start from 1905.
1912 Introduction of College Eights. This event was contested only by CBC and Scotch College, and carried the Lapsley Challenge Cup. The race was abandoned in 1916. CBC won the first race and Scotch College the other four.
1929 Introduction of Second Four-oared Crews.
1935 Introduction Third Crews Invitation Race over half-mile course.
1938 Introduction of Eights for Head of River Race. Won by Scotch College.
1942 Second Crews changed to Eights, but race abandoned. Third Crews in Fours.
1947 Alternative One Mile Course, using last mile of King’s Cup Course, finishing at the Black Spit South of Mill Point.
1952 Wesley College became one of the Associated Public Schools.
1953 All races rowed over last portion of King’s Cup Course.
1955 New Starting and Finishing Line approximately 115 yards South of Old Line.
1957 Christ Church Grammar School became one of the Associated Public Schools.
1958 Introduction of Fourth Crews in Fours
1962 Introduction of Fifth Crews in Fours
1968 Trinity College becomes a member of the Associated Public Schools
1983 Introduction of the Hamer Cup
1986 Introduction of Third Four
1987 Head of River held at Canning Bridge due to bad weather. Introduction of Year 9 VIII.
1988 Regatta shifted to Canning Bridge
1992 Introduction of Third Eight, replacing Third Four.
1993 Introduction of Year 10A and Year 10B Eights, replacing Year 10 Eights.
1995 Introduction of Year 9A and Year 9B Eights, replacing Year 9 Eight.
1996 Introduction of Year 10 Quad Sculls, replacing Year 10 Fours.
1997 Introduction of Senior Quad Sculls, replacing Second Four.
2001 Introduction of Year 9A, B and C Quad Sculls, replacing Year 9B Eights.
2002 Introduction of Year 9D and E Quad Sculls, replacing Year 9A Eights.
2009 Regatta shifted to Champion Lakes course.


Regatta programs

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