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history of corowa rowing club

Trans Tasman Regattas


Competition between Australia and New Zealand was held for the first time in 1888 and has been strong ever since. This chapter provides some background to this racing and the events that have been conducted.

By the 1960s regular competition could be arranged in a fashion agreeable to both countries. The advances in equipment and racing at the start of the 1960s forced both Australia and New Zealand to race each other more often. In 1961 the first official test series between the two countries was held in New Zealand with a return visit to Australia in 1965. The competition was aimed at the elite level but with both countries aiming for the World Championships, the opportunities to continue the contest at that level became more difficult to organise. Thereafter development regattas were utilised to improve the standard of racing of both countries.

The series with the longest and continuing life is named in honour of the great New Zealand and Australian coach Rusty Robertson.

Rusty Robertson in 1979

Rusty Robertson in 1979

Photo from Australian Rowing - Ken Matts

Rusty commenced rowing at the age of 16 at the Oamaru Rowing Club in New Zealand. A serious car accident which broke his back force a premature retirement from rowing and an early start to coaching. He coach Oarmaru crews for many years and was Club Captain for a decade. His Oamaru coxed four won the New Zealand Championships and was selected for the 1962 Commonewealth Games in Perth. His international career started with Gold at this regatta. By 1967 he was a National selector and coaching New Zealand crews internationally. His 1968 Olympic coxed four won gold and Rusty was one of the most respected coaches in the land and one of the world's foremost rowing coaches. He was a successful New Zealand coach before being lured to Australia in 1976. He coached gold, silver and bronze medal winning New Zealand crews at World Championships and Olympic Championships in the coxed four in 1968 and the eight in 1972. He died in 1990.

His international coaching included the following:
1962–Commonwealth Games Men's 4+ coach–Gold
1968–Olympic Games Men's 4+ coach–Gold
1970–World Champs Men's 8 coach–Bronze
1971–World Champs Men's 8 coach–Gold
1972–Olympic Games Men's 2- coach–Silver
1972–Olympic Games Men's 8 coach–Gold
1973–European Champs Men's 2+ coach–Bronze
1974–World Champs Men's 8 coach–Bronze
1974–World Champs Men's 2- coach–Silver
1975–World Champs Men's 8 coach–Bronze
1976–Olympic Games Men's Eight coach–Bronze
1979–World Champs Men's Lwt 4 coach–Sixth
1980–World Champs Men's Lwt 4 coach–Gold
1981–World Champs Men's Lwt 4 coach–Gold
1981–World Champs Men's Lwt 2x coach–11th
1981–World Champs Men's Lwt Scull coach–11th
1983–World Champs Men's Lwt 8 coach–Silver
1984–Olympic Games Men's 4x coach–Silver
1985–World Champs Men's Lwt 1x coach–9th
1985–World Champs Men's 4x coach–8th
1987–World Champs Men's Lwt 8 coach–8th

Ampol Trans Tasman Trophy

In 1965 the Ampol Trophy was presented by that company to help promote the competition and thus became the first sign of sponsorship towards the Regatta. Points were awarded for Australian and New Zealand at each of the International Test Regattas in the eights, coxed four, coxless four, coxless pair, doble scull and single scull.

Colts Series

In 1972 a series was originated for under 21 rowers and was called the "Colts" Series. This then became an under 22 series in 1980 and a under 23 series in 1982. It also changed names from "Colts" to "Senior Bs" and more recently "Under 23s" to coincide with international nomenclature at the times. The Colts series commenced in 1972 with New Zealand crews competing against New South Wales crews initially every alternate year and currently every year, with visits on a reciprocal basis. The Colts crews were originally male heavyweights but progression was quickly made to women and lightweights. Occasionally other States participated.

It was in the early 1980s that the Australian Rowing Council began to select Australian representative crews to the Match des Seniors in an acknowledgement of the value of the competition. The Trans Tasman Under 23 series began in 1983. The Trans Tasman Juniors began in 1984.

Trans Tasman Under 23 Series which has now evolved into the Youth Cup

The events contested are: Men's eight, Men's double scull, Men's lightweight four, Men's lightweight double scull, Women's coxless four, Women's double scull and lightweight Women's four and double scull where both countries are able to boat such crews.

The Union Salver was presented by the Union Shipping Co Ltd in 1981 for competition initially between Australian States and New Zealand eight oared crews. In 1983 representative Australian and New Zealand crews raced and this trophy continued to be used until 1990 as the point score trophy for competition over all events. In 1990 the Rusty Robertson trophy was inaugurated as the overall points score trophy for the competition in memory of the late Rusty Robertson, famed coach of both Australian and New Zealand crews, who died in 1990. Points for the series are allocated on the basis of 2 points for the first crew from either country and 1 point for the losing crew in each race, with the priority events carrying double points. Only the first crew from each country is eligible for points.

By 1995, it was deemed that competition at the Nations Cup would produce greater benefit for the enormous sacrifice being endured by the rowers with interstate moves. An under 22 regattas called the Australasian Regatta was commenced with state based crews against NZ crews. In addition to the Rusty Robertson Trophy Australia v New Zealand, a new points score trophy between the States was inaugurated as well.

Youth Cup

The Trans Tasman series continued its evolution in 2002 into the Youth Cup between Australian States and teams from the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The Rusty Robertson Trophy was still awarded on an Australia v New Zealand basis in 2002. However in 2003 and beyond the Rusty Robertson trophy is awarded to the team with the greatest number of points at that regatta.

The key objectives of the regatta revolve around competition and motivation. These are summarized as:
1. provide a high standard of competition for young developing rowers which provide a pathway to elite level rowing
2. motivate young rowers to remain committed to excelling in rowing through opportunity to represent their State (or NZ) in a national competition and through opportunities to interact collegially with fellow athletes and national representatives.

In 2002, the inaugural year, the Australian Youth Cup (a separate trophy) was awarded to NSW for the pointscore between Australian States and the Rusty Robertson Trophy was awarded to Australia for the Aus v NZ pointscore.

From 2003 all crews from all divisions receive points toward the final pointscore for the Rusty Robertson Trophy. Each team has a Mens 8+ and a Womens 8+ with all rowers competing on each of the three days of the regatta in various boats. In 2003 Victoria won the overall pointscore.

In 2004 the lightweight single (team reserve) has been added to the team making a total of 10 men and 10 women

Winners of the Union Salver

  • 1983 Australia in New Zealand
  • 1984 Australia in Australia
  • 1985 Australia in New Zealand
  • 1986 Australia in Australia
  • 1987 Australia in New Zealand
  • 1988 Australia in Australia
  • 1989 Australia in New Zealand

Winners of the Rusty Robertson Trophy

  • 1990 Australia in Australia
  • 1991 Australia in New Zealand
  • 1992 Australia in Australia
  • 1993 Australia in New Zealand
  • 1994 Australia in Australia
  • 1995 Australia in Australia
  • 1996 Australia in Australia
  • 1997 New Zealand in Australia
  • 2002 Australia in Australia
    (NSW won the point score amongst competing teams.)
  • 2003 Victoria in South Australia
  • 2004 Tasmania in South Australia
  • 2005 NZ North Island in South Australia
  • 2006 NZL in South Australia
  • 2007 NZL in Victoria
  • 2008 NZL in Queensland
  • 2009-2012 - Australian juniors toured NZL for their winter regattas
  • 2013 Australia in NZL
  • 2014 NZL (2 regatta format commenced)
  • 2015 NZL
  • 2016 Australia
  • 2017 Australia
  • 2018 Australia
  • 2019 New Zealand
  • 2020 not contested
  • 2021 not contested
  • 2022 Australia
  • 2023 TBD

Index to this section

Rusty Robertson Trophy in Adelaide in 2005

The Rusty Robertson Trophy in Adelaide in 2005

Trans Tasman Juniors

This series commenced in 1984 with a series of racing soon after the National Championships for school or junior crews. Crews other than the representative crews, were also encouraged to compete. The City of Devonport Trophy for point score winner was first presented in 1990.

Winners of the City of Devonport Trophy

Year Venue Winning Team
1984 Lake Burley Griffin AUS New Zealand
1985 Wanganiu River NZ New Zealand
1986 Lake Ruataniwha NZ New Zealand
1987 Nepean River AUS New Zealand
1988 Lake Karapiro NZ New Zealand
1989 Lake Barrington AUS Australia
1990 Lake Karapiro NZ Australia
1991 Lake Wivenhoe AUS Australia
1992 Lake Ruataniwha NZ Australia
1993 West Lakes AUS Tied – Australia maintained trophy as current holder
1994 Lake Ruataniwha NZ New Zealand
1995 Lake Karapiro NZ Australia
1996 Sydney International Regatta Centre NSW Australia


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