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Rowing Victoria

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Rowing in a young Victoria
  3. Formation of the Association
  4. Growth of the Sport 1876-1889
  5. Years of great success 1890-1899
  6. The rise of Henley on the Yarra 1900-1909
  7. The War Years 1910-1919
  8. Women's rowing and the modern era 1920-1929
  9. The Depression years 1930-1939
  10. War and rebuilding 1940-1949
  11. Expansion years 1950-1959
  12. The search for international success 1960-1969
  13. Combining the Associations and lightweight success 1970-1979
  14. The new national program 1980-1989
  15. Golden years 1990-1999
  16. Professionalism 2000-2009
  17. Yet More Growth 2010-2019

Appendices

  1. Life Membership and other important awards
  2. Patrons and Presidents
  3. Office Bearers
  4. Clubs and their histories
  5. The Oarsmen's Centotaph and WWI Roll of Honour
  6. WWII Roll of Honour
  7. Premierships
  8. State Championships
  9. Hall of Fame Inductees
  10. Victorian Olympians
  11. International representation
  12. Intercolonial and Interstate Racing
  13. School rowing
  14. University rowing
  15. Personalities of the sport

15. Personalities of the sport

Surname A

Those appearing below are:

  1. Michael Aikman, MUBC
  2. Edward R Ainley, Yarra Yarra
  3. Phillip Ainsworth, Mercantile
  4. Martin Aitken, Mercantile
  5. Robert Aitken, Mercantile
  6. Peter Antonie, MUBC
  7. John Arthur, Warehousemen

Michael H Aikman, rower

Melbourne University Boat Club
1950, 1951 – Head of the River GC, seven seat (50), five seat (51), Capt of Boats 1951
1952 - 1955 Ormond College, The University of Melbourne. First,
1955 Intercollegiate Boat Race
1955 - Intervarsity Boat Race - The University of Melbourne, 5th seat - First
1956 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship, three seat – First
1956 – Olympic Games – Men’s Eight, bow – Bronze
1957 - 1959 - Camberwell High School - Master in Charge of Rowing, 1st VIII coach. First at High Schools Regatta in 1958 & 1959
1960 - 1961 Scotch College - 3rd VIII Rowing coach, First 1960 Head of River
1990 - Founded Haileybury College Boat Club
1991 - Haileybury College 1st VIII Coach - won B Final at the Head of River

Michael Aikman in the bow seat closest to the camera

Michael's elite rowing career began in 1955 in the five seat for The University of Melbourne; competing in the Intervarsity Boat Race on the Hamilton River, Brisbane - a three mile race that UoM won easily by 8 lengths. Following this success the coach, Dr L Williams, decided to challenge the Mercantile VIII for State selection in the forth coming season after end of year exams. Early results were not good as the crew did not have the seasoned conditioning of the older and experienced Mercantile crew. As the season progressed the University VIII made ground on the Mercantile crew, cumulating at the selection regatta, Henley. The University crew, fuelled by self belief, held on to a narrow victory, ending Mercantile's undefeated reign. The selectors for the Victorian VIII held a meeting at the conclusion of the regatta and Michael, along with Jim Howden and Adrian Monger, were selected. The composite crew went on to win the Kings Cup, which was also the Olympic selection regatta. Following the Kings Cup, Michael was invited to join the Olympic crew.

After the Games and the showing of his Bronze medal, rowing at Camberwell High School was given great impetus and Michael set out to build up the boat club to a level not yet seen in a high school, cumulating in the 1959 High Schools Regatta with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd VIII winning their divisions. In 1960 he joined Scotch College, coaching the winning 3rd VIII at the Head of River and winning the 3rd VIII intermediate final in 1961. Michael's teaching career lead him to the position of Head of Chemistry at Trinity Grammar, Sydney in 1962 and later to Scotts School Bathurst, in 1966, as Headmaster. He returned to Melbourne in 1974 as Principal of Haileybury College where he remained until his retirement in 1998.

Amongst the many developments under his leadership at Haileybury College, his lasting legacy to Victorian Rowing was establishing the Haileybury College Boat Club in 1990 and coaching its inaugural 1st VIII in 1991, winning the B final at Head of River. The last time a headmaster had coached a 1st VIII was in the early 1900s. Coaching a competitive 1st VIII within 2 years had tongues wagging on the river bank. Michael chose to follow the lead the Canadian coxless four had shown back in 1956. The Gold medal winning Canadians had stayed together as a crew for a few years and Michael decided to try the same approach at Haileybury College. From 1990 to 1991 the 1st VIII had only one seat change which was forced from illness. In 1998 he appointed fellow Olympian Mark Doyle, son of Brian Doyle 1956 Olympic VIII, as Master in Charge of Rowing.

Michael battled cancer for a year and passed away on 16th February 2005, aged 71.

Andrew Guerin 2010

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Edward R Ainley, rower and administrator

Yarra Yarra Rowing Club
1885 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship bow – Second
1886 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship bow – First
1887 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship bow – First
1887-94 – Captain Yarra Yarra Rowing Club
1888 April – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship two seat – First
1889-1907 – President of Yarra Yarra Rowing Club
1890-1-2-3 – Victorian Champion Four stroke – First
1891-2-3 – Victorian Championship Eight stroke - First
1903 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector - First
1904 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector - First
1905 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector - First
1906 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector - Second

1890 Victorian Champion Four from Yarra Yarra
Left to right: J Yeomans (2), V G Petherick (cox), Edward R Ainley (stroke), Alex Chamley (3), Charles W Horsburgh (bow)

Edward Ainley died young in 1907 whilst the President of Yarra Yarra Rowing Club.  His obituary in the Annual Report of the Victorian Rowing Association noted that he had done much to advance the sport through his skill as both a sculler and oarsman. An excellent oarsman and administrator of the sport, much respected and revered by the Victorian rowing community. 

An obituary in The Argus noted that he was one of the best known of Victorian oarsmen and was in his day, the best amateur sculler in Victoria.

Given that Yarra Yarra was so successful in this period winning its first Victorian Premiership Pennant in 1891, and subsequently did not have a Victorian representative from 1896-1961, he is much revered.

Andrew Guerin 2015

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Philip Ainsworth, rower and coach

Mercantile Rowing Club - life member
1977 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Eight four seat – First
1977 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight three seat – Bronze
1984 – National Championship Men’s Junior Coxed Four coach – First
1984 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Bronze
1984 – Match des Seniors – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Fourth
1985 – National Championship Men’s Junior Coxed Four coach – First
1985 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Fifth
1986 – National Championship Men’s Junior Coxed Four coach – First
1986 – Trans Tasman Under 23 Series Australian Men’s Eight co-coach
1986 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Twelfth
1987 – National Championship Men’s Junior Coxed Four coach – First
1987 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Sixth
1987 – Match des Seniors – Men’s Four coach – Sixth

1977 Australian Lightweight Eight - Phil Ainsworth back row right end

Phil began rowing at Scotch College in 1966 and rowed in the Scotch second eight in 1969. After being introduced to lightweight rowing at Monash University by Marty Owen in 1970, Phil joined Mercantile in 1972 where he rowed in Junior eights. He rejoined the lightweight ranks a few years later and went on to represent the club in lightweight fours and eights before being seriously injured in a car accident at the 1978 National Championships. Phil went on to serve as secretary of Mercantile Rowing Club in 1978/9 and from 1982 to 1988. He coached Junior men at Mercantile and for Australia from 1984 to 1987, and rowed in veteran fours and eights from 1979 until 2000.

Andrew Guerin 2011

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Martin Aitken, rower, coach and administrator

Mercantile Rowing Club
The Hall of Fame Committee scours the history of our sport for individuals who have brought great fame to the sport in Victoria. Martin Aitken is one of those people.
1973 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Eight cox – Eighth
1973 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Coxed Pair cox – Eliminated in repechage
1978 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship cox - Second
1978 – World Championships – Men’s Coxed Four cox – Fifth
1979 –Interstate Men’s Youth Eight Championship coach - Fourth
1986 – Trans Tasman Under 23 Series Australian Men’s VIII coach, 1st place
1987 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship co-coach – First
1987 – Trans Tasman Under 23 Series Australian Men’s VIII coach, 1st Place
1987 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship Victoria coach – First
1988 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship co-coach – First
1988 – Australian Development Eight coach – Won  Ladies’ Plate at Henley Royal and 3rd at US Championships
1989 – World Championships – GB Men’s Eight coach – Bronze
1989 – Henley Royal Regatta, Stewards, Thames Cup and Prince Philip – First
1990 – World Championships – GB Men’s Eight coach – Fourth
1991 – World Championships – GB Men’s Eight coach – Bronze, Won Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta
1991 – Match des Seniors – UK Men’s Eight coach - First
1991 – Henley Royal – Grand Challenge Cup,  coach – First
1992 – Olympic Games – UK Men’s Coxed Four – Eighth
1992 – Henley Royal – Grand Challenge Cup coach – First
1993 – Henley Royal – Stewards coach – First
1993 - World Championships- GB Mens 4- Fifth
1994- World Junior Championships – SUI Men's VIII coach – Gold
1994 – World Championships – SUI Women’s Lightweight Scull coach – Bronze
1994– World Championships – SUI Men's Lightweight Scull coach – Bronze
1995 – World Championships – SUI Men’s Lightweight Double Scull coach – Gold
1996 – Olympic Games – SUI Men’s Single Scull coach – Gold
1996 – Olympic Games – SUI Men’s Lightweight Double Scull coach – Gold
1997 – World Championships – SUI Men’s Lightweight Scull coach – Silver
1998 – World Championships- SUI Men’s Lightweight Double Scull coach – Bronze
1998 – World Championships – SUI Women’s Lightweight Single Scull coach– Gold
1998 – World Championships – SUI Men’s Scull coach – Silver
1999 – World Championships – SUI Men’s Scull coach – Silver
2000 – Olympic Games – SUI Men’s Single Scull coach – Silver
2000-04 – Head Coach GB Women’s and Lightweights
2005-07- Performance Director of Scottish Sports Institute
2007-14 – Performance Manager Director of Victorian Institute of Sport

Martin with one of his successful Victorian King's Cup crews in 1986


Born and educated in Victoria, Martin is enjoyed a successful career as a rowing coach having been a school, club, state and national coach in Australia.  He became head coach of University of London in 1989, then Swiss Head Coach and finally Head Coach of the UK women and Lightweights. He then shifted to high performance administration both overseas and in Australia. He was the first Australian coach to live and work overseas in an era when the only professional coaches in Australia were at the AIS. Highlights are: Three years in a row winning the Kings Cup for Victoria and the two Olympic Gold medals at Atlanta, these were the first gold medals won in Rowing since 1928 for the Swiss. In all his crews have won 3 Olympic medals and 10 world senior championship medals as well as a considerable number of World Championship and Olympic medals as Head Coach. His is a stella sporting career and is currently enjoying his retirement.

Andrew Guerin 2015

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Bob Aitken MBE, rower, coach & administrator

Bob has had a distinguished and successful rowing career as an oarsman, coach, selector and administrator. He has made a significant contribution to the sport. He was the first elected President of Rowing Australia. It was during his Presidency that the sport made significant steps forward in addressing the decline of success of Australia in international competition. For example Bob was on the appointment panel for the appointment of Reinhold Batschi in 1979. It was also during his Presidency that rowing withstood the push by Federal Government to withdraw from the Moscow Olympic Games.

Life member of Rowing Australia
Life member Mercantile Rowing Club
Life member of the Victorian Rowing Association.
Past Captain & President of Mercantile Rowing Club
Past President of the Victorian Rowing Association (now Rowing Victoria)

Bob Aitken

Mercantile Rowing Club
1940 – Head of the River Geelong College stroke
1950 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship emergency
1951 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – Second
1952 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1953 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1954 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector
1955 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector
1955-74 - Vice-President Victorian Rowing Association
1956 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – First
1956 – Olympic Games – Men’s Eight coach and sole selector – Bronze
1957 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector
1958 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – First
1958 – British Empire & Commonwealth Games grading committee
1959 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – Second
1959-64 – Councillor for Victoria on AARC
1960 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – Third
1962 – President Australian Amateur Rowing Council
1962 – Empire Games – Chairman of the technical committee
1964 – Olympic Games – Grading Committee
1967 – Life member Mercantile Rowing Club
1968 – Olympic Games – Selector
1972 – Olympic Games – Grading Committee
1974-80 – President Victorian Rowing Association
1975-79 – Inaugural Elected President of the Australian Amateur Rowing Council
1976 – Olympic Games Grading & Selection Committee

Andrew Guerin 2010

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Peter Antonie OAM, rower, coach and administrator

Melbourne University Boat Club
1977 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four two seat– First
1977 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship two seat – First
1977 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four two seat – Silver
1977 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four two seat–First
1978 National Championship Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four two seat - First
1978 – National Championships Men’s Lightweight Eight six seat – First
1978 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship two seat – First
1978 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four two seat – Bronze
1979 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship two seat – Second
1979 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Eight seven seat – first
1979 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight five seat – Sixth
1980 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat – Third
1980 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Eight seven seat – First
1981 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Eight four seat – First
1981 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Double Scull stroke – Eleventh
1982 – National Championships Men’s Quad Scull stroke – First
1982 – National Championships Men’s Lightweight Double Scull stroke – First
1982 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight Four seat – Fourth
1983 – National Championships Men’s Lightweight Double Scull stroke – first
1983 – National Championships Men’s Lightweight Single Scull– first
1983 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight five seat – Silver
1984 – National Championships Men’s Lightweight Pair stroke – First
1984 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat – First
1984 – World Championships- Men’s Lightweight Eight seven seat – Tenth
1985 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Scull – First
1985 – National Championship Men’s Quad Scull stroke – First
1985 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Scull – Ninth
1986 – National Championship Quad Scull stroke – First
1986 – National Championships Lightweight Scull – First
1986 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Single Scull – Gold
1986 – Commonwealth Games – Men’s Lightweight Single Scull – Gold
1987 – National Championship Men’s Quad Scull stroke – First
1987 – National Championship Double Scull stroke – First
1987 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Scull – First
1987 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Single – Fifth 1988 – National Championship Double Scull stroke – First
1988 – National Championship Quad Scull stroke – First
1988 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1988 – Olympic Games – Men’s Quad Scull stroke – Fifth
1989 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – Race not conducted a cyclone.
1989 – Interstate Men’s Eight Challenge stroke – First
1989 – World Championships – Men’s Double Scull – Fourth
1990 – National Championship Men’s Double Scull stroke – First
1990 – National Championship Men’s Quad Scull stroke – First
1990 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Second
1990 – World Championships – Men’s Double Scull – Bronze
1991 – National Championship Men’s Single Scull – First
1991 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – First
1991 – World Championships – Men’s Scull – Fourth
1992 – National Championship Men’s Single Scull – First
1992 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Third
1992 – Olympic Games – Men’s Double Scull stroke – Gold
1993 – National Championship Men’s Single Scull – First
1993 – National Championship Men’s Double Scull stroke – First
1993 – World Cup Melbourne – Men’s Single Scull – Gold
1993 – World Championships – Men’s Double Scull bow – Seventh
1994 – National Championships Men’s Double Scull stroke – First
1994 – National Championship Men’s Quad Scull stroke – First
1994 – World Championships – Men’s Double Scull stroke – Ninth
1995 – National Championship Men’s Single Scull – First
1995 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship emergency
1996 – Olympic Games – Men’s Double Scull bow – Eighth
1997 – National Championship Men’s Coxed Four stroke – First
1997 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship seven seat – Third
1999 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Sixth
2000 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Third
2000 – Olympic Games reserve
2003 – FISA Thomas Keller Medal.
One of Harry Gordon’s 100 Greatest Olympians
President Melbourne University Boat Club.
2010 – Inducted into the Victorian Rowing Hall of Fame

Peter Antonie ans Steve Hawkins - 1992 Olympic Champions

Peter is one of Australia’s greatest rowers with over 19 years in Australian senior A teams from 1977-2000 across lightweight and heavyweight, sculling and sweep and World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. He was the first person to win Interstate Championships in the Eight, Scull and Lightweight Four. He has also made time to coach winning Head of the River crews at his old school Xavier College and also at Carey Grammar. He is a Thomas Keller Medallist, “for an outstanding career in the sport of rowing” - the highest international rowing accolade.

Peter has been quoted as saying that his best race was the double scull at 1992 at Olympic Games, his hardest race the lightweight singles at 1986 Wold Championships, his funniest race the double scull at 1995 at Henley Royal Regatta and his worst, there were too many!

Andrew Guerin 2010

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John Arthur

Warehousemen Rowing Club
1873 – Intercolonial Men’s Four Championship two seat – first
Arthur is recorded as a tall, wiry man with great strength in his arms and back as well as a great reach.

He was a member of the 1872 Intercolonial Four oared crew which recorded Victoria’s first win in an intercolonial race. It includes some of the pioneers of our sport. The crew is also of interest as it was the first representative crew from several clubs. It was known as the Melbourne crew.

John Lang, in his book the Victorian Oarsman in 1919, recorded the importance of the race as follows: Victoria secured the first win with a non-club four (Melbourne, Melbourne University and Warehousemen). The other crews in the race were club crews, comprising two from Ballarat, a Sydney Rowing Club crew, and crews from Hobart Town and Geelong. The race was rowed over about four miles on the Lower Yarra - time, 25 min. 30 sec. This race is generally recognised as the first "official" Intercolonial match.

1873 Winning Trophy

Andrew Guerin 2013

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Last updated 2nd January 2016

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