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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 S

Those appearing below are:

  1. Robyn Selby Smith, Mercantile
  2. Arthur Shepherd, Banks/Essendon
  3. Alex B Sloan, Mercantile
  4. Colin Smith, MUBC
  5. Sydney Smith, Elswick
  6. Tim Smith, MUBC
  7. Stephen Spurling, MUBC
  8. Dushan Stankovich, Banks
  9. Sir Hayden Starke
  10. Rod Stewart, Mercantile
  11. Jess Stockman, Essendon
  12. Jeff Sykes, Corio Bay

Robyn Selby Smith

Mercantile Rowing Club
2001 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships three seat– Gold
2002 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championship six seat - Silver
2003 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championship six seat - Silver
2004 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championship five seat – Bronze
2004 – World Championships Women’s Four stroke seat - Eighth
2005 – Interstate Women’s Sculling Championships– Sixth
2005 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships four seat – Gold
2005 – World Cup I Women's Pair stroke seat - Bronze
2005 – World Cup II Women’s Eight two seat - Gold
2005 – World Cup II Women’s Pair stroke seat - Silver
2005 – World Championships Women’s Eight two seat - Gold
2005 – World Championships Women’s Four bow seat - Gold
2006 – Interstate Women’s Sculling Championships– Sixth
2006 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships six seat – Gold
2006 – World Cup I Women’s Eight bow seat - Bronze
2006 – World Championships Women’s Eight bow seat - Bronze
2006 – World Championships Women’s Four bow seat - Gold
2007 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships two seat – Gold
2007 – World Cup II Women’s Four bow seat - Gold
2007 – World Championships Women’s Eight three seat - Fourth
2008 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships two seat– Gold
2008 – World Cup I Women’s Eight bow seat - Gold
2010 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships six seat – Gold
2011 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships two seat – Gold
2012 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships six seat – Gold
2012 – Olympic Games – Women’s Eight three seat– Sixth
2013-Currrent – Captain Mercantile Rowing Club
2013-4 – Australian Junior Selector

2005 World Championship presentation - Robyn right

The highlights of Robyn's international rowing career were the 2005 World Championships where Robyn was in the winning 4- and 8+ and becoming an Olympian in 2012 in the W8. The lowlight was missing out on the Beijing Olympic eight after being in the eight which won the first World Cup in 2008 by six seconds. After being a reserve for the Beijing Olympic eight Robyn took a break from rowing. Leading into 2012, Robyn returned to rowing and played a vital role in the battle to allow a women's eight to represent Australia for the first time since Beijing. Robyn was selected in the Australian women's eight in 2012 which qualified for the Olympics at the final qualification regatta and finished 6th in London. Domestically, Robyn rowed in many successful Mercantile eights as well as Victorian eights. Retiring after London, Robyn returned to her career as a lawyer and has kept up her strong interest in the sport.

Andrew Guerin 2015

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Arthur Shepherd

Maribyrnong Rowing Club, then Essendon Rowing Club & finally Banks Rowing Club
1891 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship five seat – Third
1892 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship two seat – First
1892-1954 – Committee of the Victorian Rowing Association
1903 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector – First
1905-1944 - Vice-President of the Victorian Rowing Association
1906 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector – Second
1908 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector – Second
1909 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector – Second
1910 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector – Second
1911 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach & selector – Second
1912 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach & selector – First
1944-1954 – President of the Victorian Rowing Association until his death
Foundation member and subsequently President of the Amateur Sports Club of Victoria

He was a highly regarded administrator with his clubs, the Association and the Amateur Sports Club of Victoria. He commenced his administrative career as the inaugural Honorary Secretary of the Maribyrnong Rowing Club. When that club was disbanded and reformed as Essendon Rowing Club in 1885, he took the same role in the new club. As a coach he was also highly regarded with great knowledge and ability. He coached the first winning maiden eight crew of the Essendon Rowing Club in 1892. He was later a successful Victorian coach. He was a keen advocate of swivels when all Victorian Clubs used poppets.

He was also a generous supporter of the sport in Victoria. Upon his death, he left bequests of £1,000 to each Essendon Rowing Club, Banks Rowing Club and the Victorian Rowing Association.

Andrew Guerin 2010

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Alex B Sloan

The Awards Committee were drawn to Alex Sloan as he was an outstanding rower and coach. Alex Sloan was an accomplished sportsman being both a leading oarsman and footballer. Alex Sloan won 58 races including an Intercolonial Four Championship and 7 Intercolonial Eight Championships. He declined selection in the Victorian crew on six other occasions.

He was also a coach of exceptional ability including coaching several Victorian crews in the Interstate Men’s Eight Championships.

He also coached at Scotch College where he presided over 20 Head of the River crews from 1898 to 1925 and recorded 7 wins (including the famous dead heat in 1919, finally won by Scotch in a re row). His grandson of the same name rowed for Australia. He was a life member of Mercantile Rowing Club where he was Captain for eight years. He coached club crews both whilst rowing and beyond.

He was also one of Fitzroy’s finest football league players in the rowing off season. He captained Fitzroy to two premierships in 1898 & 1899, playing as an amateur.

Electric Telegraph Rowing Club to 1892 then Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)
1894 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship four seat – First
1895 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship four seat – First
1896 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1896 – Intercolonial Men’s Four Championship stroke – First
1896 – Helms Trophy for rowing – Top international award*
1897 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1898 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1901 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1902 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship six seat – First
1922 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – Second
1923 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector
1930 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – First
Captain of Mercantile Rowing Club
Life member Mercantile Rowing Club
* The Helms Foundation was created in 1936 by Paul Helms, a sportsman and philanthropist, and the Helm Museum and headquarters was built in 1948. It is a most prestigious award. Ray Todd and James Tomkins have also received the same award.

Andrew Guerin 2010

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Colin Smith

Melbourne University Boat Club
1970 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship two seat (SA) – First
1971 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship bow (SA) – Second
1972 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship bow (SA) – Third
1973 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat (SA) – Second
1974 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship (VIC) bow – First
1974 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Four – Gold
1975 – Interstate and National Championship Men’s Lightweight Four Championship bow – First
1975 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Four bow – Bronze
1977 – Interstate and National Championship Men’s Lightweight Four Championship bow – First
1977 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Four bow – Silver
1978 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship emergency
1978 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight stroke – Bronze
1978 – World Championships – Women’s selector
1979 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship stroke – First
1979 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Eight stroke - First
1979 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight – selected but withdrew for business reasons
1981 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – Second
1981 - National Championships Men's Coxless Four coach - First and Second
1998-2000 – Board member of Rowing Australia
2001- 2009 Board member Rowing Australia & Chairman of the High Performance Commission
2009 to 2015 – President of Rowing Australia and Co Chairman of the National Rowing Centre of Excellence

1974 FISA Championship Four - Colin in bow seat

Colin has been a Management Consultant for the past 23 years and was a Senior Partner with a leading international strategy firm, operating as a specialist advisor in the areas of media, entertainment and sport. More recently Colin has started a special media rights advisory advising practice advising leading professional sports globally on their media rights. He was recently described by the Sydney Morning Herald as "The Man who holds the key to TV Sport" through his advisory roles across NRL, Cricket, Rugby, Football and AFL. Both Colin's children also rowed with daughter Sarah winning Blues from Melbourne University and son Tim also with a Blue and rowed for Australia from 2003 to 2006 winning like his father a Bronze medal in the lightweight eight in 2004.

Andrew Guerin 2011

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Sydney Smith

Elswick Rowing Club
1860 – Melbourne Regatta Grand Challenge Cup, bow – First
1860 – Melbourne Regatta Senior Gigs, bow – First
1860 – Melbourne Regatta Challenge Pairs, bow – First
1861 – Melbourne Regatta Grand Challenge Cup, bow – First
1862 – Melbourne Regatta Grand Challenge Cup, bow – First

Grand Challenge Cup which is now the Elswich Challenge Cup


The first amateur regatta to be conducted in Australia was the Melbourne Regatta in 1860. The founder of this regatta was 2010 inductee Prof Martin Irving. The Grand Challenge Cup for senior fours was the biggest amateur race in the land at that stage. The Elswick Rowing Club won the race in 1860, 1861 and 1862, thus winning the Challenge Cup outright. The three crews comprised four oarsmen who won the trophy at least twice each. They were the first Victorian amateur champions.

Andrew Guerin 2015

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Tim Smith

Melbourne University Boat Club (VIC)
2001 – Scotch College First 8, Bow, Head of the River – Fourth,
2001 - Captain of Boats Scotch College
2002 – Interstate Men’s Youth Eight Championship bow – Second
2002 - World University Rowing Championships – Lightweight Men’s Double Scull – Seventh
2003 – Interstate Men’s Youth Eight Championship seven – Fourth
2003 – Under 23 World Regatta – Men’s Lightweight Quad Scull – Fourth
2004 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship bow – Second
2004 – World Championships Men’s Lightweight Eight 7 seat– Bronze
2005 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship bow – Third
2005 – World Championships Men’s Lightweight Four Bow – Fourth
2006 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship three – Fourth
2006 - National Champion Men’s Lightweight Four 2 seat - Gold
2006 - World Rowing World Cup Munich - Men’s Lightweight Pair – Silver
2006 - Rowing World Cup Poznan Men’s Lightweight Single Scull – Fifth
2006 – World Championships Men’s Lightweight Pair - Fourth.

2004 Bronze medal winning eight - Tim front row left

After his successful rowing career, Tim turned his attention to politics being elected as the youngest Mayor of Stonnington in 2009 and then to the safe seat of Kew in the Victorian Parliament in 2014. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition in February 2015, and is the youngest Liberal MP in State Parliament.

Andrew Guerin 2015

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Stephen Spurling

Reeconian Rowing Club (TAS), Buckingham Rowing Club (from 1973 TAS) and Melbourne University Boat Club (from 1979)
1965 - Reeconian Rowing Club founding member/president
1972 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship (TAS) emergency
1973 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship (TAS) bow – Eliminated in repechage
1974 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship (TAS) stroke - Fourth
1975 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship (TAS) stroke
1976 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Eliminated in repechage
1977 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke - Fourth
1978 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Eliminated in semi final
1979 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship - Eliminated in repechage
1979 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Single Scull – Eliminated in repechage
1980 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Single Scull – Eleventh
1982 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat - Second
1982 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight two seat – Fourth
1983 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat - Second
1983 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight stroke – Silver
1984 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship stroke - First
1984 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight stroke – Fourth
1985 – Interstate Men’s Youth Eight Championship coach - First
1989 – Trans Tasman Juniors Men’s Eight coach
1989 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Eight coach – Eighth
1990 – Interstate Men’s Youth Eight Championship coach – First
1991 - VIS Development Eight to Henley Royal Regatta UK coach
1993 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship co-coach – First
1993 – World Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Fifth
1994 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship co-coach – First
1994 – World Championships – Men’s Coxed Pair coach – Tenth
1994 – World Championships – Men’s Coxless Four coach – Eleventh
1995 – World Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Fifth

1983 World Championships - Steve second from the left

Andrew Guerin 2013

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Dushan Stankovich

Banks Rowing Club
1961 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship emergency
1962 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship three seat - First
1962 – British Empire & Commonwealth Games – Men’s Eight three seat - Gold
1962 – World Championships – Selected for Men’s Eight but withdrew for study reasons

Finish of the 1962 Commonwealth Games Eight Race

Dushan recalls these days with warmth and great humility: On 25th November 1961 the Banks Senior Eight, after forty years in the wilderness, led Mercantile home for the second time in eight days.  It was an exhilarating experience, comparable, we thought, to breaking the sound barrier for the first time or running a sub-four minute mile.  Filled with youthful ardour, I plucked up the courage to ask [his wife to be] Ruth to accompany me to a Mercantile barbecue that night. After the Kings Cup in 1962, when the European Championships were upgraded to World Championships and the Commonwealth Games Eight considered making the trip to Lucerne, I regretfully decided that I would do without the icing on the cake on this occasion.  David Boykett took my place in the crew.  David had been selected in the Victorian Eight earlier that year but had withdrawn for personal reasons, as I remember.  Even I was able to acknowledge that I was not a better rower than David, who had been a member of the magnificent 1956 Olympic Eight and had stroked the Mercantile Eight more recently.  So I did not really expect to get my seat back for the Commonwealth Games in November.  Fortunately for me, before the Victorian Rowing Association, as it then was, approved the overseas trip, Secretary Norm Cairnes, who was also the Mercantile Senior 8 coach at the time, required assurances that no-one would lose their seat if the crew went to Lucerne. “The past is a foreign country:  they do things differently there."

Andrew Guerin 2011

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Sir Hayden Starke

Melbourne Rowing Club

(22 Feb 1871 - 14 May 1958)

1924-36 - President Victorian Rowing Association
1943-58 - Patron Victorian Rowing Association

His Hon Sir Justice Starke was a keen competitive rower who maintained his interest in the sport throughout his life. He married late which left him more time for his rowing as well as his legal practice.

However for the rest of the non rowing world, he will be remembered as a High Court Judge.

The Hughes Government appointed him in February 1920 upon the death of fellow rower, Sir Edmund Barton. Unlike other members of the Court, he had no political affiliations.

The great jurist Sir Owen Dixon described him as follows: his legal knowledge, his discriminating judgment as to what mattered, his clearness and directness of speech and the strength of his mind and character combined to give him a forensic power as formidable as I have seen.

 

Andrew Guerin 2016

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Rod Stewart

Toowong Rowing Club 1964 - '72, Mercantile Rowing Club 1972 - '79, Thames Tradesmen RC 1982 - '88, Upper Thames RC 1988 - '92
1970 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship (QLD) bow – Eliminated in repechage
1974 – National Championships Men’s Lightweight Eight seven seat – First
1975 – National Championships Men’s Lightweight Eight seven seat – First
1977 – National Championships Men’s Lightweight Eight four seat – First
1977 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight Four seat – Bronze

Alan DeBelin and Rod Stewart in 1977

Rod started his rowing life as a coxswain at Toowong RC in 1964 and by the early 1970's was wishing to further his rowing career. Advice from a Mercantilian, Mike McKenna, temporarily living/rowing in Brisbane at the time, was to go south and join Mercantile RC and seek the coaching of the well respected Hubert "Freddie" Frederico. He joined Mercantile Sept 1972 rowing Elite heavyweight until early 1974 when he was persuaded reluctantly to join the Lightweight ranks and went on to win three National titles. Rod always struggled mentally & physically to make the Lightweight limit which eventually forced a decision to retire in 1979.

Rod moved to England in 1982 and returned to club heavyweight rowing in London and competed annually at the Henley Royal Regatta until 1992 and retired from Veteran's racing in 2008. Rod remains domiciled in the UK living with his family in Devon.

Andrew Guerin 2011

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Jess Stockman

Essendon Rowing Club

A biography will follow shortly. Jess was a life member of the Victorian Ladies' Rowing Association and a key person in the Essendon Ladies Rowing Club.

Andrew Guerin 2016

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Jeff Sykes

Corio Bay Rowing Club
1961 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Third
1962 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Third
1962 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Scull - First
1963 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Second
1964 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Scull - First
1966 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – First
1966 – National Championship Men’s Double Scull – First
1966 – World Championships – Selected as Sculler but unable to travel due to business commitments
1967 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Second
1968 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat – Second
1968 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Scull - First
1968 – National Championship Men’s Double Scull - First
1969 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Second
1972 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat – First
1973 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – First
1973 – West German International Championship Men’s LW 1x – Second
1973 – European Championships Men’s Scull - Tenth
1974 – National Championship Men’s Lightweight Scull - First
1976 – National Junior Women’s scull Leisa Patterson – Coach
1976 – Interstate Men’s Sculling Championship – Sixth
1977 – National Women’s Sculling Championship –Leisa Patterson– Third – Coach
1977 – Interstate Women’s Sculling Championship coach- Third
1978 – National Women’s scull – Leisa Patterson – Coach
1978 – National Women’s Lightweight Sculling Championship – Leisa Patterson – Coach
1978 – West German National Championship Men’s Lightweight eight - 7 seat – First
1978 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight seven seat – Bronze
1991 – National Championship Women’s Lightweight Double Scull – Leisa Wilson – First - Co Coach
1991 – National Championships Women’s Lightweight Scull – Leisa Wilson – Second – Coach
1996-98 – Board member Rowing Australia
1998-2002 - Chairman Rowing Australia Master Commission
Past member of Rowing Victoria Masters Committee.
Life member, past Vice President, Captain and committee man of Corio Bay Rowing Club.

Jeff, David Boykett and George Xouris celebrate winning the three Interstate Championships in 1966
Quite apart from his outstanding contribution to the sport as an oarsman, coach, administrator and boatbuilder, it is the quality and enduring nature of his contribution to the sport which is of great note.

Jeff commenced his rowing in 1955 at the age of 12 as a coxswain. His elite competitive career spanned the very long period from 1960 to 1978. His rowing career continues to this day as an active and very successful masters rower at the age of 70, some 58 years after he commenced in 1955.

Jeff was apprenticed to his father in his father’s boatbuilding business. A desire to change the nature of boats built in Australia led Jeff to commence his own business in 1966. His boats were light and fast and the business grew quickly, predominantly in smaller boats. By 1973, his large boats also won the big races with a King’s Cup win and by 1974 Australian crews used his boats. He was the first boatbuilder in Australia to build composite construction boats and supported Australian teams with his boats.

Andrew Guerin 2013

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<back to Victorian Rowing Hall of Fame Index

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Surnames starting with:ABC D EFGHI JKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

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