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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 B

Those appearing below are:

1. Graham Barns, Mercantile
2. Charles Bartlett, MUBC
3. Debbie Bassett, Bendigo/MUBC
4. Malcolm Batten, Mercantile
5. Kath Bennett, YWCA
6. Jon Berney, Barwon
7. Valmai Bertrand, Nestles
8. Arthur R Blackwood
9. Eliza Blair, MUBC
10. Robert D Booth, Melbourne
11. David Boykett, Mercantile
12. Graeme Boykett, Mercantile
13. Bill Bradshaw, Mercantile

Graham Barns

Mercantile Rowing Club
1981 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Coxed Four cox – Fourth
1981 – Interstate Men’s Youth Eight Championship cox - Third
1982 – Interstate Men’s Youth Eight Championship cox - Second
1983 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship cox - Second
1983 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight cox – Silver
1984 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship cox – Third
1987 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship cox - First
1988 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship cox – First

1983 Medal winning Australian Lightweight Eight


Andrew Guerin 2013

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Charles Bartlett

Melbourne University Boat Club - Joined 1973
1979 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship stroke – Eliminated in repechage
1980 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship emergency
1980 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Four two seat – Gold
1981 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat - Second
1981 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Four two seat – Gold
1982 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship bow - Second
1982 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight seven seat – Fourth
1984 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championship two seat - First
1984 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight four seat – Tenth
1985-1999 – Committee Member Victorian Rowing Association
1991-96 – President MUBC
1996-98 – Councillor for Victoria on ARC
1999-00 – Board Member Rowing Australia
Leichhardt Rowing Club – Joined 2001
2001-07 – World Championships National selector
2004 – Olympic Games & World Championships Men’s Selector
2005-09 - Board Member Rowing New South Wales
2012-current – President Leichhardt Rowing Club

Charles has maintained his strong interest in rowing throughout his life. In addition to his national contribution, he has been a great contributor to club and State administration both in Victoria and New South Wales.

1981 World Champion Lightweight Four -Charles second from left

Andrew Guerin 2013

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Debbie Bassett

Bendigo Rowing Club then Melbourne University Ladies’ Rowing Club (VIC)
1985 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship bow - First
1985 – Trans Tasman Under 23 Series Australian Women’s sweep
1985 – Match des Seniors – Women’s Pair stroke – Silver
1986 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship bow - First
1986 - Commonwealth Games – Women’s Four stroke seat – Silver
1986 - Commonwealth Games – Women’s Eight seven seat – Gold
1986 – World Championships – Women’s Coxed Four three seat – Seventh
1987 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship bow - First
1987 – World Championships – Women’s Coxed Four three seat – Seventh
1989 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship emergency – Race not conducted due to a cyclone.
1989 – World Championships - Women’s Pair stroke – Tenth
1990 – World Championships – Women’s Eight – Seven seat – Seventh
1990 – World Championships – Women’s Four three seat - Eighth
1992 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship stroke – Third

1986 Commonwealth Games - Debbie front right

Debbie commenced her rowing at MLC along with other fellow inductees. Deb coached at MLC, under Suzie Palfreyman, for the years 1985 then 1991-1993. Deb has been living in Bendigo since 1996 with husband Matthew and two children Jack and Chelsea. She has continued to coach at a junior level in swimming, kayaking and rowing.

Andrew Guerin 2011

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Malcolm Batten OAM

1987 -Duisburg International Regatta Men’s eight-Gold
1987 – World Championships – Men’s Eight two seat – Fourth
1988 – NSW State Championship Men’s 8 stroke AIS-Gold
1988 – QLD State Championship Men’s 8 stroke-Gold
1988 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championships (QLD) stroke – Fourth
1988 - Interstate – Men’s Coxless four stroke-Gold
1988 - Olympic Games – Men’s Coxless Pair bow - eliminated in Rep
1989 – QLD State Championship Men’s eight stroke-Gold
1990 - Co founder of RMIT rowing club
1990 – QLD State Championship Men’s eight stroke-Gold
1990 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship (VIC) two seat – Gold
1991 - Alumni member  of the year RMIT, services to sport
1991 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship emergency (VIC)
1991 – World Championships – Men’s Eight stroke – Tenth-Ouch…
1992 – 1994 Head Coach St Catherine School Rowing Club
2011 – President Mercantile Rowing Club

Final metres of 1986 World Championship Eight win. Mal is in the two seat

Mal started his rowing career as a coxswain at North Esk RC in Launceston in 1979. He moved to the Gold Coast in 1982 and rowed for a season with Tweed Heads RC prior to moving to Brisbane and joining Commercial RC. He was  part of the first AIS scholarship holders in 1985 and held full AIS scholarships, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988. He moved to Melbourne in 1988 and has been a member of Mercantile RC since.

Mal is a  Director and partner of Cockram Construction. During his career with Cockram’s he has  worked and lived in China, Puerto Rico and USA, he is married to Pip and has 3 children, Lucas, Felicity and Thomas. He is currently President of Mercantile Rowing Club and is a Life member of Commercial Rowing Club.

Andrew Guerin 2011

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Kath Bennett

YWCA Rowing Club
Kath commenced her rowing career in 1965 after reading an article in the newspaper about the re-starting of the YWCA Club which commenced in 1911 but shut down in 1949. She raced in 1966 in the lightweight crew who competed at the National Women’s Championships in Sydney. This was the start of an illustrious and long career.

A highlight in her career would have been the coaching of the winning Australian crew who represented the country at Canadian Henley for the first time. She was also a key player in the amalgamation of the men’s and women’s federations which occurred in 1979. This process was daunting for the women’s association which had much to fear from being the junior partner in the amalgamation. History shows the greatest benefits accrued to women’s rowing.
1969 – Interstate Women’s Four Championships bow – First
1970 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championships three seat – First
1971 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship cox & coach – Second
1972 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championships co-coach – First
1973 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat – Second
1975 – World Championships – Women’s manager
1978 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championships co-coach – First
1979 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship coach – First
1979 Australian team manager – Royal Canadian Henley & also WLwt4+ coach
Captain of YWCA Rowing Club for 4 years and President for 10 years. Life member
Life member of the Victorian Rowing Association

Kath in a Victorian Crew - Kath far left

Kath was a key player in the revival of women’s rowing in Victoria. As promotions officer for the state women’s association from 1968 to 1976, she started a period of expanded competition in Australia as well as a time of astonishing local growth. In October 1964, Victoria could boast only two women’s rowing clubs, Nestles of Warrnambool and Essendon. (Until 1979, the sport was conducted by both a men’s and a women’s Associations.) Firstly, she with Caroline Judd, reinstated the YWCA club which then become the force in Victorian women’s rowing. In 1969, she and other ex-oarswomen created the Melbourne University Women’s Rowing Club with the co-operation of the Sports Union. By 1973, there were the following affiliated women’s clubs: Preston, Yarrawonga, Morwell, YWCA, Melbourne University, Begonia City, Dimboola, Horsham, Wentworth, Monash & LaTrobe Universities. By 1975, there were some 20 women’s clubs. She started a period of greater competition in Australia as well as a period of great growth in the sport. The expansion included many school clubs.

She is therefore remembered fondly for her great work in the rejuvenation of women’s rowing in the period of mid 1960 to amalgamation of the men’s and women’s associations in 1979.

Andrew Guerin 2010

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Jon Berney

Barwon Rowing Club
1997 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight two seat – Gold
1998 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Pair bow - Fifth

Jon commenced rowing at Geelong Grammar School before a short and very successful rowing career at the Barwon Rowing Club.

1997 World Champion Lightweight Eight - Jon in four seat


Andrew Guerin 2013

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Valmai Bertrand

Nestles Rowing Club and Essendon Rowing Club
1964 - Interstate Women’s Four Championship bow - Third
1965 - Interstate Women’s Four Championship bow - Second
1966 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship bow – First Australian crew, awarded trophy
1968 – National Championship Senior Pair – First
1968 – National Championship Junior Scull - First
1969 – National Championship Senior Pair bow - First
1970 – Interstate Championships Women’s Scull – Second
1970 – National Championship Women’s Lightweight Scull – First
1970 – National Championship Women’s Lightweight Pair - First
1971 – Interstate Women’s Sculling Championship - First
1971 – National Championship Women’s Lightweight Scull - First
1972 – Interstate Women’s Sculling Championship – Second
1972 – National Championship Women’s Lightweight Scull – First
1972 – National Championships Women’s Open Four three seat - First
1972 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat - First
1973 – Interstate Women’s Sculling Championship – Second
1973 – National Championship Women’s Lightweight Scull - Second
1973 – Inter Dominion Fours v New Zealand –Australia No 2 crew - Second
1974 – Interstate Women’s Sculling Championship – Second
1974 – British Championship Women’s Elite Scull – Third
1974 – British Championship Women’s Elite Four – Silver
1974 – British International Women’s Scull - Silver
1975 – Victorian selector
1979 – Australian selector
1982 – National Championship Women’s Under 23 Coxed Four cox and coach – First
1987 – Awarded Medal of the Order of Australia for services to rowing and community
2000 – Awarded the Australian Sports Medal
2001 – Awarded the Centenary Medal
2003 – Great success at the World Masters in Ballarat with one gold, two silvers and a bronze
Various – Coached World Champion Tommy Bertrand in his formative years

Val Bertrand (centre) in the Inter Dominion Australian Four in 1973

Val Bertrand has made an outstanding contribution to women’s rowing in Victoria and in Warrnambool. Her rowing record is impressive, especially considering her size and being based outside Melbourne. Val was a school teacher at Warrnambool’s Emmanuel College for many years and is now a sports administrator. She remains an active participant in several sports. A testament to her continuing good work is that a netball stadium in Warrnambool is named in her honour.

In March 1973 Val demonstrated her outstanding physical and mental endurance setting a new record for the Guinness Book of Records 100 mile single sculling record. She completed the distance in 21 hours 3 minutes. This was completed on her home turf on the Hopkins River Warrnambool. The after effects such as hands bereft of skin, caused considerable discomfort in that year in the Interstate Championships.

Her career finished in 1975 due to injury. However it was also apparent to her that due to her petite stature, she would have great difficulty competing successfully at the international level. She has held every administrative position in her club and remains an active coach and mentor. She has coached successfully at Victorian Championship and at the Head of the Schoolgirls including further Australian rowers such a Rebecca Watts.

Andrew Guerin 2013

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Arthur R Blackwood

(1850-1905)
Melbourne Rowing Club and Mercantile Rowing Club

1889-92 - Vice-President of Victorian Rowing Association

1903-05 - President Mercantile Rowing Club

1903 - Founder of the Melbourne Amateur Regata Association with Sir George Fairbairn and Captain Rivett.

From the Australian Dictionary of Biography: Arthur Ranken Blackwood (1850-1905) was born on 12 January 1850 at Hobart Town, only son of James Blackwood and his wife Eliza, née Officer. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School (1858-64), Harrow School (1865), and Balliol College, Oxford (B.A., 1873; M.A., 1888) and was called to the Bar of the Middle Temple in 1875. In Melbourne on 15 October 1885 he married May Cunningham; their only child died young. Admitted a partner in 1879 in the firm of Dalgety, Blackwood & Co., in 1884 he became joint managing director with James Aitken of Dalgety & Co. Ltd. He was first chairman of directors of B.H.P. in 1885, but resigned next April after disagreements with G. McCulloch. He was also director of the Silverton Tramway Co. Ltd and of several other companies. In 1889 he was appointed colonial superintendent of Dalgety & Co.; in 1900-05 he was a member of the company's local board of advice.

Andrew Guerin 2016

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Eliza Blair

Melbourne University Boat Club
1995 – Trans Tasman U23 Series Women’s Lightweight pair -  First
1996 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship two seat – Second
1996 – World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Pair bow – Fifth
1997 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat - First
1997 – World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Pair bow – Gold
1998 –Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship emergency
1998 – World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Quad Scull two seat – Fifth
1999 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Quad Championship three seat - First
2000 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Quad Championship - Second
2000 – World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Quad Scull bow – Silver

Eliza is now an architect in Melbourne.

1997 World Champion Lightweight Pair with coach David Orchert


Andrew Guerin 2013

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Robert D Booth

Melbourne Rowing Club (VIC)
1880 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship six seat – First
1881 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship four seat – First
1882 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship Four seat – Second
1884 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1886 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1887 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1889 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship stroke- First
Booth may have originally hailed from Geelong but this is not clear. His occupation was stated in 1878 as a bank clerk with the Commercial Bank. His rowing career was stellar and was one of the great oarsmen of his time. He stroked the 1889 Victorian crew which started favourite and justified this standard taking a margin at the start and moving this out to three lengths by the finish. The crew contained the great Stephen Fairbairn who recounted later “the old coach told me years after [the crew] was the best crew Victoria ever had.”

George Upward (Victorian Rowing Hall of Fame Inductee) left and Robert Booth right at the Melbourne Regatta 18th February 1899

Andrew Guerin 2013

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David Boykett OAM

Mercantile Rowing Club

19 Aug 1934 - 10 Feb 2016
A great rower, coach and administrator who provided great opportunities to other rowers. He was a strong advocate of youth rowing and initiated this category. His experiences abroad as a rower showed him the great benefits of youth rowing in Europe so he arranged youth events in Victoria. By 1974, the category had become an Interstate Championship. He initiated and managed the first Australian junior team to the World Junior Championships. He was a mentor and coach to a great number of rowers. Whilst highly controversial, his innovative thinking led him to the purchase of European boats following the Tokyo Olympics. This led to significantly improved boat design and world class manufacture in Australia.

As a forceful and respected executive member of the VRA, in 1971 he established a coaching education committee in Victoria. The Australian Amateur Rowing Council, backed by the Rothman’s Foundation arranged for David to tour Tasmania (1965) and then QLD and WA for coaching seminars. In Victoria he organised a select team of coaches to visit country centres promoting rowing and coaching. He was a great supporter of schoolgirls’ rowing and also made a significant contribution in that area.


1951 – Head of River VIC Scotch College 1st VIII six seat 1st
1952 – Head of River VIC Scotch College 1st VIII six seat 1st
1956 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship two seat – First
1956 – Olympic Games – Men’s Eight two seat – Bronze
1957 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship two seat – First
1958 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship two seat – First
1959 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship three seat – Second
1961 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1962 – British Empire & Commonwealth Games – Men’s Eight reserve
1962 – British Empire & Commonwealth Games – Men’s Coxless Four stroke – Unplaced
1962 – World Championships – Men’s Eight three seat – Fifth
1964– Interstate Men’s Eight Championship two seat – First
1964 – Olympic Games – Men’s Eight two seat – Eighth
1966 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1966 – World Championships – Men’s Eight stroke – Tenth
1969 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – First
1970 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – First
1970 – World Championships – Men’s Eight coach – Fifth
1972 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship co-coach – Third
1973 – World Junior Championships – team manager
1978 – Head of River VIC Scotch College 1st VIII coach 1st
1978 – National Championships School eights – coach – 1st
1979 – Head of River VIC Scotch College 1st VIII coach unplaced
1980 – Head of River VIC Scotch College 1st VIII coach unplaced
1981 – Head of River VIC Scotch College 1st VIII coach 3rd
1982 – Head of River VIC Scotch College 1st VIII coach unplaced
1979 –Interstate Women’s Four Championship coach – First
1979 – World Championships – Selected to coach Women’s Four - withdrew due to work commitments.
FISA Umpire 1960-1978, Australian Umpire from about 1961/62 & Victorian Umpire 40 years.
Life member and past President of Mercantile Rowing Club
Life member of the Victorian Rowing Association
Victorian Rowing Association Executive - two stints as Chairman.
Unparalleled service to Scotch College as coach, rowing master and mentor – 1963-1996. He introduced sculling in 1980s which transformed the school rowing program.
Joint founder, inaugural President & life member of the Cardinal club – a club affiliated with RV
Fundraising committee for Australian Teams in 1966, 1967 (Chair), 1970, 1973, 1979 (Chair)

Andrew Guerin 2010 (updated 2016)

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Graeme Boykett

Mercantile Rowing Club
1966 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship three seat – First
1966 – World Championships – Men’s Eight three seat – Tenth
1967 – USA National Championships – Men’s Coxed Four stroke – Second
1967 – North American Championships – Men’s Coxed Four stroke – First
1967 – European Championships – Men’s Coxed Four stroke - Eighth
1968 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – Second
1968 - Olympic Games - selected by AARC for Men’s Coxed Four but rejected by AOF for team size reasons.
1969 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1970 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship stroke – First
1970 – World Championships – Men’s Eight stroke - Fifth
1971 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship bow – First
1972 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship six seat - Third
1979 – Interstate Men’s Championship manager
1980 – Interstate Championships team manager
1981 – Interstate Championships team manager
1990 – Trans Tasman Juniors Australian Team Manager
1991 – Trans Tasman Juniors Australian Team Manager
1992– Trans Tasman Juniors Australian Team Manager
1994 – Nations Cup & Trans Tasman Under 23 – team manager
1994 – Trans Tasman Under 23 – team manager
1995 – Trans Tasman Juniors Australian Team Manager
Graeme has maintained a strong connection with the sport throughout his life with his coaching at both school and club, his team management at both State and National levels and also his twenty plus years umpiring. He is a mainstay of the sport.

1967 North American Championships - Graeme centre front

Andrew Guerin 2015

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Bill Bradshaw

Mercantile Rowing Club
1972 - Life Member Mercantile Rowing Club
1962-66 - Hon Secretary Victorian Rowing Association
1966-85 - Executive Committee Victorian Rowing Association
1986 - Life member of the Victorian Rowing Association


Regatta organizer within Victoria for several decades including several Australian Championships. Bill was known as the Regatta King. Not only was a long serving and excellent competition manager for Victorian rowing, he was an innovator. Many of the things we take for granted today, arose from the work of Bill Bradshaw.

He personally lifted the standard and professionalism of regatta organisation in Australia by running regattas of a very high standard. Other State Associations had to match the standard at Interstate and National Championships.

His confident and calm demeanour was born of excellent planning, thoroughness and experience: having seen all issues, he was capable of dealing with them in an expeditiously and correct manner.

Andrew Guerin 2015

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<back to Victorian Rowing Hall of Fame Index

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