Skip navigation

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 F

Those appearing below are:

  1. Sir George Fairbairn, Melbourne
  2. Stephen Fairbairn, MUBC & Melb
  3. Barbara Fenner, MUBC
  4. Margot Foster, MUBC
  5. Pauline Frasca, Mercantile
  6. Deirdre Fraser, Bendigo/MUBC
  7. Hubert Frederico, Mercantile
  8. Kay Fry, MUBC

Sir George Fairbairn

Melbourne Rowing Club
The awards committee was drawn to Sir George Fairbairn as a founder and inaugural President of Australian Henley, a regatta which brought great fame and support to the sport. He was also a distinguished President of the Association and the winning stroke of the very first Intercolonial Eight Oared Championship.


Sir George Fairbairn

1878 – First Intercolonial Eight Championship stroke – First
1921-24 – President Victorian Rowing Association
1929-43 – Vice-President Victorian Rowing Association
1904-43 – President and a founder of the Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association

Fairbairn (1855-1943) was a pastoralist, politician, company director and oarsman, was born on 23 March 1855 at Newtown, Geelong, Victoria. He did not row at school as Geelong Grammar School had not yet created a boat club. He took up rowing at Jesus College Cambridge University but only at College level. He stroked the Melbourne eight against a Geelong eight prior to the Intercolonial contest in 1878. Sir George Fairbairn was a senator and also the Victorian Agent General in London. He was a founder of Henley on the Yarra and President of that organization from it’s beginning until his death. He was President of the Victorian Rowing Association from 1921 to 1924 and a Vice President until his death.

Andrew Guerin 2011

top of page

Stephen Fairbairn

Stephen Fairbairn is credited by noted British rowing historian Chris Dodd as revolutionising British rowing in 1920-30s. His Fairbairn style also revolutionised rowing in Australia at the same time. He is recognised as the most influential Australians in world rowing. Although the following descriptions will over simplify his message, he showed rowers how best to use a sliding seat as against orthodox styles which retained elements of the stroke from fixed seat rowing. His training methods were based upon many miles on the water. His coaching method was labelled a state of mind rather than a set of rules as he introduced psychology to coaching. Michael D. de B. Collins Persse’s biography of Fairbairn notes his sayings: 'If you can't do it easy, you can't do it at all'; 'It has all got to come from inside you, laddies'; 'Enjoy your rowing, win or lose'; 'Mileage makes champions'. He described the best action for moving a boat as 'an exact imitation of the Heave Ho of eight sailors heaving at a rope, a perfect loose and easy elastic action'—elsewhere described as 'swan-like' and 'dreamy-looking'. There was something of the mystic in his search for perfection in rowing.
He learnt to row at Geelong Grammar in the late 1870s and early 1880s. There is a beautiful description of his rowing on the Barwon as a school boy in his autobiography “Fairbairn of Jesus”. The boys would set off before dawn to the boatshed carrying with them their food for the day, billy and pan on which to cook. They rowed up river for half a day and then back again stopping for swimming and food. They all took turns in every seat including coxing. “We never knew a boy who could row on only one side of the boat.” It showed his life-long support for endurance training, how he developed his natural “Fairbairn” style and his principles on oarsmanship.
Whilst Stephen Fairbairn’s rowing activities were largely conducted outside Victoria, the Awards Committee could not overlook such an influential Victorian on world rowing.

Stephen Fairbairn
1878 – Head of the River (GGS) three seat – First
1882 – The Boat Race (Oxford v Cambridge Universities)
1883 – The Boat Race (Oxford v Cambridge Universities) - second
1886 – The Boat Race (Oxford v Cambridge Universities) - first
1887 – The Boat Race (Oxford v Cambridge Universities) - first
1889 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship five seat – First
1896 – University Championships – Adelaide University coach – First
1899 – Head of the River (Scotch College) coach – First
1899 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championships Queensland coach - Fourth
1901 – University Championships – Melbourne University – second
1912 – Olympic Games – Assisted with coaching of Australian crew.
1919 – Should have coached the AIF crews but was too ill at the time.

Andrew Guerin 2010

top of page

Barbara Fenner

Melbourne University Boat Club
1978 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship VIC two seat– First
1978 – World Championships – Women’s Eight two seat – Eighth
1979 –Interstate Women’s Four Championship VIC emergency
1980 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship VIC three seat - First
1980 – Canadian Henley – Women’s Lightweight Four –Gold
1981 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship VIC three seat – First
1982 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship VIC stroke - First
1982 - Canadian Henley – Women’s Lightweight Four –Gold
1983 – Victorian Fundraiser for Australian Team
1983-89 – Assistant Secretary Rowing Victoria Inc
1983-89 – Victorian selector
1984 – Interstate Women’s Championship VIC manager
1984 – World Championships – team manager
1985 – World Championships – assistant team manager
1987 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship VIC coach - First
1987 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship VIC coach - First
1987 – World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Four coach – Fourth
1988 - Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship VIC coach – First
1988 – World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Four coach – Silver
1989 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship VIC coach – Race not conducted due to a cyclone.
1989 - World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Four coach – Fourth
1990 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship (SA) coach - Second
1991 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship coach - Third
1991 – Australian team to visit Canada – Women’s Lightweight Four coach
1992 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship coach - Fourth
1992 – Trans Tasman Juniors Women’s Four & Double Scull coach
1993 – Interstate Men’s Youth Eight Championship co-coach – Third
1993 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship co-coach - Fourth
1993– Trans Tasman Juniors Men’s Eight coach
1993 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Coxless Four coach - Fourth
1993 – Trans Tasman Men’s Eight coach
1994 – Interstate Men’s Youth Eight Championship coach - Fifth
1994 – World Junior Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Bronze
1994 – Nations Cup – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Ninth
1995 – Trans Tasman Juniors Men’s Double & Quad Scull coach
1995 – Nations Cup - Men’s Coxless Four co-coach
1995 – Nations Cup – Women’s Lightweight Double Scull coach
1996 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship co-coach – Sixth
1996 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship coach – First
1997-2000 – Selector for juniors and under 23
1997-2002 – National Director of Coaching Education
1998-present – FISA Youth Commission
2000 – Nations Cup & World Junior Championships – selector
2001 – World Junior and Under 23 Championships - Selector
2002 – World Championships – Selector
2003 – World Championships – Selector
2004 – Olympic Games & World Championships – Women’s selector
2005 – World Championships - Selector
2006 – World Championships - Selector
2007 – World Championships - Selector
2008 – Olympic Games and World Championships - Selector
2009 – World Championships - Selector
2010 – World Championships - Selector
2011 – World Championships - Selector
2012 – Olympic Games and World Championships - Selector

Barbara Fenner whilst coaching at SASI

Barbara has one of the most impressive records as a rower, coach, coaching educator, team manager, selector, administrator and rowing historian. She has no peer in her breadth of involvement and success. If we were to provide some highlights, they would be her advocacy and development of women’s lightweight rowing, being the first female coach to represent Australia at a World Championships in 1987, FISA Youth Commission member, the development and implementation of ‘Go Rowing’, the establishment of the most successful talent identification and development scheme in Australia and generally being a leader and in the vanguard of rowing developments in Australia.

Andrew Guerin 2013

top of page

Margot Foster

Melbourne University Ladies’ Rowing Club
1981 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship emergency
1982 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship bow – First
1983 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship emergency
1984 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship bow – First
1984 – Olympic Games – Women’s Coxed Four stroke – Bronze
1985 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship three seat – First
1985 – World Championships – Women’s Pair stroke – Eighth
1986 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship stroke – First
1986 – Commonwealth Games – Women’s Eight stroke – Gold
1986 – World Championships – Women’s Pair – Tenth
1985-1992 – Member of the AOC Athletes Commission
1985-1992 – Member of the AOC Education Commission
1988 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship stroke – First
1989-91 – Secretary General of ARC following John Boultbee
1990 – Member of the Melbourne Olympic Bid Committee
1991 – Trans Tasman Under 23 Series Australian team manager
1998 – Board Member of the Australian Sports Commission
2002-2004 – Board Member SPARC – New Zealand Sports Commission

1984 Olympic Medal Presentation - Margot second from the right


Margot's rowing carer began she was a student at the University of Melbourne and resident at Trinity College. A women's intercollegiate rowing competition had been revived in the mid 70s by fellow MUBC member Barb Fenner who was a resident at Ormond College. In third year Margot was persuaded to give rowing a go and the rest, they say, is history. Margot competed for Trinity for 3 years and then made for her first Victorian team.

Margot continued rowing until 1988 when the Australian selectors decided not to send any women to the Seoul Olympic Games. By this time Margot had been appointed to the inaugural Australian Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission of which she was deputy chair to water polo Olympian Peter Montgomery. That appointment was for 8 years. She was also appointed to the AOC's Education Commission thus beginning her next career in sports administration and leadership.

Margot has served on numerous boards and committees in sport. She followed John Boultbee as Secretary General for Rowing Australia, was appointed by then Premier John Cain to the board of Melbourne's 1996 Olympic Bid Committee and by Federal Sports Minister and fellow rower Jackie Kelly to the Australian Sports Commission. Margot also spent 2 years on the board of SPARC the New Zealand equivalent of the ASC. In addition to other non sporting boards, she has been on boards for Rowing Victoria, Australian & New Zealand Sports Law Association, Melbourne University Ladies' Rowing Club, University of Melbourne Sport & Physical Recreation Committee and the University's Blues Board, FISA Masters Commission, Womensport Australia and founder of Womensport & Recreation Victoria and Melbourne & Olympic Parks Trust. Margot continues to combine the running of her legal practice with her roles on the boards of Gymnastics Australia, Vicsport, Australian Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association, WOMCC (Women of the MCC), is a member of the disciplinary tribunal panel for Football Federation Victoria and is Patron of Melbourne Girls' School's rowing programme. With her combination of years in sport and in the law her interest has also been in the good governance of the sports bodies with which she has been involved.

Margot’s father John competed in water polo in 1952 and 1856. Her brother Peter competed in 1988 winning bronze in the K2 1000. The IOC records show them as the only family to have competed in three different sports.

Andrew Guerin 2010

top of page

Pauline Frasca

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)
2003 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championship four seat - Second
2003 – World Under 23 World Regatta – Women’s Four - Silver
2004 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championship three seat - Third
2005 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships six – Gold
2005 – World Championships Women’s Eight six – Gold
2006 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships four – Gold
2007 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships seven – Gold
2008 – Interstate Women’s Eight Championships four – Gold
2010-11 - Captain of Mercantile Rowing Club

2005 World Champion Eight - Pauline in six seat

Fleur is a teacher and is multi lingual. She is currently teaching in Sweden. She maintained her interest in rowing after her competition days taking on administrative roles at Mercantile Rowing Club including Captain and Vice-Captain.

Andrew Guerin 2015

top of page

Deirdre Fraser

Bendigo Rowing Club and Melbourne University Women’s Rowing Club
1991 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship two seat - First
1991 – World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Four three seat – Fifth
1992 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship stroke - First
1992 – World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Four bow – Gold
1993 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship three seat - First
1993 – World Championships – Women’s Lightweight Four bow – Fourth
1995 – Interstate Women’s Lightweight Four Championship two seat – Second
1995-1999 – General Manager Rowing Victoria Inc

1992 World Champion Lightweight Four - Deirdre far left

Deirdre began rowing in late 1996 and credits her transition from beginner rower to Australian representative in four years to the many hours of training with her sister Caitlin and the advice of fellow Hall of Fame inductee Deborah Basset. On joining Melbourne University Boat Club, fellow Hall of Fame inductee Brian Dalton developed her with persistence and good humour as her coach. As a scholarship holder of the VIS from 1990-1995, Deirdre cites that the support of this then new program as a significant factor in her performance. As an aside, the VIS program was attributable to the foresight and leadership of inaugural CEO, the late Dr Frank Pyke.

The Awards Committee also notes that both she and her sister Caitlin represented Australia, she and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Minnie Cade were one of the great lightweight pairs of Australia and fierce competitors and that Deirdre also made a great contribution to the Victorian rowing as general manager of the Association. Deirdre married fellow rower Alan Peckham and lives in Melbourne.

Andrew Guerin 2013

top of page

Hubert Frederico

Mercantile Rowing Club
1947 – Xavier College first eight – cox
1949 – Xavier College second eight – bow
1957 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship bow – First
1958 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship bow – First
1959 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship bow – Second
1960 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship bow – Third
1966 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – First
1966 – World Championships – Men’s Eight coach – Tenth
1967 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – Fourth
1967 – USA National Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach – Second
1967 – North American Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach – First
1967 – European Championships – Men’s Coxed Four coach - Eighth
1968 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – Second
1968 – Olympic Games Men’s Coxed Four coach - Selected by AARC but rejected by AOF for team size reasons.1969–74 & 1987-88 & 1990 – Xavier College first crew coach
1973 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – Second
1973 – Interstate Men’s Pair Championship coach – Fourth
1974 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach – Eliminated in repechage
1977 – National Championships Lightweight Eight coach – First
1977 – World Championships – Men’s Lightweight Eight coach – Bronze
1979 – Australian Schoolboy Eight Championship – St Kevins, coach
1979–84, and again in the late 90s – St Kevins College first eight coach
1979–2011 –Vice-President of Mercantile Rowing Club
1979–98 – President of the Rowing Victoria Inc (then Victorian Rowing Association Inc)
Judge of the Family Court of Australia

Freddie at 1977 World Championships

Throughout his 50+years of dedicated involvement in the sport, he excelled as a rower, coach, administrator and leader. He commenced his rower career at Xavier College where he coxed the first crew in 1947, missed out on coxing the winning 1948 crew through appendicitis and raced as a rower in the second eight in 1949. He joined Mercantile Rowing Club and succeeded in racing in many successful senior eight crews and his rowing career culminated in being a member of two winning King’s Cup crews in 1957 and 1958. It was during this time he met and married Beth Williams, the daughter of then Victorian Rowing Association President, Mick Williams.

As a coach he coached a winning King’s Cup crew, many school crews as well as many winning National Championship crews. He coached or substantially assisted in coaching first crews at Xavier College, St Kevins College, Brighton Grammar School and Melbourne Grammar. He was generous in his coaching. For example he coached a development club crew the season after he had coached an Australian crew to a bronze medal.

Perhaps one of his best known crews was the 1966-68 men’s four of Graeme Boykett, Stephen Gillon, David Douglas, John Harry and cox Tom Daffy. They won the North American Championships in 1967, the proxy World Championships for that year, and missed out on selection for the Olympic team due to the restriction on team size following the poor rowing performances in 1960 and 1964.

One of the stories that will live in folklore was is the day that he lost his car into the Yarra. It was the practice in those days to park cars on the Yarra bank during regattas. Obviously the brake was not applied correctly and the car slowly slipped down the slope into the river. When he passed on his coaching bike, he was too engrossed in his coaching to give it a thought.

His most successful crew was a lightweight eight which won a bronze medal at the World Championships in 1977.

In 1979 he followed the footsteps of his father-in-law and became President of Rowing Victoria. In that role he provided excellent leadership and sage advice to the committee. In his first year as President of Rowing Victoria, he oversaw the amalgamation of the Victorian Rowing Association and the Victorian Ladies’ Rowing Association. The Rowing Victoria Annual Report noted this event as “probably the most important happening in the 105 year history of the Association.” His input into the many months of discussions was profound.

He also oversaw the creation of two new courses during his term, namely the new Carrum and Nagambie courses and the holding of National Championships at both these venues. Further during his time as President, he oversaw the introduction of professional management of the Association. He also personally pursued some projects which he deemed important to Victorian rowing. For example, he had Jeffries Parade renamed Boathouse Drive to cement the position of the Boat Clubs. He was a lifelong supporter of rowing and we are the richer for his efforts.

Andrew Guerin 2011

top of page

Kay Fry

Melbourne University Ladies’ Rowing Club then Canberra Rowing Club
1982 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship (VIC) cox – First
1982 National Championships – Women’s Four cox - First
1985 – Interstate Women’s Four - Championship (VIC) cox – First
1985 – National Championships - Women’s Four cox - First
1985 – Trans Tasman Under 23 Series Australian Women’s sweep cox
1986 – National Championships – Women’s Four cox - First
1986 – Commonwealth Games – Women’s Eight cox – Gold
1986 – Commonwealth Games – Women’s Four cox – Silver
1986 – National Championships – Women’s Eight cox - First
1986 – World Championships – Women’s Four cox – Seventh
1987 – Interstate Women’s Four Championship cox – First
1987 – National Championships – Women’s Four cox - First
1987 – World Championships – Women’s Four cox – Seventh
1990 – World Championships – Women’s Eight cox – Seventh
1996 – National Championships –Women’s Eight cox - First
1996 – Olympic Games – Women’s Eight cox – Fifth

Kay at 1986 Commonwealth Games

Kay began coxing at MLC under the mentoring of Susie Palfreyman and was the cox of the winning MLC crew that won the APS women’s four in 1984. Kay first represented Victoria in 1982. She became one of the first AIS scholarship holders in 1985 and remained on scholarship to 1991. She was coaxed out of retirement in 1996 and selected to cox the Women’s eight in Atlanta. Kay currently lives in Canberra with her husband, fellow Olympian Bruce Hick her two boys, Daniel and Ben, and her mother Maureen.

Andrew Guerin 2011

top of page

<back to Victorian Rowing Hall of Fame Index

< back to Personalities of the Sport Index

Surnames starting with:ABC D EFGHI JKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

< previous Appendix 14 University Rowing

top of page