The second Head of the River race was conducted on the Upper Yarra on 18th June 1869.
The Grammar crew had trained for a longer period than the College crew but the College crew were heavier. The race was open for both crews to win but a strong finish by Scotch with some final strong strokes got them across the line. There is a dispute as to whether the margin was 2 feet or 5-6 feet. Either way the race was tight.
A press report syas: It was utterly impossible to say which crew would win till within a few yards of the winning post, when the College lads, with a few powerful strokes, succeeded in winning by four or five feet, The boats were not clear of one another from start to finish.
The winning Scotch coach of the previous year, was this year joined by John Phillips as co-coach.
The time of 8:30 shows that the equipment used, being string-test gigs with fixed seats, were no match for current equipment. Also the average weight of the MGS crew was only 9st 8.5lbs so the rowers of today would be considerably larger.
The lithograph on the right provides an impression of river life at that time.
Starter: Mr John C Johnstone
Umpire: Mr Tom Colles
Judge: Mr T C Hope
Head of the River
Margin: 5 feet
1st Scotch College - Bow: Alexander McArthur, 2: William Oliver, 3: Middleton B McDonald, Str: John Catto, Cox:
Joseph A Nathan, Cchs: John C Johnstone & John W Phillips
2nd Melbourne Grammar School - Bow: H M Strachan, 2: T W C Riddell, 3: J Watson, Str: E A Crawford, Cox: A J Manifold, Cch: not known