Four crews competed in the eleventh Head of the River held on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th May 1878 on the Upper Yarra.
Geelong Grammar won the event for the first time with a crew containing the great Steve Fairbairn, who was to go onto being one of the world's most influential rowing coaches. The Fairbairn Cup is named in honour of Stephen's bother Charles, the first Captain of Boats of Geelong Grammar.
Geelong Grammar, through it's coach J L Cuthbertson, started to lobby for eight oared races and continued until the Headmasters agreed in 1901.
Controversy over the use of sliding seats commences with fixed seats used until 1897.
Second crew races commenced this year with Geelong Grammar School winning the inaugural race.
Starter: Mr Tom Colles
Umpire: Prof Martin Howy Irving
Judge: No known
Margin: 6 lengths
1st Geelong Grammar - Bow: W T Manifold, 2: F L Armytage, 3: Stephen Fairbairn, Str: G M Smith, Cox: R A D Hood, Cchs: James L Cuthbertson & H B McCormick
2nd Melbourne Grammar - Bow: H A Grey-Smith, 2: Guy P Grey-Smith, 3: G R M Graham, Str: S J H Stephen, Cox: Arthur Edwards, Cch: P de J Grut
Other crews included:
Scotch College - Bow: Henry G Montgomery, 2: William J Bayles, 3: Henry C Elliot, Str: John G Robertson, Cox: Frederick J Edwards, Cch: John Wallace
Wesley College - Bow: J Johnson, 2: G H Tatchell, 3: H Turnbull, Str: A Robb, Cox: Jerome, Cch: Prof H M Andrew
E1: 1st GGS, 2nd WC, Margin: 3/4 length.
E2: 1st MGS, 2nd SC, Margin: 2 lengths
(This event was raced on Friday 27 and Saturday 28th September on the Upper Yarra and so not part of the Head of the River event.)
Time: No time available
Margin: 10 feet
1st Geelong Grammar
2nd Melbourne Grammar
Other crew competing:
E1: 1st GGS, 2nd WC. Margin 1 length. MGS secured the bye.