The twenty-second Head of the River provided Geelong Grammar the opportunity to continue their winning streak but with the winning margin reduced down to 3/4 length.
The race was conducted on 31 May 1889 on the Lower Yarra over 1 1/4 miles.
This allowed all four crews to race in a final for the first time. The straight wide river enabled a first and final to be rowed. The advantages for this new arrangement were obvious with crews placed in order of merit and the course was fairer than upstream. Melbourne Grammar, being the school with the choice of course this year, must be given the credit for this breaking with tradition.
The course was intended to be 1 1/4 miles but the starter apparently got the start point wrong and it was slightly longer.
Alexander Lewis, the bow man of the Scotch crew, raced in four Heads of the River, including stroking two winning crews.
Starter: Mr G G Henderson
Umpire: Mr J A Levey
Judge: Mr C S Cunningham
Margins: 3/4, 2 & 3 lengths
1st Geelong Grammar - Bow: J H Davison, 2: H Gillett, 3: E W Bagot, Str: T Parkin, Cox: E Robertson, Cchs: James L Cuthbertson & Stephen Fairbairn
2nd Melbourne Grammar - Bow: C S E Langley, 2: S M Brown, 3: W F Sully, Str: H Y Brown, Cox: A J Dudgeon, Cch: A Holcroft
3rd Scotch College- Bow: Alexander R Lewis, 2: James V McEacharn, 3: Leslie Jenner, Str: Hubert D Morrison, Cox: Ralph B Ross, Cch: Frederick W Woolrabe
4th Wesley College - Bow: S J Donohoo, 2: W R Thomson, 3: C Hawkins, str: R R Knight, Cox: H D Johnson, Cch: J Champion
The race started poorly, largely due to the starters work. Wesley were far from prepared. Scotch and Melbourne got the better of the start but the Geelong boys soon prevailed. The next part of the race was a splendid race between Scotch and Melbourne. These two nearly had a race for first place when the Geelong cox headed in the wrong direction. This steering cost Geelong a couple of lengths but their superiority was enough to win by nearly a length.
(This race was not conducted at the Head of the River regatta but on 11th October on Albert Park Lake in a first and final.)
Margins: 1 1/2 lengths, 2 1/2 lengths and 1 1/2 lengths
1st Geelong Grammar
2nd Melbourne Grammar
3rd Scotch College
4th Wesley College