The thirtieth Head of the River was held on Albert Park Lake on 21st May 1897 which enabled a first & final. The use of Albert Park Lake was not a first choice. Melbourne Grammar who had the choice had both the Upper and Lower Yarra courses refused by authorities.
The start was uneven and Geelong led early from Scotch. Melbourne then made their run and took a length lead. Geelong fought back in the last part of the race but their run was too late and a one half length margin resulted.
Starter: C S Cunningham
Umpire: C S Cunningham
Judge: Mr Harold A C Irving
Margins: 1/2 & 3 lengths
1st Melbourne Grammar - Bow: J C Cockbill, 2: H R Hillman, 3: O D Jager, Str: W D Alexander, Cox: C H Anderson, Cch: A J Evans
2nd Geelong Grammar - Bow: O Calvert, 2: A N Aitken, 3: J V Wallace, Str: H D K Macartney, Cox: E R White, Cch: A F Garrard
3rd Scotch College - Bow: Edwin H Muir, 2: Henry H B Gillett, 3: John T Graham, Str: John T Anderson, Cox: Keith A Forbes, Cch: Stephen J Morell
4th Wesley College - Bow: E Harris, 2: H Cumpston, 3: H L Heys, Str: J W Grigg, Cox: unknown, Cch: unknown
The stations were: Eastern - MGS, WC next, then GGS and on the outside SC.
The course favoured the eastern station. The start was uneven with WC getting the benfit of the start. By the half mile, GGS had gained a lead of a length from Scotch and then MGS. MGS then made their move gaining a lead of a length. GGS fought back but their efforts were too late and the MGS won by 1/2 length. Scotch lost a lot from poor steering and were 3 lengths further back with WC still further in the rear.
(This was not raced at the Head of the River regatta but on the Barwon on 8th October 1897.)
Margins: 5 lengths and 5 lengths
1st Geelong Grammar
2nd Melbourne Grammar
3rd Wesley College