History of Richmond Rowing Club
- Table of Contents
- 1. Founding the Richmond Rowing Club
- 2. The Boathouses
- 3. Regattas
- 4. The Golden Years
- 5. Training and Selection
- 6. Women at Richmond Rowing Club
- 7. Social and Fundraising
- 8. Looking Forward: the next chapter
- Titles and Awards
- State, National and Major Title Winners
The first Melbourne Amateur Regatta, conducted on the Yarra River for sweep oared rowing was held in 1860 and continued until 1903.
In October 1863, the newly formed Richmond Rowing Club was organising the Melbourne Annual Regatta of 1863. The organising committee collected
over £150 for prizes and the regatta was to take place on Monday 9th November 1863 on the Saltwater River, now known as Maribyrnong River.
The day was a holiday to celebrate the Prince of Wales birthday. It was estimated that between 4,000 and 8,000 spectators attended the regatta.
Entries for the regattas were promoted in notices of the newspapers, both daily and weekly, with details of when and where entries were to be taken.
These often took place in the hotels in the inner city area. Results of rowing regattas were also widely reported in the papers of the day.
The reports would list the crews who competed and include seat position and weight of the person, or the average weight of the crew.
Richmond City Regatta
October 1914, The Argus newspaper reports that Richmond Rowing Club opened the season with scratch four oar races for trophies presented by the committee. Forty-eight oarsmen competed, and some excellent racing resulted. The president [Mr Allied Wood] acted as starter, and Mr Charles Cox as judge.
Another The Argus newspaper report states that on Saturday 10th January 1925 RRC held the annual "Dimmey" pair-oared races for trophies, over a short course. Members took part in a char-a-bane picnic to Warrandyte the next day.
In March 1926 the first Richmond Rowing Club crew travelled to Launceston to compete in the Henley on Tamar. Richmond continued to travel south to Tasmania to compete in various regattas in the state until 1940.
Transport and regattas Country and interstate regattas have been an important part of rowing competition. Before the current road transport vehicles, boats would be transported
by railroad to destinations where a regatta was conducted. The boats were floated across the Yarra to the railway yards, or de-rigged and carried
across Princes Bridge to the railway station. They were then loaded on to flat top rail trucks for carriage to country areas. On arrival at the
country railway station, the boats were then wheeled on jinkers [horse drawn cart] to the regatta venue. Some of these regattas no longer exist,
such as Horsham, Seymour, Shepparton, Lilydale Lakes and Preston [Lake Edwards).
As transport methods developed and rowing clubs had access, flat bed trucks were used to get to regattas held in locations where clubs could not row boats to the event or to the country regattas. Eventually trailers, capable of moving the boats and equipment to regattas, and towed by motor cars were introduced.
Yea: the year we sank the boat
"The rowing course at Yea had an extremely fast current. Water flowed out from the weir upstream and screamed down the Goulburn River.
At the Yea Regatta you had to put the boat in at the finish line, do a U turn and go down the far side of the river to the start. Well one year,
I was stroking the four and we were in a brand new boat. We got in and were going down to the start. We got about three boat lengths down and
there was a snag in the river, just below the surface.
Well it went in below the two seat and it was like a can opener. It ripped the boat right along the bottom, all the way to stroke seat. We started to fill up with water and when I jumped over the side, it was freezing! We had to swim the boat across the river to get out again. Kevin Kost, a young boy, was our coxswain and we had to make sure he was all right. By the time we reached the other side where the people were the current had taken us about half a mile downstream, it was that quick! And when we got out we were all blue!"
Colac: how to line up an eight in a cross wind
"Lake Colac had a reputation for being full of sewerage. You had to row down to the start and turn around onto the starting line.
Well, one day it was really windy and we were in an eight and couldn't line up straight the wind was that strong. So the bowman actually got out of the boat to stand in the water and hold the boat steady.
When the gun went off he jumped back in the boat and started rowing."
Walter (Wally) Lambert
Born 1919; died 1993
Wally Lambert was the best of Australian talent and until 1988 was the only Australian Olympic representative. He joined RRC in 1936 as he thought he needed more exercise. He was a promising young Richmond oarsman, and stroked the 1939 King's Cup crew. In 1940 Wally won the RRC trophy for novice sculler. Wally was an outstanding stroke man who appears to have been selected solely in that seat.
After the Second World War, Wally stroked two winning King's Cup crews, achieved Olympic selection in 1948 and represented Australia on two other occasions.
Wally's greatest rowing achievement was his gold medal win, with regular partner Jack Webster (South Melbourne), in the coxless pairs at the 1950 Empire Games in new Zealand. The pair was coached by Lochie Thompson, another RRC members. From 1930-50, Wally and Jack were considered among Australia's best champion rowers.
Mt Lambert's widow, Sheila, reflected in an obituary in The Sun newspaper that her husband felt he had reached the pinnacle of his rowing career when he was awarded an Olympic blazer to participate in the 1948 London Game. 'He absolutely treasured his Olympic blazer and was so proud to have represented Australia,' Mrs Lambert said.
Wally Lambert was inducted into Rowing Victoria's Hall of Fame in 2011.