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History of the Queensland GPS Head of the River rowing regatta

1961 QLD GPS Head of the River

The 1961 GPS Head of the River was conducted on April 8th 1961 on the Milton-Toowong Reach of the Brisbane River. 

It was a brilliant day for Brisbane Boys' College who claimed their 13th O'Connor Cup, their third since 1955 when the Head of the River was rowed in Eights as well as 7 wins out of the 9 that were rowed.

Below are some excerpts from Brisbane newspapers in the lead up to the regatta:

3 crews share Head of the River Favour.

Pre-race predictions place predictions place BBC, CEGS and BGS as equal favourites for the Head of the River Eights to be decided at 3.45 p.m. on the Milton Reach on Saturday. Training courses since their close finish at the BBC regatta a fortnight ago indicate that these three crews are maintaining their high standard and top form. This year’s illnesses to crew members and accidents have been higher than usual and all eights have suffered. The most seriously affected has been Gregory Terrace, who have had to take the place of E. Quin, who became ill and will miss the race on Saturday. Terrace are rowing with the usual fire and vigour which make them a crew to be reckoned with.

The Southport crew arrived in Brisbane yesterday and their eight combination will again be the heaviest of those competing being 3lb heavier in average weight over CEGS. The record of Southport in the top Head of the River race is most impressive. They have not been out of the first three in the past 10 years. The Brisbane State High School crew attended a rowing camp during Easter. They rowed three times a day and appeared to have regained the form they lost when their stroke, Bruce Morton was unable to row for a week. A 2000-metre training course on Easter Monday saw BBC lead CEGS by a length with Terrace three lengths further back. The form of all crews indicated that there will be a close finish again this year.”

Page 58, Telegraph, Wednesday 5th April 1961 Edition 

“BBC appear to have a slight edge over the other crews as the school eights wind up their training for the GPS Head of the River race tomorrow.

A crowd of more than 15000 is anticipated for the 8-race regatta. The BBC stroke, John Lyndon stroked the winning first four last year. He held his eight together for a win in a tight three-crew finish at the last club regatta. They have drawn number three position which places them in midstream where they will secure an early lift from the tide which still will be flowing upstream at the starting time of 3.45. BBC are regarded as the fastest starters. Brisbane Grammar, who won last year, have been training on their own. They have not done the course nor had starts with the other school eights. Though they have recorded fast training times for the 2000-metre course, lack of race practice could prove a disadvantage. However after much the same preparation last year they topped the favourites, Southport. Their winning stroke, Len Warren, again will set their rating tomorrow.

Southport, with an average weight of 13st 3lbs, and CEGS, with an average of 12st 11lbs, are two of the heaviest schoolboy combinations in Australia.

Both crews are fast but should show to even greater advantage if the conditions are at all choppy. Brisbane State High have developed into a fast crew in to physical condition. Their racing starts have improved and they can maintain good clearances at a rating of 36.

Gregory Terrace were showing very good pace early in their preparation but the need to replace a crew member who became ill has upset them.

Their average weight of 11.8 makes them once again the lightest crew. Drawn in lane four they should pace there neighbors, BBC, early in the race. Strokes and coxwains of all crews will receive pre-race instructions from regatta instructions from regatta officials at the Commercial Boathouse at 6 p.m.”

Page 38, Telegraph, Friday 7th April 1961

G.P.S. Head of the River Champions, Brisbane Grammar School, last Monday lopped 16 seconds off Brisbane Boys’ College’s record for the 2000 Metre course.

Observers on the bank clocked Grammar at 5 min 42 sec, a slashing trial for the defence of their title on Milton Reach tomorrow. Grammar are reported to have rowed in a similar type of tide to the one in 1957 when B.B.C. set the record of 5 min 58 sec. News of the time leaked out last night, but Grammar coach, Norm Hirst, had no comment.“All I will say is that we have a good sporting chance.” Said Hirst. Hirst added that his crew was as fit as last year’s champions, four of whom-stroke Len Warren, John Flutter (6), Fred Trueman (5) and cox Geoff Adsett - will be out again tomorrow. “The boys have done a similar type of circuit gymnasium training as last year’s crew” Hirst said.

Good judges favour B.B.C., Grammar, or “Churchie” but most agree that it will be a blanket finish. Grammar (1), Southport (2), and B.B.C. (3) have the best alleys on the river. For those who follow omens. Southport won two successive titles (1958-1959) from Grammar’s No. 1 Alley. The stylish B.B.C. crew has the competitive record to win. They are unbeaten in their class this season and are a well knit seasoned combination. Churchie has the power and a willing crew to overcome the unfavourable No. 5 position. High’s coach, Wally Hughes, has no complaints about his crews No. 6 draw. High have a crack cox. Barry Irwin, who will be handy in a tight finish. Irwin has coxed three Head of the River crews and steered the commercial lightweight four to a state title at Rockhampton last Saturday.”

Page 11, The Courier-Mail, Friday 7th April 1961 Edition 

“So far, all Head of the River stories have hinged on big crews - well it’s the cox who make, or mars, a race, so meet Peter Cribb, 16, a tiny 7st 5lbs youth from Brisbane Boys’ College.

“Although Peter is only young, he’s been coxing for three years and in that time he’s built himself a reputation for canniness - and he deserves it” B.B.C. coach, David Magoffin said yesterday. “ In the last year out of 17 races, Peter has coxed his crew to victory 16 times. In the other race they came second.” He said. “All told he has had 27 wins. But he hasn’t let this go to his head, and he’ll always listen when you give him advice said Magoffin. “ As soon as he got back to school this year I made him the eight’s cox because of his record. He had his first race with the eight at the Toowong regatta in February. He’s doing well and is sure to be our eight cox next year also. “Peter is the only main in the eight who can see where the boat is going and our position at the end of the race depends a lot on him. “It is actual his combination with our stroke, John Lyndon, that could decide the race.” He said

David Magoffin’s pick for the winner of the [Head of the River]? “B.B.C.” he says. Favourites for the race are B.B.C., “Churchie” and Grammar on an equal footing. And an outside bet? State High report that they have had some very fast trials over the course. The 2000 metres “Head” race starts at 3.45 p.m., a short distance upstream from the William Jolly Bridge and will finish at the Toowong boat shed opposite the Regatta Hotel.”

Page 15, The Courier-Mail, April 8th 1961 Edition 


Organising Committee

Great Public Schools Association 

All Schools' Championship First Eight

The O'Connor Cup

Distance: 2000 Metres 

Winning Time: 6:12.00


0.75 Length (1-2)

0.5 Length (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: David M. H, Job, 2: Brian R. Perkins, 3: Donald K. Hall, 4: David A. Hood, 5: Chris A. Bartlett, 6: Paul A. White, 7: Bruce H. Carlyle, Str: John R. Lyndon, Cox: Peter M. Cribb, Coach: David Magoffin 

2nd Church of England Grammar School - Bow: D. L. Thomas, 2: B. P. Schmidt, 3: P. A. Cran, 4: F. I. Curtis, 5: R. L. Ridings, 6: L. W. Sturgess, 7: C. H. Tranberg, Str: M. S. Webster, Cox: P. C. Gates, Coach: J. Thodey  

3rd Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: J. Thomas, 2: M. O’Dwyer, 3: I. Walker, 4: W. Charlton, 5: F. Trueman, 6: J. Flutter, 7: G. Millman, Str: L. Warren, Cox: G. Adsett 

4th Gregory Terrace - Bow: K. Noonan, 2: R. Lopgren, 3: K. O'Hanlon, 4: B. Ward, 5: J. McCann, 6: F. Moloney, 7: R. Biss, Str: P. Lusk, Cox: K. Noonan, Coach: A. Flemming

5th The Southport School 

6th Brisbane State High School

1961 Victorious Brisbane Boys' College First VIII

1961 Head of the River Start

1961 Brisbane Boy's College After winning the 1961 Head of the River

Brisbane Boys' College preparing for the 1961 Head of the River 

Brisbane Grammar School First VIII preparing for the 1961 Head of the River

The Race Described

“The College eight skimmed elegantly over the line three quarters of a length ahead of Church of England Grammar School, who were half a length clear of Brisbane Grammar. Southport, one of the fancied crews, crabbed 800 yards from the start when within half a length of B.B.C. They could not recover sufficiently and finished well out of the race.

But no crew could have touched College. Coach Dave Magoffin sent them out to row their own race and stroke John Lyndon led them perfectly. Lyndon skipped away to a smart 38 rating, snatched an early lead and held it comfortably. Lyndon dropped the rating to 32 and hardly raised it from there. He called for only one spurt - when Churchie challenged 600 yards out. This explains the comparatively slow time of 6 min 12 sec - 14 seconds slower than the standard set by B.B.C.’s 1956 crew.

Lyndon said after the race: “We had no worries and rowed just as we wanted.” His cox, 7st 8lb Peter Cribb, 16, said: “No one got to within half a length of us. When Churchie crept close I called for six good one and we threw them off.”

Churchie stroke Max Webster had no excuses. “Everything went well for us. We lifted our rating but B.B.C. was too good.” Grammar, last year’s champions, looked a chance early but could not match it with Lyndon’s Eight. College crew looked as good as any of its famous predecessors. All except cox Cribb are 17.

As an eight this season they have won all races contested in their class and went close to winning the Brisbane championship eights last month. As two crews of four they shared four wins from four starts.

B.B.C. won seven of the nine events contested yesterday.”

Page 40, The Sunday Mail, Sunday April 9th 1961 Edition 

All Schools' First Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: 4:28.00


2 Lengths (1-2)

1 Canvas (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: Jamieson, 2: Allen, 3: Carlisle, Str: Illing, Cox: Head  

2nd Brisbane State High School - Bow: Harvey, 2: O’Keefe, 3: Cohen, Str: Peard, Cox: Bennett 

3rd Church of England Grammar School - Bow: D. Collyer, 2: A. Carter, 3: T. Back, Str: W. Hart, Cox: J. Anderson, Coach: B. Whelan

Other Competing Crews:

Gregory Terrace - Bow: M. Handy, 2: I. Jensen, 3: M. O'Connell, Str: A. Barbeler, Cox: T. McDonald

All Schools' Second Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: 4:32.00


2 feet (1-2)

2 Lengths (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: Goodwin, 2: Gardner, 3: Crichton, Str: Adams, Cox: Bennet 

2nd Brisbane Grammar School

3rd Church of England Grammar School - Bow: R. Wetherall, 2: P. Churven, 3: B. Carter, Str: W. Loxton, Cox: A. Love, Coach: T. Holt

Other Competing Crews:

Gregory Terrace - Bow: W. Morris, 2: J. Geary, 3: S. Kidman, Str: L. Lacey, Cox: T. McDonald 

All Schools' Third Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: 2:47.00


1 Length (1-2)

1.5 Lengths (2-3)

1st Gregory Terrace - Bow: J. Stirling, 2: E. Quinn, 3: Bartley, Str: Kennedy, Cox: P. Millet  

2nd Church of England Grammar School - Bow: R. Bleakley, 2: R. Michael, 3: D. Jull, Str: H. Arthur, Cox: D. Wilson, Coach: T. Holt

3rd Brisbane Boys’ College 

Winning crew, 1961 Gregory Terrace 3rd IV 

All Schools' Fourth Four

Distance: 0.5 Mile

Winning Time: 2:52.00


0.5 Length (1-2)

0.75 Length (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: Blunck, 2: Alexander, 3: Blackburne, Str: O’Reilly, Cox: Logan 

2nd Brisbane Grammar School 

3rd Church of England Grammar School  & Gregory Terrace 

C.E.G.S. - Bow: J. Baird, 2: R. Walker, 3: J. Hayes, Str: S. Goodman, Cox: G. Gates

Gregory Terrace - Bow: J. Panton, 2: P. Coyne, 3: D. Coutts, Str: J. Wheeler, Cox: B. McManus 

All Schools' Fifth Four

Distance: 0.5 Mile

Winning Time: 2:48.00


0.5 Length (1-2)

1 Canvas (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: McClymont, 2: Johnstone, 3: Ditch, Str: Leslie, Cox: Clarke 

2nd The Southport School 

3rd Gregory Terrace - Bow: N. McDermott, 2: J. Nilsson, 3: E. Murphy, Str: P. Murray, Cox: P. Millett 

Other Competing Crews:

Church of England Grammar School - Bow: P. Fry, 2: A. Bartlett, 3: W. W. Noble, Str: P. Neville, Cox: J. Noble, Coach: R. Herbert

All Schools' Sixth Four

Distance: 0.5 Mile

Times: 2:48.00


0.75 Length (1-2)

0.5 Length (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: Bryan, 2: Jensen, 3: Dowing, Str: Chapman, Cox: Webb 

2nd Brisbane State High School 

3rd Church of England Grammar School (a)- Bow: P. Richards, 2: R. Firster, 3: I. Vincent, Str: R. Black, Cox: P. Griffiths, Coach: R. Herbert

Other Competing Crews:

Church of England Grammar School (b) - Bow: W. Heaslop, 2: J. Purcell, 3: M. Howe, Str: G. Lund, Cox: O. Neilson

Gregory Terrace - Bow: B. Garrahy, 2: W. Mills, 3: W. Potter, Str: I. McKeering, Cox: D. Murr

All Schools' Seventh Four

Distance: 0.5 Mile

Winning Time: 2:46.00


1 Length (1-2)

1 Canvas (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: Marnatz, 2: Ricketts, 3: Russell, Str: Marshall, Cox: Webb 

2nd Brisbane Grammar School 

3rd Gregory Terrace - Bow: K. Joyce, 2: J. Gygar, 3: R. Parry, Str: T. Proctor, Cox: n/a

Other Competing Crews: 

Church of England Grammar School (a) - Bow: A. Johnson, 2: J. Woods, 3: A. Underwood, Str: R. Drake, Cox: P. Collyer

Church of England Grammar School (b) - Bow: I. Tilley, 2: D. Varley, 3: P. Makucha, Str: M. Reynolds, Cox: P. Best

All Schools' Eighth Four

Distance: 0.5 Mile

Winning Time: 3:00.00


2 feet (1-2) 

2 feet (2-3)

1st Church of England Grammar School (a) - Bow: P. Sekuless, 2: A. Lovelock, 3: B. Leutchford, Str: A. Leeds, Cox: R. Hall 

2nd Brisbane Grammar School 

3rd Brisbane Boys’ College

Other Competing Crews:

Church of England Grammar School (b) - Bow: P. Burton, 2: P. Snowball, 3: G. Early, Str: D. Park, Cox: M. Offner

Gregory Terrace - Bow: T. Larkin, 2: J. Delaney, 3: T. Coutts, Str: A. Stapleton, Cox: n/a 


Page 58, Telegraph, Wednesday 5th April 1961 Edition

Page 38, Telegraph, Friday 7th April 1961 Edition

Page 11, The Courier-Mail, Friday 7th April 1961 Edition

Page 15, The Courier-Mail,  Saturday 8th April 1961 Edition

Page 40, The Sunday Mail, Sunday 9th April 1961 Edition

Page n/a, The Sunday Mail, Sunday 9th April 1961 Edition

Page 60, 1961 St. Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace Newsletter

Page 13, Brisbane Boys' College 2016 Regatta Programme

Page 68-98, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, Published by Anglican Church Grammar School 

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