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History of the Tasmanian SATIS Head of the River rowing regatta

SATIS Head of the River

A Brief History

In 1916, a provision by the Tasmanian Independent Schools Association was made for the “Head of the River” for four-oared boats.[1] The schools that were involved in this inaugural race were[2]:

  • The Friends’ School,
  • Hutchins School,
  • Launceston Church Grammar School,
  • Leslie House (later known as Clemes College),
  • Scotch College, and
  • St. Virgil’s College

The regatta was held on the Derwent on Saturday, April 15 1916. Although the regatta was marred with heavy winds and rainfall, the occasion was met with “very keen interest” amongst all competitors and spectators from the schools.[3] The one-and-a-half-mile course on the Derwent began near Government House and finished opposite the naval jetty.[4]

From 1919, “The Golden Fleece Cup” was presented to the Tasmanian Secondary Schools Sports Association by Captain Alan Brown D.F.C. of Launceston. [5] The Cup was presented to the winner of the annual ‘Head of the River’ race from 1919, and was to become the property of the school who won the race three years in succession.[6] Launceston Church Grammar School were the first to own the coveted trophy after their victory for the third year in-a-row in 1921.[7] 

As rowing developed as a tradition in private schools during the 20th century, the Tasmanian Independent Schools Head of the River became a major social event on the school calendar.[8] Crowds from all schools lined the banks to cheer on their crews. In 1931, a junior (seconds) category in fours was introduced and from 1932, an Old Boys Race was held. Launceston Church Grammar became the first school to win both the Firsts and Junior Head of the River in 1936.[9] 

Due to WWII, the Head of the River in the period 1940-1945 split into two regattas; the Northern and Southern Head of the River.[10] This decision was made by the Tasmanian Public Schools Association, meaning that the Golden Fleece Cup was not awarded during these years.[11] In 1944 and 1945, winners of Northern Head of the River raced against Winners of Southern Head of the River. Launceston Church Grammar won the senior race in both these years, over Hutchins School in 1944[12] and The Friends’ School in 1945.[13] Despite the Golden Fleece Cup not given in these two years, Launceston Grammar are still given the titles for these years.[14] Also, in 1944, the Southern Head of the River held a thirds event as rowing programmes largened at schools, particularly Hutchins and Friends’.[15] The thirds category became a more regular fixture from 1947.[16]

In 1946, Clemes College merged with The Friends’ School.[17] Clemes won a total of 3 Head of the River regattas, including the inaugural regatta in 1916. They also won in 1940 when the regatta was split between northern and southern schools.

The 1950 Head of the River was initially cancelled in March of that year because of the danger of polio.[18] However, restrictions on school sports were lifted and the regatta went forward on Saturday, April 29 of that year.[19]

In 1953, a fourths category was raced for the first time at the Head of the River.[20]

From 1959, the blue-riband event changed from a four-oared to eight-oared race.[21] 1959 was also the first time the race distance changed from 1 or 1⅛ miles to 2000 metres. In 1961, a lightweight four was introduced where no crew member could exceed 9 stone, 7 pounds (approx. 60kgs).[22] By 1967, underage events were introduced which included Under 14, 15 and 16 IV’s.[23] By the 1990’s, only Under 16’s and Open events featured sweep rowing, meanwhile, Under 13, 14 and 15 events transitioned to sculling including coxed quads, doubles and singles.

The Head of the River regatta significantly expanded in 1987 with the introduction of a girls’ four-oared race. [24] This was won by St. Patrick’s College, the first major rowing victory for the co-educational school.[25] In 1992, the premiere girls’ event changed to an eight-oared race. In 1988, Dominic College were the first school to win both the boys and girls blue-ribband event in the same year.[26] It remains Dominic College’s only win in the boys’ open event.[27]

Since 1919, the event was held alternatively on the Tamar River and the Derwent River.[28] After the construction of Lake Barrington’s world-class rowing course, the Head of the River regatta has raced there every year since 1984.

Index to Results


Years in which SATIS Schools first competed in Boys First Crews

1916

  • The Friends’ School
  • Hutchins School
  • Launceston Church Grammar School
  • Leslie House/Clemes College:
    • 1926 - became known as Clemes College
    • 1946 - Clemes merged with The Friends' School
  • Scotch College
  • St. Virgil’s College

1919

  • St. Patrick's College

1984(?)

  • Dominic College

Schools who currently compete in Head of the River Regattas

School Colour
Fahan School (G) Navy blue, orange side panels
Guilford Young College (B & G) Navy blue, gold, red and black hoops
Hutchins School (B) Magenta and black
Launceston Church Grammar School (B & G) White and dark blue vertical stripes
Mt. Carmel College (G) Yellow and navy, white sash
St. Brendan-Shaw College (B & G) Navy, green V-stripe
St. Mary’s College (G) Light blue, green and brown hoops
St. Michael’s Collegiate School (G) White, red hoops
St. Patrick’s College (B & G) Green and gold vertical stripes
St. Virgil’s College (B) Blue, gold side panels
Scotch Oakburn College (B & G) Gold and navy
The Friends’ School (B & G) Red and navy
 

Sources

[1] "Sporting Island: A history of sport and recreation in Tasmania" by David Young 2005, Sport and Recreation Tasmania, p. 178

[2] Ibid

[3] Hutchins School Magazine, June 1916

[4] “Look back, Rating High: A History of Australian Rowing” Volume 1 by Robin Poke page 186

[5] ROWING. (1919, 6 May), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954) p. 8, Retrieved 1 May, 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/12400053

[6] Ibid

[7] “HEAD OF THE RIVER”. (1921, 24 October), World (Hobart, Tas.: 1918 – 1924), p. 7, Retrieved 4 May 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/190248574

[8] “Sporting Island: A history of sport and recreation in Tasmania” by David Young 2005, Sport and Recreation Tasmania, p.326 and 337

[9] ROWING. HEAD-OF-THE-RIVER TITLE (1936, 6 April), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 12, Retrieved 13 May 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/25207027

[10] CORRESPONDENCE – HEAD OF RIVER (1940, 8 March), Examiner (Launceston, Tas.: 1900 – 1954), p. 4, Retrieved 19 May 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/92667844

[11] Ibid

[12] Rowing HEAD-OF-RIVER TO GRAMMAR (1944, 17 April), Examiner (Launceston, Tas.: 1900 – 1954), p. 4, Retrieved 2 June 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/91400862

[13] Head-Of-River Races Won By Grammar School (1945, 10 April), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 15, Retrieved 2 June 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/26054697

[14] LAUNCESTON GRAMMAR WINS (1946, April 15), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 19, Retrieved 2 June 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/26181247

[15] ROWING HEAD-OF-RIVER (1944, April 3), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 10, Retrieved 2 June 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/26012218

[16] GRAMMAR OUTCLASSES RIVALS IN HEAD-OF-RIVER (1947, 31 March), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 19, Retrieved 3 June 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/26376899

[17] CLEMES COLLEGE HAS INDELIBLE NICHE IN TASMANIAN EDUCATION ANIMALS (1945, 11 December), Te Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 4, Retrieved 3 June 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/26136406

[18] “HEAD OF RIVER” CANCELLED (1950, 16 March), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 24, Retrieved 4 June 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/26696007

[19] Ibid

[20] ST. VIRGIL’S EASY WIN IN HEAD-OF-RIVER (1953, 20 April), The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 – 1954), p. 16, Retrieved 11 June 2020, from https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/27133412

[21] “Sporting Island: A history of sport and recreation in Tasmania” by David Young 2005, Sport and Recreation Tasmania, p.326 and 337

[22] Hutchins School Magazine, July 1961

[23] Hutchins School Magazine, September 1967

[24] “Sporting Island: A history of sport and recreation in Tasmania” by David Young 2005, Sport and Recreation Tasmania, p.326 and 337

[25] Ibid

[26] Ibid

[27] Ibid

[28] Ibid, p. 178

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