July 2016 News

Above – 2016 Australian Women’s Olympic Quad Scull at Lucerne – Jen Cleary second from left

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Mercantile at the Olympic Games

Published 29th July 2016


Mercantile and Victoria have always been great contributors to Australian rowing teams. This year is no exception. David “Chipper” Colvin provides the following figures. Of a team of 29 athletes, Mercantile are providing 6 members (Cleary, Dunkley Smith, Banting, Sutherland, Albert and Morrison) and MUBC 5 (Brennan, Fosterling, Lockwood, Booth and Stephan).  More than one third of the team come from the Yarra bank – 11 out of 29.

Club representation in the Olympic team is as follows:

Mercantile – 6 members

MUBC – 5 members

Sydney RC – 3 members

SUBC – 3 members

Well done Mercs and thank you Chipper for the analysis.

Australian Women’s Eight to go to the Olympic Games

Published 29th July 2016

Great news. Australia has qualified an eight for the Olympic Games and that eight contains four Mercantile members, cox Sarah Banting, Fiona Albert, Charlotte Sutherland and Jess Morrison.


Above: Women’s Eight: Sarah Banting, Georgina Gotch, Megan Volker, Charlotte Sutherland, Alex Hagan, Jessica Morrison, Fiona Albert, Molly Goodman and Lucy Stephan ~ Picture: Tim Carrafa, Herald Sun

It has all occurred so suddenly. Whilst the Russian drug scandal unfolded, it became apparent that the Russian rowers may be subject to sanctions. The crew began to get together on Friday 23rd July and started rowing on Saturday 24th. (See article below published on 22nd July).

By Tuesday night, confirmation came through that FISA had removed a large number of Russian athletes under the new IOC entry guidelines. The Australians had been given the position vacated by the Russians.

They have been able to get flights for 5th August which will get them in Rio with three days to spare before racing. A Filippi eight with Croker oars have been sourced for them and accommodation in the Olympic Village provided. Rowing Australia and the AOC have done an amazing job getting this altogether in this time frame. They will fly back with the rest of the team on the chartered AOC flights.

Fiona Albert says that she is”thrilled to be given the opportunity to race at the highest level in rowing. It is special to be able to do so.” She added that this was “great for the development of this category. The knowledge, leadership and experience that these girls will bring back to the sport in Australia will be invaluable.” She noted that she is the second oldest at 25 years old with the oldest only one month older. Further only one girl in the crew has Olympic experience, Alex Hagan.

It is clear that this crew will provide a sound base for women’s rowing for Australia.

Let us back track to see how this arose. Australia tried to qualify a women’s eight at the 2015 World Championships finishing eighth and also at the qualification regatta in Lucerne in 2016 finishing third. In both cases the crew missed qualification finishing as the eighth crew with seven crews qualifying. 

Then the Russian drug scandal arose. The international athletics federation banned the Russian athletics team. WADA uncovered State sponsored drug testing violations and the IOC acted to protect clean athletes and set strict entry guidelines for Russian athletes. The FISA Executive Committee, due to the manipulation of the Moscow Laboratory tests, has determined to their comfortable satisfaction that only six entered Russian rowers have met the criteria of having been tested reliably and adequately in international tests.

The effect of this decision was that Russia had six remaining eligible rowers – one lightweight and five open weight men – for competition in Rio 2016.
Therefore, four Russian boats (LM4-, LW2x, M8+ and W8+) were withdrawn from participation in the Games and were attributed to the next placing crews at the 2016 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, as follows:

LM4- to Greece, the Hellenic Rowing Federation
M8+ to the Italian Rowing Federation
W8+ to the Australian Rowing Federation

And in the 2016 European Continental Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, LW2x to the Italian Rowing Federation.

This is a remarkable situation.

Possible Russian exclusion from the Olympic Games

Published 22nd July 2016

The big news this week is the McLaren report on systemic State sponsored doping breaches by Russia and yesterday the upholding of the blanket ban of Russian track and field athletes by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The possibility of all Russian athletes being banned is now real. No doubt the IOC has more than just legal issues to consider in reaching a decision.


Why is the lead story on our website? The Russians have qualified a women’s eight at the Olympic Games and the Australians are the next qualified crew. If the Russians are removed, the Australian crew potentially moves into the vacant spot. The Australian crew contains crew members: Fiona Albert, Charlotte Sutherland, Jess Morrison and Sarah Banting.

If this was to occur there would be significant but not insurmountable practical issues in attending the Games down to the most basic of matters such as getting flights, accommodation and equipment. And of course the longer the matter is in limbo, the tougher these become.  Our thoughts and best wishes are with our club members involved in what will be a difficult time for them with the tantalising thought of being an Olympian in two weeks time.

Mercantile Cocktail Party a Great Success

Published 22nd July 2016

The fundraiser for our crews was a great success being a fun night and also with the auction and raffle raising over $19,000. Thank you to all the donors on the night and for the donors of goods and services which were sold. The President paid $500 for an afternoon tea with our oldest, and probably one of our most interesting members, Arthur Atkins. I wonder whether this will include a ride in Arthur’s new Jaguar. Not bad at 98 years old.


Above: The scene on the night

Mercantile Lighties leave this weekend

Updated 24th July 2016

Best wishes to our lightweight men who leave this weekend for Canada to race at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta from 2-7th August 2016. They will race in the open lightweight eight, open lightweight eight sprint, open lightweight four and under 23 lightweight four. Good racing guys.

The racing can be followed with live results and live video. Go to the regatta website to find out how.


The crew comprises:

Cch: Tom Swann
Cox: Alexis Hancock
Str: Jackson Harrison (MUBC)
7: Conor Grace
6: Carl Tomczak
5: Jack Kelly (Banks)
4: Jayden Grey
3: Will Legge
2: Michael McNamara
Bow: Josh Bell

Mercantile Cocktail Party to Support our Crews

Published 8th July 2016

A reminder that a fund raising cocktail party will take place at Mercantile Saturday 16th July. Please make every effort to be there.


Above: Australian Men’s under 23 crew training on the Yarra

Details and bookings are on the events page.

Australian Men’s Under 23 Eight

Published 6th July 2016

The Australian men’s under 23 eight has suffered injury problems with Queenslander Harley Moore unfortunately suffering rib injuries which has forced him to withdraw.  David Fleming, back home from Harvard on his summer break, is filling in.


Above the Australian men’s under 23 crew training on the Yarra

Australian Under 23 Team

Updated 3rd July 2016

Congratulations to Olivia Sibillin and Rachel Engel who have been selected in the Australian under 23 team eight to race at Rotterdam. Rowing Australia announced last night the following additional crews for the open and under 23 teams. The eight will be based in Melbourne and contains three Australians who are studying in US universities. The men’s four contains almost entirely US base athletes.

It is great to see that the US based athletes have an opportunity to race for Australia.

WU238Above: In case you don’t know where Rotterdam is, the Australian under 23 eight happily point it out!

U23 Women’s Coxed Eight

Stephanie Williams (Ohio State/Tamar RC – TAS)
Rachel Engel (Ohio State/Mercantile RC – VIC)
Katherine Michelmore (Melbourne University BC – VIC)
Fiona Ewing (Sydney University BC – NSW)
Jacinta Edmunds (UC Berkeley/Commercial RC – QLD)
Hedda Cooper (Melbourne University BC – VIC)
Olivia Sibillin (Mercantile Rowing Club – VIC)
Georgia Wheeler (Swan River RC – WA)
Coxswain – Daniella Serra (Toowong RC – QLD)
Coach: Annabelle Eaton (Melbourne University BC – VIC)

U23 Men’s Coxed Four

Henry Youl (Tamar RC – TAS)
Sam Hardy (Harvard/Sydney RC – NSW)
Texas Lawton (Northeastern/Toowong RC – QLD)
Jack Cleary (UC Berkeley/Swan River RC – WA)
Coxswain: Louis Copolov (Northeastern/VIC)
Coach: Zoltan Shepherd (University of Queensland BC – QLD)

 Non-Olympic Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls

Georgia Nesbitt (Huon RC/TIS – TAS)
Coach: Paul Newbon (Huon RC – TAS)

Mercantile in the US College Programs

Published 3rd July 2016

Some interesting articles appeared in issue 11 of Row360 on US college rowing. Row360 is a magazine based in the UK with an international approach. Several articles and also the editorial focussed on decision some young rowers make about their future. The editor Benedict Tufnell was one of those rowers who took the opportunity to study in the US, described the opportunity as a “fantastic, life changing opportunity” that he does not regret. “The benefits of sending a rower away to a well-funded, well-equipped and professionally coached US collegiate program are obvious. The opportunity to live, study and compete in an alien culture helped both my personal and athletic development.”

Harvard boatshed

Above: The Harvard boatshed

This is a contentious subject as some would like to keep the talent at home and it appears that many who take up this opportunity do not return to the sport – their career opportunities post their studies are significant.

Whatever you think about this topic, it also shows the importance of keeping these overseas athletes within the sport and within the Club. This responsibility falls on both Rowing Australia to keep good opportunities available for these rowers to make Australian teams and the clubs like Mercantile to keep them in the fold.

As two of young members, Maddison Brown and Max Metzger head off soon to commence their education in the US, read the member profiles of two of our members who are currently back from the US, Rachel Engel and David Fleming. Their opportunities provided to these two members have been enormous and both are keen to row for Mercs and Australia.

Member Profiles

Republished 1st July 2016

Olympians v3

The number of member profiles has now well exceeded 100. The first 100 down the next 1,000 to go. We wish to record profiles of all current and past members so please submit others to Subject to editorial review, they will be published with the author’s name and date.

To start the month, we have added the profile of one of older members John Wertheimer. Whilst John is not a regular attendee at the Club, he is a proud Mercantilian. He continues to have a full and interesting life despite his years. He is no under achiever! Also added is the great Tom Rodda who passed away in 1981. He was a great support of the sport.

Member profiles of Rachel Engel and David Fleming, two of our US based athletes have also been added.

Mercantile members at Henley Royal Regatta

Updated 4th July 2016

2016 HRR Traderv v2

You can’t hide in a Mercs blazer – Sean Colgan on finals day

Spotted at Henley Royal Regatta is Sean Colgan and Ian Duthie. Sean can be heard as a special commentator at this regatta by viewing the broadcast of the events. Ian is coaching lightweights at Yale University and hence his blazer.


Sean Colgan and Ian Duthie at Henley Royal Regatta


Above: Euan McMinn, Ian Duthie and Rod Stewart enjoying the Henley festivities

Mercantile Members Help Olympic Broadcasts

Published 1st July 2016

Word has it that Club member Drew Ginn with be the expert rowing and kayak commentator for Channel 7 at the Olympic Games. Well done Drew. Also heard on the grape vine was that Club member David Crawshay will be assisting the Fox Sports rowing broadcasts. Well done David. As we know, both Drew and David are Olympic Champions.

Let us hope that the broadcast conditions have improved since 1992 when Andrew Guerin did expert commentary for Peter Landy under an umbrella in the grand stand.

1992 Ch 7 commentary Box

Who said that lightweight rowing in Australia is dead?

Republished 1st July 2016

The Mercantile lightweight men have started their part in the rebuilding of Australian lightweight rowing.  In an endeavour initiated by Conor Grace and Will Legge, they have formed a lightweight eight to train through winter and race in Canada at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta from 2-7th August 2016. Well done guys. Left behind and planning a come back next season is Red Matthews – it will be a long winter on the ergo for him.

Welcome also to the crew’s two ring-ins, Jackson Harrison (MUBC) and Jack Kelly (Banks).

Cch: Tom Swann
Cox: Alexis Hancock
Str: Jackson Harrison (MUBC)
7: Conor Grace
6: Carl Tomczak
5: Jack Kelly (Banks)
4: Jayden Grey
3: Will Legge
2: Michael McNamara
Bow: Josh Bell


Above the crew training on the Yarra Saturday 25th June

For those who do not know this crew, it contains a couple of remarkably tall lighties, bowman Josh Bell at 195cm – taller than Josh Dunkley-Smith, and Will Legge at 190cm. For those oldies reading this, think 6’5″ for Josh and 6’3″ for Will.

The crew have been training since mid April and are looking to push themselves to the next level and also to strengthen the lightweight group in Mercantile and Victoria. There is a very serious purpose behind the trip. We need to strengthen the lightweight category beyond the few remaining seniors in Victoria such as our own James Wilson.

Why St Catherines? Usually good North American competition, a FISA International regatta, has been used by other Australian lightweights with success previously, and also timing – as many are students it not too early nor not too late in the year.

What events? They will race in the open lightweight eight, open lightweight eight sprint, open lightweight four and under 23 lightweight four.

Cost? It is about $3,500 pp and of course fund raising is underway. They have two activities planned. A cocktail party at Mercs on 16th July 2016 at which there will be a raffle and auction. Also there will be a trivia night for probably a younger crowd. Please come to the Cocktail Party and support the great work of these athletes. Details are on the Events tab.

Go lighties!

From the Archives

Published 1st July 2016

Bob Lachal has uncovered a couple of superb shots of past President Jim Sprigg from the archives. Thank you Bob and enjoy.

Jim Sprigg in full flight in 1960s (1)

Jim Sprigg in full flight in 1960s (2)

Above: Jim Sprigg in full flight at the Sunday Barrel in the South West Corner of the old boatshed

Mercs Masters getting together a men’s A/B masters group

Republished 1st July 2016

Anyone interested in joining a men’s masters A/B group should get in touch with Andrew Guerin on 0417 554799. We have four interested rowers but are looking for others to ensure regular rows in both small boats and a four.

Thursday Masters Nights

Republished 1st July 2016

Reminder that all masters rowers are welcome for a row on Thursday nights followed by a sausage sizzle and refreshments. Row at 6pm and sausage sizzle at 7.30pm. All welcome. Please call Andrew Guerin on 0417 554799 to get put on the weekly email.


Thursday nights after the row

Saturday Morning Breakfasts

Republished 1st July 2016

The breakfast Mums are always looking for new people to assist them on a Saturday. Any volunteers would be most welcome and should call Jenny Fraumano on 0438 324307.


 Mercantile Mums at work


Above: Breakfast on 4th June

Updated Events

Updated 1st July 2016

Please go to the Events tab for details on forthcoming events.

Past news can be found through this link.