June 2016 News

Above – 2016 Australian Men’s Four at Lucerne – Josh Dunkley Smith in two seat

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Who said that lightweight rowing in Australia is dead?

Published 25th June 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!

Roberto Perillo’s 70th Birthday

Published 25th June 2016

Regrettably Roberto has been very unwell of recent times and is on a bone marrow transplant donor list for a transplant to help overcome his ailments. To lift his spirits, a surprise 70th birthday party was held on Friday 24th April at Essendon Rowing Club where he coaches. The Mercantile masters travelled to the Maribyrnong River to join the celebrations.


Above: Roberto and his fellow Mercantile Masters showing his birthday presents

Being a very optimistic and very fit and strong person, if anyone can beat his ailments, Roberto will do so. To find out more about Roberto and his Argentinian connection, go his member profile.

Our best wishes are with Roberto.

Mercantile Member on Henley Women’s Regatta Committee

Published 24th June 2016

The picture and content for this story are extracted from an article by Tim Koch on the great website  Hear The Boat Sing – dated 23rd June 2016.

2016 HWR

Above:  HWR committee members, Elise Cope (left) and Mercantile member Bibi Colgan (right). Bibi sports one of the new Henley Women’s Regatta blazers, a nice addition to an event that is developing its own traditions 

Tim Koch reports that: “(T)he 2016 Henley Women’s Regatta (HWR) saw 1,820 competitors in 435 crews racing over 1500 metres of the world’s most famous regatta course. This 26th Regatta attracted good numbers in the senior, intermediate and school races.”

“From its very start, Henley Women’s was clear that it did not intend to be a ‘poor persons Henley Royal’ and would not attempt to mimic HRR’s 150 years of tradition. Under very difficult circumstances, it has succeeded in establishing itself as a well-run, high status event that happens to share some water with the world’s most famous regatta.”

Given this close connection between Mercantile and Henley Women’s Regatta, it is hoped that Mercantile will compete at this regatta next year. Bibi Colgan has generously offered to financially assist a good quality Mercantile crew that wishes to attend. There was an unsuccessful attempt to have the Australian women’s eight race at this years regatta.

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

Published 24th June 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

Published 24th June 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

Underage Crews Prepare at Penrith

Published 24th June 2016

The following article comes from Rowing Australia.

Australia’s Junior, U21 and Under 23 Australian Rowing Teams head to Penrith, New South Wales this week for a combined training camp from 24 to 29 June.

The selected crews will train together, while the week will also see invitational selection trials for a number of eligible US-based U23 Australian athletes, as well as locally-based U23 Australians, for additional U23 Australian Rowing Team crews.  The first leg of the U21 Trans-Tasman Regatta, against New Zealand, will begin on Thursday 30 June and conclude on Saturday 2 July. The regatta will also see a number of Australia’s other underage crews racing at the event as part of their preparation ahead of the 2016 Rotterdam World Rowing Championships.

Historic pictures given to the Club

Published 24th June 2016

Mike Vanderkelen, whose father and grandfather were Mercantile members, has provided the Club with some historic pictures from pre WWI with his grandfather and 1930’s with his father. The images include Mercantile winning races at 1912 VRA Regatta in the junior eights and copies of various menus from Club events including the welcome home dinner after WWI.

Annual dinner revival 1919 inside spread_NEW

Welcome home dinner menu for our serving personnel

Claude V and friends pre WWI

Pre WWI life at Mercantile – Claude Vanderkelen second from right. The river bank in front of the shed has not changed much

Thank you Mike for these images.

World Cup III Wrap up

Published 20th June 2016

It might be cool in Melbourne but there was hot racing at Poznan at World Cup III. Australian finished up with two gold and a bundle of minor medals. If Australia wins two gold at the Olympics, it will be a sensational result. Specifically, Australia’s gold medals came from Women’s Single Sculler, and reigning World Champion, Kim Brennan and the Men’s Quadruple Sculls of James McRae, Cameron Girdlestone, Sasha Belonogoff and Karsten Forsterling.  The Men’s Pair, Women’s Quadruple Sculls and TA Mixed Double Sculls won silver medals, while the bronze medals were claimed by the Men’s Four and the AS Men’s Single Sculls.

In summary a great result for Australia.

This regatta saw Kim Brennan dominate her event seeing off 2014 World Champion Emma Twigg and others. The RA website reports:

In one of the most hotly anticipated races of the World Cup season, the 2015 World Champion in the Women’s Single Sculls, Kim Brennan of Australia, took on the 2014 World Rowing Champion, New Zealand’s Emma Twigg.  Joining Twigg and Brennan in the A-Final was Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands and Denmark.

This was the first time Brennan and Twigg has raced since 2014 and both scullers had won their respective semi-finals and were drawn alongside each other. At the 500 metre mark, Brennan had already stamped her authority to take the lead. Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen followed the closest in second with Lisa Scheenaard of the Netherlands in third.

As they crossed the halfway mark, Brennan held the lead, with Twigg beginning to make her move through the closely packed field. However, as the crews pushed into the third 500 metres, Brennan kicked down to give herself a clear water advantage, an advantage she didn’t relinquish as she crossed the line in a time of 7.15, with Twigg in second and Switzerland’s Jeannine Gmelin in third.

Post-race Brennan, who is coached by Lyall McCarthy, commented: “I went into this race without any expectations because it has been a while since I have raced Erichsen and Twigg. This is just one of the steps towards Rio, no one is going to play their cards here.”



Above: Kim Brennan – photo from World Rowing website

The other gold came from the men’s quad scull. The RA website reports as follows:

The Men’s Quadruple Sculls backed up their fine performance in the heats earlier in the week by winning gold in their race in Poznan. The crew were the fastest qualifiers alongside Germany and therefore began in the middle two lanes. By the halfway mark, Australia had taken the lead and were pulling away from the pack, leaving Germany and Poland to battle it out for second and third place.

At the close, it was Australia who wrapped up the win with a strong and composed race and in the process of winning gold also won the World Rowing Cup series for the boat class, having won back-to-back gold medals.

Belonogoff said post-race: “It was a good race for us given that it is only our second international race since we formed this combination. We have seven more weeks of training coming up in Italy and we don’t feel like we’ve had our best race yet.”



Above: Medal ceremony Men’s Quad Scull – photo from World Rowing website

Other crews with medals were:

Women’s Quad – Silver medal with our own Jen Cleary. The RA website records:


As they approached the 1500m mark the Germans pushed out again but Australia’s Quad responded and remained with the leaders. Edmunds began to wind up the rate, with the Australians sprinting for the line and putting the pressure on the Germans, while the Dutch were nipping at the heels of the Poles. It was so close as they reached the line, that is was a photo finish between Germany and Australia, with Australia being crowned silver medallists.


Above: The silver medal winning quad of Maddie Edmunds, Jennifer Cleary, Kerry Hore and Jessica Hall – photo from World Rowing website

Men’s Pair – Silver behind the great New Zealand pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond. The Australian pair had a sensational race against the UK crew to narrowly finish second.


Above Men’s Pair of Alex Lloyd and Spencer Turrin – photo from World Rowing website

Men’s Four with our own Josh Dunkley Smith. The RA website records:

Through the middle of the race Great Britain and Australia began to push away from the remainder of the field, while Italy sat back in third. As the crews hit the 1500m mark, the British had pushed ahead of the pack to take a clear water advantage, and ultimately gold, while Australia continued to sprint, with Italy hot on their heels. The Italians surged in the final few metres, upping their rating, and pipped Australia to the line to take the silver, while Australia took bronze.


Above: Men’s Four – photo from World Rowing website

World Cup III finals continue tonight

Published 19th June 2016

After the para rowing finals last night that brought a bronze and a silver for Australia, the other finals are tonight. Club members Josh Dunkley-Smith will be in the four and Jen Cleary will be the quad. The quad has a very small field unfortunately. Go Aussies.


Race times are listed below for Australia’s crews.

Time AEST  Boat Class  Crew Lane Competition in race
17:35 AEST Men’s Pair Medway and Hicks Two GER 1, NZL 2, GER 2, ROU 2, HUN B-Final
17:55 AEST Men’s Double Sculls Morgan and Watts One CUB, CHN and NED B-Final
18:48 AEST Men’s Pair Turrin and Lloyd Five ITA 1, GBR 1 & 2, NZL 1 and SRB A-Final
19:33 AEST Men’s Four Lockwood, Dunkley-Smith, Booth and Hill Two GER, ITA, GBR, BLR 1 and ROU A-Final
19:48 AEST Women’s Quad Sculls Hall, Hore, Cleary and Edmunds One POL, GER and NED A-Final
20:03 AEST Men’s Quad Sculls Forsterling, Belonogoff, Girdlestone and McRae Four SUI, POL, GER, ITA and GBR A-Final
20:48 AEST Women’s Double Sculls Kehoe and Horton Four FRA, NZL, POL, BLR1 and GBR A-Final
21:33 AEST Women’s Single Sculls Brennan Four NED 1, AUT 1, NZL 1, SUI and DEN A-Final

First Thursday of the Month

Published 3rd June 2016

First Thursday of the month was again a good affair with our masters rowers out for a row and enjoying good company, food and drinks afterwards.

Geoff Barden took the opportunity to present to the President a trophy dating back to the early days of the Club, 19th September 1885. The trophy was presented to bowman H Boxall of Mercantile, a winner of the Gippsland Hop Bitters Trophy. The Club history records: In 1885, magnificent silver salver trophies were presented to the winners of the Mercantile club eight race by Gippsland Hop Bitters Brewery. The boats for the races were lent by Civil Service Rowing Club and by Melbourne University Boat Club. 


Above: the trophy

The Club received the trophy from Ken Baker who was clearing out an old house and came across the trophy. Thank you Ken.


Above: Geoff Barden presents the 1885 trophy providing background on it

Henley Women’s Regatta

Published 2nd June 2016

Our generous Club members Bibi and Sean Colgan kindly offered to the Australian women’s eight, which contains many club members, the opportunity to stay on in Europe and race at both Henley Women’s and Henley Royal Regattas. Unfortunately this could not be arranged but our women members should keep these regattas in mind in their planning in future years.

Well done Bibi and Sean on this great offer.

2016-17 Victorian Regatta Program Announced

Published 1st June 2016

Rowing Victoria has announced the regatta program for 2016-17. Follow this link for details – 2016-17 Regatta program.


Above: Victorian State Championship Trophies

World Cup II, 17-19 June 2016 Poznan Poland

Published 1st June 2016

The Australian team will again get racing practice at Poznan in a couple of weeks time. In the opinion of your correspondent, Australia has three realistic gold medal chances, the women’s scull, men’s quad and men’s four. If Australia won two gold at the Olympics, it would be a superb result.

In other boats there are medal prospects including the women’s quad which includes our own Jen Cleary.


Above: The women’s quad at Lucerne

Two Gold Two Silver for Australia at Lucerne

Updated 1st June 2016

Club members Josh Dunkley-Smith got a silver in the four and Jen Cleary finishes fifth in the quad. The medals were in line with expectations and a great relief given the failure to qualify our eights the previous weekend. The only disappointment was the women’s quad who finished fifth. Whilst a superb result, your correspondent had them up with a minor medal.

Lucerne M4 final crab

Above: Josh proving that it can happen to anyone – photo from World Rowing website

The men’s four finished with a silver despite their normal stroke being ill and so substituted and Josh catching a great crab just prior to the line. Watch out UK, your number one crew is not safe!!

A Perfect Mercantile Match

Updated 1st June 2016

It is not often that two Mercantile members marry, but less often two American members and even less so two of our favourite and most generous members. May I introduce the newly married Bibi and Sean Colgan. Congratulations.


Above: The happy couple at the wedding.

To celebrate this great occasion, the Club is going to name two of the club’s eights in their honour. One will be known as the Sean Colgan and the other Dr Bibi.

These boats will be the youth eight boats for the men and women. The women’s boat will be a Hudson and the men’s boat a Sykes.

We are hoping that they may be able to visit us in Melbourne late this year.

Saturday Morning Breakfasts

Updated 3rd June 2016

The breakfast Mums are back in business for winter training. 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

Trophies donated to the Club

Published 1st June 2016

The Club had some very successful years in the 1930s despite the depression at the start of that decade. In both the 1936-37 and 1937-38 seasons, the Club won the Junior Premiership. The 1937 annual report stated that “for the past season in retrospect, the outstanding feature has been the winning of the junior Premiership, which feat has not been achieved since 1930-31. ….every man…who was associated with this victory, is to be congratulated.”

One of those key rowers was 1936-37 season Executive Committee member Les Weire. He raced in many maiden fours throughout the season being unsuccessful until the last two races of the season at Sale and at Bairnsdale. The handsome trophies of these two regattas have been donated to the Club by his son Peter Weire.


Above: The trophies

Also donated was a maiden eight trophy again from the Sale regatta in 1938. Peter Weire reported that his father was very proud of his rowing and trophies.  The Weire family are the only direct descendants of Melbourne founder John Batman. The second Christian name of both Les and Peter is Batman.

Les raced with the Club up to WWII and obviously had a strong affinity with the Upper Yarra Regatta. He was the Club’s delegate to that regatta committee for a couple of years.

Men’s Under 23 Eight

Republished 1st June 2016

logo-wrch2016-300x120As mentioned in April and May, the Australian Under 23 Eight is based out of Mercantile and we are hosting five interstate rowers:

Oliver Smith – Toowong QLD

Harley Moore – Commercial QLD

Darcy Wruck – Commercial QLD

Nicholas Pettigrew – Toowong QLD

Franc Gourlas – Sydney University NSW

Please make them welcome. The men’s eight comprises four Mercantile members Liam Donald, Angus Widdicombe, Tom Hunt and Callum Nott and are coached by Simon Gadsden. Simon had great success at the 2015 Under 23 World Championships with the Mercantile women’s pair.


Above: Darcy Wruck and Nicholas Pettigrew in a four with Angus Widdicombe and Liam Donald at the recent selection trials.

Member Profiles

Republished 1st June 2016

Olympians v3

The number of member profiles has now 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.

Updated Events

Updated 1st June 2016

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

Past news can be found through this link.