May 2016 News

Above – 2015 Australian Men’s Four – Josh Dunkley Smith in two seat

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Two Gold Two Silver for Australia at Lucerne

Published 30th May 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 last 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.


Above: Kim Brennan wins gold – photo from World Rowing website

The following report comes from Rowing Australia:

The Australian Rowing Team opened its World Cup medal tally for the international season today, winning two golds and two silvers on the closing day of World Rowing Cup 2. Australia’s Men’s Quadruple Sculls and Women’s Single Sculls won gold, while the silvers for Australia came from the Women’s Double Sculls and the Men’s Four. By virtue of its medal haul, Australia finished the event third on the medal table ahead of World Rowing Cup 3 in Poznan next month.  

Rowing Australia’s General Manager – Sport, Jaime Fernandez said: “It’s been a good weekend of racing and it’s fantastic to see four crews medal here at Lucerne, along with six out of seven Olympic boat classes making the A Final. This is our first World Cup of the season and there are plenty of positives to take from the racing, setting up a solid platform for the group to move forward from. We’ll now head back to the AIS European Training Centre in Milan to prepare before World Rowing Cup 3 in Poznan next month.”  

The first Australian crew to take to the water in the A-Finals was the Men’s Quadruple Sculls of Karsten Forsterling, Alexander ‘Sasha’ Belonogoff, Cameron Girdlestone and James McRae. Two days ago, in the heats, Australia recorded the fastest qualifying time and the 2015 World Rowing Championship silver medallists took on Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and Lithuania in today’s final.   The British were the fastest out the start but the Australians weren’t to be trifled with and paced their way through the course and the two crews moved out in front of the rest of the field. The Australian crew, coached by John Driessen, went up another gear as they passed the 1500 metre mark and overtook the British who were unable to hold on in the sprint, to claim the gold medal. Post-race, McRae said: “After the heat we knew we needed to work on our first 1000m. Our goal for today was to stay with the pack through that point and in the third 500m we wanted to push away and that worked really well. The last sprint we knew we had it as long as we steered clear of the buoys.”


Above: The men’s quad wins gold – photo from World Rowing website

Reigning Women’s Single Sculls World Champion, Kimberley Brennan, was favourite in the final of her boat class, but her competitors weren’t to be underestimated. She was joined in the A-Final by, amongst others, 2012 Olympic champion, Mirka Knapkova, China’s Jingli Duan and an inform Genevra Stone of the USA.   Brennan got away quickly and passed the first 500m marker just ahead of current European Champion Austria’s Magdanena Lobnig, as well as Knapkova. The rain was still falling and the small head wind had dropped away to nothing as they approached the middle of the race and Brennan managed to inch away rating a very tough 33-34 stroke rate as Lobnig dropped off the pace.   In the final sprint Brennan managed to gain a healthy margin and watch the line forming between Knapkova, Stone and Jingli Duan. Stone’s 37 stroke rate got her into second with Knapkova, at 33 holding on to third. The consistent rating of Brennan paid off and she crossed in first time of 7:28.   Post-race, Brennan said: “It’s nice to do what I wanted to do, especially after a long period of not racing internationally, you sometime forget a bit how to do it. We’re back to Varese after this and then I’m looking forward to racing in Poznan at World Rowing Cup 3.”  

The Men’s Four were looking strong in their A-Final, especially having had the recent change of Josh Hicks into the stroke seat with Alex Hill recovering from illness. The crew of Hicks, Josh Booth, Josh Dunkley-Smith and Will Lockwood came off the start in lead and rating at 36 continued to lead through the middle of the race with Great Britain in second.   Australia managed to push to a two second lead and the crew were flying, but Great Britain started to make their move in the final 500 metres, with the Australians rating 42 and the British 45. The two crews were matching stroke-for-stroke in the final metres, but with just two metres to go to the finish line, Dunkley –Smith, caught a crab, which saw the British sneak past Australia to take the win. The Australians’ strong performance earlier in the race meant they held their momentum to cross the line in second while the Dutch were third.   Lockwood said: “For the first competition of the season it was very good. We are racing with our reserve at stroke because Alex Hill was sick, he’ll be back in the boat tomorrow. We caught a crab because we were under pressure in the last 500m, we need to get it more together before World Cup 3 in Poznan.”  


Above: Men’s Four takes silver Josh far left – photo from World Rowing website

The final medal of the night came in the form of the Women’s Double Sculls, with new doubles partners Genevieve Horton and Sally Kehoe competing in their first international A-Final in this set-up. The rain was falling as their race began but there was good flat water and the Australians fired out the blocks and pushed into the lead going through the second 500 metres and keeping up a stroke rate of 34 which gave them a boat length lead.   Behind them was plenty of action with the Germans, French, Greeks and Lithuanians all starting to push and this was when the 2013 World Champions, Lithuania’s Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite, began their push and increasing their boat speed. Horton and Kehoe had to keep an eye out of the Lithuanians as they crept up on the leaders in the final 500 metres and sprinted to the line in a quality battle with the Australians. Gold went to the Lithuanians, silver for the Australians, while Greece took bronze.   Kehoe commented: “It went so quickly; we’re rowing a new combination so we learn every time we are in the water. We may have over-paced a little bit, we’ve some time now so we’ll work this out.”  

In the other A-Finals of the day, the Men’s Pair of Spencer Turrin and Alex Lloyd, finished fifth. Competing in rain with a steady tail-wind, the New South Welshmen were up against reigning World and Olympic Champions, New Zealand, as well as South Africa, The Netherlands, Great Britain and Spain. It was to be New Zealand’s day, once again, with Netherlands second and Great Britain third.   The Women’s Quadruple Sculls, of Maddie Edmunds, Kerry Hore, Jennifer Cleary and Jess Hall finished fifth in their A-Final. Germany and the Netherlands has been quickest in the heats but it was Poland who were the first to show their hand in the rainy conditions and ultimately it was their race, with the Germans in second and the Dutch in third.   In the B-Final of the Men’s Double Sculls, David Watts and Chris Morgan finished fifth, while yesterday Sarah Pound finished sixth. Earlier in the week, Rhys Grant qualified Australia’s Men’s Single Sculls for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games by finishing second in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.

World Cup II Lucerne – finals tonight

Published 29th May 2016

The Olympic Team will tested tonight in the finals of the World Cup tonight. Most of the Olympic team are in the A finals.


Above: Jen Cleary in the Women’s Quad – photo World Rowing website

Race times – Sunday 29 May

Men’s Double Sculls, B-Final – 17:35 AEST (09:35 local time)

Men’s Quadruple Sculls, A-Final – 19:18 AEST (11:18 local time)

Women’s Single Sculls, A-Final – 19:33 AEST (11:33 local time)

Men’s Pair, A-Final – 21:33 AEST (13:33 local time)

Women’s Quadruple Sculls, A-Final – 21:48 AEST (13:48 local time)

Men’s Four, A-Final – 22:03 AEST (14:03 local time)

Women’s Double Sculls, A-Final – 22:48 AEST (14:48 local time)

Vale Joan Burford

Published 29th May 2016

It with great regret that we advise of the passing of Joan Burford after a long illness. Joan and John Burford were great members and supporters of the Club. Whilst Joan was always a great supporter of the Club, John was the very fabric of the Club as coach, recruiter, Captain, motivator and driver of so many Club initiatives. They were a formidable team.

Recently Joan christened the “John Burford”, boat donated by them both to the Club. This boat has been very successful and a much needed addition to the women’s fleet.

Sadly no eights for Rio but Rhys Grant qualifies in the single

Published 25th May 2016

The following report comes from the RA website:

Rhys Grant had a spectacular final in the Men’s Single Sculls event to secure Australia its first qualification spot of the night. The Western Australian faced stiff competition from an inform Hannes Obreno of Belgium and Sverri Nielson from Denmark, while Hungary, Finland and Germany were not to be discounted in this make-or-break final.

Nielsen made his intensions clear at the start by jumping out into the lead with the goal for the competitors to be in a top three position at the finish line to qualify their boats for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. While Grant was fourth at the 500 metre mark, the Australian is a seasoned racer and made a burst to take the lead at the 1000 metre mark with Obreno alongside him.

With 500 metres to go Obreno pushed ahead of Grant but the Perth-local kept with him sitting in second, while Hungary’s Bendeguz Petevari-Molnar overtook Nielsen to snap up the third qualification spot. Finishing in a time of 6.49.07, the reigning Interstate Men’s Single Scull Champion of Australia crossed the line in second and booked Australia its eighth boat for Rio de Janeiro.

Post-race Grant, who is coached by Rhett Ayliffe and Andrew Randell, said: “I can’t believe I qualified, the guys were coming really hard for me but I could hear my parents cheering me on in the crowd. Words cannot express how I feel right now about qualifying the boat.”

The Australian Women’s Eight of Sarah Banting, Olympia Aldersey, Lucy Stephan, Charlotte Sutherland, Molly Goodman, Meaghan Volker, Alexandra Hagan, Jessica Morrison and Fiona Albert needed a top two finish in their final to book a place for Rio de Janeiro. Placed in Lane 2, the crew were up against China, Romania, Netherlands and Germany, with the Dutch the favourites to claim one of the spots.

The Dutch were the fastest out the blocks, along with Romania, and the battle ensued between them for the majority of the race, with Australia nipping at the heels of the leading two crews throughout. However, the Romanians and Dutch proved to be too strong and they were first and second over the line, with Australia finishing third with a time of 6.07.35.

In the Men’s Eight, Australia were hoping to replicate their strong performance from the race for lanes earlier in the week. The crew of Stuart Sim, Charles Risbey, Fergus Pragnell, Scott Laidler, Nick Purnell, Tim Masters, James Medway, Joshua Hicks and James Chapman laid it all on the line in a bid to qualify the boat for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Needing a top two finish and racing against crews from Poland, Italy, USA and Spain, the Australians shot out of the start rating at 50 and at the 500 metre mark were in second place. However, at the halfway mark the USA began to make its move in a bid to chase down race leaders Poland, with Australia slipping back to third place.

With 500 metres to go, it was neck-and-neck for the USA and Poland, with Italy in third and Australia in fourth. The Australians were rating at 40 by this point, looking to get back into contention and book one of the last two places for the Rio Olympic Games. However, the Americans and Poles fended off their challenge, as well as Italy’s, with the USA crossing the line first in a time of 5.29 and Poland second (0.46 second behind), Australia were fourth in a time of 5.33.

Olympic Qualification Finals Tonight

Published 24th May 2016

The finals of the Olympic qualification races are tonight.

Race times:

Men’s Single Scull A-Final – 00:10 AEST (Top three qualify for 2016 Olympic Games)

Women’s Eight A-Final – 02:00 AEST (Top two qualify for 2016 Olympic Games)

Men’s Eight A-Final – 02:10 AEST (Top two qualify for 2016 Olympic Games)

Last night the Australian women’s lightweight double failed to make the final and so their Olympic dreams are gone for 2016. However Rhys Grant rowed the race of his life to finish third in his semi final in a very quick time. He is in the final and in with a chance of going to the Games. The RA website reported:

Grant made his move by the halfway mark and pushed into second place, chasing hard on the Belgian’s heels and trying to keep off threats from both Russia and Hungary. At the finish line it was Obreno who took the win, while Hungary made a final surge at the finish to take second, while Grant finished in third just 0.02 of a second behind the Hungarian sculler.

Olympic Qualification Races continue tonight

Updated 23rd May 2016

The Olympic Qualification Regatta continue tonight Melbourne time at midnight. Follow the races on the World Rowing website –

The Australians are trying qualify the following crews:

  • Men’s eight – two places remaining
  • Women’s eight – two places remaining
  • Women’s Lightweight double – three places remaining
  • Men’s Scull – three places remaining

In the men’s and women’s eights, it was only a race for lanes last night Melbourne time so no repechage – all through to the final. Australia finished third in both races. In the women’s eight third behind Romania and the Netherlands, but nearly five seconds behind them. The Rowing Australia website reports as follows:

In the race for lanes, the Women’s Eight lined up alongside Netherlands, Romania, Germany and China, a first place finish would secure a middle lane for Tuesday’s final, where the boats that finish first and second will book their respective country a place in Rio.  The Australian crew, made up of Sarah Banting, Olympia Aldersey, Lucy Stephan, Charlotte Sutherland, Molly Goodman, Meaghan Volker, Alexandra Hagan, Jessica Morrison and Fiona Albert had a slightly delayed start to their race due to a faulty start, but took to the water in pleasant conditions on one of the most picturesque courses in the world. The crew have named their boat this week in honour of the late Australian great, and London Olympic silver medallist, Sarah Tait.

The crew, coached by Mark Fangen-Hall and Alfie Young, had a strong start alongside against favourites Romania and The Netherlands and while Romania led from start to finish, the Australian crew put pressure on the Dutch and were just a second behind them at the 1000m mark. However, a push from the Dutch at the 1500m saw them pull out ahead of the Australians in a bid to chase down the Romanians and with that the final positions were confirmed – Romania first, Netherlands second, Australia third, Germany fourth and China fifth.

The website reports on the men’s eight as follows:

The Australian Men’s Eight also competed in a race for lanes in Lucerne, taking on the USA, Italy, Poland and Spain in the Exhibition Race. The crew, coxed by Stuart Sim, powered out of the start with a stroke rate of 51 which saw them take the lead and show the rest of the crews what the Australians have in their tank ahead of Tuesday’s final.

The Australians were in the lead at the halfway mark but this was when the USA chose to make their move, creeping through to take the lead at the 1500m mark, a lead they kept to the finish line. The battle was then between Australia and Italy in the final 500 metres with the Australians being pipped at the line by the Italians by 1.27 seconds.

The women’s lightweight double finished third in their heat and will have a repechage tonight. In the men’s single, Rhys Grant finished fifth in his heat and third in the repechage so he is into the semi-final, but alas at the tail end of it.

Newcomb Park

Published 22nd May 2016

The Brisbane City Council has named parkland in the suburb of Riverhills (15km south west of the Brisbane CBD) after past Mercs Captain Simon Newcomb.

The autumn 2016 edition of the Order of Australia magazine reports: In his retirement he set out to make the sport of rowing available to all children and founded Youth Row Australia. He was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the Centenary Rowing Club – the first new public rowing club to be built on the banks of the Brisbane River in almost a century.

Simon Newcomb driving & David Boykett leaving for Adelaide

Above: Simon and Crockett heading off to Adelaide for the 1961 Interstate Championships

A Perfect Mercantile Match

Published 18th May 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.

Trader's 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.

The Masters are at it again

Published 18th May 2016

You can’t keep these oldies down as they race in the masters regattas. A four of Jeff Thompson, Euan McMinn, Ray Dawson and Andrew Guerin, coxed by Seb Jenner won at Albert Park.

At the Championships, the men won the Club coxed four and in the mixed event, they won in a row over.


Above: Jeff Thompson, Euan McMinn, Andrew Phillips and Mark Groves, coxed by Seb Jenner pick up the medals at the Championships at Nagambie.

Saturday Morning Breakfasts

Published 13th May 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.


Olympic Qualification

Updated 13th May 2016

May is the crunch time for our Olympic hopefuls. The men’s and women’s eights, and we also hope the women’s pair (subject to meeting qualification times), will try out for the final Olympic positions in Lucerne 22-24th May 2016. There are two remaining places for both the men’s and women’s eights and four places for the women’s pair.

Mercantile has no representatives in the men’s eight but has many members in the women’s eight: Fiona Albert, Charlotte Sutherland, Jessica Morrison, Sarah Banting.

They have a tough qualification with crews from The Netherlands, Germany and Romania showing great form in Europe. This will be a first and final of five crews and will also include China  However our crew is good and despite injury and training disruptions, will perform well.

Sadly the women’s pair will not attempting qualification. As the pair rowers were the emergencies for the eight and were used extensively, and also Katrina Bateman suffered injuries herself, she and the pair have now withdrawn from the shadow team.

Road to Rio

Published 13th May 2016

Lachlan McKinnon has produced a great mini documentary on the men’s four which contains club member Josh Dunkley Smith. It is well worth a view both for content and superb production. See below:

Vale Betty Atkins

Published 13th May 2016

It is with great regret that we advise of the sudden death of Betty Atkins, wife of Arthur Atkins. Betty was well known at Mercantile and has christened boats at the Club in Arthur’s name.

Our sincerest condolences to Arthur and his family.

Vale Graeme McCall

Updated 6th May 2016

It is with great sadness that we advise of the passing of one of the Club’s great members, Graeme McCall. Graeme had been ill for some time but died suddenly yesterday from heart disease. Our sincerest condolences to wife Julie and family. Daughter Felicity and son Duncan raced for Mercantile and grandson Alex Wolf raced in the Mercs and Victorian youth eights this year.

A memorial service will be held at St John’s Anglican Church, Finch Street East Malvern on Tuesday 10th May at 2.30pm.

1964 team leaving AUSv2

Above: Graeme departing for the 1964 Olympic Games – third from right

1959 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship four seat – Second

1960 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship four seat – Third

1961 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship six seat – First

1962 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship four seat – First

1962 – British Empire & Commonwealth Games – Men’s Eight six seat – Gold

1962 – World Championships – Men’s Eight six seat – Fifth

1964 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship six seat – First

1964 – Olympic Games – Men’s Eight six seat – Eighth

1967 – Coach of Australian Crews, tour of New Zealand

1989-91 – Councillor for Victoria on AARC

Graeme began his rowing career at Scotch College and was a member of many school crews, rowing in the 6 seat of the Scotch 1st Crew in 1955. After leaving school he joined Mercantile Rowing Club and rowed in their Junior and Senior Crews under the coaching of Norm Cairns and Robert Aitken, with some great successes. He went on to represent Victoria in five Kings Cup crews and then Australia rowing in the 1st World Rowing Championships in Switzerland, the Commonwealth Games in Perth, and the Olympic Games in Japan, in the 6 Seat . After retiring from active rowing he coached at Mercantile and an Australian 8 and pair who competed in New Zealand in 1967. Graeme is the father of Felicity McCall an Australian representative and grandfather of current Mercs youth eight member Alex Wolf.

Second World Cup – Lucerne

Published 1st May 2016

The second World Cup will take place the following weekend also at Lucerne. The already qualified crews will race at this event. These include the men’s four with club member Josh Dunkley Smith and the women’s quad with Jenny Cleary.

Men’s Under 23 Eight

Republished 1st May 2016

logo-wrch2016-300x120As mentioned in April, 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 will be 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.

Olivia Sibillin invited to June Under 23 Selection Trials

Republished 1st May 2016

Olivia Sibillin has been invited to the 2016 Under Age Selection Trials #2 at Penrith in June. Olivia was an under 23 pair champion at the National Championships and perhaps unlucky not to already be in the team. The final combination of the women’s four at the first selection trials failed to make the time cut off required. The selectors obviously are still keen to get a four of sufficient speed to be successful.


Above: Olivia, National Champion in the under 23 pair

Member Profiles

Republished 1st May 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 May 2016

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

Past news can be found through this link.