June 2019 News

Above: Our Britannia Cup crew for Henley Royal Regatta training on the Yarra River

Provided by your faithful correspondent Trident.

Past news can be found at this link.

News covered this month

  • Australia and Mercs dominate at WCII
  • Mercs members thrive at World Cup II
  • More Mercs members into the U23 Australian team
  • Mercs at World Cup II at Poznan this week
  • Member in the news – Drew Ginn
  • Australian Junior four trains from Mercs
  • Older Mercantile members celebrate end of financial year
  • Bridie O’Donnell hosts the Australian U23 coxed four
  • New Foundation Donation Form
  • Josh Dunckley-Smith interviewed for Rowing Australia
  • Member Profiles – Alan Henry
  • Mercantile wins the Senior Premiership
  • David Crawshay inducted into the Victorian Rowing Hall of Fame
  • Martin and Susan Owen Donation
  • Foundation’s Frederico Fund reaches $1 mil
  • So what happens at the Club at 6am on a Saturday morning?
  • From the vaults- Michael Caldwell shares photos from 1960s
  • New communications for members


Australia and Mercs dominate WCII

Published 23rd June 2019

Mercs members walked away from World Cup II with two gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals – what a night. Australia topped the medal tally and Jess Morrison won gold in the eight and doubled up to win silver in the pair.

Jess Morrison second from left takes silver in the pair

Put simply, Australia dominated the racing at this World Cup at Poznan in Poland and Mercs members were a big part of it.

Amanda Bateman (right) picks up a bronze in the double
  • ML1x Gold – Sean Murphy
  • WL1x Bronze – Georgia Nesbitt
  • PR1M1x Silver – Eric Horrie
  • W2 Silver – Jess Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre
  • M2 Gold – Alex Hill and Josh Booth
  • W2x Bronze – Amanda Bateman and Gen Horton – too slow in 2nd 500m
  • M2x Fifth – Cam Watts and Hamish Playfair
  • W4x Fourth – Bow: Fiona Ewing, 2: Cara Grzeskowwiak, 3: Rowena Meredith, Str: Katrina Bateman
  • W4 Bronze – Olympia Aldersey, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe, Lucy Stephan
  • M4 Gold – Tim Masters, Nick Purnell, Jack Hargreaves, Joseph O’Brien
  • LM2x Bronze – Hamish Parry, Leon Chambers
  • LW2x 14th – Sarah Pound and Alice Arch
  • M4x Silver – David Watts, Alexander Purnell, Cameron Girdlestone and Caleb Antill 
  • W8 – Gold – Leah Saunders, Jacinta Edmunds, Bronwyn Cox, Georgina Rowe, Rosie Popa, Annabelle McIntyre, Jess Morrison, Molly Goodman, Cox: James Rook
  • M8 Fifth – Liam Donald, Rob Black, Angus Moore, Joshua Hicks, Spencer Turrin, Simon Keenan, James Medway, Gus Widdicombe, Cox: Brodie Kendal
Kat Werry (back second from end) picks up a bronze in the four


Mercs Members thrive at World Cup II

Published 23rd June 2019

It is finals day today and our Mercs members are doing well. All our members are into the A finals.

The Women’s Pair of Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre established a definitive lead in their semi-final to book a place into the A-Final tomorrow. They crossed the line in a time of 7 minutes 32 seconds setting themselves up for what will no doubt be a great battle with their Trans-Tasman rivals, Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast, who won the other semi-final.

Amanda Bateman and Genevieve Horton finished third in their Women’s Double Scull semi-final, securing Bateman her first Senior team World Rowing Cup A-Final. 

The Women’s Four containing Katrina Werry won their semi-final to book A-Finals berths for Sunday.

Kay Werry in the bow seat of the women’s four off the start

The final repechage of the day for Australia was that of the Men’s Eight, with the crew finishing in second and booking an A-Final berth alongside Canada, New Zealand, Italy and the already qualified Germany and Great Britain. The eight includes Gus Widdicombe and Liam Donald.

The women’s eight had previously won their heat and are straight through to the final. The women’s eight includes Jess Morrison who is doubling up in the pair and is coxed by James Rook.

Katrina Bateman is in the quad which is a first and final.

A-Final race times for the Australian Rowing Team at World Rowing Cup 2 – Sunday 23 June 2019

  • PR1 Men’s Single Scull (Horrie): 18:51 AEST (10:51 local time)
  • Women’s Pair (Morrison and McIntyre): 19:08 AEST (11:08 local time)
  • Men’s Pair (Booth and Hill): 19:22 AEST (11:22 local time)
  • Women’s Double Scull (A Bateman and Horton): 19:52 AEST (11:52 local time)
  • Men’s Double Scull (Playfair and C Watts): 20:06 AEST (12:06 local time)
  • Women’s Four (Aldersey, Werry, Hawe and Stephan): 20:20 AEST (12:20 local time)
  • Men’s Four (Masters, N Purnell, Hargreaves and O’Brien): 20:34 AEST (12:34 local time)
  • Lightweight Men’s Double Scull (Parry and Chambers): 21:03 AEST (13:03 local time)
  • Women’s Quadruple Scull (Ewing, Grzeskowiak, Meredith and K Bateman): 21:31 AEST (13:31 local time)
  • Men’s Quadruple Scull (Antill, Girdlestone, A Purnell and D Watts): 21:45 AEST (13:45 local time)
  • Men’s Eight (Donald, Black, Medway, Hicks, Turrin, Keenan, Moore, Widdicombe and Brodie): 21:59 AEST (13:59 local time)
  • Women’s Eight (Saunders, Edmunds, Cox, Rowe, Popa, McIntyre, Morrison, Goodman and Rook): 22:43 AEST (14:43 local time)


More Mercs members into the U23 Australian team

Published 19th June 2019

Rowing Australia has today announced another under 23 crew for the U23 World Championships, and it includes a Mercs member based in California – Imogen Purcell. The full crew is as follows:

Alexandra Nothdurft The Ohio State University/Commercial RC/QLD
Jane Perrignon University of California, Berkeley/Griffith University Surfer’s Paradise RC/QLD
Imogen Purcell University of California, LA/Mercantile RC/VIC
Sarah Tisdall Harvard/University of Queensland BC/QLD
Coxswain: TBC
Coach: Annabelle Eaton St Kevin’s College/VIC

Rowing Australia also reports that the selectors are currently undertaking further trialling of an U23 Men’s Eight, with a decision on whether a crew is selected to be finalised on 30 June.

However rumour has it that Jack Robertson has been selected in the Men’s 8+. Jack is studying at Uni of California (Berkeley) and Alex Wolf flies out to Princeton tomorrow as reserve for the M8+. Someone is injured so there is a chance Alex will be selected. These rumours are not yet confirmed but sound promising.


Mercs at World Cup II at Poznan this week

Published 18th June 2019

Mercs has top ranked Jessica Morrison racing in both the number one ranked sweep boat, the pair, and then doubling up in the eight with James Rook who is coxing that boat. Katrina Werry is in the four, Katrina Bateman in the quad, Amanda Bateman in the double and Gus Widdicombe and Liam Donald are in the men’s eight. Best wishes to them all.

Jess Morrison at the Nationals

The following report comes from the Rowing Australia website.

17 Australian crews set to compete in Poznan, Poland from 21 to 23 June
The Australian Rowing Team will begin its World Rowing Cup campaign later this week with the team set to field 17 crews at World Rowing Cup 2. The regatta will run from 21 to 23 June on Lake Malta, in Poznan, Poland.

The majority of the Australian Rowing Team was announced in March this year, with the selectors having now finalised their sweep crews for World Rowing Cup 2.

2016 Rio Olympic silver medallists from the Men’s Four, Alexander Hill and Joshua Booth, have been selected into the Men’s Pair, while two-time World Rowing Champion, Jack Hargreaves, is joined in the Men’s Four by Nicholas Purnell, Timothy Masters and Jack O’Brien.

The Men’s Eight has seen two-time World Champions, in the Men’s Four, Spencer Turrin and Joshua Hicks, join its ranks. The duo are joined in the crew by Angus Widdicombe, James Medway, Angus Moore, Robert Black, Simon Keenan, Liam Donald and coxswain Kendall Brodie.

Meanwhile, in the women’s sweep, Annabelle McIntryre and Olympian Jessica Morrison will combine to race the Women’s Pair, before then joining the Women’s Eight. The new look Eight for 2019, sees 2018 World Rowing Championships silver medallist, Molly Goodman, in the stroke seat, with the South Australian joined by Leah Saunders, Jacinta Edmunds, Bronwyn Cox, Georgina Rowe, Rosemary Popa and coxswain James Rook.

The Women’s Four for World Rowing Cup 2, features 2018 World Rowing Championships silver medallists in the boat class – Lucy Stephan, Sarah Hawe and Katrina Werry – with the trio joined by Olympia Aldersey.

Rowing Australia Performance Director Bernard Savage said, “We’re looking forward to the team competing in its first World Rowing Cup of the season. The men and women arrived at the AIS European Training Centre last week, joining up with para-rowing World Champion Erik Horrie, with the group settling in well to our European training base.

“We’ve a big team that is excited to get out there and get racing against the rest of the world. This is our first major event (for our non-para-rowers) on the world stage ahead of what is going to be a big year for the Australian Rowing Team with the World Rowing Championships coming up in August – an event that doubles as Olympic and Paralympic qualification.”

To see the complete list of crews, please click through here.

Rowing Australia will be sharing daily racing updates, and can provide images to the media as required. Audio commentary and finals live-streaming can be accessed via


Members in the news – Drew Ginn

Published 17th June 2019

The Age has reported today that Drew Ginn and Ben Oliver have been given responsibility for managing the Cricket Australia high performance program. The Age reports that: In a role once solely the responsibility of [Pat] Howard, the wide-ranging position has been split, with Ginn the executive general manager of high performance and Oliver the executive general manager of national teams.

The Age reports that Drew’s role will focus on domestic competitions and Australian youth teams, player, coach and umpire pathways, including Premier cricket, talent identification and management, and sports science and sports medicine.

The report adds that Ginn, a three-time Olympic rowing gold medallist, a member of the “Oarsome Foursome” and an inductee into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, had been in charge of high performance at Cricket Tasmania for the past two years.

Drew Ginn acknowledgement speech for the highest award in rowing – the Keller Medal 2014
Left to right: FISA CEO Matt Smith, FISA President Denis Oswald and Dominic Keller
Lucerne – Photographer Andrew Guerin

The reconfiguration of the role came after a wide-ranging review initiated last year in the wake of the damning Longstaff report into the culture of Australian cricket, which has led to considerable change at Jolimont.

Oliver played cricket for Tasmania and Victoria and has worked closely with Australian coach Justin Langer as the WACA’s high-performance boss for the past seven years.

His primary role focuses on selection of the men’s and women’s national teams and A squads.

The remaining question is whether Drew will return to the Mecca in Melbourne? Time will tell as he was well settled in Hobart.


Australian Junior Four trains from Mercs

Published 17th June 2019

Your correspondent had the privilege of joining the Australian Junior four in training on Saturday 15th June 2019. The crew is coached by our own Brigette Carlile. Sadly Teagan Blythe was away ill but she was ably replaced by Ruby Gioulekas. The following photos provide a sense of the session.

The crew comprises:

Scarlett HannaMLC Kew/VIC
Olivia MooreGeelong Grammar School/VIC
Teagan BlytheLoreto College, Ballarat RC/VIC
Katherine EastonMLC Kew, Powerhouse RC/VIC
Coxswain: Goldie O’GormanMLC Kew/VIC
Coach: Brigette CarlileMercantile RC/VIC
Starting at dark with the Melbourne lights
As the light improves, so does the intensity
Beautiful rowing and beautiful Melbourne in the morning light
The crew moving around their riggers well
The move into higher intensity work is also working well
The work is on with four long pieces of work for the morning
The concentration is good through to the end


Older Mercantile members celebrate end of financial year

Published 14th June 2019

A select group of Mercantile members celebrated the end of the financial year a little bit early today at a well known exclusive Melbourne Club. In accordance with the rules of that Club, no pictures were taken this year. Henry Edgar is still getting over the admonishment for his group publishing pictures from last year.

The most important decision of the meeting was that Sean Colgan needs greater recognition by the Club: a decision reached by unanimous acclamation.

Amongst the many other revelations from the lunch this year was the advice by Club historian Andrew Guerin that the granting of the King’s Cup in 1919 by the King to the Australian rowers was an unconstitutional act. Clearly this must be kept under wraps until the King’s Cup returns from a visit to the Henley Royal Regatta this year. We would not want to give the Poms to use this as an excuse to keep the trophy.

The other conclusion of the meeting was that the King’s Cup should be stored at Mercantile given that Club Member Ted Kenny was the author and instigator of the petition which resulted in the Cup becoming the Interstate Men’s Eight Oared Championship of Australia trophy, and also, that the trophy was handed to him by the Government of Australia.

Such heady matters of state demonstrate the seriousness of the discussions which continued in the members bar late into the afternoon, or was it evening? Given the gravity of the discussions, we will await the official pronouncements of the joint chairmen Henry Edgar and Anthony Bergelin.


Bridie O’Donnell hosts the Australian U23 coxed four

Published 14th June 2019

From Bridie’s Twitter feed: I catered dinner for the U23M4+ and there were NO LEFTOVERS! So great for the crew & coach to hear from dual Olympian & 3-time World Champion Vicky Roberts ahead of their Worlds campaign.

From the left: cox Caitlin Hockings, Victoria Roberts, SAdam Bakker, Mitch Hooper, Ben Canham, Angus Dawson, Nick Mitchell

Avid readewrs of this column will remember the story in April about Bridie’s book,


New Foundation Donation Form

Published 9th June 2019

A new donation form is now available on the documents page of the website. Member will receive an update on the Foundation later this month.


Josh Dunkley-Smith interviewed for Rowing Australia

Published 7th June 2019

Club member Josh Dunkley-Smith is interviewed by Rowing Australia this month on their website. The interview is reproduced below.

Josh smashing the world record last year

The gold standard of performance on the rowing machine is the 2,000-meter for time. Coming from the on water world championship and Olympic race distance, the 2,000 meter is considered the best all round fitness test ever created using both endurance and strength.

Current world record holder for the 2,000m 19 – 29 year age is Australian Josh Dunkley-Smith. Coming from an on water background, Josh a dual Olympic silver medallist and set the world record while testing as part of the Rowing Australia Senior team in March 2018.

We caught up with Josh and asked him a few questions about indoor rowing and the 2,000-meter for time.

Q1. Being primarily an on-water rower, training on the rowing machine (erg) is part of your overall training and testing regime. Do you like erg training?
A. Yes and No. As they generally hurt then no, however yes because of the benefits and how you adapt to the level of training.

Q2. More around the 2000m distance. Walk us through your preparation and execution of the 2000 distance for time.
How do you mentally prepare for a 2000m?
As part of the Australian Rowing team, there are a number of scheduled benchmarking and testing set out in advance each year so you know when they are coming up and can plan for them. As you do more of them, it is more business like; it is going to hurt but you aren’t going to die. Rather than look at the 2000m distance as something that is going to happen to me, I try to get something out of it. A lot of things in life and sport are about perspective, and this is something you need to do.

How do you prepare physically?
Depending on how much time there is in the lead up, it is good to come off a good base of strength and endurance training, then in the days/ weeks leading up to it, mix this with speed work and specific pieces on the erg. Knowing you can get on the split you need to hold and having the confidence in your body.
The 2000m where I set a new world record was a post Olympic year where I had done a lot more weight training, power and sprint work. I was confident I had carried some of this muscle mass through to the test.
With food I have been pretty lucky in that I can eat pretty much anything. Generally the night before I make sure I have a good dinner, decent breakfast and lunch; depending on the time of day the testing is. I want to sit on the erg confident I have enough energy on board, and not hungry. Of course hydration is essential and a good nights sleep.

What warm up do you do before the 2000m?
I try to avoid having anything set in stone and prefer to keep it pretty relaxed. About an hour before I spend some time on the bike, then 8 – 10mins on the erg just turning things over, then add in some short sharp pieces. I have seen athletes have a set warm up, and when conditions or circumstances haven’t allowed this to happen it has affected them mentally.

What drag factor do you use for the 2000m and how does it change for other distances?
As part of the Australian Rowing team we have the drag factor prescribed at 130 for heavy weight men, which on most machines that are clean would be a damper setting of about 6.  Left to my own devices, I am pretty sure that is around where my ideal drag factor would be. For different distances I would play around with the drag factor a little more and adapt it more for each one.

Do you have a race plan, and do you always stick to it?
I always have an intent of what I want to get out of the 2000m, first 500m, 250m and where I want the numbers to be at different stages. I had always looked to even split, and the record attempt I had done previously was more about power with pretty low rate and pulling on it. One of the things we changed was the plan, and felt giving it a little more over the first 200 – 300m was a better approach, then getting on the split then bringing it home with whatever I had left; and keeping the rate up a bit more.

What tactics do you use to push through the bits of doubt and dark places that come up through the distance?
I am quite lucky in that physiologically I don’t produce as much lactate as some. The doubt generally comes in the third 500m so I focus on what I want to get out of the exercise; the intent. If you can tell yourself to hang on, that is where you get the prize. It would be a shame if you do all the hard work and don’t get the result.

While there is always pain, what goes through your head when you know you are in front of your personal best time?
I am always aware of times and splits, so it is almost workman like; doing a job and getting it done. There was a moment at the 1200m where I realised I had the energy to get home and break the record. That was pretty exciting when that realisation came and to have that knowledge.

Q3. Why no shoes? There are a lot of theories out there like ‘it take too much power off the footplate”
I was a bit of a daydreamer growing up, so forgot my shoes more than remembered them for rowing. I like the idea of just turning up and ready to go. Over time it is just what I got used to. I have tried to use shoes on the erg, however I have big feet and find now that it changes the footplate setting to accommodate the shoe.

Q4. With 6 months until the 2019 Australian Indoor Rowing Championships, we anticipate a number of people will enter the 2000m distance for time; to set a new personal best, set a new Championship record, or win the title of Australian Champion. What advice would you give them, and anyone looking to enter for the first time?
Do a couple of 2000m as practice, then come up with a goal; it doesn’t have to be brilliant. Plan on how you are going to do it, talk to people, ask questions to set the plan, then push yourself to do the training. Focus on technique, and find your ideal drag factor. The best training for the AIRC is time on the erg.


Member Profiles

Published 7th June 2019

This month we feature a member who served in WWI who did not survive the war well, Alan Henry. This is a sad story but one which deserves to be told.

We are always after new member profiles and welcome any stories.


Mercantile wins the senior premiership

Published 2nd June 2019

At the Rowing Victoria awards last night, Mercantile was awarded the senior premiership. Our President Anthony Johnson accepted the award.

President Anthony Johnson receives the Senior Premiership award


David Crawshay inducted into the Victorian Rowing Hall of Fame

Published 2nd June 2019

Last night, David Crawshay was inducted into the Victorian Rowing Hall of Fame.

Congratulations Crawsh.

As his member profile states, David has had an extraordinary career as an elite athlete. His long and brilliant rowing career has included the following achievements:

  • Triple Olympian
  • Olympic Double Scull Champion 2008
  • Dual under 23 World Championship medallist
  • Triple World Championship medallist
  • President’s Cup – Four time winner
  • King’s Cup – Two time winner
Shunyi, CHINA. AUS M2X, David CRAWSHAY and Scott BREEAN Gold medalist men's double sculls, at the 2008 Olympic Regatta, Shunyi Rowing Course. Sat,.16.08.2008. [Mandatory Credit: Peter SPURRIER, Intersport Images
David sings the Australian national anthem after taking gold in Beijing

However some of his more interesting achievements have been:

  • One of the very few people to have even won the triple crowns of the Charles Fairbairn Cup (Head of the River) for his school, the Oxford and Cambridge Eight (University Championships) for his university and the King’s Cup (Interstate Championships) for his State.
  • One of the few who has won the other triple of the Wilkinson Cup (Interstate Youth Eight Championships), the President’s Cup (Interstate Sculling Championship) and the King’s Cup (Interstate Eight Oared Championship).
  • His alter ego has been Captain Victoria, who has provided a humorous and inspirational talk for Victorian crews on the night before the Interstate Championships.

He an extraordinary champion of our sport.


Martin and Susan Owen Donation

Published 1st June 2019

As previous posts have indicated, past Club Captain and Life Member Martin Owen is not well. Despite his physical impairments, his wit, sharpness and intelligence continue to shine through. He remains great company and is a pleasure to be around.

His doctors predicted that even a strong willed person like Marty should not have survived 2017, let alone 2018. To misquote Mark Twain, reports of Marty’s departure are greatly exaggerated.

Today Martin and Susan Owen made a substantial donation to the Club’s Foundation, $100,000. This donation will make a substantial difference to the Club’s future and ensure that the Club can provide equipment for the members. This donation demonstrates the depth of their love and appreciation for the Club and its members. Well done Marty and Susan.

Already the Foundation provides funds to maintain the Club’s fleet. It is now raising funds to provide for the next renewal of the Clubhouse. Once that is in place, a fund to provide for Club coaching will follow. We must protect the Club’s future through the foundation.

Susan and Martin Owen hand over their cheque to the Club
Marty displaying one of new items of Mercantile merchandise to hide his can of Coke.


Foundation’s Frederico Fund passes $1 million

Published 2nd June 2019

With the recent generous donation of Martin and Susan Owen, another generous recent Sean Colgan donation and other recent donations, the Frederico equipment fund element of the Foundation has reached its target of $1 million. This is a great achievement.

A full report on the Foundation will be issued to members shortly.


So what happens at the Club at 6am on a Saturday morning?

Published 1st June 2019

Early Saturday morning 1st June at the Clubhouse in pictures. Thank you to David Fraumano and his crews for the invitation to join them.

Warm up stretching and coaches instructions
Not enough room inside for all the instructions for all crews
Coaches speedboats have to be taken to the river
Final rigging adjustments for the singles
Getting the boats and oars
Then onto the water
Warm up – Australian Under 23 4+
Then rowing towards the Bolte Bridge
Head coach Nick Mitchell gets proceedings underway for the 5km piece
After a handicap start all the crews start coming together on the Maribyrnong as they approach Footscray
Red Matthews at Footscray
The Australian U23 coxed four discuss the first 5km piece before returning
Our Britannia Four on the Maribyrnong
A focused tandem
Our Britannia crew returning home
Our Wyfold crew on the return journey
Our Wyfold crew in action
Another view of our Wyfold crew
Finally returning home


From the vaults- Michael Caldwell shares photos from 1960s

Published 2nd June 2019

Mike was a cox as a schoolboy for both Melbourne Grammar and Mercs. His father was a diplomat at the American Embassy and so temporarily based in Australia. He was a contemporary of Martin Owen and remembers Marty well.

He has send us some photos of that time from his home in the USA. Thank you Mike for thinking of us.

The clubhouse in July 1967 – Tim Hogan looking back at the camera and Russell McLean on the right
Another view of the Clubhouse in 1967 with John Burford looking back at the camera
The view from the Clubhouse in January 1966
Presentation at the 1965 Ampol Trans Tasman Series at Lake Wendouree
Ballarat in the mid sixties


New Member Communications from the Club

Published 2nd June 2019

Going forward, there will be more communication with members with their own specific content. General stories and a monthly email to supporters will continue.

The new content is being produced by a new content team headed by Hamish Fitzsimmons.


Past news can be found through the link.