March 2020 News

Above: Our open men’s eight winning their State Championship

Provided by your faithful correspondent Trident.

Past news can be found at this link.

News covered this month:

  • Mercantile seeks to employ a senior high performance coach
  • Vale Denis Ginn
  • COVID-19 measures close the Club
  • Rowing Australia calls for rowing clubs to suspend operations
  • Vale Rob Connolly
  • Other sad news
  • Training guidelines during Covid-19
  • Covid-19 precautions
  • Impact of Covid-19 on regattas
  • Bibi Colgan to be named Thursday 16th April
  • Mercs members in Olympic squads announced following the trials
  • Mercs members in Victorian crews
  • 2020 State Championships in review
  • Moomba river closures
  • Moomba parking
  • From the vaults – Interstate women’s championships


Mercantile seek to employ a senior high performance coach

Updated 18th March 2020

Update 18th March 2020 – given the cancellation of the National Championships and other disruptions, the closing date for applications has been pushed out to 31st March 2020.

Mercantile has decided upon a different approach to high performance for the four years in order to restore the Club to its rightful place as the most successful pathway club of Australia.

A key element of this approach is to change to a base of two full time coaches supported by others who are dedicated to the under 19, under 21 and under 23 streams. The program will report to the Committee through a performance director, currently the chairman of selectors.

The first stage of this change will be the appointment of a senior high performance coach to head up this area. Advertisements have been issued and we look forward to receiving interest from excellent applicants.

A short form of the advertisement appears below. Please distribute these details widely.

Mercantile Rowing Club has a proud history of running a successful high-performance rowing programme. The Club is seeking to appoint a senior high performance coach to lead the implementation of its high performance vision. The position description can be found here.

A competitive remuneration package will be negotiated commensurate with qualifications, skills and experience.

All applicants are asked to provide a brief written response to each of the key selection criteria located in the position description, as part of the application process.

Enquires should be addressed to the Peter Somerville, Chairman of Selectors at 0423 272 853 who will also provide copies of the Club’s high performance vision to interested parties.

Applications should be forwarded to by 31st March 2020.

Go Mercs


Vale Denis Ginn

Published 30th March 2020

It is deep regret that we announce the passing of Denis Ginn, father of Drew, and great friend to the Club. He passed away on 27th March 2020 at Yancowinna, Cape Patterson.

Our sincere condolences to Drew, Melanie and their family, and also to Denis’ wife Christine. The notice in The Age advised that he was fiercely independent and in good humour to the end.

Melanie, Drew, Christine and Denis at Lucerne in 2014 when Drew was awarded the Keller Medal


COVID_19 measures close the Club

Published 23rd March 2020

With the drastic new measures announced by both State and Commonwealth governments last night, the Club has closed its operations immediately.

The government has called for all non-essential activities to cease and specifically gymnasiums and licensed areas to be closed. Given one of the values of the Club is the health of our members, and the government call to action, the Club has ceased operations immediately.

Specifically what does this mean?

  • The gym and bar area are off limits – no ergos or bike training.
  • Changing rooms are closed as they are a more likely source of infection.
  • No rowing, even single sculls. If you want to remove your scull from the shed, please do so asap. Please speak with Bill Webster to arrange.
  • To ensure that these measures are enforced, entry fobs will be deactivated.
  • We seek the co-operation of all members in these measures in preventing the spread of the virus.

With the strength of our members, Mercantile will rise from this difficult situation strongly and will be ready to meet the Club objectives and athlete aspirations next season.

We acknowledge that these measures are significant, but the measures are appropriate. We hope that members will also see these measure in the same light.

We would welcome member ideas on how we can find alternative ways for them to remain active. Rowing Australia will assist by continuing to regularly post details, on its digital channels, new and creative ways to stay active, during these times.

Keep well and keep training. Go Mercs.


Rowing Australia calls for rowing clubs to suspend operations

Published 23rd March 2020

The following announcement from RA was released tonight.

Rowing Australia (RA) today confirmed with immediate effect the suspension of operations at the Reinhold Batschi Men’s National Training Centre, in Canberra, and the Hancock Prospecting Women’s National Training Centre, in Penrith.

The decision to suspend training for Australian Rowing Team and the National Training Centre (NTC) athletes is in response to the Federal Government’s new restrictions on the opening of gyms and indoor sporting venues and the announcement from the Australian Olympic Committee, that the International Olympic Committee, with support from the International Paralympic Committee, are considering a number of scenarios around the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, including postponement.

With the suspension of operations at the NTC’s, athletes now have the opportunity to return to their respective home states and territories; while continuing to follow Government restrictions around practicing good hygiene, keeping a healthy physical distance between individuals and self-isolating where required by local State/Territory restrictions.

In addition to this, RA strongly advises all rowing clubs in Australia to suspend operations and that members of our rowing community seek alternative ways of training that comply with Government restrictions.

Rowing Australia CEO, Ian Robson said, “In light of the advice overnight from the Federal Government and tightened restrictions around access to gyms and indoor sporting venues, Rowing Australia has today decided with immediate effect to suspend operations at our two National Training Centres. The health and wellbeing of our athletes, coaches and staff is our main priority during this time.

“We know this decision, along with the IOC and IPC announcements around the potential postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be disruptive to our team. However, we also know they are leaders within the community, they will adapt to change and will continue to inspire excellence amongst our rowing community, and beyond, with their behaviours. We will continue to provide support to our athletes, coaches and staff, during these times of uncertainty.

“We are also in regular contact with our State Institutes and Academies of Sport that manage and support our para-rowers and Paralympians. We will continue to support these athletes as this matter continues to develop.

“RA will also regularly maintain contact with our State Pathway Network that delivers our Pathway rowing programs. We continue to discuss with World Rowing (FISA) around the further revision to the 2020 international competition schedule, including the combined 2020 World Rowing Championships (Senior, Under 23 and Junior).”

In regards to rowing club activity more broadly, Mr Robson added, “We strongly advise all rowing clubs, across Australia, to heed the Government restrictions, cease operations and seek alternative ways for members to remain active. Rowing Australia will continue to regularly post details, on its digital channels, of new and creative ways to stay active, during these times, for clubs and rowers of all ages to access.

“We know some members of the community will wish to continue solo training sessions in privately owned single sculls. Those members of the community who choose to do this, should exercise heightened levels of caution when doing so, such as having a training partner join you while still respecting social distancing advice.

“The whole rowing community, including our Olympic, Paralympic, Australian Rowing Team and National Training Centre athletes, have their part to play if we want to slow the spread of COVID-19. We all must implement appropriate social distancing in accordance with new State and Territory laws and to echo the words of the Prime Minister, we need to all do our bit to save lives of other Australians.”


Vale Rob Connolly

Published 20 March 2020

It is with great regret that we advise of the passing of Robert Connolly this morning. As one of his lightweight colleagues said, an immortal lightweight. He was a good bloke who will be remembered as such.

Many in the Club will not know of Rob as he has been living in Queensland for a long time and ceased his competitive rowing back in 1969.

Rob had been ill for a long period but was still able to make it back for the funeral of his great mate Tim Hogan last year.

Rob joined the club in 1963-64 season but we do not have any record of his racing in his first three seasons. Our first recorded win was in the intra-club Dobbie Fours in 1966.That the was the same year in which he enticed his younger brother Mark down to the Club to do some coxing.

Rob’s best season was in 1967-68 when he finished with a National Championship in the four seat of the Club’s lightweight eight after stroking several winning junior eight races.

Rob in the four seat of the Mercs National Championship lightweight eight

In the 1968-69 season, he won a string of winning lightweight eights including the Victorian Championship. In those days there were not annual National Championships so the Interstate Championships were the pinnacle of lightweight achievement. He raced in the Interstate Championships in the two seat of the Victorian lightweight four.

Rob in the two seat of the Victoria lightweight four

At season’s end, Rob left for New Guinea. Rob became a country member where he remained.

Our condolences to his wife Sandra and family.


Other sad news

Published 20 March 2020

Whilst not Mercs members, we are also saddened by the recent deaths of two outstanding rowing men, Ray Hammon of Essendon and John Ward of Rutherglen Lake. They were great supporters of the sport and we are the poorer for their passing.


Training guidelines during Covid-19

Published 18th March 2020

The linked training guidelines from Rowing Victoria are to be followed. These are prudent and helpful in doing our bit to keep people healthy, limit the spread of the virus and maintain our sport.


Covid-19 precautions

Published 14th March 2019

Your Committee continues to monitor the situation and has increased the amount of cleaning of the Clubhouse as a precaution. It asks all members to follow some simple procedures whilst using the Clubhouse.

Everyone must practise good hygiene, this is critical to help protect against infections. Good hygiene includes:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water, for 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand rub
  • using a tissue and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • avoiding close contact with others including personal greetings, such as touching, handshakes, kisses, and hugs. Fist bumps are appropriate.


  • If you knowingly travel to a high-risk country or have knowingly travelled to a high risk country or have attended an event where a person has been found to be affected, please adhere to guidelines to self-isolate and avoid attending the club for a period of 14 days after travel or partaking in the event.
  • Remove ALL personal items from change rooms and the training spaces after using. No towels or clothes are to remain in the change spaces please.  There will be no apologies for items disposed of for health reasons.
  • Also, please ensure that all oar handles are washed with detergent before and after rowing and all ergos and bikes are wiped with disinfectant.  Anti-bacterial wipes and/or sprays must be used every time an individual concludes their session on an ergo or bike.
  • For your own protection, please purchase a personal supply of alcohol-based sanitiser with over 60% alcohol.

Please visit the the Department of Health website for further details. Rowing Australia has some specific rowing advice on its website.


Impact of Covid-19 on regattas

Updated yet again 16th March 2020

Update 16th March 2020 – The Captain has issued the following statement to the rowers.

This morning we met with the VPP leadership group and had a teleconference with RA and the Australia wide Pathway Program to discuss the current situation. Obviously this is a fluid and evolving situation. Our discussions and decision making is guided by several things:

  • Acting in the best interests of the health of our members and community and the public health of our wider community.
  • Health is one of our Club Values. In this challenging environment we endeavour to ensure that rowing at Mercantile is healthly and promotes good physical and mental health.
  • As a Club we always pursue excellence and success. While some immediate opportunities may have been taken away we look to the future and want to ensure we are ready for the next challenge.

In the teleconference today it was advised that the April Underage Selection would not proceed. FISA will provide an update about the status of the U19/U23 World Champs by 5 April.

The next RA Pathway teleconference will follow the update from FISA.

The dates for the planned U21 Trans Tasman event (16-19 July) would be the most likely opportunity for the selection activity for the U19/U23 World Championships team.

At this point U19/U23s reset your plans for a selection event 16-19 July at SIRC. Victoria proposed that U21 State crews could compete at the July event in some form of Interstate race – this is now being considered.

Subject to the wider COVID-19 situation Pathway athletes should keep training. We want to be in the best possible place on the other side of this crisis. Training plans will be reset from pre- competition/competition back to aerobic and endurance loadings.

Please feel to discuss the above with me or your coaches.

Update 15 March – FISA has announced that all qualification and World Cup regattas are cancelled. I can only assume that they are looking at using last years World Championships for other placings, at least in the big boats. This would be a good result for Australia. Let us wait and see.

Sadly on the weekend, both the Head of the Schoolgirls and Scotch Mercantile regattas were cancelled. Your correspondent is hoping that the APS allows a small modified Head of the River to proceed.

In not a particularly surprising move, FISA has cancelled World Cups 1 and 2 and also the planned final Paralympic Qualification Regatta. The third World Cup (and final Olympic Qualification regatta) is still planned to proceed. The Australian team plans will now require considerable change as their training base in Italy is off limits. One suspects that Rockhampton in Queensland will be the new training venue.

In other news, the Australian Championships are still progressing but things can change. The current advice from the NSW Department of Health and the Federal Government in relation to events and mass gatherings is that “at this stage, the risk of community spread of COVID-19 in NSW is low, therefore NSW Health does not propose altering arrangements for public events.”

Everything is liable to change rapidly.


The Bibi Colgan to be named 16th April 2020

Updated 18 March 2020

Update – Sadly this event is now cancelled.

The new Bibi Colgan will be named by Bib Colgan on Thursday 16th April. A BBQ will follow.


Mercs members in Victorian crews

Published 8th March 2020

The Victorian teams have been announced and Mercantile members appear throughout. Congratulations to all these members.

High Performance Manager Paul McGann commented: Your performance throughout the season have been fantastic and we at Mercs are all incredibly proud of each and every one of you! Keep up the good work and good luck with your VIC team campaign. Mercs will continue to support you in any and every way we can. Go VICS and Go Mercs!

King’s Cup

  • Liam Donald
  • Angus Widdicombe

Queen’s Cup

  • Jess Morrison
  • Kat Werry.
  • Amanda Bateman
  • Georgie Gleeson
  • Ria Thompson (now based in Brisbane but we will claim her)
  • James Rook (cox)
  • Brigette Carlile (co-coach)
  • Nick Mitchell (co-coach)

President’s Cup and Nell Slatter not yet announced

Penrith Cup

  • Red Matthews
  • James Wilson (co-coach)

Victoria Cup

  • Phoebe Wolf
  • Meghan Hester (emergency)

Wilkinson Cup

  • Nick Vlachodimitropoulos
  • Tom Murray
  • Will Achermann
  • Lukas Matic

Bicentennial Cup

  • Emily Sutherland
  • Paige Barr
  • Sophie Reinehr
  • Teagan Blythe
  • Brigette Carlile (co-coach)
  • Cox not yet named but Lily Arnoul is in the running.


Mercs members in Olympic squads announced following the trials

Published 7th March 2020

Congratulations to the following Club members who have been selected into the Olympic squads for 2020:

  • Jessica Morrision
  • Kat Werry
  • James Rook
  • Katrina Bateman
  • Amanda Bateman
  • Angus Widdicombe
  • Liam Donald

And also former club member, now in Queensland, Ria Thompson. Sadly, Red Matthews’ great efforts to make the squad have failed to this point. Hopefully a reserve position may become available.

The squads and crews are set to compete at the 2020 World Rowing Cups 2 and 3 as well as the Final Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regattas later this year. World Rowing Cup 2 is due to be held in Varese, Italy from 1 to 3 May, while the 2020 International Para-Rowing Regatta and the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta are both due to be held in Gavirate, Italy from 8 to 10 May. Lucerne in Switzerland is the venue for both the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, scheduled for 17 to 19 May, and World Rowing Cup 3 which is due to take place from 22 to 24 May.

Australia has already qualified eight boats for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and will now also look to qualify:

  • lightweight men’s double sculls
  • lightweight women’s double sculls
  • men’s double scull and
  • women’s quad scull

at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta to be held in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The full squad list is available through this link.


2020 State Championships in review

Published 1st March 2020

The two day Championships were held in varies weather. On Saturday 29th February, the weather was superb, little or no wind, cool start leading to a warm afternoon and no rain. It was magic. Sadly Sunday provided us with a strong cross tail which eventually led to the regatta being called off.

Highlights included some superb wins in the men’s and women’s open eights and some great individual performances, particularly in the under 21 men’s pairs with first, second and third placings.

Let us run through our crews.

The women’s open eight had a great win over MUBC by 3.28 seconds.

Our crew takes their second stroke
Bow to cox: Steph Ferrali, Paige Barr, Teagan Blythe, Mimi Tuddenham, Emily Sutherland, Georgie Gleeson, Sky Froebel, Sophie Reinehr, Cox: Eyrin McCarthy, Coaches: Nicholas Mitchell, Brigette Carlile

The boys were not to be outdone with an impressive win over two MUBC crews. Their winning margin was 5.72 seconds.

Cox: Phillip Tran, Nicholas Vlachodimitropoulos, Tom Murray, William Achermann, Benjamin Canham, Alexander Wolf, Joel Cain, Kane Grant, Lukas Matic,
Coaches: Nicholas Mitchell, Dylan Curnow, Nicholas Lloyd
The happy troupe playing to the camera

In other races …..

Alex Wolf and Ben Canham won the open pair.
Tom Murray (Str) and Nick Vlachodimitropoulos (bow) win the under 21 pair, followed by …
Will Ackermann (str) and Lukas Matic (bow) were second and then …..
Tim Benton in a composite crew with Barwon member Charlie Batrouney 
Kane Grant worked his new boat well to win the open scull
Joel Cain won the under 23 scull even showing bent arms do work for him
Georgie Gleeson (bow) and Sky Froebel (Str) won the under 23 pair
Louisa Bongrain won the under 21 scull
Benjamin Canham and Joel Cain take out the open double scull
… and with Alexander Wolf and Kane Grant finishing third

Meghan Hester and Phoebe Wolf teamed up with Alysha Caruso and Sophie Walmsley of MUBC to take our the lightweight quad scull defeating a composite open quad of Gemma Sibillin, Kate Duggan and Rhiannon Morgan who teamed up with Thea Adamson of Banks.

The women’s lightweight quad scull does battle with the open quad scull
Stearns Weil and Jordan Roberts finished second in the lightweight pair
Sasha Selemba mastering the scull
Kate Duggan teamed up with Thea Adamson of Banks to finish second in the open pair
Steph Ferrali, Eleanor Millear finished second in the under 21 pair
Gemma Sibillin in the open scull before heading over to Europe for work
Mimi Tuddenham finished third in the under 23 scull
Meghan Hester finished second in the lightweight scull
And Phoebe Wolf finshed close behind in the lightweight single in third place
Jamie Forwood, Connor Shugg, Marcus Cain, William Kalikman, Cox: Phillip Tran finished fourth in the under 21 coxed four
Teagan Blythe, Paige Barr, Emily Sutherland, Sophie Reinehr, Cox: Lily Arnoul finished second in the under 21 four
and happy on the podium Str: Sophie Reinehr, 3: Em Sutherland, 2: Paige Barr, Bow: Teagan Blythe, Cox Lily Arnoul
… cox, Erin McCarthy, Faith Zehfuss, Rhiannon Morgan, Lulu Murrell, Liv Sergeant, finished third.
Our under 21 eight finished second. Left to right: Lily Arnoul, Sophie Reinehr, Em Sutherland, paige Barr, Teagan Blythe, Eleanor Millear, Steph Ferrali, Liv Sargent, Lou Bongrain
Dario Sportelli of Richmond teamed up with our Jordan Roberts to finish second in the lightweight double
Meghan Hester (str) and Kate Duggan (bow) in the open double.
The youth eight powers off the start but finished second – Jamie Forwood, William Kalikman, Timothy Benton, Charlie Batrouney, Lukas Matic, Nicholas Vlachodimitropoulos, Tom Murray, William Achermann and cox Phillip Tran
Kane Grant, Joel Cain, Alexander Wolf, Benjamin Canham finished second in the open four
Dario Sportelli of Richmond joined Alexander Selemba, Stearns Weil and Connor Shugg to finish third in the open four
Faith Zehfuss, Mimi Tuddenham, Georgie Gleeson and Sky Froebel finished third in the open four
Gemma Sibillin, Kate Duggan, Thea Adamson and Rhiannon Morgan look great on the well behaved course

However the superb weather of Saturday did not survive to Sunday. The wind came up and the clouds came over. The regatta had to be called off by lunchtime.

Rhiannon Morgan joked about the conditions on the way out to her final
However it was no fun with a strong cross breeze. She was one of the lucky scullers not to fall out of their boat. She finished only second.
Georgia Deacon, Johanna Vennemann, Sophie Coltman and Kate Duggan struggled with the conditions and finished fourth in the final.
Gemma Sibillin (bow) and Meghan Hester (Str) finished third in the A double scull
Meghan and Gemma enjoyed surviving the race in third place
Nick Szigeter, Oscar Kingham, Jordan Roberts and Alexander Kinsella won their heat but the conditions got the better of them in the final finishing out of a place.


Moomba River Closures

Published 1st March 2020

The River is closed upstream between 9.00am and 4.30pm on Monday 2nd & Tuesday 3rd March.

From Wednesday 4th until Monday 9th it is closed upstream from 8.00am to 9.30pm.

See the attached link for full details.


Moomba Parking Restrictions

Published 1st March 2020

Access to the clubs will be severely restricted due to Moomba over the next two weeks. Please read the following notices carefully.

Advice to Clubs

Rowing parking access


From the vaults – Interstate women’s championships

Published 1st March 2020

This year marks the centenary of the first official interstate women’s championships in 1920. The first championships was a coxed four.

They were conducted at the same time and place as the men’s championships and provided good racing.

The winning South Australian crew from Manum
Bow: M Field, 2: G Reed, 3: E Arnold, Str: Dorothy Arnold, Cox: J Twigg

NSW raced well and took the early lead. The South Australians then put on a great effort to row through the NSW crew and take the lead. The Queensland crew also rowed through the NSW crew to gain level terms with the South Australians. The crews used regulation fours, boats with a flat bottom and quite wide. The South Australians were all from the Mannum Club.

The finish of the first women’s four championships

Perhaps more notable was the creation of the Australian Women’s Rowing Council at this regatta on 13th May 1920. Furthermore, the Queensland United Licensed Victuallers’ Association donated a splendid trophy made from 100 silver guineas to be known as the ULVA trophy but more commonly and affectionately known as “Bertha”. It was a fitting trophy for such an important event.

The South Australian stroke Dorothy Arnold 50 years after the event with the congratulatory telegrams received after the win.


Past news can be found through the link.