September 2018 News

Above – Australian eight takes Silver at Lucernce World Cup with Liam Donald and stroked by Gus Widdicombe


Follow this link for past news

Follow this link for upcoming events.

All news brought to you by your faithful correspondent Trident.


News covered below:

  • Vale Geoff Speed
  • Patrick Boomer off to World Coastal Championships in Canada
  • Mercs masters
  • Notice of AGM
  • More details on the Annual Dinner and AGM
  • Member Profile – Celia Patterson
  • Three more medals for Mercs on the last day of the Worlds
  • Silver for Kat Werry on Day 7 of Worlds
  • Day 6 – World Championships
  • President’s luncheon – 2nd December 2018
  • Member profile – Paul Harding
  • Day 5 World Championships
  • World Championship Update
  • Member profiles – Gibbs Family
  • AGM – 20th October 2018
  • 2018-19 Regatta calendar on the events page
  • Club fundraising opportunity – advertise your business for a week
  • River closure Sunday 9th September 2018
  • Mercs at the World Championships
  • Wrap up of our international representatives for 2018
  • Fun run Sunday 2nd September
  • Ever wondered about the benefits of rowing?
  • Nick’s new toy
  • 2019 Henley Royal Regatta
  • RV competitor agreement
  • From the archives – the first National Championships 1962
  • Member Profiles
  • Thursday Night Social Hour



Vale Geoff Speed

Published 26th September 2018


We regret to advise the passing of Geoff Speed and thanks you Phil Wright for this advice.

Geoff started his rowing at Scotch before joining Mercs.

1958 – Scotch Seconds 2 seat – finished third

1959 – Scotch First crew stroke seat – finished fifth

1959-60 season joined Mercs and won a maiden eight at Henley on Yarra

1960-61 season won Victorian Champion Eight in 2 seat with a crew of some characters – Crockett, Adrian Monger, Graeme McCall, Simon Newcomb, Tony Cordell and coxed by David Palfreyman.

Above: 1959 Scotch crew – Geoff centre seated – note the young Dave Yunghanns back row right hand side

Prior to this Championship race (and a couple of other successful senior eight races), he stroked a junior eight which also won several races.

He does not appear to have raced thereafter. But appears to have commenced as a Head of the River broadcaster from 1963 along with fellow Scotch Collegians Ginner Davidson and Peter Gibbs. He commentated at this regatta for nearly 20 years.



Patrick Boomer off to World Coastal Championships in Canada

Published 26th September 2018


Patrick Boomer, our Irish and sometimes Australian member, has won all before him in Ireland in the coastal rowing solo boat. Well done Patrick.


A few images of Patrick from the Irish Offshore Championships in Caherdaniel, Co. Kerry recently.

Above: Patrick takes the Championship

Above: The conditions look reasonably challenging


Mercs Masters

Published 26th September 2018


Above: A Thursday night scene


I think they are trying to establish who will get the keys


Notice of 138th Mercantile Rowing Club Annual General Meeting

Published 25th September 2018


Notice is hereby given of the Annual General Meeting of Mercantile Rowing Club to be held at 7:00PM, Saturday 20 October 2018 at Boathouse 5, Boathouse Drive, Melbourne, Vic, 3004.

The ordinary business of the Annual General Meeting shall be:

a) to confirm the Minutes of the last preceding Annual General Meeting and any General Meeting held since that Annual General Meeting;

b) to receive from the Committee reports upon the transactions of the Club during the preceding financial year;

c) to elect the Officers of the Club, the Members of the Committee and the Selection Committee;

d) to receive and consider the statements submitted by the Club in accordance with Part 7 of the Act; and

e) to reappoint Mr John Harry as an Administrator of the Mercantile Foundation.

By order of the Committee,

Hannah Lewis
Honorary Secretary


More details on the Annual Dinner and AGM

Published 25th September 2018

6:00 PM Drinks + Canapés
6:30 PM Boat Christening
7:00 PM Annual General Meeting
7:30 PM Dinner + Award Presentations
9:30 PM Bar open, drinks at bar prices

Saturday 20 October
From 6:00 PM

Boathouse 5,
Boathouse Drive,
Melbourne VIC 3004

Lounge suit or Club Blazer

Inclusive of canapés, main + dessert; drinks on arrival + during dinner service
Adults – $135
Competitive Athletes – $110

Please RSVP by October 6 for catering purposes via




Hannah Lewis
0404 399 448


Member profile – Celia Patterson

Published 19th September 2018


The member profiles continue to grow. This time it is Celia Patterson. She is an exceptional member and also our first female Captain. “Read all about it”, so they say.

More profiles will come but more are needed. Please send your suggestions with some stories and notes. They do not have to be complete, just to some suggestions.



Three more medals for Mercs on the last day of the Worlds

Published 16th September 2018


Congratulations to Gus Widdicombe and Liam Donald in the Men’s Eight with a silver medal and to James Rook with a bronze as cox of the Women’s Eight.


In the Men’s Eight, Gus had the keys and lifted his crew from fourth place with 500m to go to a silver from Germany. God help the spectators, let alone the crews! The margins between second and third 0.03 second, and between third and fourth, 0.19 second. Go Mercs.

Above: The men’s eight – photo copyright RA

The women’s eight was not much better. The margin between silver and bronze was less than a second, 0.81 second to be precise. The Australians took on the Americans leading through the first 500m but could not match them during the middle stages of the race. In the race to the line, the Canadians out-sprinted the Australians to take silver.

Above: the women’s eight  – photo copyright RA

What superb racing in both events.


In other races, Eric Horrie showed his class to win in a come from behind race. Great work Eric.

Above: Eric on the podium looking pretty pleased with himself – photo copyright RA


Maddie Edmunds finished seventh in the scull.

Above: Maddie earlier in the week – photo copyright RA


Silver for Kat Werry on Day 7 of the Worlds

Published 16th September 2018

Above: The Australians trying to catch the tiring Americans

Kat Werry has added a silver medal to her gold from last year after a great tussle with the Americans. The Americans were again the fastest over of the first 500m but this time were also fastest over the second 500 metres making it very difficult for the other crews to peg them back. The American raced superbly.

Above: presentations – photo copyright RA

The Australians raced a far more even race although their second 500 was perhaps too slow. Had they maintained their pace during this part of the race, a very different result may have prevailed. Their last 1000m was disciplined and fast racing.


Addy Dunkley-Smith finished in eighth position in the pair in a good race.

Above: Addy in the bow of her pair – Photo copyright RA

In other news, the men’s four won well again although the Italians came home strongly to push them home.

Above: Men’s Four – photo copyright RA

And also the pleasing result of the day was that of the Men’s quad scull who started slowly but came home like a train finishing with a silver medal. The crew was fifth fastest in each of the first two 500m segments but the fastest crew in each of the next two 500m. It would have been a heart stopping race.

Above: A pleased Men’s quad – photo copyright RA


Day 6 – World Championships

Published 15th September 2018


No Mercantile members raced on day 6 but tonight will see Mercs shine. Addy Dunkley Smith in the B final of the pair and Kat Werry in the A final of the four.


The Australian men’s and women’s fours are expected to perform well tonight and we await with great anticipation. Also of great interest is our men’s quad scull who could surprise being ranked as a possible bronze medallist crew, and our PR3 mixed quad scull, who have had mixed racing form at the regatta. They were slow in the heat but performed with distinction in the repechage.


Race times for the Australian Rowing Team on Saturday 15 September:

Women’s Pair (Vermeersch and Dunkley-Smith): B-Final 09:38 local time (16:38 AEST)
Lightweight Women’s Double Scull (James and Pound): B-Final 09:54 local time (16:54 AEST)
Women’s Quadruple Scull (Horton, Cronin, Meredith and Aldersey): B-Final 10:26 local time (17:26 AEST)
PR3 Mixed Coxed Four (Ayers, Vuillermin, Gibson, Talbot and Domaschenz): A-Final 11:15 local time (18:15 AEST)
Women’s Four (Stephan, Werry, Hawe and Goodman): A-Final 12:31 local time (19:31 AEST)
Men’s Four (Hicks, Turrin, Hargreaves and Hill): A-Final 12:46 local time (19:46 AEST)
Men’s Quadruple Scull (Antill, C Watts, A Purnell and D Watts): A-Final 13:16 local time (20:16 AEST)
Men’s Pair (Judge and O’Brien): C-Final 14:53 local time (21:53 AEST)
Men’s Single Scull (Letcher): D-Final 16:21 local time (22:21 AEST)


Rowing Australia reported on day 6 as follows:

Australia’s James Talbot and Jed Altschwager today won silver in the PR3 Men’s Pair final at the 2018 World Rowing Championships. The duo, coached by Lizzi Chapman, snapped up their medals in Bulgaria, crossing the line in a time of 7 minutes 24 seconds.
The pair, who only began rowing 18 months ago, came through Rowing Australia’s #Train4Tokyo camps before moving into the Australian Rowing Team this year. The South Australian, Altschwager, and New South Welshman, Talbot, combined to finish in second behind an in form Canada, with France claiming the bronze medal.
“It feels amazing, the way the week started, I was very nervous as it was my first time representing Australia. To turn it around, brush the nerves off and get done what we needed to do which was awesome,” admitted the 32-year-old Altschwager.
“I’m pretty stoked, we had a few things to work on after the preliminary race which we got down pat. The final was only our second race ever together, so I think with each race we’re going to get better and better. This was a great start,” added Talbot.
“We’ve been rowing only 18 months, so it’s really exciting to think about where we can take things moving forward. It’s epic, and this is only early days for us,” said Altschwager.

Above: Podium PR3 Men’s Pair
In the two semi-finals of the day, Madeleine Edmunds, in the Women’s Single Scull, put in a solid sprint at the line to just miss out on an A-Final berth by 0.09 of a second. The Australian will now contest Sunday’s B-Final. Meanwhile, reigning World Champion Erik Horrie booked himself a place in Sunday’s A-Final in the PR1 Men’s Single Scull after winning his semi-final in a time of 9 minutes 46 seconds.
In the B-Finals, Alice Arch finished the regatta ranked 10th overall in the Lightweight Women’s Single Scull, while Hamish Parry finished his event, the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull ranked ninth overall.


President’s Luncheon – 2nd December 2018

Published 15th September 2018


Please keep this date free fro the next President’s Luncheon. Delightful company and food, together with boat namings and update from the President and Captain.


Above: Our President at a past President’s Luncheon


Member profile – Paul Harding

Published 14th September 2018


The member profiles continue to grow. This time it is Paul Harding.

More profiles will come but more are needed. Please send your suggestions with some stories and notes. They do not have to be complete, just to some suggestions.


Day 5 World Championships

Published 14th September 2018

Mercantile update:

W4 – Kat Werry – second in semi-final

W2 – Addy Dunkley Smith – 4th in semi-final

W8 – James Rook – won heat and straight to final

M8 – Gus Widdicombe and Liam Donald – second in heat and straight through to final

Semi-finals and repechages were the order of the day on Thursday. The Australian crews had a mixed day with the highly ranked crews showing through. Of note for Mercantile, Kat Werry in the four finished second to the USA in the semi-final in a close race which was substantially faster than the other semi-final. These two crews will again fight for gold in the final. The race was interesting. The Australians gave away 3 seconds in the first 500m and then were faster than them throughout the rest of the race. An ominous sign for the Yanks.

Above: Women’s four semi-final

Sadly Addy Dunkley Smith finished fourth in the pair’s semi-final in what appeared to be a very uneven semi-final. The clear favourites for this event are Canada and New Zealand and both were in Addy’s semi-final. The difference in times between the two semis was 17 seconds!

In other news with Australian crews from yesterday:

M2 – 4th in quarter-final and so off to semi-final C/D. Later in the day, 1st in semi-final so off to final C

M1x – same as above, 4th in quarter finals so off to semi-final C/D and later in the day, 4th in semi-final so off to final D

PR3 Mix4+ – first in repecharge by a long way. Looks promising

LW2x – Last in semi-final, sadly outclassed

M4- – 1st in semi-final in a dominating display. 3rd 500m time shows something left in the tank for final

W4x – 4th in semi-final so off to final B

M4x – 1st in repechage so off to final A

Above: Men’s quad scull


World Championship Update

Published 13th September 2018

Wow, what a start to the Championships.

Firstly Kat Werry was promoted to the four from the eight after Rosie Popa suffered an injury and the team did not want to prejudice their number one crew with a not fully fit crew. Despite the change, the four won its heat comfortably by some five seconds and has progressed directly to the semi-finals which are tonight.


The women’s eight steered by our own James Rook with their change also raced well and won their heat comfortably. They are straight through to the final.

Above: Women’s eight in the heat


The men’s eight with Gus Widdicombe in the stroke seat and Liam Donald in the bow seat had the race of the day against the Americans. Both eights were determined to win and in the end it was the Americans by only 0.05 second. Both crews were within 0.5 second of the world best time. Gus had the keys and had the rate up to 45 in the last 500 metres. Splits were roughly 1.18, 1.20, 1.20.5 and 1.20.7. What a race.

Above the men’s eight – note Gus with no hair


Our other Club member racing is Addy Dunkley-Smith in the pair with Hannah Vermeesch. They had to row through the repechage to make the semi-final.

Above: Hannah in the stroke seat and Addy in bow


Best wishes to all the Australian crew and Go Mercs.


Member profiles – Gibbs family

Published 13th September 2018


One of the families that has been dominant during time at Mercantile has been the Gibbs family. Firstly there was Frank Gibbs, a fine oarsman and also successful Captain of the Club during the 1890s. Then his nephew Allen Gibbs was a dominant member in the 1920s, and finally his son Peter Gibbs who raced with us in 1960s.

Above: Frank Gibbs in the skiff behind the Club’s first senior championship crew in 1895

All of the family were great Mercantile members during their time at the Club in their own way. Go to member profiles to read all about them.



AGM – 20th October 2018

Published 9th September 2018


Join us for an evening of celebration as we reflect on the year that has been, welcome our newest members, and ring-in the 2018-19 racing season.

Saturday 20 October
From 6:00 PM

6:00 PM        Drinks + Canapés

6:30 PM        Boat Christening

7:00 PM        Annual General Meeting

7:30 PM        Dinner + Award Presentations

9:30 PM        Bar open, drinks at bar prices

Boathouse 5,
Boathouse Drive,
Melbourne VIC 3004

Loungesuit or Club Blazer

Inclusive of canapés, main + dessert
Drinks on arrival and during dinner service
Adults – $135
Competitive Athletes – $110

Hannah Lewis
0404 399 448


2018-19 Regatta calendar on the events page

Published 8th September 2018


The full season regatta calendar is now available on the Events page.

Above: Mercs winning at Ballarat last season


Club fundraising opportunity – advertise your business for a week

Published 6th September 2018

Civic Media have kindly donated this business opportunity with proceeds going to Mercantile’s 2018 travelling athletes.


Pick 1 of 5 prominent locations. The billboards are digital electronic billboards and you get 15 seconds every 2 minutes for 1 week (Monday to Sunday).


Artwork can be very simple and low cost – easy as making a pdf file with your logo. You can rotate through different images in each 15 second slot if you wish. Civic can assist with formatting and advice to help you get your business out there.


The opportunity is available until 30 June 2019. Bookings need to be confirmed with Civic a week before. Details can be found through this link.


The Club will take bids for this opportunity until 30 September 2018, via the email address

Please see the attached brochure from Civic for all details of the billboard sites, dimensions, traffic flow, contact and booking details.


We thank Leanne Quinn and Civic Media for making this tremendous opportunity available to our members and their business.

River closure Sunday 9th September 2018

Published 6th September 2018

River closure Sunday 9th September 6:30am – 3:00pm. A feature film The Whistleblower is being filmed which includes a replica rowing race.  The area impacted is the upstream end of Henley Landing to Swan St Bridge.


Mercs at the World Championships

Published 1st September 2018


Our best wishes to our Club members racing at the World Championships in Plovdiv Bulgaria from 9 to 16 September 2018. Both the men’s and women’s eights are excellent crews and are in the medal hunt.

Women’s eight

Kat Werry
James Rook (cox)
Addy Dunkley-Smith (reserve)

Men’s Eight

Liam Donald
Angus Widdicombe


Wrap up of our international representatives of 2018

Published 1st September 2018


World University Championships – Shanghai

The most recent event was the World University Championships held in Shanghai in August. Mercantile had four rowers who competed at this event. Unfortuntely for them, they all finished fourth.

Tom Hunt and Callum Nott raced in the Men’s Pair, Jayden Grey in the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull, and in the Women’s Pair, Hedda Cooper (QLD) combined with our Olivia Sibillin to also finish fourth overall.

This is a very high standard event and the results are worthy of much praise.

Above: Olivia Sibillin


World Under 23 Championships

Three club members raced at the World Under 23 Championships, Ria Thompson, Maddison Brown and Alexander Clarke.


Ria Thompson who had performed so well in the domestic season teamed up with Harriet Hudson from Sydney to race in the double scull. The field was deep with 19 competing crews but sadly they were unable to medal, finishing fifth in the final. They were a little too slow off the start but kept in the race the whole way down.


Maddison Brown raced in the eight having come back from the States to trial for this crew. Maddison is one of the many of our athletes studying and rowing at American Universities. The women’s eight finished in sixth place.

Above: Maddison in the three seat


Finally Alexander Clarke took the opportunity to trial in June for the team and was selected in the coxed four. His crew was also a last minute selection but the crew managed to make the final finishing sixth.

Above: Alex in the two seat


Fun run Sunday 2nd September

Published 1st September

The YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run around the Tan track on Sunday 2nd.

Between 8.00am & 11.30am the rowing precinct will be very busy. It is advised to keep vehicles well away from the area.


Ever wondered about the benefits of rowing?

Published 1st September 2018


Rowing Australia in conjunction with member Marty O’Halloran have produced a superb video which is absolutely worth viewing. This video, created for RA pro bono through the exceptional work of the DDB Group (Marty O’Halloran) and Interbrand.  It also launches RA’s new vision statement, Excellence through Rowing, on and off the water, where we aim to inspire and enable everyone involved with rowing to be the best they can be. You can watch the video here on the Rowing Australia YouTube Channel here.


Nick’s new toy

Published 1st September 2018


Here is our Head Coach Nick Mitchell with his new vehicle.  He is putting is straight to work towing the Mercs trailer down to Johnsonville for the VIS training camp.

Above: Nick Mitchell and his new toy carefully supervised by Chipper on the balcony


Henley Royal Regatta 2019

Published 1st September 2018


Next year is the centenary of the 1919 Henley Peace Regatta at which the King’s Cup was won by the AIR No 1 crew. Mercantile is planning to send a crew to this regatta. The celebration will include a luncheon at Australia House on the Tuesday before the regatta and racing between services crews.


We are aware that there are some members who will be attending. We would welcome keeping in touch with those who are interested in attending so that accommodation, ticketing, event and other matters can be arranged. For those interested, please email Jenny Fraumano at so that you can be kept in the loop on what other members are doing.


Above: Mercs four in 2018 at HRR


Member Profiles

Published 1st September 2018

Each month more profiles are added.

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. The profile to be added this month is that of our first female Captain, Celia Patterson.


RV Competitor Agreement

Published 1st September 2018


There is a whole of sport attempt to standardise the conditions of racing for all Clubs, Schools, State Associations and Rowing Australia. Competitors will need to sign up to these conditions to be able to race this season. Many may have already done so but there has been a new round of emails send by RV last week.


Follow the link for more details and explanation on this initiative.

From the archives – the first National Championships 1962

Published 1st September 2018


The first proposal for a National Championship was submitted by NSW at the AARC meeting in 1946 and it failed to gain support outside NSW. A second proposal was submitted by NSW to the AARC on 21st April 1948 in Tasmania. Kevyn Webb of NSW was the person behind these proposals.

Notices of motion to conduct such an Open Championship, appeared on the Agenda of the Australian Rowing Council, at each of its meetings up to 1960. During this period, all of the States voted in favour of the National Regatta’s introduction, however, in any one of those years, only three of the six States voted “yes” at one time. There was never a clear majority. In 1969, Webb was officially requested to prepare a comprehensive report for the A.R.C. on how a National Regatta could be introduced. That report was tabled at the 1961 Australian Rowing Council meeting, and following its adoption, the six States voted unanimously to hold the first National Championship Regatta on Lake Wendouree at Ballarat, in 1962.


This first event was a far smaller version of what it is today. The regatta attracted an entry of just 201 competitors in 63 crews from the six States, but they provided excellent racing over two days. Unfortunately, the public attendance was disappointing. The full results and crews can be found on the Australian Rowing History website.


For the benefit of this article, we will focus around our winning lightweight eight. the crew comprised many familiar names:

Bow: Mal H Corben, 2: Jeff J Wylie, 3: Geoff C Grinblat, 4: A Russell McLean, 5: Andrew M Evans, 6: George Xouris, 7: Peter Downey, Str: Ken M Hume, Cox: H Penry Green, Cch: Keith A Bilney.


The winning Mercantile crew had a last minute change on the morning of the heat when Peter Downey replaced the seven man Tony Walker who was ill on the morning of the race. In the final Mercantile rated 38 off the start and took and early lead. After 150 metres, the higher rating Sydney crew took the lead and maintained it to 1200 metres. The steadier rating Mercantile crew overhauled the higher rating Sydney crew with 300 metres to go and went on to win by 3/4 of a length.


Some images of this event follow.

Above: The winning crew

Above: The start

Above: The finish – note the shot gun to signify the finish, only one judge and commentators with mike covered with a hankerchief

Above presentations



Tuesday night masters ergo night

Republished 4th August 2018


With the masters now doing ergos on Tuesday nights, the gym is getting crowded after 6pm. Every ergo was used on 1st August and there was not even a need for an ambulance.


Tuesday night is ergo night


Thursday Masters Nights

Republished 4th August 2018

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

Past news can be found through this link.