PUBLIC SCHOOL ROWING.
The principal rowing schools in New South Wales are the Church of England Grammar School, North Shore, the Sydney Grammar School, and St. Ignatius College. Under the "Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools " an annual regatta is held on the Parramatta River in May. The events are—" Schools Championship," Maiden Fours, Junior Eights, and a June Handicap Sculling Race. The association has fixed the distance at II miles. The races are rowed in string test gigs ; and 8 mins. 15 secs. is considered good time for school crews, whose age, it must be remembered, does not equal that of English schoolboys. The boathouses of the two grammar schools are at Berry's and Woolloomooloo Bays, in the harbour ; and they are at a disadvantage compared with St. Ignatius College, which, at Lane Cove River, has a splendid course and smooth water. The ten days of the Easter vacation are spent by the two former schools in " Rowing Camp," i.e. they migrate to the Parramatta River, where there are better opportunities of systematic work and coaching. Each club, notably St. Ignatius, has a good set of boats, those of the North Shore School being fitted with convertible fixed or sliding seats, carried on frames. The form of the two grammar schools is decidedly good, and con forms to the English standard much more nearly than that of most of the clubs.
There are five schools approaching, as nearly as circumstances allow, the great public schools of England, viz. in the capital, the Church of England Grammar School, the Scotch College, Wesley Col lege, St. Patrick's College, and the Church of England Grammar School at Geelong.
Two races are rowed annually, for first and second crews, each school in turn having the choice of course, which is either on the Upper or Lower Yarra, the Albert Park Lagoon, or the Barwon at Geelong. For first crews the distance is x miles, for second a mile, the boats being string test gigs, fixed seats. Of all the schools none has a record equal to that of Geelong, where rowing, in com parison with other sports, occupies the same posi tion as at Eton. To the Cambridge Eight it has contributed four oars, including the well-known heavyweight S. Fairbairn ; while in the memorable race of '86, when Pitman made his victorious rush on the post, the school had an " old boy" in each boat—Fairbairn rowing for the Light Blues, and Robertson, whose father had been in Hoare's famous '61 crew, for Oxford. In the Cambridge Trial Eights seven " old Geelongs " have rowed ; in the Oxford Trials only one ; while the school has also been represented in the Grand Challenge and other races at Henley.
The Public Schools' Race for first crews was established in 1868, and for second in 1878. Gee long first rowed for the former in 1875, since when it has twelve wins to its credit, and the same num ber in the minor event.
The Boat Club was established in 1874, and at the present date has a roll of fifty-six members, an excellent boathouse, and nineteen boats. It holds an annual school regatta in June.
Rowing at the other schools is very spasmodic, mostly confined to a few weeks' training for the above races.
There are only two schools in South Australia which merit the designation of public schools in the English sense, viz. St. Peter's Collegiate School and Prince Alfred College, both in the immediate neighbourhood of the city.
Adelaide is bisected by the river Torrens, where, by reason of a dam, a mile and a half of water is available for rowing. But the course is so tortuous that racing is limited to a mile. The accumulation of silt is so great, and the growth of weeds and rushes so rapid, that for some five months in the year the river is kept empty for necessary opera tions ; and at the best of times the water is slow and sluggish. At the annual regatta, under the Rowing Association, the rivals have often com peted in a special race ; but they ran the chance of being drawn to row private schools. In order to make rowing as important a part of school athletics as cricket and football, the present writer, who was then chairman of the Rowing Association, instituted in 1893 an annual race between these schools for a challenge shield, to be rowed on the tidal river at the Port, over a straight mile course. The boats used are half-outrigged, clinker, keelless fours, fixed seats, with a twenty-six-inch beam. The crews practise on the home water, and finish their pre paration on the scene of the contest. So far, St. Peter's College has won each event in the easiest style. A race has also been established with the Geelong school. Of three, each of which has been of the closest, Geelong has won once, St. Peter's twice. The boats used are full outrigged clinkers, with sliding seats.
In spite of the inferior water, rowing at St. Peter's is becoming almost as popular with the boys as cricket and football. To this state of things their success against Prince Alfred and Geelong crews has materially contributed, as well as the institution of school regattas. The club has a good boathouse, with the right class of boats for teaching and coaching, viz. steady, roomy, half outrigged, clinker fours, with keels, convertible as fixed or sliders.