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Australians who have raced in The Boat Race
(Oxford University v Cambridge University)

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Initially it appears that most of the Australians who competed in this event were undergraduates at one of these great universities. Over time, it then appears that most of these Australian rowers were undertaking post graduate study at these universities.

Steve Fairbairn

Steve Fairbairn who competed on four occasions

Photo from The Story of Rowing by Christopher Dodd 1992

Some of these post graduate Australians were Rhodes Scholars and included:

  • Charles W B Littlejohn
  • Hugh K Ward
  • William W Woodward
  • James A Gobbo
  • James G McLeod
  • Philip A V Roff
  • Ashton Calvert
  • Michael Magarey
  • Andrew Michelmore
  • Graham Jones
  • David Rose

1983 Oxford

1983 Oxford crew with Graham Jones in the six seat

More recently in 2003-4, Kris Coventry was a Gates Scholarship holder.

Cambridge Blue Patrick Moore has offered a scholarship to Cambridge and the details of it can be found on this link to the Patrick Moore Cambridge Scholarship for masters through course work.

In each of 1954 and 1955, four Australians raced in the Oxford crew - the most in any one year. Three Australians raced in the 1956 Oxford crew.

1955

The four Australians in the 1954 Oxford crew

left to right: J A Gobbo, E V Vine, E O G Pain and J G McLeod

1955

The five Australians trying out for the 1955 Oxford crew warming up in the snow

left to right: E O G Pain, E V Vine, J G McLeod, R H Carnegie and J A Gobbo

T D Warner in 1868 appears to be the only Austraian to have coxed a crew in this event.

There are of course many Australians who raced for these universities but did get to race in the event.

There are also rowers who have competed in The Boat Race and have subsequently worked or live in Australia. Those known to the author are:

  • Duncan Clegg
  • John Reddaway

Chris Dodd in his book The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race London, Stanley Paul, 1983 makes it clear that the Australians at Oxford usually have made an influence much greater than the numerical strength would indicate.

He devotes a whole chapter to Stuart Mackenzie's brief and sensational career as coach at Oxford. Steve Fairbairn who revolutionised English rowing in the 1920 and '30s is of course prominant. Rod Carnegie's re-organisation of OUBC in the mid 1950s is mentioned as is the Presidency of OUBC of Andrew Michelmore.

Hylton Cleaver in his book A History of Rowing also mentions Carnegie as follows: In 1957 R H Carnegie revolutionized Oxford's rowing policy and came very close to a victory over Cambridge. This involved the introduction of shovel style blades well before other crews. Unfortunatley for Carnegie, one of his crew found the race too much for him and required the other seven to row most of the course without this rower. The picture below shows Oxford after the finish with Carnegie in the seven seat with hand on chin contemplating what might have been.

1957 finish

1957 finish with Carnegie in the seven seat

Photo from A History of Rowing by Hylton Cleaver, 1957

To the knowledge of the author, the following Australians were elected President of their respective boat club:

  • 1929 Hurtle C Morphett - President OUBC
  • 1937 J S Lewes - President of OUBC but did not row
  • 1951 Brian Lloyd - President of CUBC
  • 1955 James A Gobbo - President of OUBC
  • 1957 Roderick Carnegie - President of OUBC
  • 1970 Ashton Calvert - President of OUBC
  • 1978 Andrew Michelmore - President of OUBC
  • 1984 Graham Jones - President of OUBC
  • 2004 Samuel McLennan - President of OUBC (although he did not row in the blue boat)
  • 2006 Tom Edwards - President of CUBC
  • 2012 David Nelson - President of CUBC

1951 Cambridge

His Majesty King George VI shakes hands with members of the Cambridge crew. Cambridge President Brian Lloyd walks behind the King.

Another noteable Australian who competed for Cambridge was former Prime Minister Stanley Bruce in 1904.

As mentioned above, Stuart Mackenzie coached at Oxford. More recently Tim McLaren has been prominant in the coaching team for Cambridge and Michael McKay has assisted Oxford.

The conclusion is that there is a continuing interest in this event in Australia.

The next page list all those Australians who have competed in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and a further page provides a list of results for this event since 1829.

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