Schools race to celebrate 125 years of secondary school rowing

Post date: Feb 20, 2014 9:47:13 AM

VENUE UPDATE SUNDAY 11pm: Due to wind conditions the race will be held at Korokoro.

Sunday 23 February 2014 marks 125 years since the first rowing race between secondary schools in New Zealand. This historic event is being recognised with a commemorative race between Wellington College, Wanganui Collegiate and St. Patricks Schools on Sunday at 11am on the Lambton Harbour.

Secondary School rowing in New Zealand has continued to grow in popularity over the last 125 years, now over 2,000 rowers competing in 560 races at the Aon Maadi Cup (New Zealand Secondary School Rowing Championships) making it one of the biggest regattas in the Southern Hemisphere.

The 1889 college race was one race of a two day regatta raced over 1 nautical mile which included events such as the Maiden Four-oared In-rigged Gigs. A launch, the Mana was chartered as the starters boat and for spectators with tickets costing half a crown. In 1889 the regatta was held between Ngaharanga and Petone due to the wind conditions, with some of the crews and boats taken to the new starting point on the Mana, and some by rail.

While much has changed about schools rowing, including the boats and depth of field the competition remains fierce. The results of the regatta were published as “College Fours. Wanganui College bet Wellington College by half a length.” Saint Patricks School were also invited to the race, but the crew was disqualified after some debate as one of the rowers was also listed as a teacher on the school roll.

The commemorative race is planned to be held in town, from Point Jerningham Lighthouse into Te Papa wharf with the starters gun going off at 11am.

Crew lists for the Commemorative race:

Wellington College

  • Phillip Wilson
  • Tom Gray
  • Benjy Taylor
  • Robbie Cookson
  • Cox: Jae Morse

Wanganui Collegiate

  • James Clark
  • Jack Hughes
  • Lachlan Hoare
  • Hugo Bidwill
  • Cox: Emily Gray

St Patricks School

  • Ben Rowan
  • Joseph Graham
  • Daniel Ward
  • Finn O'Connor
  • Harry McGrail (cox)

The 1889 race background:

“The College Fours also produced a fine finish. St. Patrick’s College was not represented for reasons already known to our readers, and great regret at the fact was felt by the spectators. The competing crews were as follows: "- Wanganui Collegiate School …Wellington College… The visitors had a lead of about a length until close to the finish, when the Wellington crew put on a spurt and decreased the distance by half a length.”

Newspaper coverage of the 1889 regatta:


If there are any changes to the venue due to weather, it will be published on the Wellington Rowing Association Website and on the Facebook page “Wellington Rowing Association”.