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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, June 1929



One does not have to search very far into the past to reach the inception of the sport of rowing in the Universities of New Zealand.

To a few Auckland enthusiasts must be given the honour of first awakening the University Colleges of New Zealand to the fact that rowing, the one sport which is bound up with University life the world over, had for years been lacking in the sporting lives of the students of New Zealand.

The first inter-University boat race in New Zealand had very humble beginnings at the Easter tournament in Auckland, in 1927. This race was rowed on Auckland Harbour in clinker four-oared boats, over a course of a mile and a hall.

The first endeavour resulted in Auckland's boat being swamped, and on the race being re-rowed, Victoria won. This race was between Auckland and Victoria only. At this time the Victoria University College Rowing Club was not actually in existence; but, at a meeting called some time after the race, such enthusiasm was shown that it was decided to form the Club.

The 1927-28 season was conspicuous for the successful inauguration of an eight-oared race, still between Victoria and Auckland. This race was rowed over a distance of three miles on the Wellington Harbour, and was followed by a large crowd, mostly in motor cars, along the Hutt Road. Victoria again won by three lengths.

After this race, the first New Zealand University crew was selected to row a crew picked from Wellington oarsmen, five members of the Victoria crew being selected, and the race resulted in a win for the Wellington crew by half a length.

Easter, 1929, saw the third race of the series, and the second eight-oared race, on Lyttelton Harbour, this time the contest being a triangular one between Auckland, Canterbury and Victoria. After being twice postponed because of boisterous weather page 67 conditions, the race was held on Easter Monday morning, in perfect weather, over a distance of 1½ miles, finishing at Corsair Bay. After an excellent race Victoria registered their third win in succession, this time by 1½ lengths.

The Misses Heberley donated a shield, to be known as the Heberley Shield, and this is at present held by Victoria. Next year it is hoped to have Otago included, when it may then be said that rowing will have at last taken its deserved place in the sport of the New Zealand University Colleges.

Tentative suggestions have also been made for a visit from an Australian University crew, but suitable dates and lack of money have been a big handicap. This project, however, has not been abandoned by the Executive.

The Victoria College Club is composed of members of the various Rowing Clubs in Wellington, and members of the Students' Association have the privilege of using the Star Boating Club's plant during the winter months at a reduced subscription. This privilege should be availed of by intending oarsmen; and any old members of the Victoria Club will be pleased to coach them. The Club is, of course, doing its best to raise money for the purchase of its own plant, and already has some funds in hand for the purpose of purchasing a racing eight.

After the race last Easter at Lyttelton, the New Zealand University Rowing Council was formed, which will have the effect of standardising the sport in New Zealand. Several important remits were discussed at the inaugural meeting of this body, notably in respect to the qualification of oarsmen and the length of the race.

This year four "Blues" were awarded to the Victoria crew, the recipients being F. H. Mullins, F. M. Bell, C. Steele, and S. G. Rees, all of whom have been in the crew at least twice; this number is low, but it is the desire of the New Zealand University Rowing Council to keep the standard of the College Rowing "Blue" as high as possible.

While not wishing to be unduly optimistic, it is not an idle dream to visualise University rowing in New Zealand, in, say, ten years' time, with each Club having its own complete racing and pleasure plant, and a large membership, and when the boat race will be as much in the limelight in New Zealand as it is in England. It is most probable that the race will be as much discussed each year in the future as the boat race is at Home.

In the near future, we hope to see Victoria College with its own club and plant, and a large membership, and when that time comes, the pioneers of 'Varsity rowing in New Zealand, and more especially of Victoria College, will feel that their efforts have been rewarded.