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More than sport

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The amazing George Rogers

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We were contacted by Mrs Groves this week, who called the Club to say she had a photograph of some rowers from WARC, which included George Rogers. I swung past Mrs Groves' house yesterday pick up the photograph, and gotta say the inner rowing nerd in me was immediately pretty excited. Check out the pic (sorry about the light - without removing the image from the frame it's hard to properly reproduce).

???????????????????????????????Firstly, I love the woolen shorts on these guys. Secondly, HOW ADORABLE IS THE COXSWAIN!?? And thirdly, whoever our man P. Smith is, he is proving for time immemorial that if you put a bloke in front of a camera, he will flex with every inch of his might to get some good gun definition.

Our resident lay historian Warren Anderson tells me this photograph was probably from the 1930s and he'll see what else he can dig up by way of detail.

The reason I'm writing this blog post, however is the bloke on the left is the indefatigable George Rogers. George joined WARC in 1907 when he was about 22 - or at least, so the Guy Negus history claims. Just think: The club house would have been new back then.

George rowed at WARC from 1907 until at least 1952 when he won the Perth to Freo at the age of 67. Bloody overachiever. Reminds me a bit of Alan Salisbury.

???????????????????????????????Negus reckons George invented the Perth to Freo in 1940, so guess that's an event we can claim as our own. George went on to be considered a bit of a medical marvel, his physical prowess attracted the attention of the Sydney University Department of Physiology,  who said at the age of 65, George was probably "equal to about 75 per cent of what you recorded as a young man at your very best."

George even met the Queen.

The point of this is, I would like to think if George was still around, he'd be pretty stoked with what our club has become. It's more than 100 years since he first walked through the door, and we continue to follow in his footsteps of excellence at any age.

I reckon he'd be pretty amazed - not least at the erg score Dee Sammut just clocked. Kinda wish he was around so he could see it.


Sentenced to Life

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Many rowing clubs throughout the world have a set criteria for life members. Despite a fair bit of research, I've not been able to uncover an existing set of criteria for WARC that would assist our Life Members Committee to select new inductees to the fold. The current process for inducting new life members at WARC is that the Life Members Committee tables its nomination to the WARC Committee meeting prior to the AGM for ratification, and the life member is then inducted at the AGM with a two-thirds majority vote of all present. Members can make recommendations to the Life Members Committee as well.

You may recall at the 2013 AGM, we introduced this process via the Life Members policy, detailed here. 

To date, there has been no set or understood criteria to help guide the Life Members Committee in this process. With a bit of research, we have drafted the following criteria, which has been agreed on by the Life Members Committee.

If suitable, this criteria will be voted upon at the upcoming AGM on Wednesday, October 1 at 6pm. 75 per cent of those present at the AGM will need to vote in favour of this new criteria for it to be adopted.

Note: Under Rule 19 of the WARC constitution, new rules must be circulated at least seven days before the AGM. It is my view this blog post and circulation via our newsletter satisfies this requirement.



A Life Membership is bestowed upon a member who has always put their efforts towards supporting and building the club first and foremost, and whose presence has been a driving force for the betterment of WARC and the sport of rowing generally.

Criteria include:

  1. 10 years membership at WARC
  2. Exceptional competitive achievement for the club at local/state/international representation.
  3. Exceptional administrative achievement
  4. Exceptional contribution to the sport of rowing generally

A candidate must satisfy point 1, and a minimum of two other criteria.

“Exceptional” may include:

(2a)  Achieving a State title, being part of a WA crew at a national level, and/or potential international representation on the Australian team. It may include an athlete who has competed at a consistent high level over many seasons representing WARC.

(3a)  Committee representation for at least 5 years, with leadership demonstrated in administrative change and new systems. It may also take into account:

  • Committee members who have ensured the best interest of the club have always been central to decisions,
  • Committee members who have actively upheld Club Rules
  • Committee members who have contributed significantly to fundraising efforts

(4a) Recognition for introducing new members and coaches to the Club

(4b)  Recognised achievement in umpiring, administration, or other service by Rowing WA can be taken into consideration but is not a primary reason for life membership.


We need to talk about Kevin

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Kev 1 BY PBR

I first heard about Kevin Wall when I was interviewing another rowing legend, also called Kevin: Kevin O'Brien, father of current Australian national performance director Chris O'Brien.

"Are you still coaching?" I asked, wondering if, at 83, O'Brien senior had slowed down a little from the cantankerous bugger I'd known as a teenager. Knowing a few other 83-year-old rowing legends (Irvine, Salisbury), I suspected probably not.

"Yes, I'm coaching a 41-year-old woman who who has just been selected to go to Boston for para-rowing. She's in a crew with an Irish bloke who's rowing out in Perth - Kevin Wall - perhaps you've heard of him?"

(You can read about Narelle here)

I regretfully answered that I had not. Of course, that was about to change for me, and for everyone else at WARC.

Kevin joined WARC about a month ago from Bunbury where he had been rowing in 2011 and preparing for a chance at London Paralympic Games. This yarn suggests our man missed out by the narrowest of margins on that chance to represent his native Ireland. He's now been picked up in an Australian team for the Boston Head of the Charles with Balmain Rowing Club, which could put him the running for Rio - this time in the green and gold.

Of course, he won't be the only part of the WARC family in Boston, Kev's doubles partner from Bunbury Peter Klemm will be there with Pete Panizza, past President Sten Campbell and Billl Hutton.

(This article also tells how Kevin rescued a father and son in a dangerous capsized boat incident. It would seem he's a handy man to have around.)

From my perspective as President, Kevin is the sorta bloke you pray to recruit.

  • He's Irish - and we've hosted a whole bunch of those.
  • He's picked up a few good wins.
  • He's handy with a paintball rifle (or so I'm told), and
  • He's driven to row at the highest level.

With that in mind, we'll be looking to keep you in the loop on Kev's campaign to Boston - and ultimately Rio.

The boys are back in town

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over heads headerBy DEAN NEAL(edited for clarity, apostrophes and at some points translation from "Deano" to English by PBR)

The Leschenault inlet: Famous in the rowing community for its tight, three-lane dog-leg almost-1000m course, razor-sharp rocks, exquisite side-wash and shallow sections.

This was, over the weekend of August 16 and 17, for the most part a happy hunting ground for the Westies crew that turned up and turned on.

It was the strongest results from a WARC men’s squad for quite some time… by which we mean years. Let’s face it… in recent seasons, it's easy to generalise that the Westies women have brought home the bacon(!) at various pennant regattas compared to the blokes.

(We are excluding seniors here, as frankly – they deliver for the club and repeatedly so. One of the great testaments of our club is the opportunity for us mere rowing ‘mortals’ to row with the very best rowers in our club. Wakeford, Butz, Sam.)

Not only do they enjoy rowing ‘with’ us, but also the likes of Amy Walters, Janelle Austin and Darryl Salisbury were happy to strap into the Coxswain seats at Bunbury, last weekend.

That sort of guidance and experience in the stern of our boat/s should never be taken lightly…

Maybe it’s this sort of in-boat access that is now beginning to deliver the ‘bacon’ of almost Janelle Austin’s sized bacon-blissed proportions!


Whilst the ladies once again had a very strong showing at Bunbury Saturday, it was a day where the WARC Men from development, intermediates and upwards probably – to steal a line from the Bunbury Rowing Club motto – began to as a collective, ‘pull their weight’.

No doubt the influx of fresh man-flesh from all corners of the compass, into the club rank-and-file for this season has not hurt, either.

Tim Budge waltzed into Westies with a desire to sharpen up his fitness and the minute he stepped onto the erg for the first time in years and cranked 1:50 splits without even trying, you knew he was going to be a great addition to our club – and not just as a gun rower. Tim is a top bloke with the Westies mojo and camaraderie firmly etched-into his psyche.

Since then, Tim has slotted into some Senior boat combinations and that included a strong win the ‘A’ Four at Bunbury… that has now instantly seen his ROMS score reflect more accurately his talents with an oar.

Matt Cronin is a quietly spoken rower who has ventured to the left-coast (like many) for work reasons. On the weekend Matt showed his experience and slide control to strike some great wins, results and a cool temperament to boot.

The fact he enjoyed his row to a fast finishing second place in the Mens D8 “Because it was a good race…a close race and the boat just got better and better the further we went,” shows us all that Matty has the Westies mantra well and truly intact.

Kevin Wall is another fresh face who will undoubtedly deserve a blog entry on his own at some stage soon. Saving drowning souls in his native Ireland last year whilst out training in his Single Scull, rowing nationally for Paralympic dreams and tons more is what Kev brings to the WARC table. What he took out of Bunbury was a strong and popular win in his D Double Scull race with Peter Klemm.

Speaking of D-Grade doubles… the word is out. Steve Harman can twirl two-oars LIKE A BOSS. His win with Jono Ashby was comfortably the best time of any of the 24 competitors across 6-races for the D-Doubles.

Whilst the men hauled it with eight glasses for the day, the six-glasses for the ladies showed they were far from slouches.

With Deanne Sammut taking ill on the morning of the regatta, it was left to some others in the women’s squad to pick up the slack…and that they did.

Suz Neal ended up rowing several races on the day, as did Kirsty Augustson, Janelle Austin, Bella Lie, Evelyn Doernberg and others.

Suz was particularly inspiring to several within Westies, where despite some deep cuts to her feet courtesy of those infamous bunno rocks early in the day – she got to business, stroking several boats – including one to victory via the D Coxed Four.

Bella was rewarded with a great win in the E Grade Four and the development girls this year continue to impress with strong race results every-damn-where!

A great day was then rewarded with a great evening, where the host club Bunbury put on a great spread of food and ale in the right proportions.

Many at Westies partied until the wee hours…

… oh yes, Eaton.

“Welcome to the Eaton Hangover Head Race,” chimed the starters as a collection of crews was assembled on the start-line for a 5km-jaundiced jaunt down the Collie river.

Not only is Matt Cochran impervious to pain and lactic acidosis, the man we affectionately dub the ‘Bear’ can also win races hung-over and sleep-deprived! A similarly ‘fatigued’ Nick Wakeford accompanied Cochran to a commanding win via the Mens Coxless Pair.

Whilst elite rowers can mask such fatigue, others cannot.

Enter – Dean Neal and Jimmy O’Regan.

Neal was far from fresh and fabulous entering Eaton after a night out, however Jimmy O was reeling from a bare minimum of hours slept before stepping into rowing’s most demanding boat to row: The Coxless pair.

Not the perfect preparation – aside from the minimal seat time the combination have had.

In being fair, Neal and O’Regan were happy with their first 2k…

….but Eaton is a 5km journey.

Form faltered and then as Jimmy had to deal with a nasty blood blister developing – he decided to pull a ‘Hamish Bond’ and splash his hand mid-stroke…three times.

Now Hamish Bond (Kiwi Pair fame) could row a pair sub 1:37 split all day long, where for O’Regan – 1:37 probably denoted the volume of 1 hour and 37 minutes total sleep he had enjoyed the previous night!

Thankfully all said and done, the boys made it home – mostly intact.

The other standout row of Eaton was Janelle Austin in her trusty single.  Nel is amazing - an inspiration on and off the water at Westies, and did her reputation no harm (with no broken arm/s!) meandering down the pleasing and picturesque Collie River.

Her time of 19:46 was good enough to have her row quicker than the Women's Coxed Four, Mixed Coxed Four, Mixed Coxed Quad, Men's Double Sculls, Women's Coxed Quad and the Mixed Coxed Eight – is testament to her will to win…and beyond that, perform to the outer limits of her ample potential!

With just one more pennant regatta left before the State Masters and then the big one – the WA Championships… the traditional WARC approach of stalking through the regatta season, before striking at the Championships – is looking VERY promising.

But that’s another blog, for another day...

Dear City of Perth

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Firstly: I couldn't go to Bunvegas so if anyone would like to compose a guest blog on the WARC assault on the South West, please feel free. Now, on to serious matters.

We've been asked to provide some information to the City of Perth about our access requirements to allow a potential new eastern access way out of Riverside Drive.

The way it was explained to me by the City of Perth is there were some senior managers who wanted to know why WARC could not reverse trailers out of the eastern entrance, or just turn trailers around in the loading zone of the Club.

I thought I would share the answers to these questions with you, should it ever come up in casual conversation.


Dear Sir,

I understand City of Perth was keen to have some more information about the access requirements of the West Australian Rowing Club on Riverside Drive.


WARC is a heritage-listed rowing club with about 100 members aged from 14 to over 80, and we have one member on the current Australian team.

The club was founded in 1868 and has been located in its current position on Perth water since 1905. Our club is on a riverbed lease with the Department of Transport and we hold a jetty licence.

WARC has dealt with the City of Perth for more than 30 years on issues associated with the access road on Riverside Drive. Fortunately there have been few issues raised in the past decade that have resulted in any conflict, thanks to a great deal of negotiation and good will on both sides.

Current situation:

When the Barrack Square redevelopment was announced, we immediately started liaising first with the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority and later with Leighton Broad, and we are comfortable both groups are well aware of our trailer size and access requirements. Please see evidence of our correspondence attached. The information provided in this document has been provided to both bodies.

I acknowledge the frustration those involved in this project at the City of Perth may have at this latest development of a need for a new exit from the Riverside service lane. I would like to make the point the WA Rowing Club flagged this issue as early as 2012, and were assured our requirements were well understood.

For your information, these are the dimensions of the trailer we use to transport boats.

trailer dimensions


We transport our boats on average once a fortnight (two trips each time) during winter, and probably once every three weeks or so from September to March. Summer is much more unpredictable as we are at the mercy of Rowing Australia requirements.



The question put to WARC would be whether it would be possible to reverse the trailer along Riverside Drive.

flush surfaceIt is the view of the WARC Committee this poses a very significant safety risk. The boat trailer itself is only slightly narrower than the service lane, and to the east of WARC, there is no safety bollards that would prevent a trailer potentially being reversed into the river.

There is almost no margin for error in reversing this trailer that would not result in either damage to City of Perth property to the north, or catastrophic injury to rowing equipment, vehicles and potentially people to the south.

The question was put to WARC whether we could turn the trailer around in the loading zone of WARC and use the eastern exit.

We also considered this. At 12m without boats, it would need significant maneuvering in our loading zone and we are not confident that can be achieved.

sharp turn

More significantly, the exit to the East would require a very sharp left-hand turn that would put at risk street lights, rubbish bins, and of course the boats themselves. (see illustration).

The advice we provided to Leighton Broad was as follows:

trailer options

Our first preference is an exit to the immediate west of WARC. This would alleviate any future conflict with the Barrack Square development and allow safe and easy access.

Our second preference is an additional exit to the east of WARC. This exit does pose some safety concerns around loading boats in the dark at close proximity to the river, however we have brainstormed some strategies to mitigate this increased risk.

Our third preference is an exit to the west of WARC as illustrated above.

Our main aims in relation to these exits are as follows:

  1. That risk of injury and accident associated with boat loading to our members is minimised. Almost all serious injuries sustained by WARC rowers have occurred in the loading, landing and unloading process.
  2. That WARC can continue to operate as a competitive rowing club and get our boats out of the club for competition.

Our desire is for a permanent solution to be found that would be acceptable for the City of Perth, Barrack Square, the MRA and the 100 members of the WA Rowing Club.

I believe this is possible but do hold the view that compromise will be required. I hope this document clearly explains the compromises we can make and look forward to hearing about some permanent, ongoing solutions to this difficulty.

Peta Rule President 2014


Someone call a doctor

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Su main edit It was Debbie Mason who said to me not long ago that each year Wests takes a new step (or two) forward. A new idea, or new strategy, is introduced and it changes everything from our day-to-day operations to our future direction as an organisation.

Each new idea drive us away from being a loosely held-together rabble of alcoholics with a rowing problem, toward becoming a sophisticated, effective and efficient organisation.

For example, introducing the run-sheet for States in 2004 was one step. As they say, necessity is the mother of all invention and prior to 2004, to head to a regatta we simply loaded every piece of equipment we had in the club onto the trailer, and that was it.

At that time, Wests had started to grow. We had a bit more gear, and we discovered logistics had become a bit of a problem. It wasn't unusual for us to turn up at Canning to discover we’d left a few riggers behind.

It now amuses me that our run-sheet that was first designed a decade ago has since been adopted by at least one other clubs.

Over the past 10 years, we've amassed a swag of other ideas: “squad” training rather than crew training, deck scrubbing, setting sessions ahead of time, mircos and macros, weekends away, electronic newsletters, social networking, LABA sessions, cleaning vinegar, new “lolly-pops”, strength-and-conditioning, and an annual nationals campaign program.

Through all these changes, there are common names that appear as the revolutionaries, the drivers of the new ideas: Andrew Taylor, Alex Jolly and  Marie Limb. More recently, Michael Jones, Nick Wakeford, Dean Neal.

One of the names that quite often comes up is also that of Dr Susanne Guy. In 2007, Su was elected the first woman captain WARC had in its almost 140 years of rowing. But she was much, much more than just a blip on the equality radar.

It was in 2006 – the year before Su would become captain a set Wests on a dramatically different path - that Su gave me a call and asked, hypothetically speaking, if Wests had a new women’s eight, what it would be named.

I, of course, said "Octopussy" – eight women in a boat. I can’t claim the joke, I think I stole if from Caine.


I was soon to discover this wasn't a hypothetical at all. Su had struck a deal with Sykes in Geelong and had bought the women of Wests an eight. It became the club’s only dedicated women’s boat, and for almost the whole following season, that boat didn't lose a single race.

It bonded the women’s squad together in a way that hadn't been done before. We’d been labelled virtually uncoachable at that point, if you’d given us a collective noun it would have been “an attitude.” But the Maali – which means "Black Swan" in Ngoongar – was what we needed to give the women something to work for. At the close of the 2006 season, the women’s squad was awarded a collective "best oarsmen” award, something that hadn't been done before.

We are still all mates, the original girls of the Maali (and Rowan Ellis). Leanne, Lee, Marie, Su, Kel, Jules, various Colbys, Bobbins, Tenille, JD...half of us have kids now.


When Su took over as Captain in 2007, she faced a hostile State administrative board. Wests hadn't been great in its representation or contribution to rowing as a sport on the State level in recent years, and we were not well thought-of outside the club.

Hers was a monumental exercise in public relations and stakeholder management. She built relationships with the State and National boards, and kept the peace in a sometimes fraught and stressful club environment.

It was a tough task and despite being uncompromising in her drive to better Wests, Su was also a well-loved leader: After a trip to her home in the UK, Su was greeted at Perth’s international airport by a crew of Wests men all dressed in zoot suits, carrying a sign which read “Welcome home Su Guy, international rowing champion.”

People in the arrivals hall stood, stared and clapped, never knowing this was little more than a (pretty awesome) practical joke.

She also kept committee meetings on track. Many who have sat on the Club’s board in the past would know it wasn't unusual to sit until 10pm or 11pm, arguing the minutia of rowing operations. Su all but obliterated this self-indulgence and talk-fest, bringing structure and discipline to the top of the Wests hierarchy.

Despite the club growing at a rate that was problematic to accommodate, and pressure on the club, coaches, volunteers and equipment was building, Su kept us ticking over, brokered peace between our occasionally volatile (but most excellent) head coach and pretty much everyone, and made sure we all kept turning up to training.

Under Su’s watch, Wests was named Club of the Year by Rowing WA. It was a mammoth achievement and turn-around, and was largely possible because Su was a competent hand at the tiller of the Good Ship Wests.


Saga of the Slips: Part seven

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So this is a pretty serious blog post and here's a few updates on what is happening at WARC that helps keep us afloat: Big snaps to Jess Coyle.

We took $3500 from the regatta hosting - this is a record for us. Thanks to Carron for the coffee, MM for the lasagne and everyone who prepared food. We excelled ourselves and I think we pretty much set the bar. It was a huge effort.

Big snaps to Kirsty and the quiz gang.

We also took about $2500 from the quiz night. Added bonus that a very worthy team won both the night, and most of the silent auction items.

(Personally these two things have made for a very happy President, as it's rare we walk out of a committee meeting to find we've raised more than we've spent. WHOOP!)

Epic snaps to the deck gang.


The lads replaced $2500 worth of timber on the deck, saving WARC a stack of cash in labor. To Dr Nick who was our safety officer, Chief Engineer John Vos and general legend Alan Salisbury. To Joe and the thermals, MM and the lasagne, Smithy and the timelapse...

This footage demonstrates how teamwork doesn't just move the boat. It keeps us functioning. From everyone at WARC, thankyou, you have kept us going.

The decking gangI am also hoping to get the above pic with a few action shots (thanks Smithy) framed for the wall. Below is Mike Smith's fantastic gallery of the project.


Still on the deck...

Jess Donnelly, Janet Smith and I (PBR) met with DSR on Friday July 11 to discuss whether our deck replacement program can be considered for funding through DSR. The issue is primarily we are located over water, which in most instances would rule us out.

However, we wrote to the Minister for Sport and Recreation Tuck Waldron explaining we felt it was probably not the intention of the original writers of the rule to exclude rowing clubs, and it would seem that has been considered seriously, hence the meeting.

DSR has contacted us to say they expect to come back with a ruling within a month. You can read the summary of our meeting with DSR here:

Club access by road

Works around Barrack Street are continuing, and I'm advised work on the Hilton DoubleTree (that would be the large concrete slab next door) are due to start in the next few months.

As a result, Leighton Broad are investigating alternative exit options for WARC.

I met with Leighton Broad this week to discuss our preferences and requirements in relation to the exit, which are detailed here:

The new girl

We've got a new girl in the club, a women's pair/double. Be nice to her. :)


Rowing pr0n.

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The closest thing you'll see to rowing pr0n you'll see today

  • Put this on full screen.
  • Watch in HD.


Amy Jean Walters, your catch is epic in this. Janelle, good enter-stage-right.