Written by Jacqui Marks | Article created 2/05/2013
At the recent Australian Masters, an eight made it onto the water which was a world first - a crew with an average age of 85!
Brief rowing history of each rower from bow to stroke:
Bow seat: Ted James, 87 years, Renmark RC. At 69 years Ted, frustrated at not being able to break into crews that had been together for 40 years, taught himself to scull. Ted holds two world records for long distance sculling: Renmark to Mildura and back (529 kms) and Renmark to Goolwa and back (1200kms) and has coached locally for the past 20 years.
2 seat: Ken Griffin, 83 years, Drummoyne RC. Ken learnt to row at Scots College in 1947 and was placed in Head of the River in ’48 and ‘49. On leaving school Ken joined North Shore RC but then entered the army and was out of rowing for 40 years until 1993 when Bob Hammond (a name synonymous with senior veteran rowing and the Ancient Mariners) suggested they form a squad. Ken has been an integral part of the Ancient Mariner squad since.
3 seat: Dick Bales, 88 years, Bairnsdale RC. Dick was familiar with competitive on-water sport as a sailor of international Finn class dinghies. At 75 he decided to learn to row and joined Bairnsdale RC where the best they had were old wooden tub boats. Dick progressed to sculling and, bitten by the rowing bug, bought his own scull from which he has never looked back. He’s rowed with the international Ancient Mariners in Poland and Lithuania as well as Australia.
4 seat: Jack Boerma, 89 years, St George RC. Inspired by his uncle, a champion oarsman, Jack learnt to row in the Netherlands when he was 15 with Spaarne Club and went on to row with Halsted. War made competing difficult but Jack’s rowing ability was well recognised locally as he kept the town supplied with food by rowing back and forth across the Zuiderzee Sea. Jack arrived in Australia in 1951 and joined Mosman RC where he rowed with great success, success that he took to St George and has continued over the past 60 odd years as he still rows in their G, H and I crews.
5 seat: Rod Keable, 82 years, North Shore RC. Rod rowed skiffs as a child but waited to learn to row ‘properly’ til he was 56 when he joined North Shore RC in 1987. He didn’t row competitively until 2003 when Bob Hammond swept him into the Ancient Mariners squad.
6 seat: Neville Howell, 84 years, Nagambie RC. Neville’s name rings with the sound of Australian rowing history at its best. Neville’s rowing career started at Preston RC in 1946. In 1951 he joined Banks RC and rowed in the next 10 consecutive Kings Cup crews. During that time Neville rowed in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne in the 6 seat, winning a Bronze Medal, 1960 Olympics in Rome coxed pair; 1962 he was stroke of the Australian 8+ at the World Championships in Lucerne and the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth where as stroke of the Australian 8+ he won a gold medal. Neville has two FISA Masters world titles in 2x and 1x.
7 seat: Don Christie, 85 years, Banks RC. Don was spotted by Albion Park RC as part of the South Melbourne YMCA recruitment program in the early 1950’s. His distinguished rowing career includes Victorian Kings Cups through the ‘50s and continued on to his active masters rowing despite heart valve replacement surgery that slowed him up in 2009. Don is now back on the water with a vengeance!
8 seat: Gerry Garrett, 83 years, Drummoyne RC . Gerry rowed with Cranbrook School in Head of the River crews of 1946, 47 and 48, finishing school as Captain of Boats. He took a break from rowing ‘til 1969 when he joined Shoalhaven RC, going on to become the coach of the very successful 2000--2003 Shoalhaven High School rowing squad. Encouraged by Bob Hammond Gerry has since joined Drummoyne RC as a country member and is an integral member of the Ancient Mariners.
Coxswain: Jacqui Marks joined the Ancient Mariners in 2005 and has steered them through time trials and sprints around Australia; she looks forward to this crew becoming the first Australian L8+!