The spirit of Aquinas College Rowing was alive and well on Friday 21st June when a group of Old Aquinian rowers from the 1950s reunited for a special luncheon in the Waterford Room.

Head of Rowing and MC for the day, Nick Collins, kicked off the reunion with a bus ride down to the N.N. Wilson Boatshed. As well as taking a walk around the current Boatshed, the group keenly inspected the remains of their rowing shed – the original boatshed built in 1938 – now just a few pylons in the water and a heap of memories.

With just a touch of bias, they all agreed the 1938 boatshed, built in the traditional manner over the water, was the superior boatshed, despite spontaneously toppling into the Canning River in 1969, following the completion of the Br N.N. Wilson Boatshed.

Whilst at the river, Nick Collins took the opportunity to explain to the group why the College needs a new boatshed, citing the poor state of the current shed, the lack of amenities in the shed (toilets, showers, change rooms) and the desperate need for more space to cater for a robust rowing community: we have 180 boys involved in rowing in 2019 compared with 40 boys in 1969.

Nick went on to explain the design of the new shed, which will include storage space for racing shells, tender boats and maintenance, a meeting room and a weights and ergo room, adding that it would serve the College well for the next 50 years. The group was particularly impressed with the size of the new facility and the inclusion of a weights and ergo room.

Next stop was lunch in the Waterford Room, with the ever-present Canning River in the background. David McFadden opened proceedings by welcoming the group back to the College and thanking them for their contributions to the College and to rowing, whilst Steven Lewis and his team provided a sumptuous three-course meal.

Despite the passage of more than 60 years, College pride and comradery was more than evident amongst the group as stories of their Aquinas College rowing days were shared around the table with much vigour: the good times and the hard times; the early morning starts; the back breaking training sessions; and those magical moments when it all came together on the river.

Thank you to all our rowers from the 1950s who were able to attend the luncheon, along with our Boatshed Appeal Patron, Brian Tonkin – it was a pleasure to have you back at the College. Thank you also to all of our rowers from the 1950s who have generously contributed to the Boatshed Renewal Appeal since its May launch. Your support will have a significant impact on our rowing endeavours.

Special thanks must go to Olympian and College legend Max Cunningham for coordinating the reunion. Armed with a list of names and some contact numbers, Max spent several days at the College tracking down a large number of rowers from the 1950s, and managing to obtain 19 positive RSVP’s for the reunion.

Thank you also to the following for making the luncheon a huge success:

  • Steven Lewis and his catering team
  • P&F President Mat Scott for running the bar
  • Megan Sweeting and the Grounds and Maintenance staff – Steve Burke and Jacob Bester – for helping with set up, driving the bus, etc
  • Andre Trentini from IT for providing our AV requirements
  • Nichole Rowson, Alumni & Events Administrator, for pulling this successful event together at short notice

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