Rowing Regatta Wrap Up

By Pema Deane

The rowing regatta is always a big day on the calendar, marked by a sleep-deprived sense of delirium, the once a year visit to the Yarra, watching Queens parade around with watermelons on their head, and even some rowing.

Early morning rowing
Men’s 8s rowing on the Yarra

It’s an early start. Our dreams come to a sudden halt as we hear the sounds of ‘Wake up Hilda’s!’ and music blaring down the corridor. We grab our puffer jackets and beanies and supporter scarves, contemplating staying in bed but not wanting to evoke the wrath of the Communitas gods.

It is still completely dark as we congregate in the front quad. We search for our friends, huddling together as we make the journey down to the Yarra. It is particularly foggy this morning, one end of the oval unable to be seen from the other, and it feels as though we are marching down for a witch hunt rather than a sports event.

Group of rowing supporters
Supporting our rowers

We depart the tram at Flinders, getting mixed into a swarm of all the other colleges like a jumbled up Rubix cube. We all walk down towards the river and filter into our allocated slots, finding a spot to sit right across from the finish line. Breakfast, being some snags cooked up by Tyso and Beez, is the saving grace of the day. The morning seems a lot more cheerful as we enjoy our meals, and soon we are chanting as the first Hilda’s rowers make their appearance on the water.

The traditional rowing BBQ breakfast

Perhaps the biggest spectacle of the day was Jessie ‘catching a crab’. Not being a rower, I was amazed at his ability to fish and row at the same time, but apparently it is not quite as impressive. Something about catching your oar on the water. 

If some of us hadn’t fully woken up, we were well awake with the sound of bagpipes being played next to us from Janet Clarke Hall. There were a bunch of other odd things too, the Queens rowing men sporting some sore for the eyes buzzcut/mullet combinations, and the Queens women painted head to toe in yellow and green. After a year and a half at college, I think that whenever I see something unusual like that I am pretty safe to assume it comes under the realm of ‘tradition’.

The whole regatta event itself is steeped in a lot of tradition, given its start in 1881 with a four-oared race between Trinity and Ormond. It became an annual event, and slowly every college joined them on the water. Originally, only the men competed, yet in 1959 the popularity of schoolgirl rowing saw the first inter-collegiate women’s race, and it has since developed into the event held today. While the bigger colleges still have a reputation for doing well in the rowing, our team of green and blue hold their own.

Our Women’s 8 team

The girls have on the iconic pink visors and pink ribbons, and both teams sport the green and blue zooties. As they race pass us down the river everyone hurries to stand up and cheer them on at the water’s edge. Luke is readily taking photographs, Kip is raising the speaker up high, and Diego is there waving his dinosaur arms. 

Both teams race well and do Hildas extremely proud! A huge congratulations to the girls for coming second in the Division B finals, and the boys for coming third im the Division B finals. 

The day finishes with a bunch of us heading to the Clyde to celebrate a great week of sport, with the women’s soccer team winning the grand final against Ormond and the men’s hockey team coming third. Another bunch of us, myself included, head back to college for a much needed nap.

Special thanks to Angus and Eliza for coaching the boys and girls teams, and to everyone who rowed and came to support!!

Photography courtesy of Luke Parolin. Full set of photos available on the College Flickr Account