Vale Roderick Stewart

Richmond Rowing Club Life Member Roderick Stewart died on March 28, 2022, aged 97. Rod’s long association with the club began when he joined as a junior member in October 1941. Notably, his membership was deferred in 1942 when he enlisted in the RAAF and resumed after his service in WW2.  

With valuable accounting experience Rod served for many years as auditor for the club and he was a committee member for many years, serving as Vice President from 1975-77. He was awarded life membership in 1996.

Rod enjoyed a great deal of on water success, with multiple regatta wins in the 1940’s and 1950’s: he coached others at Richmond during these years as well. He won multiple club awards, including the hotly contested club time trials, and was Male Rower of the Year on two occasions. 

In later years Rod rowed a tub pair with his good friend Bob Stanley, and as age took its toll and the bodies grew weary these two continued to erg together every Sunday morning up until just a few years ago. Not to register splits or calculate watts, but to enjoy the activity, the buzz of the club and each other. Rod’s time at Richmond is remembered not just for his many years of service and representation, but lifelong connection and friendships.

Member tribute assembled by Kathy Macrow. Collage by
Wan-ling Emptage.

The passing of Roberto Perillo

Many current and past members of RRC mourn the passing of Roberto Perillo. There has been a reoccurring comment from members that Roberto was ‘a great bloke or guy’. He was much more to many of us than just a great guy.
Roberto joined RRC in 1998, but he was already an accomplished rower. He had rowed in Argentina, his home country, and he told stories of the difference in rowing between Australia and Argentina. The one lasting difference I recall is that in Argentina they have boatmen to launch and collect the boats on behalf of the rowers!
In 2004 Roberto gathered together four women to become a RRC Female Masters crew that he would coach. One of the women was Kathryn Penny who Roberto had meet at a personal development course, and encouraged to do the learn to row course at RRC. Their relationship developed, despite sometimes rowing together, and they married a couple of years later.
I had the privilege of being a part of this crew and benefitted greatly from Roberto’s tireless attention to providing us with dedicated coaching. We also under went extra weight training by having Roberto in the boat as the cox! The crew went on to take out several gold medals including State Masters Championships.
Roberto, Kathryn and Jenny Hall, entered the 2005 World Masters Games in Canada and represented RRC in several rowing crews.
Roberto was a very active RRC member and was always on hand to help out others and provide some knowledge from his years of experience. He served as Captain on the Committee for 5 years from 2003-2008 and was awarded Life Membership for his years of service as a member, a rower, a coach, a cox and Captain. He epitomised the values of our community club, giving back far more than he received.
Roberto was a gentleman, kind, thoughtful and generous and will be missed by many forever.
Anthea Amos

Mens Masters f winning crew at Head of the Yarra 2014 (Roberto far left).
Mens Masters F winning crew at Head of the Yarra 2014 (Roberto far left).

Eric Britton

Thank you to everyone who helped last Sunday at the club to celebrate the life of Richmond life member Eric Britton. Please read the below transcript written by Ray Dennis to commemorate the life of a great friend.

Eric Britton second from the right, Scotch Regatta
Eric Britton second from the right, Scotch Regatta

I have been asked to say a few words about Eric’s involvement in the sport of rowing. But first let me express the sympathy of the Richmond Rowing Club members to Barbara, and her family and to his sons Richard, Stephen, and Malcolm, and to all their extended families on the passing of a man whose loyalty and dedication to this club was unparalleled.
Eric joined Richmond in 1955, I am not sure whether his choice was influenced by his employer Bill Yoxon (President at that time) or his allegiance to the football team. Eric was first instructed by Ron Marsh then Mal Gardner (King’s Cup crew member) with whom he formed an extremely strong bond, which was to continue until Mal’s passing. Under Mal’s tuition Eric utilized his great strength to best advantage, and would go on to be the first choice as stroke or six seat in any eight. His regatta successes were not only in Eights but in fours and pairs. Most notably when teaming with Lindsay Patullo he won State Titles as the Champion Junior Pair and later the Senior Champion Sprint Pair, the latter against a formidable Nagambie crew.
Eric never lost an opportunity to row, he was always ready to participate in the many club races held at that time. He enjoyed the sprints but the Time trial was the favourite, it was a military operation, selecting crews within the parameters, arranging times, then racing, often more than once a week, in 1957 he and Lindsay asked Graeme Macfarlane and I to join a crew, which, subsequently set a time that was not beaten for several decades. This was the start of a valued friendship.
This commitment to club activities earned him the honour of being awarded the Mal Scott Award Three times.
His strength, enthusiasm, punctuality, discipline, and camaraderie meant he was an extremely valuable asset to all crews including those he was not personally involved.
Eric’s profession as a carpenter, his enthusiasm, and organization ability, especially in the days of timber boats and a timber shed made him an obvious choice as Captain, a position he held from 1957 till 1962. This task he took on with his usual diligence, varnishing and repairing boats and oars, thus ensuring all equipment was in appropriate condition for training and competition. His work in this area was of great assistance in the Club winning the state Junior Championship. He arranged working bees to ensure the shed was maintained and improved. His dedication to maintenance continued long after his formal position ceased, he cleaned and painted the internal gutters in this shed until access was restricted. He set a standard of commitment to the club and its activities and members responded. He continued to participate on the committee serving two terms as Vice president in 1962/3 and again from 1965 till 1973.
The club recognised his contribution in 2000 by making him a Life Member.
Eric was very loyal to his friends, any assistance given was repaid threefold.
Eric was an individual he had always worn shorts to work, but in 1962 he wore them everywhere, while presenting Henry Lawson’s shirt, to Mal’s funeral, and even to an ice hockey match.
When I returned to the city in 1969 we arranged a social row with others of our vintage unfortunately Eric and I were the only ones to persevere, so except for a couple of masters head of the Yarra, and a pair competition ceased, we continued to row the tub pair socially mainly on a Wednesday evening, on time, without fail, minimum, around the Island, more commonly Toddy’s corner. “Not worth getting the boat wet” was his reply if a shorter row was mentioned. This was in all weathers, Barbara once commented on the inclement conditions and was it worth going out, Eric’s reply was “The river is not frozen, so why shouldn’t we?” An occasional weekend was arranged for a special event, e.g. could we get to Dight’s Falls and could we see the Tall ships at Station Pier from water level. Answer, yes to the ships, not quite to the Falls, the water is too shallow about 400m past Johnson Street bridge. I did a rough calculation that we must have rowed well over 18000K’s together. As mentioned, Eric would use any excuse to row, and if I was not available for an extra session he would come down and scull, he even came down on Christmas morning to scull. Unfortunately in 2008 his health deteriorated to such an extent that made it dangerous to row and very much to Eric’s and my regret we had to cease.
As you can see Richmond was Eric and Eric was Richmond, so it is with a great deal of sadness that we say farewell to a committed oarsman and hope there is a broad stretch of water for him to continue his passion.
1957 Maiden 4+ Stroke - Eric Britton, 3 L. Patullo, 2 R. Shrimpton, 1 A. Busietta, Cox G Stewart, Coach M Gardiner.
1957 Maiden 4+
Stroke – Eric Britton, 3 – L. Patullo, 2 – R. Shrimpton, 1 – A. Busietta, Cox G. Stewart & Coach M. Gardiner

The Passing of Don Dudgeon

Don Dudgeon one of Richmond Rowing Club’s greatest members passed away on Saturday 23 July after a brief illness in hospital. Don was very influential at the club as an athlete through the 1950’s and 1960’s and then as an administrator and coach during the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. Don was in someways a controversial character, but his love and passion for the Richmond Rowing club was extraordinary and his dedication to the development of the sport, in particular sculling is legendary.
Don was one of the greatest scullers the club has produced, representing the Victoria four times in the President’s cup and rowing in countless national and international regatta’s during his competitive rowing career. After retiring from major competition, Don continued to make his mark on the sport in masters rowing and through coaching and mentoring athletes along the Yarra River including a number of world championship and Olympic level athletes.
As an administrator, Don served Richmond Rowing Club over several decades in a number of roles including president, captain, secretary, treasurer and general committee member and was a long serving president of the Victorian Amateur Sculling Association.
Very much a traditionalist, Don was a great believer in the old methods and continued to row with timber macon oars in his immaculate Sykes timber single and double sculls well after carbon fiber boats and big blades became the benchmark in the sport. Don’s knowledge of rowing was extra ordinary, and his ability to rig a boat was second to none, but unfortunately for most difficult to follow, as his measurements were always calculated in imperial which was the mark of the man and his methods.
Don was a great mentor and friend to me and many others over a number of years. He provided me guidance and support during my competitive rowing career and as a coach and administrator of the club. There will be many words spoken about Don in the coming weeks as people reflect back on the life of the great man and his passing will bring much sadness to a number of people who knew him well. He will be deeply missed.
Don leaves behind his beautiful wife Mariee and three children Julia, Greg and Stuart.
Simon Crunden

Vale Stan Nicholes

Stan Nicholes, one of the most influential coaches in recent Australian rowing, passed away today, aged 91.
Stan was not a rowing coach, but a strength and conditioning coach.  He was involved in strength and conditioning his entire life, and until the Australian and Victorian institutes of sport were established, he was the go-to strength coach for Australian crews in the 1970s and 1980s.  Operating from city gyms and then his home in Caulfield, Stan trained many of our leading scullers and rowers including Peter Antonie.  In turn, they have spread his methods and philosophy.  The MUBC and Melbourne Rowing Club gyms (and indeed clubs) have been heavily influenced by Stan’s approach, as is now Essendon via Stan’s last formal assistant.  Even in my schoolboy rowing days, our land training was heavily based on Stan’s work.  Neville Smith at Melbourne Rowing Club trained with Stan for years, and incorporates this experience into his training.
Besides training rowers, Stan was perhaps even more famous for training tennis players and runners, including legends like Rod Laver and John Newcombe.  He was very open to new ideas and even up until his 90s was still experimenting on us with different exercises, different sequences, different rest intervals and different approaches.  As an example of his creativity, in the 1960s, the men of the Australian Ballet came to see him after feedback from the Bolshoi ballet’s female dancers that they weren’t good lifters – Stan had the insight to put weights into dummies to customise their training!  Stan was also influential in the 1980s when AFL clubs began to take strength training seriously.  He trained St Kilda and Richmond for several years.
Stan was a very strong man, holding several Australian records.  He was never able to represent Australia at an Olympic or Empire Games, as he worked in a gym and was therefore seen to be a “professional” rather than an “amateur”.  To give you some idea of his work ethic, one of the many photos in the gym was of him in the Air Force in on active service in New Guinea during World War II, doing weights with a set of railway carriage wheels.
The gym had a very inspiring collection of your predecessors, using the same equiptment we used.  The most amazing photo of all was of Stan doing a bench press with a massive weight AND a person on the bar doing a hand stand!
Stan retired officially several times, but continued with a select band of clients even up to his death.  Carolyn and I have been going to his gym classes for 10 years, and have so much to thank him for as a coach and mentor.  Sally Nicholes, a former member of RRC and Stan’s granddaughter, introduced us when I was coaching her when she started rowing.  When he first met Carolyn, he said that the only way to get a lightweight to be competitive was to build them up, or as he put it, to turn her from a four to an eight cylinder!  Under Stan’s guidance, Carolyn has got to lifting international athlete-level weights.
Of all the coaches I have had, Stan has had a profound influence on me. Besides all the technical training about strength and conditioning, he emphasised development as an athlete – not just a rower.  Qualities like determination, persistence, patience and actively seeking out hard work.
One of his common saying when we used to half heartedly complain about his latest exercise prescription was “Would you want it any other way?” and he was right.   Stan’s rose bushes out the front of his house were famous for where athletes would vomit!  Most recently, several English rowers out here for some challenge races used the bushes, not able to keep up with one of our 60 year old golfers!  The guys were brought there by Paul Reedy, one of Stan’s long term disciples.  Well known international tennis coach Bob Brett is also one of Stan’s long standing friends, and always used to bring out his players in Australia for the Australian Open.
Besides training people, Stan was also a national champion breeder of Yorkshire canaries, approaching this with the same thoroughness he did for the gym.  Breeders from all over Australia came to seek his advice, and it was funny when the canary crowd occasionally met up with the gym crowd at his house!
With a wealth of experience, and an extremely good judge of athletic character, Stan had a knack of inspiring the best effort from people.  He also treated everyone equally, from the Wimbledon stars we had at the gym to world champions to long term clients who had been coming to him for over 30 years.
He is survived by his partner Ann, his five children and many grand children and great-grand children.
Tom Appleby (Richmond Life Member, Coach, Rower and friend of Stan Nicholes)