GPS rowing: Better late than never for Nudgee
Nudgee College were latecomers to the GPS rowing dance, but made an indelible impact as their program in the sport took root.
Nudgee, down the decades a bastion of Brisbane rugby union, first competed in GPS rowing in 1998.
GPS competition in the sport had started in 1918, when The Southport School were the first O'Connor Cup winners.
But Nudgee have won seven Head of the River first VIII titles in the past 10 years.
Streaks of four wins between 2013-16 - and then a fifth in 2017 - were the most by any GPS school in rowing.
"Last year was the 20th anniversary of Nudgee being in rowing,'' said John Bowes, Nudgee College head rowing coach since 2011.
"The first year they rowed the first eight was 2002.
"Graham Leddie, who was deputy principal, started rowing at Nudgee. It needed someone to drive it. Some of the Brothers used to think it was too elitist for Nudgee. Even when he started it, there was pushback from some of the staff.''
Leddie is now head of college at Sydney's Waverley College.
Bowes said many Old Boys had told him they were pleased their sons could row at Nudgee.
"I've had a number of fathers say in a way regret they didn't have the opportunity to row,'' he said.
"But Nudgee has now become the only one to win five first eight titles in a row - no one else had done four - and Nudgee provide so many old boys now who go on to row after school.''
Nudgee Old Boys Adam Bakker and Harley Moore, both 23, were in Australia's gold-medal world under-23 championships coxless four in 2017 in Bulgaria.
Moore was a Nudgee student until 2013, while Bakker went to Year 12, during a year in which he won a national under-19 single scull.
Coxswain Isaac Schmidt won a world juniors bronze medal last year in the coxed four before taking up an opportunity in rowing in England.
Nudgee, who have rugby greats Paul McLean and Mark Loane among their first XVs, is yet to have produced a rowing Olympian.
That statistic may be remedied by Bakker or Moore - or both - at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Moore has joined the Australian Institute of Sport unit in Canberra, while Bakker rows for the Commercial club in Brisbane and is doing an electrical apprenticeship.
Other Nudgee Old boys to row at world junior championships include Alex King, Matt Hart, Tom Amies and Tom McLellan.
The Southport School ended Nudgee College's Head of the River first-eight streak last year, relegated them to second place at the Wyaralong course, where tomorrow's opening regatta of the season will be held.
Nudgee sent their two open eights to a camp near Grafton this month during the school holidays.
"Year eight to year 12 - it's a huge day. Everyone gets two races,'' Bowes said.
"We will have a strong crew, but you never know until your first race.
"You don't know who's who in the zoo until you race.
"Southport and Churchie are always strong and we've been told Terrace is strong this year. Everyone will be there to race and do their best on Saturday.''
ST JOSEPH'S NUDGEE COLLEGE
O'CONNOR CUP WINS: 2003, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.