Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

News > Docco's Diary > Docco's Diary: 100 years of Head of the River

Docco's Diary: 100 years of Head of the River

The St Peter's College First XVIII win the 100th Head of the River Regatta.

Many of you will be pleased to know the St Peter’s College First VIII won the headliner at the 2022 Head of the River on Saturday 19 March.  Old scholars may be interested to know something of the history of this Regatta, which began in 1922. This year is the 100th anniversary of the first Head of the River Regatta. The Regatta continued to take place during the Second World War, but the 1948 and 1950 Regattas had to be cancelled due to polio epidemics.

(Head of the River 1920s)

In 1922 we were defeated by Adelaide High School over 900m on Torrens Lake. The margin was 6 feet. Later in the term we beat them in a race at Port Pirie by two lengths. Since then our First VIII have now won the Head of the River 59 times. It is interesting that PAC First VIII have won it 16 times, Scotch 10 times, Pulteney 7 times and Pembroke 5 times.



The Regatta was held on Torrens Lake over a 900m course until 1976, but has been at West Lakes since then. From 1977 to 1989 the course for the First VIII was 1500m, but it has been over 2000m in recent years.

The trophy presented to the winning Schoolboy 1st VIII is the Gosse Shield, which was presented by Sir John Gosse and his family as a perpetual trophy in 1932.

The first recorded race between St Peter’s College and Prince Alfred College can be traced to 1882. The Blackmore Shield, presented to the winners of rowing races between these Schools was first awarded in 1893. Since 1923 this race has been incorporated into the Boys 1st VIII race at the Head of the River.

Currently 15 schools compete in the regatta: 3 ‘all boys’ schools, 5 ‘all girls’ schools and 7 co-educational schools. At the 2019 Head of the River, there were a total of 1,162 athletes entered into the regatta’s 36 events. There have usually been over 10,000 spectators at the Head of the River Regatta before COVID-19 restrictions were applied in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

It is interesting to note that the Captain of Boats at St Peter’s College in 2022 is William Howard, whose great grandfather, also William Howard, rowed in our First Crew in the first Head of the River in 1922. William Howard (Senior) was Vice-Captain of Boats in 1922 and Captain of Boats in 1923 and 1924. William Howard (Junior)’s father – Fred Howard – rowed in the First IV in 1988. Also in the First VIII boat in 2022 is Albert Howard, the younger brother of William Howard (Junior).


William Howard (Junior) was a member of our First VIII crew that won the Head of the River Regatta for the sixth time in a row on Saturday March 20 2021 and went on to be Schoolboy’s Coxed Eight National Champions at Lake Barrington in Tasmania on Sunday March 28.

Well done to all the crews who raced at the 100th Head of the River and our special congratulations to the 2022 First VIII who won the Gosse Shield for a seventh consecutive time!


David Docwra
David Docwra retired from St Peter’s College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service and is fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years.

This website is powered by