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Churchie’s founder and first Headmaster, Canon Morris rowed on the Cam River during his time at Cambridge, and during his first year in Queensland in 1912, he saw its great value as a school activity, as a test of spirit and endurance and the ultimate expression of a team sport.
The earliest Churchie rowing links were with the Toowong Rowing Club. In 1915 Churchie acquired Bowen House Preparatory School and gained access to the river at Chelmer, and this is where the School’s rowing activities began to take shape.
In 1917 Churchie won the second Interschool Fixed Seat Race at The Southport School regatta, and three years later Churchie entered the GPS rowing, which was actually called the All-Schools’ Four-Oar Championships held in June 1918.
Four schools took part: Brisbane Grammar School, The Southport School, Clayfield College (later BBC) and the Technical College High School.
Churchie entered the rowing competition in 1920 and won its first Head of the River two years later in 1922. The first rowing shed and pontoon were built on a bend in Norman Creek, later to be replaced with the Elder Hunter Boathouse down at Mowbray Park East Brisbane.
Churchie has experienced recent success in rowing, winning the GPS Premiership in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2010 and placing second in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2013.
Churchie has won the O’Connor Cup (Open First crew trophy) 16 times in the cup’s 94-year history and most recently in 2004, 2005, 2010, and 2012. Old Boy Jared Bidwell represented Australia at the 2009 World Rowing Championships in the Men’s Quad and was a reserve for the 2012 London Olympics.
Five old boys have graduated from the Ivy League schools of Harvard and Yale between 2005 and 2014.
Churchie provides state-of-the-art facilities in the Graham Fowles Boathouse which replaced the Elder Hunter Boathouse in 2005. The boathouse is within walking distance of the School and houses top-of-the-line racing shells for racing. The rowing programme is also well supported by old boys, parents and staff in providing off-water support, coaching and development for a life-long appreciation of physical development and the pursuit of excellence.
Involvement with rowing starts in Year 8 with a learn-to-row unit in the Health and Physical Education curriculum. Boys in Years 9 to 12 train during Term 4 and Term 1 each year so they can race in the GPS Head of the River competition, which culminates in the Head of the River regatta in early March.
It is common for Churchie to field a large number of crews; we often boat 10 Junior crews, eight Year 10 crews, three Year 11 crews and four Open crews.