Life Members

Member Year Background


Sue was awarded The Australian Sports Medal in 2000 for “Commitment and service to the sport, particularly with juniors”. She was awarded an OAM in 2004 for “service to sport, particularly rowing as an administrator, coach and competitor, and to physical education.

Volunteer Rowing Coach, ACT Academy of Sport 1994-1997, 1999–2000

  • Personally coached 19 junior and senior women in the Academy’s girls rowing “Talent Search” program. Under Sue’s coaching four of these women were selected to represent Australia.
  • International coaching results include a Silver Medal at the 1998 World Junior Rowing Championships in the women’s double sculls. The two athletes in that crew had been coached by Sue since the day they began in the sport. Sue had taken them from beginners to international medallists within two years.
  • Sue was one of the only coaches within the Academy’s program to consistently take the extra time away from her paid work to drive athletes and equipment to interstate camps and regattas.
Volunteer Rowing Coach, Canberra Girls Grammar School, 1991-1994
  • Sue was the founding coach in 1991 of the Canberra Girls Grammar School Rowing Club.
  • Sue coached girls from beginner to national junior schoolgirls standard, taking the first squad of Canberra Girls Grammar School rowers to the National Championships in 1994.
Volunteer Rowing Coach, ACT Rowing Association, 1996-2000
  • Sue coached the ACT Women’s Youth Eight at the National Championships every year from 1996 to 2000. She also coached the eight in 2001 when working as a professional coach.
Member Year Background

Few have made as much of a contribution to rowing in the ACT as Nick Hunter has since his arrival in 1980.
Beginning as a rower and committee member with the Australian National University Boat Club, Nick became
captain in 1984. He then worked his way through the ranks as a rower, representing Australia at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, as well as the 1984, 1986, 1987 and 1990 World Championships.

Nick began his coaching career in 1988, going on to become Head Coach of the ACT Academy of Sport (ACTAS) rowing program from 1994-2000, continuing in a coaching role until 2003. During that time seven ACTAS athletes were selected for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and five for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Between 1989 and 2000 Nick also ran talent identification programs in the ACT, with 14 representing Australia and three becoming Olympians. Nick was an Australian team coach between 1990 and 2002, including for the 1990 World Championships, the 1999 and 2000 World Junior Championships, the 2001 and 2002 World Junior Championships, and as Assistant Team Coach for the London 2012 Paralympics. Nick continues to coach to this day, ranging from novice to elite level within the ANU Boat Club.

Nick first became a Rowing ACT Board member in 1986, serving again from 1990-1994 and from 2003-2020. In
1993 Nick was part of a three-person subcommittee that negotiated to separate Rowing ACT from Rowing NSW, which finished with Rowing Australia recognising Rowing ACT as a separate state association in 1995. Between 1996 and 1997 Nick lobbied the ACT Minister for Urban Services to have a government lakeside works depot and office transferred to ACTAS as their Rowing Centre; this happened in 1997. Nick was also involved in gaining a $60,000 refurbishment of the ANU boathouse through ANU Sport, as well as writing the business case and gaining approvals for the $2.2 million expansion of the Rowing Australia & AIS Rowing Centre in Yarralumla in his professional capacity with the AIS.

Nick has also been a boat race official for a number of years. In 2013 Nick became a member of Rowing
Australia’s Umpire’s Committee, before being appointed to FISA’s World Rowing Umpiring Commission in 2014. Nick was the first Australian to be appointed to this committee and continues to run education programs for rowing officials in the Asia and Oceania. Nick has served on juries for World Rowing events each year from 2013 to 2021, and continues to serve as a Boat Race Official in the ACT during most local regattas and winter time trials.

Member Year Background

David Bagnall was elected to Life Membership at the 56th Annual General Meeting on 28 September 2020, recognising his service as an administrator and rowing coach. David joined the Australian National University Boat Club upon arriving in Canberra during the 1974-75 season and soon became the Boat Club’s delegate to the ACT Rowing Association. Thus began a long record of service to the Association as an Executive Committee member, Senior Vice President (1976-77) and President (1985-88 and 2010-19). Over this time, he also contributed to the development of several clubs, notably Narrabundah (Black Mountain) Rowing Club, where he was a veteran of the lengthy battle to secure a grant of a boatshed site on Black Mountain Peninsula.

David is one the ACT’s most successful rowing coaches, whose efforts have greatly advanced the fortunes of his athletes and the reputation of rowing in the ACT. In the late 1970s he settled on a successful formula for recruiting and instructing lightweight women rowers at ANUBC. This involved recruitment of athletic students and training scheduled to fit in with study commitments and avoid cold winter mornings. This approach saw early success at State and National level and later contributed to international medals.

In his second term as President, David dealt with important developments on the Yarramundi Reach Course such as relocation of the spectator area from Lady Denman Drive to a sustainable site on Weston Park. This was followed by approvals for installation of landing pontoons. He was active in removing the threat of closure of Lake Burley Griffin to rowing following algal blooms by securing “secondary contact status” for the sport.

David has made a strong contribution to interstate competition as a selector and coach for the ACT and, prior to ACT rowing statehood, for New South Wales. He has facilitated staging of regattas at local, state and national level in his role as a well-informed commentator.

Member Year Background

Alison Chinn’s contribution to event management and the administration of Rowing ACT spans 35 years.

In 1986 Alison and her partner Mark Kwiatkowski created the ACT Winter Time Trial series, a group of long-distance time trials open to all levels of competitors, who race on handicap. Supported by a small group of club volunteers Alison and Mark coordinated the series for its first decade. Beginning as a monthly one day single scull-only event, its success enabled it to grow to a monthly two day event, with small boats (1x and 2-) racing on Saturdays and big boats on Sundays. However, the event’s growth meant a big lift in workload for Alison and Mark behind the scenes. In the late 1990s they handed the coordination to Rowing ACT, which recognized the value of the series and formally made it a part of its regatta program.

The inclusiveness that Alison and Mark designed into the structure of the Winter Time Trial series has ensured its success. This year’s thirty-fifth running of the series attracted a record 130 single scull competitors alone. There are also several names on the single scull trophies of up-and-coming athletes who later went on to win national championships and represent Australia.

Alison has also made a significant long term contribution to Rowing ACT’s management. From 1988 to 1997 she held the demanding positions of Secretary and then Treasurer, often holding these positions concurrently with Canberra Rowing Club board positions, while also competing at the elite level (as well as working full time!). This included being a member of the Rowing ACT Board that oversaw the ACT’s 1995 transition from being a regional association of Rowing NSW to an independent Territory sporting association recognised by Rowing Australia. Alison’s was an exceptional contribution, especially considering that it was done in a totally voluntary capacity with no support structures such as a paid Executive Officer to assist.

Alison was reappointed to the Rowing ACT Board in 2016 and has continued to the present. To recent Boards she has brought an invaluable corporate knowledge of rowing in the ACT, and its history and traditions. Her auditor’s eye has helped Rowing ACT meet its governance obligations in an increasingly compliance demanding sporting world, and she has been the Regatta Secretary for several years.

Alison has also been a significant contributor to the broader ACT rowing community. She was on the Canberra Rowing Club Board from 1986 to 1991 and then 1999 to 2003. She has also spent many hours coaching successful CRC scullers and crews, particularly at the Masters level.

As an athlete Alison competed in and won innumerable races as an ACT club athlete. This included winning the ACT Women’s Single Scull title a record six times, and the NSW Women’s Lightweight Single Scull title three times. She is also amongst the small number of ACT athletes who represented NSW in the Interstate Regatta before the ACT’s 1995 separation from Rowing NSW – in the 1988 NSW women’s four for the ULVA Trophy.

Rowing ACT Board:
1988/89 – Secretary; 1989/90 – Secretary; 1990/91 – Secretary; 1991/92 – Secretary; 1992/93 – Secretary; 1993/94 – Treasurer; 1994/95 – Treasurer; 1995/96 – Treasurer; 1996/97 – Treasurer; 2016/17 – Member; 2017/18 – Member; 2018/19 – Member; 2019/20 – Member

Member Year Background

Vince has made a substantial contribution to rowing in the ACT. He is a member of Black Mountain Rowing Club and was its club president from 2008 to 2011 and a committee member for a couple of years previously. In 2011 Vince published the History of Black Mountain Rowing Club in the Context of the ACT Rowing Community, which took several years of research and interviews to compile. It sits as an important part of Rowing ACT history setting out the birth of Lake Burley Griffin as a rowing venue and the evolution of both our clubs and Rowing ACT.

When David Bagnall became president in 2009, he invited Vince to fill the vacant Treasurer position on the Committee and he remained on the Committee/Board until he decided not to contest the position in 2019. David and Vince became a formidable team with Vince focusing on consolidating the financial base of Rowing ACT and bringing it within a strong corporate governance framework. During his tenure, the equity of Rowing ACT rose by more than sevenfold to over $570,000.

As Treasurer, and then Director of Finance, he settled long standing and sometimes acrimonious disagreements over Member Club debt and, to ensure that it did not occur again, enhanced financial cooperation between the parties and set standards for timely invoicing. He balanced the accounting system for the first time in many years by overseeing its move to MYOB and through rigorous adherence to accounting standards. He brought before the Board regular and comprehensive reporting and increased the level of detail available to Member Clubs in the Annual Financial Statements. He put in place strict record management and then, with the move to Xero, moved the organisation entirely to digital record keeping integrated within the accounting system.

Vince managed the IT systems of Rowing ACT, maintained the website, and provided IT support to staff, which was particularly important with the turnover of Executive Officers. Staff numbers increased over time from a part-time staff member to four plus contractors. Vince managed recruitment, pay and conditions and training. Previous Executive Officers speak highly of Vince’s mentoring skills and supervision that they received from him.

Following initiatives by the Australian Sports Commission to modernise the constitutions of sports club and introduce standards, Vince redrafted the Constitution to form a new set of Rules in 2014 and provided guides to Member Clubs to help them make the decision. He also drafted the subsidiary By-Laws and provided ongoing advice on compliance and alerted the Board where updates were required.

Rowing ACT, its Member Clubs and its key stakeholders including ACTAS and Rowing Australia, were fortunate to have Vince’s management expertise at a time of significant growth. Vince continues to support to the Board after stepping down as a Director.

Member Year Background

Pat started rowing in Canberra in 1964, the year the Lake filled and competition began. Pat has a long history of service to rowing in Canberra and was a committee member of the then ACT Rowing Association as early as 1967. He has been Vice-president, Treasurer and Secretary in both Rowing ACT and the Canberra Rowing Club over the decades since, as well as being Captain and Vice-Captain in the Canberra Rowing Club.

Pat was a Committee member/Director of Rowing ACT for 14 continuous years and only stepped aside in 2017 to make way for others, but remains RACT’s and CRC’s Public Officer.

Pat has always exercised a whole-of-rowing approach and has been a strong advocate for expanding participation in the sport. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of rowing, particularly in the ACT. Rowing has greatly benefited from Pat’s contributions and the Board proposes his contribution be recognised by Member Clubs.

Member Year Background

Roger Grylls was elected to Life membership at the 47th Annual General Meeting on 31 August 2011 in recognition of his long and distinguished service as a boat race official. He joined the Union of Boat Race Officials in 1971 shortly after leaving school and has served continuously ever since.

Roger is also well known for community work in Canberra across a range of interests including soccer at the club, Territory and National level, the Red Cross and the ACT Olympic Council.

On several occasions the Association called upon Roger’s assistance where specialised advice on financial and accounting matters was required. He played a significant part in the Association’s adoption of software necessary to overcome long standing issues with the Association’s accounts.

Member Year Background
Mark Kwiatkowski 1990s

Mark Kwiatkowski was elected to Life Membership the 1990s in recognition of his contribution to ACT Rowing as the instigator of the Winter Time Trials, a major element in the inter-club rowing competition, and as a coach and administrator. These efforts were also recognised when he was awarded the Cliff Hill Memorial Trophy for 1991-92.

Mark came to Canberra in 1984 with partner Alison Chinn, bringing a wealth of experience gained from the Footscray City Rowing Club on the Maribyrnong River. He quickly recognised the potential presented for a head race on the more sheltered parts of the Lake and commenced the WTT for scullers in 1986. It was run by Mark and Alison with CRC volunteers until the Association took over in 1999.

In addition to roles as an oarsmen and administrator, Mark has frequently taken on the difficult role of coaching crews brought together at short notice to represent the ACT at national championships. His efforts have largely focused on encouraging young rowers to continue in the sport after leaving school.

Member Year Background
Robert (Bob) Porra 1984

Bob Porra was elected to Life Membership at the 20th Annual General Meeting on 27 June 1984.
As Honorary Secretary Bob led a complete review of the ACT Rowing Association’s rules that became necessary before the Association became an incorporated body in 1978. His efforts were recognised at the annual general meeting of the Association in 1978 that thanked Dr Porra for “two years of hard work in streamlining the Association’s affairs and improving communications between the Executive, the Clubs and the NSWRA”.

Bob led an exhaustive study of the feasibility of constructing an international standard 2000 metre rowing course on Jerrabomberra Creek. This project was not implemented due to inconsistent developments in the Jerrabomberra Valley and the success of the Penrith Lakes Scheme but this in no way detracts from the energy and professionalism that were evident in Bob’s efforts.

In addition to his service to ACTRA, Bob gave long service as a coach to Canberra Grammar School achieving great success with coxed IV boats. Bob’s name lives on in the Porra Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the Men’s under-19 double scull at the ACT Championships.

Member Year Background

Paul Duncan was elected to Life Membership at the 20th Annual General Meeting on 27 June 1984.

Paul commenced his involvement in ACT rowing as a successful lightweight oarsman for the Royal Military College Boat Club when a cadet at the College. Later, when posted back to Canberra, he gave invaluable service as Secretary of the Association, applying his experience as a school and RMC athlete. In this role he lifted the standard of ACTRA processes for regatta promotion and management and closer engagement with the NSW Rowing Association.

His organising ability led to some of the most successful interstate regattas on Yarramundi Reach including New South Wales point score regattas and several of the first veterans’ (masters’) rowing championships held in Australia. Paul coordinated fundraising for the Territory’s first international representatives managing to get all clubs helping to raise funds for Australian team members from Narrabundah College and ANU Boat Club.

Paul was a member of the Canberra Rowing Club, serving on the Club Committee and as Club Captain.


Member Year Background

David Walters was elected to Life Membership on 10 June 1981 at the 17th Annual General Meeting.

David took up the sport as an undergraduate student at the Australian National University and became a highly proficient oarsman. He soon became involved in the sport’s administration as an ANU Boat Club delegate and later as a member of the Executive Committee.

He was best known for his service as the diligent Treasurer of the Association from 1973-1979 and did much to ensure the growing administrative strength of the Association through the 1970s.

Member Year Background

Malcolm Lamb was elected to Life Membership on 10 June 1981 at the 17th Annual General Meeting. He commenced his service to the Association as a Committee member, Club official and school rowing master.

Like his ANU Boat Club colleague David Walters, Malcolm took over from the first generation of the Association’s administrators who came from extensive rowing backgrounds in Victoria and New South Wales. They maintained the high standards set by these seasoned officials. As Honorary Secretary from 1972-1975, Malcolm contributed constructively and impartially to discussion of issues and maintained excellent lines of communication with member clubs and schools. He also served as Vice President from 1975-1978 and in 1979-80.

Malcolm joined the staff of Canberra Grammar School and served as Rowing Master. In this role his work underpinned much of Grammar’s rowing success in the 1970s.

Member Year Background
Ron Freeman 1981

Rod Freeman was elected to Life Membership at the 17th Annual General Meeting on 10 June 1981.

Rod received his NSW Rowing Association boat race official badge in August 1972 and remained a leading member of the Union of Boat Race officials for over twenty years. He served as Honorary Recorder of the Association for seven years (1972-1979) and was a widely recognised figure on the Yarramundi Reach course.

Rod was well respected for his ability to handle difficult roles on the BRO roster, especially getting crews off together in a strong cross wind at the exposed 1800 metre start.

In addition to his service to the Association, Rod was a strong supporter of the Watson High School Rowing Club.

Member Year Background
Cliff Hill 1973

Cliff Hill was elected to Life Membership at the 9th Annual General Meeting on 1 August 1973, recognising his service as an administrator and boat race official.

As President from 1967 to 1973 Cliff faced some of the most difficult issues in establishing rowing, including the hazards presented by the Central/East Basin rowing course and making Yarramundi Reach our long-term regatta venue.

Cliff joined the Burns Rowing Club in the 1964-65 season and became this Club’s representative on the Association. He later joined the Executive as Honorary Assistant Secretary also serving as a Boat Race Official. Cliff was one of the Association’s first group of Boat Race Officials, qualifying in November 1966. He also qualified as a BRO Examiner.

Further to his lengthy service as President of the Association, Cliff played a large part in the formation and participation of the Watson High School Rowing Club. His service to our sport is also recognised through the Cliff Hill Shield for conspicuous service to ACT Rowing, first awarded in 1976. This award has recognised outstanding service by a diverse group of oarsmen, coaches, administrators and boat race officials.

Member Year Background

Brian Martyn was elected to Life Membership at the 9th Annual General Meeting on 1 August 1973 in recognition of his service to the Association as an administrator, boat race official and coach.

Brian joined Footscray Rowing Club in the early 1940s and served as a rower and administrator. He came to Canberra as an officer of the Department of Immigration, where several long overseas postings disrupted his rowing interests. Upon return to Canberra from such a posting in 1964 he immersed himself in the rowing community, supporting both the Association and the Daramalan Rowing Club.

Brian coached excellent schoolboy crews for Daramalan RC when it operated from East Basin and in the early 1970s coached capable lightweight men’s IVs from the RMC Rowing Club.

During his term as Vice President from 1968 to 1973 Brian contributed heavily to the Association’s deliberations on the development of rowing. In particular, he drew on his experience as a boat race official and coach in leading the rowing community to abandon the course in Central and East Basins in 1971 and move our regattas to Yarramundi Reach. This decision was necessary to ensure the future of the sport in Canberra.

Brian gave over thirty years service to the Union of Boat Race Officials and was a well-known figure in his favourite officiating role at the finish line, where he was able to keep a keen eye on the form of all racing crews.

Member Year Background
William (Bill) O’Brien 1972

Bill O’Brien was elected as the ACT Rowing Association’s first Life Member at the 8th Annual General Meeting on 9 August 1972. This honour recognised his leadership in establishing rowing in the ACT and subsequent service to the Association and his club, the Canberra Rowing Club. He was elected as Honorary Secretary in 1964 and remained in this role until 1972. Bill was a founding member of the Union of Boat Race Officials.

Bill arrived in Canberra in 1944 after a long association with Essendon Rowing Club as an oarsman and administrator (Secretary for 15 years) and the Victorian Rowing Association. For many years he was the Secretary of the annual Henley on Maribyrnong Regatta. He was a Life Member of Essendon RC, the Maribyrnong League and the Essendon Seconds Australian Rules Football Club.

Once the Commonwealth Government committed to building Lake Burley Griffin, Bill and fellow rowing enthusiast Richard (Dick) Luker liaised closely with the National Capital Development Commission to ensure lake plans provided for rowing. They then met with the NSW Rowing Association and interested members of the Canberra community to identify potential rowers and supporters. These meetings led to establishment of the ACT Rowing Association on 16 November 1963.

Through his strong community networks, Bill was able to secure the Nissen Hut (Igloo) at the Kingston Boat Harbor to serve as a communal rowing boatshed. The Igloo housed the boats of seven clubs and schools at a nominal rental. Although intended as a temporary measure, the Igloo remained a rowing facility for nearly forty years, serving as an incubator for new clubs.

Bill O’Brien’s service to rowing is commemorated through the Bill O’Brien Trophy for the Club with the highest aggregate (Men’s and Women’s) point score in the club premiership competition. The Canberra Rowing Club boatshed at Yarralumla Bay – the first boatshed built by a community rowing club on the Lake – is dedicated to his memory.