Grafton Rowing Club History:
Professional Sculling -
George Towns defeated Gaudaur in the time of 20 minutes 30 seconds.
Professional sculling was still a major sport at this stage, with the top scullers enjoying a high profile, as evidenced by the Lord Mayor of Sydney's reception at Sydney Town Hall in 1903 as shown below:
Towns defended his title on July 30, 1904 on the Parramatta River against Richard Tressider of Australia. Towns won the race, retaining the title in the time of 21 minutes 49 seconds.
Late in November 1904, Bill Beach approached Towns and said he had found an unknown who would give him a run for his money, if he put his world title on the line. Towns jumped at the chance, confident that he could beat any sculler.
The unknown proved to be Jim Stanbury, who had been talked back into his racing shell by Bill Beach.
The people of Shoalhaven got behind Jim Stanbury and raised the necessary money to allow him to commence training on the Shoalhaven. A large proportion of the 1000 pound stake money was also subscribed by his Shoalhaven supporters.
The race was scheduled for July 22, 1905 on the Parramatta River Course.
The big day arrived and over 80,000 spectators lined the shores and the river was a sea of spectator boats and ferries.
Towns won the toss for choice of positions. The start was by mutual consent, and they dipped their oars just on 4 pm. The wind was behind them and the water was smooth, with a fast ebb tide.
For the first dozen strokes they raced level, each stroking about 40 to the minute, then Stanbury appeared to take a slight lead which he rapidly increased to a boat length. At Uhr's Point, he was two lengths ahead after rowing for three minutes. Stanbury increased his lead to three lengths after the mile mark had been reached. His lead then increased to four lengths, which Stanbury held to the finish, winning in the time of 19 minutes 4 seconds.
A year later on July 28, 1906, the pair met again. Stanbury now 38 years old trained hard for the race - at least he did until muscular rheumatism developed in one arm and despite constant treatment it was still troubling him when the two shot off the mark.
Stanbury raced ahead to a 40 yard (12 metre) lead and then at about the half way mark he found he could put little weight into his afflicted arm, breaking down completely and Towns paddled home an easy winner.
Stanbury retired once again from World Championship rowing and settled back into a domestic life of rearing a growing family of six daughters and a son.