At the age of 23, Wilsie Wilson entered into the single ladies’ scull competition at the Croki Regatta held on Boxing Day 1928. It was the 44th annual event held by the Manning River Rowing and Sailing Club and while it was a sunny day a strong north-easter was blowing which reportedly added to the excitement. The ladies’ scull event was keenly contested in the heats where Miss D Laurie beat Wilsie Wilson and Mary Ruprecht. In the finals however, there was a thrilling finish with Wilsie turning the tables on Miss Laurie to win. Mary Ruprecht came third.1
Peel’s, “the busy drapers”, in Taree donated the trophy which was a set of silver fish knives and forks. Over the years, Wilsie proudly showed friends her award but never used the much-treasured prize. This silver set is now held by the Cundletown Museum.
In February 1929, Mary Ruprecht and Fred Greenaway placed public notices in newspapers challenging Wilsie Wilson and Walter Burns to a double scull race. The race would be held during the Croki Swimming Carnival as a special event where they would row half a mile with a £5 wager.2 Anticipation built for the big day, however the event never took place. After months of severe drought, floods hit the Manning Valley that very weekend. Croki was all but submerged in record-breaking flood waters.3 Unfortunately, the great double scull’s challenge was never raced.
Author: Janine Roberts with thanks to Wilsie’s daughter Elaine Rose.
1 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 5 January 1929, 7.
2 Manning River Times, 2 February 1929, 8; 6 February 1929; Northern Champion, 30 January 1929, 2.
3 Northern Champion, 13 February 1929, 2.