Established in 1875


Competitive Rowing in East London started with East London & Buffalo Rowing Clubs. Buffalo Rowing Club was founded in 1875 & it is one of the Oldest Rowing Clubs in South Africa.  Alfred’s in Cape Town formed in 1864, being the oldest.

Buffalo was the pre-eminent Rowing Club in South Africa from its inception into the 1930s. From the beginning one of its main characteristics’ has been generosity & building the sport of Rowing.  Buffalo Rowing Club (along with East London Rowing Club) were organisers of the first Buffalo Regatta in 1879. 3 years later in 1881 saw the resident rowing clubs forming the East London Boating Association.  The Buffalo President, WH Fuller, bought Selborne their 1st boat and started Selborne Rowing Club, the 1st ever school boy rowing club in South Africa, in 1922, becoming their President on their inaugural committee, up to that point school boys rowed with the seniors.  Another Buffalo, Squibs Ogilvie, coached Selborne Rowing to their 1st win in a maiden race in Port Alfred in 1930.  To this Day the Squibs Ogilvie Cup is a closely fought fours race in the Selborne Regatta.

The Second World War put a stop to rowing in East London but rowing restarted after the War.  East London developed and in 1973 a new Bridge was proposed to be built directly over the ELBA Club House on the East Bank of the Buffalo River.  The replacement was built in its current location on the West Bank in Henderson Road with several Buffalos contributing toward the new ELBA building.  

Although Buffalo active rowing took a break in the late 1970s, the spirit of George Phoebe, founder of rowing, boat builder & coach of several Buffalo Crews that won the Grand remained (he is still known as the old Man of the Buffalo River with his picture taking pride of place in the ELBA club house).  Buffalo Rowing Club continued with their generosity and when Grey Rowing’s Boat house burnt down they donated a boat in 1982 & in the 1990s they paid for the building of the deck & braai area at the ELBA club house.  

Buffalo Rowing Club restarted active rowing again in 2015 & with an amazing repeat in history one of the re-founding members, Kate Godfrey also started Selborne’s sister school, Clarendon, in the sport of Rowing.  Kate’s husband & fellow Buffalo, Bill Godfrey (of Ocean rowing fame) is now Head Coach and has brought Clarendon Girls Rowing up to be one of the top rowing schools in the country.

Buffalo Rowing Club have reinforced their belief in growing the sport of Rowing and helping start other institutions rowing. This year they have been instrumental in the formation of the OR Thambo Rowing Club in Mthatha and locally they have introduced several formerly non-rowing schools to the sport with the aim of getting them to branch out as their own rowing clubs.  In particular they have been using rowing as a forum to bring people from all backgrounds, cultures & ages together in an aim of reaching a better understanding of each other.  It is not uncommon to see crews made up of juniors from location schools, from model C schools & adults of all ages & all walks of life rowing together.

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