Rowing Australia is deeply saddened by news of the passing of distinguished Australian Rowing Coach Paul Christopher Dane who died Friday 7 January 2022 aged 75.
Chris gained good success locally and coached Olympic and World Championship crews, including the Men’s Eight at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games. Chris played a role in fighting the Federal Government’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics and was a significant contributor to the Australian Selection Appeal Boards.
One of the great characters of the sport, Chris contributed so much to so many people. Despite family and work pressures, he made time for aspiring rowers.
Rowing Historian Andrew Guerin prepared the following profile:
Chris is a person of considerable wit and intelligence who had an uncanny knack of being able to inspire and motivate rowers
As a rower who was coached by him, I love his irreverence to most things, wit and intelligence, but underlying this was a strong respect for tradition. His quips about the “new schools”, (not the early APS schools) are most amusing, and his genuine admiration for those male rowers who have won their Head of the River, the King’s Cup and the Oxford and Cambridge Cup – all races have their great difficulties in winning.
He loves these traditional races in the sport, and regularly made himself available to coach such crews. Like his fellow Monash coach before him Roger Moore, he has a great respect for the history of our sport.
Despite this interest in the traditional, he is a free and inquisitive thinker when it came to finding ways to make a boat go fast. He readily adopted the training methods proposed by Reinhold Batschi when he arrived in Australia in 1979 – these were quite revolutionary for that time. Also, Monash University Rowing Club was far from traditional and Chris has made a significant contribution to it. It never had more than 15-20 rowers but maintained a disproportionate level of success during the period 1968 through to 1980 including five Victorian Men’s Eight Championships in succession, and many members in Victorian and Australian crews.
His passion for, and his love of, the beauty of the sport is profound. As we all know, rowing, when done well, is magic. He understands when to leave a crew alone to listen and feel the movement of the boat. This was not only to improve boat speed, but also to enjoy the sport.
As a Queen’s Counsel in Victoria, he is also probably well known in wider rowing circles for use of his advocacy skills in 1980 in pursuit of the cause of allowing the Australian Olympic team to compete in Moscow against significant Federal Government pressure to withdraw. As coach of the Olympic eight that Olympiad, the team learned of their fate whilst in the air travelling to Europe. The pilot allegedly announced the result of the government’s decision with the words: “How good is your Russian?” The plane erupted in joy.
Chris has also served on the Rowing Australia selection appeals panel for many years.
Chris’s daughter Edwina Dane also rowed for MUBC and was awarded a Blue in 2003 & 2004.
With thanks to Andrew Guerin