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Charles Amos Messenger, a professional sculler, was born ca. 1855 in London where his family was well known in aquatic circles. His father James was a noted sculler and boat builder who in 1854 won the World Sculling Championship from Tom Cole (rower). James held the title for four years until beaten by the well known sculler Harry Kelley.


Charles Messenger went to Victoria, Australia where he frequently competed in regattas and matches. In July 1878 he rowed for the Sculling Championship of Victoria. His opponent was Christie, and the race was held on the lower Yarra River. Messenger won easily.

His principal performances in Sydney were in a waterman's skiff race at the national regatta where he rowed third to Power (15 lbs) and Pearce (55 lbs). In the third division of the Walker Whiskey race, he finished third to Michael Rush (rower) and R. Edwards. At the Grafton 1881 regatta, he started in the outrigger race against Rush and Elias C. Laycock, and was badly beaten.

In 1882 Messenger travelled to Auckland in New Zealand where he competed under the assumed name of ‘Carter.’ His trainer was Harry Floyd who was associated with many of the Sydney scullers. At the Mercury Bay regatta on 26 January 1882, Messenger beat A White in an outrigger race. A later match race between them for £100 a side had the same result as did another race at the Auckland Regatta. Later it was revealed who ‘Carter’ was. In March 1882 Messenger and William Hearn raced in Wellington for the Single Sculls Championship of New Zealand. See New Zealand Sculling Championship. The stake was £100 a side and Hearn won without any trouble. Messenger’s rowing weight was 11 stone (70 kg)

Strange Race

One of the strangest races ever recorded was that between Messenger and Bill Beach in March 1883 in the Anniversary regatta held in Sydney. Largan, the English sculler, was also in the race, but had his boat cut in two by a 14-ft. open sailing boat shortly before the start. He, however, started in a borrowed outrigger, but retired after going 200 yards. The weather was very rough, and, after changing places repeatedly, Messenger, who was leading, had his boat burst open and swamped forward by a sea, the after part sticking up in the air about three feet. Beach who had broken his slide and was pulling on a fixed seat, then shot up to him and yelled out, "I've beaten you now." Messenger was, of course, inclined to give in, but the people on the steamer yelled at him to go on in hopes something would happen to Beach also. Sure enough they were right, for in a few minutes the stern of his boat sank and the bow cocked up at an angle of 45 degrees. Then, Messenger seeing hope once more, removed his feet from the straps, took off his roller slides and held the m in his mouth, and then standing up in his boat, half of which was completely buried under water, he turned round and sat straddle legs across the boat, his legs dangling in the water, a tempting bait for any shark in the vicinity. He faced the nose of the boat, and after an hour's hard rowing, during which the water was breaking over him, he rowed his boat stern first the last quarter of a mile, and passing the flagship a winner of one of the most singularly contested races ever recorded. After swamping, Beach gave up the contest.

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