Cleaver on route to Jeppe Rowing sheds

The story of Gary ‘Butch’ Hepburn and his faithful John Waugh Racing Scull is one that transcends the boundaries of time and place.  Butch was a successful school coxswain, he coxed both the 1st 4 and 2nd 8 in 1984 and 1985 respectively with a string of wins culminating in a 2nd 8 Win at ’84 and ’85 SA Champs.  Not content with this, the 3rd 8 in which he rowed as bowman also had a successful year.

Like all good stories there were disappointments too and the ’84 1st 4 crew that included Kevin Smith, Sean Du Buisson, Warren Van Rensburg, Christian Roberg (shown in picture below), were unbeaten the whole season, finished 3rd at SA champs to St Stithians (who took delivery of a new Empacher two weeks before champs) and a touring German Squad who took second place.

Butch’s rowing and coaching of junior teams did not end when leaving school and in 1986 he coached the Jeppe under 14’s with Antony Short and in 1987 the under 15’s. Military conscription in 1988 and career opportunities in Kimberley in 1990 interrupted his rowing opportunities. In 1999 he purchased the John Waugh racing scull which accompanied him to Scotland, where he was fond of rowing on the lake at Lochwinnoch located in the west central Lowlands. Ultimately both Butch and boat returned to South Africa a year later and returned to Kimberley where he still resides.

Cleaver waiting to be taken to it’s new home

The scull is once again on a journey, this time from Kimberly to its new home at the Jeppe rowing shed at Victoria Lake. Here it will give a whole new group of oarsmen the chance to appreciate the craftsmanship that John Waugh boats are renowned for as they refine their own skills and hopefully take home some medals. 

In keeping with the tradition of naming boats after blades, it is fitting that the boat will be named Cleaver. This is relevant, as Butch is a well-known restaurateur in both Kimberly and George and this blade is a mark of his profession. 

Jeppe Boats and Blades thanks Butch for both his generous contribution to the new 1st 8 and donating Cleaver to the Jeppe Rowing Club. His continued support is testimony to the value he places on the sport and in equipping current and future oarsmen.

Jeppe “84 1st 4 with Butch as Cox


  1. Awesome and yup we remember Butch and Ant well as our coaches – if memory serves – he was fond of us getting the rate up, but it resulted in a successful season. Thanks Butch

  2. Butch coxed our U14 4 at SA champs in ’84 as well as 1st 4.. our regular cox was double booked so Butch stood in for our junior crew! Needless to say his encouragement and experience helped us immensely and we won our race

  3. Antony Short

    Oh wow! Brings back great memories. Butch was an amazing cox and general all-rounder. It was great coaching with him. He was always reliable and I could trust him completely. Those were the days!

  4. Dawn Short

    Thanks Butch for the write up on Jeppe. I have such WONDERFUL MEMORIES, I spent 13 years as a “Jeppe rowing mother” and can recall all the rowing camps over the years, especially at Roodeplaat. Alf and I live in Riversdale W. C. Maybe we could visit you in George sometime? 🤔

  5. Dawn Short

    Thanks for Jeppe rowing update Butch, brought back such HAPPY MEMORIES, especially all🏆🏆’s. Also remember 13 years as “Jeppe mother” and all the rowing camps at Roodeplaat Dam with Alan Francis the Coach and my hubby, Alf helping to keep the boats tip-top condition. Pleased to hear of new equipment for the Club👍Alf and I now live in Riversdale W. C. Hope to perhaps visit you in George sometime, our best regards and more success in the future 👌💞

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>