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.

The scull has once again gone 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 was 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.