William Charles Webb – 1886 – 1960
He became the first New Zealander to win the world professional single sculls title when he beat Australian Charles Towns on the Parramatta River in Sydney, by five lengths in 1907 covering the demanding three mile course in 20min 45sec.
Webb, who won 1,000 pounds for his Sydney victory, defended the title by two and three quarter lengths on the Whanganui River in 1908 against twice Australian champion Richard Tressider, before 25,000 spectators including premier Sir Joseph Ward.
So delighted were the citizens of Wanganui there was even the suggestion that the city be renamed “Webbanui.”
Later that same year Richard Arnst (Akaroa) de-throned Webb by six lengths on the Whanganui River and in 1909 held off a Webb title challenge by three lengths on the same river.
Webb, who rowed for the Union Boat Club, won the NZ amateur singles in 1903 and 1906, the NZ amateur doubles in 1905 and 1906 and the NZ professional singles in 1915.