June 7, 2023 (St. John’s, NL) – One of the most prestigious honours to be bestowed upon a Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee member is Honorary Life President. It is with great pleasure that the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee proudly announces the appointment of Bernard “Tanny” Collins as Honorary Life President. Mr. Collins is only the 4th person named to this position in the Regatta’s 205 year history.
“The decision to name an Honorary Life President is one our Committee takes very seriously,” said Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee President, Noelle Thomas – Kennell. “The position is reserved for those who have shown a deep commitment to our organization and those whose tireless efforts have not only enhanced the Royal St. John’s Regatta, but fixed-seat rowing on the whole. Mr. Collins’ many years of exemplary service made him an easy choice for this most esteemed designation. We are honoured that he accepted this appointment and thank him for his dedication to the Royal St. John’s Regatta.”
Bernard “Tanny” Collins history with the Royal St. John’s Regatta goes back to the late 1960s when he started rowing, though many would say his connection to the Regatta was more of a birthright, passed down from the generations before him. Like his grandfather, Patrick Francis Collins, and his father, Bernard Collins, Tanny happily gave of his time and skills, jumping into an organizational role. Most notably, Mr. Collins was Regatta Committee President from 1987 – 1988. Under his leadership, the organization’s current governance structure was established; the Hall of Fame was created; and the vision and funding for the refurbished boathouse began (with the project eventually being completed in 2000). His commitment to the Royal St. John’s Regatta has extended beyond his presidency as evidenced by his family business, PF Collins’, years of support through the sponsorship of crews, races and trophies, as well as the donation of the racing shell, The Broker.
This appointment comes after the passing of Mr. John C. Perlin, CM, CVO, ONL, LLD, in 2022. Previous Honorary Life Presidents include Mr. Jack Reardigan and Mr. Gerry Angel.
The Royal St. John’s Regatta is the oldest continuing organized sporting event in North America, with 2023 marking the organization’s 205th anniversary. More information about the Royal St. John’s Regatta can be found at www.stjohnsregatta.com.
Director of Communications
Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee
E: [email protected]
T: (709) 693-2722
Four Generations of the Collins Family have made significant contributions to the History of the Royal St. John’s Regatta as rowers and committee members alike.
Patrick Francis Collins, after many years working in local business, founded his own firm of, PF Collins in 1921. Over the last one hundred years it has grown into one of Newfoundland’s most successful businesses in the brokerage industry.
Patrick’s association with the sport of rowing and the early years of what is now our Regatta, began early in his career. In 1910 he was elected to the Presidency of the Catholic Cadet Corp and remained in that role until 1920.
He was an outstanding supporter of the Regatta. In 1912, when he bought the shell the “Pink-Un” as the start of the Catholic Cadet Corp Boat Club. He donated all the instruments for the CCC Band and led the fundraising efforts to build the CCC Boathouse at Quidi Vidi Lake. In 1914 he did the fundraising for the new boat, The Cadet.
Bernard Collins, Senior began working alongside his Dad, straight out of school in 1935. He proved so successful; he took over his father’s company in 1953. Bernard Collins, Sr. was also a proud member of the Regatta Committee for 40 years. Having served at the Executive level, he was elected President of the Regatta Committee in 1968 and 1969. Just like all Family traditions, he instilled in his family a love of the Regatta, which now spans four generations.
Bernard “Tanny” Collins. It is from this family history and love of the Regatta that our newest Honourary Life President was born. Like his father before him, Tanny began working in the family business not long after university. He brought a willingness to grow and expand as the province moved into whole new areas of offshore and international growth. He took over the management of PF Collins from 1981 – 2013. Expanding his business model and recognizing a need for growth would be one of Tanny’s great strengths.
Tanny rowed competitively from 1967 – 1972 and also enjoyed masters rowing for a number of years. He brought his organizational skills to his time as President of the Regatta Committee in 1987 – 1988. Tanny streamlined the way sub-committees brought information to the Directors, who in turn brought issues to the Executive; a system still in use today.
Tanny initiated amendments to the Regatta Committee Membership Bylaws to include the position of “Honorary Life Member” to those deserving individuals who have made significant contribution to the Regatta. This allowed the addition of many new members to the selection limit of 50 on the Committee, while still availing of the experience and service of these Honorary members.
To give more recognition to the many participants in the sport of rowing, Tanny initiated the “Participants Liaison Committee” to broaden the communication to participants beyond what was then the Coxswains association. This opened dialogue with participants by the appointment of an executive member of the committee working with the participants, welcoming their input.
1987 was the first time the Boathouse was kept open for rowing after Regatta Day. This was to extend the season and to give novice rowers a chance to experience rowing for the first time. The Regatta Hall of Fame was also created in 1987, establishing a way for our committee to honour our past and future.
1988 the Regatta Committee was a key member of the provincial Soiree 88 celebrations. That year the then named Discovery Day Races introduced entertainment for families and the Time Trials began including a BBQ for participants. In 1988, Tanny also oversaw the testing of our race shells by the Institute of Marine Dynamics at MUN. The wave tank tests showed that the design created by Robert Sexton, the carriage maker and Dr. Rendall, the rowing enthusiast, could not be improved upon. The only improvement was the redesign of the rudder for better steering and dynamics.
Having completed the NRC study, Tanny’s next task was to manage the purchase of the last series of wooden shells from Hudson Boats works incorporating minor design changes from NRC into the new shells. These boats are still in use today.
Tanny had the foresight to know that despite the 1977 Summer Games modifications, the existing 1950’s boathouse would not meet the needs of the Regatta’s future growth. It was under Tanny’s leadership that a specific fund was created to build a new Boathouse. It was these monies that eventually led to the entire refurbishment of the Boathouse in 2000.
Whenever a race sponsor, a crew sponsor, a trophy sponsor or a shell sponsor was needed, PF Collins was always there. The Collins Family, through the family business, donated, The Broker.
The entire Collins Family has made significant volunteer contributions to our Regatta Committee. Andrew Collins, Tanny’s brother served for many years on the Executive and Tanny’s daughter, Susan Collins moved from Rowing to serving in various Executive roles on the Regatta Committee. Susan remains an active member. Family tradition and Regatta traditions are enduring with the Collins crew.