This medal was awarded to R C J K Lillie of East Sydney for winning the Maiden Eights in 1889. It depicts a Viking ship with numerous oars and a large rudder. Prior to the establishment of an all Australian rowing body in 1925, rowing was managed within Australia by state associations. This meant that each state had their own differing rules and regulations. While New South Wales allowed professional sculling and offered cash prizes for races, these practices were not allowed in Victoria. The debate between New South Wales and Victoria in particular over amateur rowers versus professional meant that Intercolonial competition was often prevented. Interstate Championships and representation at the Olympic Games were also managed by state associations prior to 1925.
One of the races held at rowing regattas was the maiden eights. They were an eight oared shell race open to all amateur rowers who had not previously won (hence the name 'maiden'). Eight oared shells were rare in Australia in the 1870s as they had to be imported from England. The first eight-oared race in Australia was held in 1875, and in 1879 Ballarat hosted its first maiden eights race. The inaugural race was won by the Barwon Rowing Club.