The early 1872 Ballarat Regatta Committee, made up of representatives from both clubs, again organized the Ballarat Regatta to be held on Lake Wendouree again. It was decided to ask the Water Commission permission to enclose part of the reserve near the boathouses to erect a grandstand to improve conditions for spectators. This they duly did. The committee was unable to obtain concessions from the railways for the visiting Geelong and Melbourne crews so it was agreed to meet half the costs of transporting boats to the regatta. This may have had an impact on the numbers competing at the regatta the cost keeping some crews from attending. Also the prize money was considerable as can be seen from the advertisement below. As the average weekly wage was around two pounds, in today’s terms it would be roughly equivalent of $2000 prize money for the Senior four.

The regatta was held on Monday March 18th 1872.The Star reported:

”Should the weather be favourable it promises to be a great success. The committee has taken a great deal of trouble with the arrangements…most of the events are likely to be keenly contested as our local crews are in good trim, and it is not likely that our visitors will have been behind hand in their practice…”

Unfortunately, though the regatta was not a success either in the competition for the very liberal prizes offered, or in the attendance of the public. It was a very fine day with a crowd of about 1500 attending but only twenty people availed themselves of the 1 shilling seat in the grandstand. There was no competition in the senior races with the Ballarat Club winning by default the Senior sculls, Senior pair and Senior four.

The infant City club was represented by two fours and a sculler.In the first of three heats of the Scratch Fours with the crew of L.Clark, W.Hughes, H.Pinniger and Z.Giles won.In the final all three crews got away well and turning around the flag at the Garden’s end the City men drew ahead of Davidson’s Ballarat crew and succeeded in winning the final by a couple of clear lengths in a time of  11 minutes and 51 and ¼ seconds.

This was the first appearance of Z.(Zachariah) Giles and this win in his first race was to be the first of many for the club. He went on to be the “gun” stroke man of the 1870’s.

J.Jinks placed second in the Maiden sculls to Eddington of Ballarat with the Geelong sculler sinking after a stiff breeze came up creating “angry waves” over a foot high across the course. Some things never change!! The club also had a crew in the Maiden fours of Hy Rendell, Frederick Huges, C.McPhillamy and J.Jinks in stroke seat backing up for his second race of the day. They came in last with the Ballarat crew winning in a time of 15 minutes 5 and ¾ seconds.

For the regatta Ballarat City had put a small grandstand on its jetty and this was crowded during the racing, likewise the other jetties in the vicinty.The yacht the ENIGMA sailed around with officials and reporters on board so they could see a good bit of the racing.The course was about two miles-a circuit of the cleared area of the Lake. The races were started and finished by the firing of a cannon,a half-pounder,expertly fired by Gunner Gaggin who really got into his job and used a good deal of powder producing a very loud bang and frightening the ladies! Messers Peter Cazaly,F.M.Claxton and E.J.Lewis acted as starters and judges and Mr.J.T.Sleep was timekeeper. After the regatta there was a supper at Leisters Hotel at which the trophies were presented to the winning crews.

The Annual meeting this year was held on Friday, August 2nd  and Mr. J. Josephs was unanimously elected president, Mr. R. Lewis and J. T. Sleep vice-presidents, Mr. Daniel Brophy, treasurer and Mr. Hy. Rendell was the secretary. Votes of thanks were passed on to retiring officers and committee with a special vote of thanks to Mr. J. Tynan for his services as secretary for the past two years. The committee elected for the coming year was Messrs. Clark, Hughes, Tynan, Pinniger, Armstrong, Jinks, Trevaskis, Matthews and Hamilton. Opening Day was celebrated the following day with the now traditional procession of boats on the lake.

ZACHARIAH GILES-first winner of a Senior race and first interstate representative

Zachariah Giles with 1924 Committee members( 4th from left seated in front row)

This picture of Zachariah Giles was taken in 1924 with the committee of Ballarat City Rowing Club. He was a guest of the Ballarat Regatta committee. He was the first Ballarat City stroke to achieve Senior status and also the first to represent the club at a national level racing in the first Intercolonial boat race in Melbourne on the Saltwater River in 1873. He represented the club with distinction until 1878 when while working as a guard on the railway in Ballarat, he slipped and was run over by a wagon losing his right leg. It was a tragic end to his rowing career and he was extremely lucky not to lose his life.

One of Zachariah’s trophies came to be held in the Vizard Collection of early silver. His great granddaughter Jan Humphries came to Ballarat researching his story and found reference to him in my book “The Boys From the Rush Beds” in the local library. At the same time she also came across an auction of items from the Vizard Collection and Zac’s trophy was up for sale. She bid in the auction and won the trophy back. So in a space of 12 days she had found more information and a direct connection to her ancestor. She still has the cup in her possession.

Article from the Melbourne Herald February 1924
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