The office bearers this season were again Mr. Caselli, president: Mr Emerson Baylee, secretary: Mr.Daniel Brophy, treasurer: Mr Peter Cazaly, captain and Mr. W. L. Matthews his lieutenant. The committee comprised Messrs. W. Hogan, L. Clark, J. FitzGerald, L. Flegeltaub, W. Dawson, F. Baker, Arthur Gibbs, H. Oyston and O. Turnbull
This was the best season so far in terms of winning races-the club winning three races, one at each of the three regattas. The club also bought home a Grand Challenge cup. Captain Cazaly would have been greatly edified by this proud achievement. The cup competed for and won was the Geelong Grand Challenge Cup . The Grand Challenge Cup was won for the third time by the crew of Messrs. Gibbs, Tregaskis, Fitzgerald and Dawson. Mr. Gibbs had stroked the crew in the four competitions for the cup and on securing victory for the third time secured the cup for the club in perpetuity. The wins were in 1876,1877 and 1878. The same four also won the Senior fours race at Ballarat and Mr. Gibb also won the Maiden Scull at Melbourne Regatta and
The rowing season opened with an intra club scratch eights competition with the successful crew being Messrs Hogan, Turnbull, Sutton, Mitchell, Kift, McGavan, Summerscales and McIntosh with P.Cazaly cox. A challenge was issued to this crew by the Ballarat eight and victory again favoured Hogan’s crew. The Ballarat Club had loaned extra boats for the scratch eights. As can be seen by the picture the quality of trophies for scratch racing was on a par with trophy for a regatta. Scratch fours were also held through the season with twenty crews, 80 oarsmen, competing for prizes donated by the officers of the club. Here the victorious crew was Barnes, Ogilby, Reeve and Campbell.
On May 14th a dinner and presentation was held in honour of J. W. Graham the founder of the Ballarat City Rowing Club. It was held at Brophy’s Hotel where Mr. Graham was presented with the following address, written very neatly, by Mr. J. H. Webb:
To J. W. Graham Esq.
We the undersigned members and ex-members of the City rowing club and friends have much pleasure in begging your acceptance of this address as a slight recognition of the valuable services rendered by you as founder of the above club, and also, as its esteemed captain during several years. We cordially wish you a prosperous future and trust that we may still enjoy for many years to come, the advantage of your ready help in furthering all schemes tending to the progress and well being of Ballarat and its citizens,
H. R. Caselli, P. Cazaly, D. Brophy, G. J. Dow, F. Hughes, W. G. Dawson, W. Bennett (junior), W. T. Kelly, J. A. W. Miller, J. Vallins, W. Evans, J. Armstrong, R. Hennah, J. Josephs, T. Cowan, H. B. Chalmers, R. Lewis.
The address was accompanied with a gold watch bearing the following inscription – ‘Presented to Mr. J. W. Graham, founder of the City Rowing Club by members and ex-members, Ballarat 26th May 1879.’
Not everyone was happy about this however! This letter was sent to the editor of the Star newspaper from someone at Corio Rowing Club-maybe a former member of the club who moved to Geelong.
At the Annual Meeting the club colours were again changed to make them more distinguishable from a distance. It had become the custom in England for rowing crews to wear colored uniforms at regattas-a custom now followed in Melbourne and Geelong, instead of the usual white pants and shirts with different colour caps to denote the crews. The committee decided to order from “home” an outstanding ensemble consisting of a shirt in horizontal amber and black stripes three inches wide. Certainly the crews would have resembled a colony of waterborne bees especially when out in force. It was hoped that the resplendent new uniforms would arrive in time for the Sydney Exhibition Regatta in November, it being the intention of the club to send a four- oared outrigger crew to compete for the 200-pound amateur prize.
Plans were also in hand to increase the boat storage area and build a new dressing room right along the whole of the north side. Eighteen new members were proposed and the Geelong Grand Challenge Cup was presented to Captain Peter Cazaly in recognition of his driving force behind the three wins that secured the cup for the club.
Sadly this year saw the first fatality for the club on the lake. On Tuesday November 5th,a holiday, four young men of the club, obtained a pair-oared boat from Ballarat City and left the shed about 3 pm. There was much activity on the lake and it was a calm and splendid afternoon. They attracted some attention as the boat was only meant to carry two oarsmen and a coxswain. The extra man weighted down the boat allowing water to come in over the front of the boat. Some light-hearted banter was entered into with passing fisherman and picnic parties. About half way across to the gardens the drama began to unfold with cries of “Help!” and “We’re sinking!” heard by the many fishing parties moored amid the rushes. Unfortunately, they were a bit slow in their response to the distress calls and the first boat to the scene manned by Mr. Kennedy of the City Hall Hotel found the boat upturned and Casey and Akins keeping themselves afloat by her. Of Williams and Priesig there was no sign. Despite the best efforts of the increasing crowd of rescuers, the two men had drowned in about five feet of water-neither of them could swim a stroke. Captain Cazaly stated that the club’s rules provided that “not more than three person shall be allowed in a pair oared boat under a fine of 1 pound on the first offence and expulsion from the club on the second.” Unfortunately Williams and Priesig would never have the benefit of having these rules applied.