It is worth starting this year’s summary with a description of Ballarat Regatta, Monday March10th, where the club won four out of the ten races on the day. This included the Senior fours race for the inaugural Sunbury Cup. The crew stroked by Arthur Gibbs with J. Fitzgerald, F. Tregaskis and William Dawson with F. Dawson as cox. The cup was the gift of the Honourable W.J.Clarke, MLC, and was valued at 20 pounds ($200). It was to be competed for annually and required to be won three times by the same club in order for them to keep the cup for perpetuity. The club was also successful winning the Maiden fours with M.Hogan, R.A. Strachan, A.McNaughtan and E.Baylee.
Mr.Arthur Gibbs added to his Senior four trophy by winning the Senior and Junior sculls making him the most successful oarsman at the regatta. It also made him the club’s most successful oarsman this season.
Ballarat Regatta of 1879 marked the beginning of 36 consecutive annual Ballarat regattas until 1915 and the outbreak of World War 1. This sustained run of regattas, uninterrupted by drought or disaster, built the reputation and standing of Ballarat Regatta. As can be seen from the advertisement the regatta was graced by the presence of the Marquis of Normanby. Given the local populace’s interest in anything royal, this was sufficient inducement for subscribers to support a full rowing program plus a yacht race. With good prize money offered, a public half-holiday granted and a royalty in attendance, the regatta was again a great attraction to the public and rowers alike. The prize money was excellent with the Maiden pairs being trophies to the value of 10 pounds; Junior fours-16 pounds; Maiden eights 32 pounds and Senior eights 40 pounds. The wind and the weather on the day were both favourable with the breeze being sufficient for the sailing race but not enough to make it too rough for the rowing. The lake was dotted with steamers, sailing and rowing craft from noon until sundown. The regatta was an unqualified success and some 7000 people flocked to the shores of Lake Wendouree, the greatest attendance at any Ballarat Regatta to date.
At Geelong Regatta the Senior four of W. Dawson, F. Tregaskis, J. Fitzgerald and A. Gibbs won the Grand Challenge Cup. This was the third time the club had won and the trophy came home to Ballarat. It was the second of the two major Challenge cups won this year that would have been placed very proudly in the new club’s trophy cabinet alongside the Sunbury Cup. A.Gibbs also won the Junior Sculls at the Melbourne Regatta.
The inaugural Colac regatta was held this year on Lake Colac and Ballarat City attended, winning the race for Any Four-oared Boat! Our successful four was William Dawson, A.McNaughton, J.Fitzgerald and of course Arthur Gibbs. This race is listed in John Lang’s Victorian Oarsman.
This took the total of wins for the season to seven and of those seven, Arthur Gibbs had been instrumental in winning six! He was indeed the gun stroke and a great sculler and joined Zachariah Giles one of City’s most successful strokes in this first decade.
During this season the club expended 180 pounds (roughly equivalent of $18,000) on boats adding one racing clinker eight, one racing clinker four and one racing outrigger four considered to be the best model of colonial workmanship yet made. The boats were built by Mr. Charles Messenger and were light and strong and fast, although obviously the crew that rowed them had some little effect on speed! In order to pay for the new boats the club again held their Annual Concert.