1883

One of the racing highlights this season was at Ballarat Regatta. It was the first time that five eights had faced the starter in a Victorian regatta. Most courses could only have two or three crews across. Our Senior eight was beaten narrowly into second place at Ballarat and also Barwon. In each race the margin was less than two feet! The crew comprised A. Gibbs, A. Topper, Jeffery, McNaughton, J. Barnes, A. Hollander, Jamieson, Trahar and Fitzgerald. Also during the day, although not part of Ballarat Regatta competition for the Draper’s Cup was held and was this year won by a crew representing Mr.Crawford’s establishment. Again it was only revisiting my notes on Ballarat Regatta that I actually read the very last paragraph of the report and found the mention of the Draper’s Cup!

Perhaps inspired by the Draper’s Union, there was also a race between the Ballarat Press and The Melbourne “Age” newspaper in June with about 500 spectators viewing the contest.Captain Cazaly kindly loaned boats for the race which the Ballarat men won! Not to be outdone the first Trades Four competiton was also held in August 1883 with six crews from various foundry’s and timber yards competing including the Phoenix Foundry and Union Foundry.

The club had two wins at Ballarat Regatta, the crew of  J. Kitchen, P. Cazaly, J. Dobson and W. Cazaly won both Maiden and Junior fours.. At Barwon Regatta they also took the double winning Maiden and Junior fours again. A presentation was made at the annual meeting by Mr. Willets, photographer, of a splendid group photo of the crew. Complaint was made by the rowing clubs this year about the exorbitant price of sending boats by rail to regattas. The cost of twenty pounds per boat being untenable for most clubs- for Ballarat clubs going away to regattas and Melbourne and Geelong crews attending Ballarat regatta.

Plain and excellent’ instructions on rowing were compiled by Peter Cazaly and posted on the boatshed noticeboard. These instructions were for intending competitors to young beginners. Given Peter’s turn of phrase it would be wonderful to have a copy of these instructions today. Sadly again no record of them exists. Captain Cazaly’s support and promotion of rowing and the Ballarat City Rowing Club were indefatigable. He proposed the holding of a Diamond Sculls of Ballarat competition to be raced for annually. He and Mr. Pobjoy of the Unicorn Hotel even collected 10 pounds towards a trophy which would be a breast pin of two crossed sculls with a diamond in each one. On every front Peter Cazaly was an amazing man who did a great deal for Ballarat in every sphere of cultural, sporting and secular life.

September 1883 the Wendouree Rowing Club was formed. Office bearers were elected on October 15th and the old Union boathouse purchased for accommodation. Wendouree Club took the name of the Lake on which they rowed and despite taking some of the Ballarat’s Clubs best oarsmen, the new Wendouree Club did little in its first year not winning a race. As a consequence at the start of 1884 there were three clubs side by side on the foreshore of Lake Wendouree.

About this time the lake was reported to be full to overflowing with water running across the promenade near City’s boatshed. The weeds were continuing to be a problem and impeding all forms of boating. The Council was accused of penny-pinching and not expending sufficient money to get the reeds cut down regularly. Cr.Claxton urged his fellow councillors to action stating that without the lake its many attractions drawing visitors to the town, many businesses would just close down. Interesting that some issues never go away!

At the end of the season on June 7th the City Rowing Club entertained at Antcliffe’s Hotel, Mr.Ned Hanlan, Champion Sculler of the World. Mr. Hanlan was on an extensive tour from his home on Toronto Island, Lake Ontario, Canada. He evidently found Lake Wendouree and the commodious City boatshed most pleasing. He also gave a demonstration of rowing on the Lake and probably fired the imaginations of a generation of young oarsmen much like the Olympic and World Champion rowers of today inspire our aspiring athletes. Ned Hanlan’s influence on world rowing cannot be understated. Not only was he world champion but he was the first modern sculler and introduced so many elements of technique and changes to boats and oars that are still in use today.

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