This was a watershed year for the club. A generation of rowers had passed through and the mantle of champion oarsman passed, from the likes of Zachariah Giles, to a new crop of younger men. On the administration side of things following on from the devastating resignation of Captain Cazaly came a tragedy occurred that shook the club to its foundations also changed the club irrevocably.
That was the death of our “staunch and benevolent” president Henry Richards Caselli who had also made an immense contribution to the club and Ballarat. Despite being a very busy man he always did his best for the club and his passing was a great loss not only to the club and the whole Ballarat community. It was while fulfilling one of his other roles, that of judge for the Ballarat Yacht Club, that he caught a chill on a typical inclement day on Lake Wendouree in February and passed away two weeks later on March 1st from pneumonia. He left a lasting legacy to the whole of Ballarat with many of our iconic buildings today designed by him. The stalwart Treasurer Daniel Brophy stepped up to the Presidents role and continued to be a vital presence at the club. John Fitzgerald took on the Treasurer’s role and R.Toy the secretary’s job. Mr. W.Crampton who had been with the club since the beginning did a sterling job as club captain.
Regatta wins were well up this season with our Maiden eight taking out a double of regattas winning at Ballarat and South Melbourne (Albert Park Lake.)
The crew of J.Couper, J.Anwyl, A.Dawson, J.Pobjoy, W.Basing, G.Barker and J.Bowen were the outstanding crew of the year. At Ballarat Regatta they faced the biggest field of maiden eights ever assembled in Australia when seven crews lined up at the start. City on, Corio Bay came second followed by Electric Telegraph, Ballarat, Wendouree, Barwon and Williamstown. In the Senior fours for the Sunbury Cup the new Wendouree Club had its first win with half the crew being former Ballarat City members-W.Cazaly and P.Cazaly (junior). J.Couper, having had a win in the maiden eight also won the Junior sculls by four lengths. At the Colac Regatta in December 1885 the crew of J.Anwyl, J.Robinson, W.Robertson and A.Dawson won the senior fours.
The club’s Senior eight of J.Kitchen, J.Barnes, W.Trahar,A.McNaughtan, A.Tapper, A.Gibbs, J.Dobson and J.Byrne secured not only the win but a very unique place in the club’s history and also in Australian and world rowing history for their win at the Geelong Regatta. They won the Senior eight by the slimmest of margins, a mere two feet from Williamstown. That in itself was quite an achievement but what makes it truly amazing is that we only won that race after TWO dead heats against the same crew. This is possibly the only time in the history of eight rowing that the same race was re-rowed three times and on the third and final time the smallest of margins was enough to win. Indeed a special footnote is made in the ‘Victorian Oarsmen’ by John Lang about this particular race because it was so unique. He says in a footnote “Won by two feet after two dead heats with Williamstown. I have refrained from making notes of special races, but this one is too fine a record to pass.” I can only imagine the exhaustion of the two crews who had given it their all three times. It is a wonder they didn’t all have to be carried from the boat! In a very nice end to the story, Mr. Higgins, of South Barwon Council, was so impressed by the courage and fortitude shown by both crews, he thought Williamstown also deserved a medal and so he decided at once to present to the Williamstown rowers this beautiful Maltese Cross medal which was the equal of the prize presented to the Ballarat City crew.
Peter Cazaly was the third of nine children born to James Cazaly and his wife Elizabeth Eagles. They married in about 1826 and lived at Stoke Newington near London. James occupation was given variously as bookkeeper, agent, banker and gentleman. They arrived in Ballarat in 1856 and lived at Mt. Weatherboard. Elizabeth died in 1863 and her address then was given as Drummond Street. There is no record of James death but he wasn’t listed as a witness to her burial, which suggests he may have died earlier. James and Elizabeth’s other children were Charles, Charlotte, Henry, Owen, John, Catherine, James and Elizabeth. Catherine married William Little who was Mayor of Ballarat in 1889.
Peter was born in England about 1832 and came to Australia in about 1854. He was involved with the Kohinoor Company mine in 1860 and in 1862 is recorded as having married Eliza Waters. They had eight children the first being a son,also named Peter born in 1863.
Peter Senior was the first secretary to the Benevolent Asylum from 1868 until his retirement in 1883. In 1876 his occupation was given as music teacher and his address was Soldiers Hill.Peter was also recorded as the prime mover for the acquisition and dedication of the Alfred Bells, installed in the Ballarat Town Hall,in connnection with that “dastardly attempt” on Prince Alfred’s life.
He and his brothers James, John and Owen could justly be described as the first family of Ballarat rowing involved as they were in the very early regattas. James is listed with the leading oarsmen of the day in the ‘Victorian Oarsman’. It says of him: ‘In the opinion of many the best man on the river, either as a sculler or an oarsman. In sculling he looked a picture of strength properly applied to the propulsion of a boat.’
James was Ned Williams partner in many of the early races. James belonged to the Regatta Club which became Ballarat and later joined Melbourne rowing club when he moved to the metropolis. John rowed also and was in Ballarat City’s almost victorious Intercolonial crew in 1873 coached by brother Peter. Peter joined Ballarat City in 1873 and was the mastermind behind not only the Intercolonial four but nearly all of the club’s early outstanding successes. He wrote a guide to rowing for beginners.His son Peter junior followed in the footsteps of his famous father and uncles by coxing many of City’s early crews and later a very successful oarsman also. Son William (or Willie) was also was a very successful City oarsman often in a crew with his brother. Peter resigned as captain in October 1884. It was around this time to there was some scandal involving the Benevolent Asylum and Peter was accused of embezzling funds. Whether guilty or not the slur on his good character and the combined cavalier way in which he felt he had been treated by the rowing club would have embittered him. The family left Ballarat and moved to Melbourne where he ended his days still teaching music but had nothing more to do with rowing. He is the great uncle of the legendary Roy Cazaly.He died on the 14th of July at Montrose aged 90 and is buried in the Lilydale Cemetery. Son Peter never married and died in Seddon in 1936 aged 72.