Today is my 20th post and I have covered briefly the development of Ballarat City Rowing Club over its first 20 years. Club affairs were on an upward trajectory.
For three years we had been winless but the new crop of maiden oarsmen were maturing and were poised to again bring home the trophies. The club was no longer in its “infancy” but had forged a proud and successful presence on Lake Wendouree and on the Australian rowing scene. Many members had departed Ballarat and moved to Melbourne and interstate but continued to follow the fortunes of the club from afar. We were on the threshold of our third decade with a solid foundation and a bright future. We had survived the economic ups and downs and the vagaries of fortune to emerge stronger and ready to take on the next phase.
Mr. Daniel Brophy was the president and Agar Wynne along with W.P.Bechervaise, C.Salter and H.S.Barret were Vice-Presidents. The secretary was Mr. Herbert Gall and the Treasurer J.B.Cameron. Mr. Cameron would later go on to found the firm J.B.Cameron that still operates in Ballarat today however no member of the Cameron family are involved in that.
The highlight of the season was the return to the victory dais with a winning crew after three winless years. The club produced a winning Maiden eight that was victorious at the Barwon Regatta. The eight was George Rayworth (stroke), H. Adair (7), H. Gullan (6), R. Petrie (5), J. Rodgers (4), G. Scott (3), R Gullan (2) and E. Smith (bow). Their success was due mainly to the coaching of club captain Mr William Bennett and vice-captain Barnes.
A Presentation Night was held in June 1890. This is the article from the Star, describing the celebration and the prizes distributed.
On Monday, August 25th the Canadian sculler William O’Connor came through Ballarat on the Adelaide Express train on his way to Sydney. He was met at the Ballarat Railway Station by Daniel Brophy, Ned Williams, W.P.Bechervaise and M. Newton representing the local rowing clubs. They had a brief conversation and wished him every success short of wresting the Championship of Australia!
O’Connor travelled to Australia in 1890 in search of the World title although he was unable to get a championship match. However he did have two races in Sydney with Jim Stanbury, who subsequently became World Champion. These were warm-up races for Stanbury before the latter’s title race.
In August 1891 O’Connor and Ned Hanlan won the world championship in the double sculls before 30,000 spectators at Burlington Beach. The course was three miles long with a turn and the opposition were Jacob Gaudaur and John McKay. The stake was $1000 a side. The victors won by four plus lengths. In June 1892 they had a match at Eire, Pennsylvania. The course was three miles with turn against George H. Hosmer (USA) and Jacob Gaudaur. This time the purse was $1500. O’Connor and Hanlan won by two feet, after a tremendous spurt, in a time of 19m.55s. Just three months later in September they lost the Championship to the same pair at Ontario Beach.
He died aged 30 on the 23rd November 1892 from typhoid fever. Popular for his stylish form, his honesty, and his friendliness, he was widely mourned.