1897

The new Ballarat Rowing Association (previously the Ballarat Regatta Association) was formed and its rules adopted. At the annual meeting it was decided unanimously to join the association. The club’s first delegates to the BRA were Dr.Champion, Mr. I. Coulter and   Mr. A. A. O’Dea.

The annual Meeting was held at Newton’s Hotel in Sturt Street with Dr. Champion in the chair. While the club did not record many successes at regattas this season it was able to report steady growth both in memberships and financially. This season was also significant in that the level of the lake was very low thus making training and racing difficult. It was stated in the report that the level was lower than any other time in its history since the channel had first been cleared in 1861 to allow the pursuit of aquatic activities. The water was so low that the holding of Ballarat Regatta looked to be in jeopardy but rain must have fallen or the level did not drop any lower as the regatta went ahead as usual in March and was by all accounts very successful. The low water level while causing concern and practical difficulties did have a positive side. It allowed the City Council to form and clear a new channel, which gave the rowers a good course in any weather.

Regatta wins in 1897 were not numerous however the club almost had a win at Ballarat Regatta with the Maiden eight. They raced and dead-heated with the Ballarat Rowing Club crew on the Friday and then had a re-row the following Monday which the Ballarat crew won. Then at Geelong Regatta we scored our only win in the Maiden Eights with the same crew of: W.Cotter, Graham Coulter,W. Caldwell,T. Watson,A. Allender,A. A. O’Dea, J.Hamilton,Charles Suffren stroke and W. Jenkins coxswain. This came at the end of the regatta racing season and thus augered well for a good start to racing for 1889 with eight new oarsmen already scoring wins.

The President this year was Dr.Champion with Vice-presidents Dr.Lalor, J.N.Dunn- MLA, L.Phillips and E.Shew.The membership doubled this season with 88 members listed on the roll as opposed to 43 members listed the previous season. Financially the club finished the season with a credit balance of 17 pounds and 19 shillings-a great improvement on last season’s debit balance and in part due to the increased number of subscriptions. Membership for the next season also looked promising as 64 nominations were received and accepted at the Annual meeting. The following donations were promised for the Scratch Fours to be held in October-R.Shew, J. Tulloch, M. Newton and Dr. Champion 2 pounds 2 shillings each, Mr. R. Toy-1 pound 1 shilling and Messrs. Grey and Hawthorne 10 shillings and 6 shillings each.

The club purchased three new racing boats this season. One of these was an eight to replace the one that had been destroyed by fire! The naming of the new boats was left in the hands of the committee. The three boats were christened THE SHEW, THE CHAMPION and THE PHILLIPS by the Mayoress Mrs Elliott.

Mr. Ned Williams departed Ballarat this year for Adelaide. Despite his sometimes bombastic nature he was still the ‘grand old man’ of Ballarat rowing. He had been there in the very beginning and he was still furthering the interests of rowing some thirty-four years later. The Annual report stated that his going would be a severe loss to the club as he was a Life member and Patron.

Article from the Star newspaper about the boat christening
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