During the early 1900’s both the older rowing clubs of Ballarat went through a downturn of memberships and regatta wins. Wendouree Rowing Club however, was only 20 years old in 1904 having been formed in 1884. The younger rowing club was enjoying far more on water success. All three clubs were also finding it difficult to remain competitive with the metropolitan clubs with their much greater resources. There were also about twice was many clubs competing at regattas and it was much more difficult to make the winners podium. Melbourne club’s like Albert Park and Mercantile were very strong around this time with many notable oarsmen competing for them –P.C.Ivens, A.B.Sloan and H.C.Brasch of Mercantile; the C. Donald, who started his rowing in Ballarat and A.Chamley of Albert Park were the dominant in the first decade of the 1900’s.

At the Annual meeting in August the report opened with congratulations to the members for a most successful year “both aquatically and financially, the one exception being regatta rowing; and when you take into consideration the fact that your crews were to great extent composed of novices, the position occupied by them in various races during the year was very satisfactory, and is a good indication of the successes that may be achieved in this department during the coming season.”!In fact for the B.R.A. novice regatta there were barely enough rowers to fill the two eights for the competition. Club scratch racing and local racing was still very significant part of the club’s racing activity due to the difficulty and expense of travelling to other metropolitan and country regattas. The Australian Henley Regatta was held for the first time this year on 19th of March. Over 100,000 spectators came to watch. Ballarat City sent a crew down but being chiefly novices, although they performed well they did not win any races. Coaches for all crews were John McPhail and Mr.D.Robertson.

The following officers were elected:-Vice Presidents, I.Coulter, J.A.Chalk, J.Hope-Jones, Jas Tulloch, E.Shew,Dr.Champion. Patrons were the whose who of Ballarat:-M.Newton, H.Adair, F.G.Haymes, J.P.Murray, F.Herman, J.E.B.Millington, J.M.Kerby,Majors A.W.Bennett and Bolton and Captain Trahar. Mr. Honan replaced Mr.E.Shew who had been president for the last season. C.H.Bunce continued as secretary.An evening of songs and recitations followed the meeting with many toasts and the presentation of a photo of the Novice four by Mr. Graham Coulter.

 On January 22nd a Water Carnival on a grand scale was held to raise funds in aid of local charities. Due to the inclement weather it was not a success. Another smaller carnival initiated by the three clubs was held later and raised a small amount of money that was handed over to charity. At the Carnival there were prizes given for the best decorated four and eight oared boat. Ballarat City secured the first prize in both categories.

Ballarat Regatta this year was an exceptionally rough day with racing not able to commence until late afternoon. Luckily the Regatta Association had funds in hand from the previous year to make up for the losses of this season.

Master S. McAdam won the trophy for the most successful cox having steered nine winning crews and was presented with a gold medal. Master O. McPhail was runner up steering seven winning crews. Steering crews for club racing obviously counted on the point score for most successful cox.

During the year the jetty in front of the shed was repaired and owing to the high level of the lake it was necessary to put down false jetties on those facing the lake.

Vice-president Jas. Tulloch presented the club with a new flagpole. Mr. N. Victor who had gone to South Africa at the end of the Boer War was welcomed back to the club and congratulated on his safe return.

A.W.Bennett circa 1919

%d bloggers like this: