1926 Third in Junior Premiership

This year was a very successful year with the club scoring multiple wins at several regattas. Most notable was Colac Regatta. After the debacle of last year with our crews sinking due the extremely rough conditions, this year the club was the most successful club on the day winning four out of the six events on the program. All this success lead to third place on the VRA Junior premiership, just three points behind the winners, Hawthorn Rowing Club. The Wendouree Rowing Club won the Senior premiership this year and were congratulated on their achievement in the annual Report. This was the era of Jopling and Todd who won multiple championship races for Wendouree.

Just prior to the end of 1925, at the VRA Regatta, the Junior pair of Otto Hauser and H.Skilbeck with T.Salmon (cox) was successful in bringing home the trophies. At the Maiden regatta the club’s representatives were a Maiden eight and pair. The Maiden eight raced exceptionally well only to be beaten in the final by the Hawthorn eight by the barest of margins-2 feet! If only we had won that may have been enough to win the premiership!

Colac Regatta was next and turned out to be a Ballarat City benefit as the club won four races. Happily the Maiden eight that lost by such a slim margin at the previous regatta turned the tables and carried off the trophy winning in fine style. The crew were A. Browne, Frank Findlay, A. Quayle, R. Budge, R. Blakely, J.Blakely Alf Dixon and A. Chibnall with Teddy Jones the Cox. The winning Junior four were L. Johnson, Jack Lawrie, and N. Hullick and stroked by Otto Hauser with Cotter James the cox. Otto Hauser had a busy day as he also teamed up with Carl Ehms to win the Junior pair.The lightweight Maiden four of F. Moon, J. Townsend, L. O’Neil and J. Moran won the final race with Cotter James cox. At Upper Yarra we were represented by a Junior and Maiden four and pair and a Lightweight four. The maiden pair of A. Quayle and F. Findlay won their event. At Albert Park regatta the same crews attended with the Maiden pair scoring the double win.

Ballarat Regatta proved to be the highlight of the season with one of our biggest entries for many years. The club entered a Junior eight, two Junior fours, a Junior pair, Maiden eight, two Maiden fours, a Lightweight Maiden pair plus Junior and Maiden scullers. Despite such a large entry, only four crews made their finals but not one was able to break through for a win. Barwon Regatta followed with most of the crews that had entered for Ballarat racing and again none of them could score a single win. The Easter regattas at the end of the season were Sale and Bairnsdale and the club was able to end the season on a high note with our Maiden four winning the double. The four were R (Bob) Budge, F. James, W. Blaikie, and H. Gronn with A. Gercovich cox. The Ballarat Novice Regatta was a popular and successful regatta. The club recorded a first and a third in the Novice fours event and secured the Novice premiership for the fourth year in succession. Our Maiden eight and pair also scored wins at this regatta. The number one Novice four was W. Atkinson, C. Bates, A. McLeish and F. James.

Only two club races were held this season being the club fours won by Joe Bickart, F. Brown, E. Lister and N. Hullick. The other race was the Jack Walker Memorial scratch pairs won by A. Dixon and A. Browne. The majority of the coaching load for the season of regatta crews was done by Mr. J.A.Wilson. The fleet was improved by the addition of a new racing four and ten new oars. Mr. Hazelgrove and Mr. G.Eaton with the assistance of club members sanded and varnished all the boats during the winter.

This practice of winter working bees almost every week during winter, were carried on right until the 1970’s. I can remember attending them in Ballarat’s freezing winter and patching and repairing boats and varnishing. I might add I was the first and only female to attend these working bees. The older blokes were very tolerant of an enthusiastic but very unskilled assistant. I seem to remember they were all very skilled tradesmen mostly and could turn their hand to any repair or maintenance job that needed doing, saving the club much time and money.

Winners Maiden four Double, Sale/Bairnsdale Regatta, 1926
Bow: R. Budge,2;F. James.3;W. Blaikie
,stroke, H. Gronn, cox: A. Gercovich

Winners Maiden eights, Colac regatta 1926.
Bow: R. Blakely, J. Blakely, A. Dixon, A. Chibnall, A. Browne, F. Findlay, A. Quayle, stroke R. Budge, cox; T.Salmon

The photo of the eight was donated to the club by Mr. Bob Budge, stroke of the crew. In the late 1970’s he contacted the club and Danny and I arranged to visit him. He had retired and lived at Sunways just around the lake. He had this photo which is now hanging at the boatshed and also an engraved silver cutlery set that he had won in scratch racing at the club. Unfortunately, I hadn’t yet started recording trophy finds by taking a photograph so my recollection is a little dim. Like many of the trophies given out for club racing, I wonder what happened to them. Sadly many end up in second-hand shops with nobody giving a thought as to their origin.

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