1937 Empire Games selection

Socially and financially the club continued on the up and up. On the rowing side things were not advancing so pleasingly. The highlight of the season was the performance of the pair of W.Blaikie and R.Aley who finished second to Melbourne University in the Champion Pairs of Victoria, improving one place from their third of last season. This gave us two points on the Senior Premiership for the first occasion in many years. It also resulted in Bob Aley being selected as a candidate for the Australian Empire Games crew. The Empire Games later became the Commonwealth Games and rowing was no longer included in the program. Mr. Aley was the only Ballarat City rower to ever be selected to trial for the Empire Games. We had only one scoring win at Barwon Regatta with a Maiden pair comprising Gordon Henderson and Ken Keith with Bill Jenkins Cox. We finished in equal last place with Eaglehawk R.C on the VRA premiership.

At least with the club hitting the bottom of the premiership ladder , the only way to move from here was up. We missed out on a couple of potential wins early in the season when Colac Regatta was abandoned due to rough conditions-an event that repeated itself with monotonous regularity.At some regattas we had only one crew entered with the exception being, as always, Barwon and Ballarat. Despite boating a Maiden eight, a Senior pair, a Junior pair, two Maiden pairs, a Maiden four, a Lightweight four and a lightweight pair we still could not score a win.

The Ballarat Novice Regatta was our most successful day out when we won the Maiden eight and Novice fours thus securing the aggregate for the day’s racing. Club racing was held for trophies donated by C. H. Bunce, Joe Bickart, E. W. Jenkins, W. Mong, W. Mansfield and P. Larmer. Opening day saw the first of the club races with the Ladies’ Nomination pairs being won by E. Williams and Stan Wilton. Then followed the auspicious occasion of the christening of five new boats. The boats had been bought for the club by the Social Committee for a cost of 170 pounds. The ceremony was, as was usually the case, ably carried out by Mrs. Bunce. She broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the bows and christened the practice eight the T. J. STEVENS; the practice fours-the BOB ALEY and the OTTO HAUSER and the practice sculls-the BILL BATES and the A. J. WILSON.A dainty afternoon tea was then served to members and friends in the ballroom. A sixth boat was added to the fleet later in the season. Purchased from Ballarat Grammar it was named the A. J. C. DESNOY.

The Social Committee were no longer running the dance at St. Patrick’s Hall but started a series of dances at the Masonic Hall. Joe Bickart still led the committee. During the winter the club again held Sports nights for members and friends and it was reported that all had an enjoyable time.

Travelling to regattas had long been a difficult exercise from the amount of time and cost involved. The practice of borrowing boats was time-honoured but meant that crews had to race in an unfamiliar boat. Train transport had become increasingly expensive and once the boat reached its destination it still had to be carried or wheeled on a hand trolley to the riverbank or lakeside. Then you had to race. This is probably half the reason that Ballarat crews traditionally did so well at Ballarat Regatta. They weren’t exhausted by the effort of getting there first. This season Mr. K. McKenzie made a frame that could be fitted on to a bus. It was trialed on the trip to Barwon Regatta. It was deemed a success and for the cost of 16 pound would in the future alleviate the financial burden that rail freighting boats to regattas placed on the club.

Winners Barwon Regatta, Maiden Pairs, 1937.Cox, W. Jenkins; stroke, G. Henderson; bow, Ken Keith

W.Blaikie and R. (Bob) Aley, W.Jenkins (cox) second place Victorian Champion Pairs 1937.

Club members Otto Hauser, A.J.C.Desnoy and Acey Wilson from Ballarat City who coached the 1st,2nd,3rd and 4th crews from St. Patrick’s College to victory in 1937. The club was responsible for providing all the coaches for the winning crews that year.

Otto Hauser coached the first crew to a win in Head of the Lake race and the crew set a new course record of 5 minutes and 41 seconds. This was their first win for seven years.

1.Mr.C.H.Bunce,president of the Ballarat City Rowing Club and the Ballarat Rowing Association, Lord Huntingfield and Mayor, Mr.M.Martin at the Lake in 1937 for Ballarat Regatta.

2. Mr. Harry Bunce and Miss “Nellie” Walsh on the jetty of the Ballarat City Rowing Club at a Ballarat Regatta in the late 1930’s.

3. Mr. C.H.Bunce as judge at Ballarat Regatta and unknown assistant at the finish line of a pair-oared race.

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