1938 Centenary Ballarat.1 is better than 0!

Last season’s poor showing at regattas was somewhat redeemed by the performance of the Senior pair of Blaikie and Aley in the State Championship. This season there was no highlight like this to redeem the regatta results. Due to the loss of good members to other centres the club recorded one solitary win at the very end of the season when we had a winning Maiden four at Bairnsdale Regatta. Membership numbers remained static with the losses being replaced by some promising novices. The club continued to manage a credit balance despite the large amounts expended on building and equipment. The club finished with a credit balance of 20 pounds and an overdraft of 150 pounds in the Boat and Building account. During the season 442 pounds had been spent on boats and 200 pounds on replacing the jetty. Cotter James, who had begun his career at City as a coxswain and eventually had become secretary, this year, became our delegate to the Victorian Rowing Association. He had moved to Melbourne for employment and became a member of Essendon Rowing Club. He re-kindled his long association with the club by becoming our representative at VRA meetings. Ever diligent, Cotter provided the club with excellent periodical reports.

Although the club sent crews to Henley, Colac, Upper Yarra, Footscray, Barwon, Ballarat, Sale and Bairnsdale we had just one winning crew being the Maiden four of H. Barclay, S. Tait, K. Keith and H. Reilly with W. Jenkins the cox and T. J. Stevens the coach. For this we scored four points on the VRA Junior Premiership. At the  Ballarat Novice Regatta we placed second and third in the Novice fours thus finishing with equal points to Wendouree,who won the event. As they had the winning boat they were awarded the premiership! An Aquatic Carnival was held at Lake Learmonth and two City members raced in the winning Combination four-J. Rapkins and H. Reilly.

Ballarat Regatta was called the Centenary Regatta to celebrate the centenary of the settlement of Ballarat. The Centenary Regatta produced an upsurge in interest in the regatta with there being the greatest number of entries in its history exceeding even the greatest number of entries for Henley on the Yarra by 50! Oarsmen, young and old, came from all over the State. There was a marked increase in the attendance of the general public too, perhaps due to other Centenary celebrations that were running concurrently. Racing this year was very keenly contested and there were many close finishes. The “principal” novelty this year was the introduction of sideshows with an Amusement Park on View Point, Highland dancing display and a Punch and Judy Show. A Ballarat Old Oarsmens’ Association was formed towards the end of the season in an effort to keep the interest and input of older members who were no longer actively competing. They held the inaugural dinner after Ballarat Regatta. Many old City members were there including former club Captain A.McNaughtan from the 1870’s.

Otto Hauser and W. Holden were responsible for repairs to boats and oars and keeping the fleet in good order. The old jetty was replaced with a very substantial new jetty constructed of red gum and jarrah. This cost the club 200 pounds and alleviated the need for repairs for a considerable number of years. Most of the original posts are still holding up the jetty today.

A bus was chartered to take members to Bairnsdale. Fifteen members took up the opportunity and all had an enjoyable stay. Transport of boats to regattas again had the spotlight. The only really convenient and affordable method of transport being by bus. However the Transport Board were making things difficult by making clubs obtain a permit to carry boats on top of the bus. These were not readily granted. In order to get to Bairnsdale Regatta the club had to ask Mr. T. T. Holloway M.L.A for Gippsland to intercede on the club’s behalf. It was noted that the VRA needed to take action to assist clubs travelling to regattas.

The Social Committee and the Ladies Committee continued to provide vital support to the club. The weekly dances now held in the club hall over summer were immensely popular and added significant amounts to the club’s income. Mr. Joe Bickart continued as president of this committee and was also elevated to the ranks of the benedicts this year, as were Bob Aley and E. Cockburn. The Novice of the Year trophy was won by Mr. Harry Barclay.

During the centenary celebrations the boatshed was decorated with flowers in a decorative scheme designed by A. J.C. Desnoy. Mr. Malcolm Matthews was the secretary this season.


Winner Maiden four, Bairnsdale Regatta, 1938
Bow: H. L. Barclay, S. K. Tait, K. D. Reilly, stroke: H. J. Reilly, cox: W. Jenkins

The start of the “Dick Mitchell” Maiden eights race at the 1938 Ballarat Regatta. There were 10 eights started. The race was won by Ballarat Rowing Club. Photograph courtesy Ballarat Historical Society.
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