1940 World War 2 impacts

The 69th Annual Meeting was held on the fifth of September. Mr. C. H. Bunce stated that with the co-operation of all members and with an excess of assets over liabilities of 4466 pounds, rowing could be kept alive. Despite increasing difficulties the club’s position was sound. Membership had increased over the last season and the finances were satisfactory.

The following office-bearers were elected for this season. Mr. C. H. Bunce took the job of president for the 11th year in succession. The Vice-presidents were Messrs A.W. Bennett, C. N. Tulloch, G. Vickery, J. Lawrie, J. McLeish, N. Wood, J. Bickart, T. C. Edwards and T. J. Stevens. Mr. T. C. Edwards also took the role of club captain and treasurer demonstrating once again his invaluable contribution to the club. Mr. M. Matthews was the assistant secretary and the committee Messrs A. Bannister, J. O’Donnell, C. Phillips, J. Reilly, J. Rapkins, H. Reilly and D. Seddon. A selection committee was also elected although they would not have much work to do over this time.

The re-painting of the boathouse had also been completed. Mr. Bunce made an appeal to old members to support the club in the new season and carry on the work of the enlisted men. He requested members to take extra care of boats, as they were now unobtainable with boat-builders having been absorbed into defence work by the Government.

On the rowing side the club had done well in early regattas securing placings in a number of events but no wins were recorded. Despite so many rowers enlisting Ballarat Regatta this year was the biggest since 1915. It was billed as the Patriotic Aquatic Carnival and raised 1000 pounds for the Patriotic Fund. Thousands of spectators thronged the shores to witness the racing and partake of the numerous entertainments. View Point was the focus for all activity where the “glorious umbrageous trees” provide shade and shelter for refreshment tents and stalls selling all manner of goods to raise funds for the Red Cross, Australian Comfort Fund. A further 2000 visitors attended the regatta as part of the Railway Picnic which still coincided with the regatta.

Those attending the regatta were amused and entertained by a watery spoof staged by the Yacht Club. The Sinking of the GRAF SPEE (a German warship) involved the decorating of an old boat with cardboard funnels and guns giving a humorous imitation of the original ship. She was “sunk ingloriously” amid clouds of smoke while her vanquishers sailed around the Point in triumph. Decorated boats featured for the first time in many years, with the judge, Mr. Vic Greenhalgh awarding an equal first prize to Crockers Venetian boat and Harry Davies Britannia entries. The Regatta Girl Competition was huge with 30-40 well dressed young ladies vying for the sash. This was reduced to 12 finalists by the judges and the winner was Miss Ena Sullivan.

Although the entries were somewhat reduced in number, some 360 oarsmen, there were many close finishes. The closest race was in the Senior eights where Albert Park triumphed over Richmond by ¼ of a length with Melbourne about ¾ of a length adrift. The biggest margin of the day was a whopping 8 lengths in the Maiden pairs with the Wendouree crew untroubled by Corio Bay and Wendouree No.2 crew.

The largest field was in the Maiden fours with 14 crews facing the starter. Ballarat City were the early leaders with Banks taking over the front running about mid-way. As the race reached View Point there were still four crews in striking distance of the lead with less than a length covering all four. The final result was Banks first by half a length, Barwon second and Hawthorn and Ballarat City equal third.

For the forthcoming season it was recommended that the BRA novice regatta be continued but that there would be no further interstate rowing for the duration of the War. The Melbourne Old Oarsmen’s Association donated trophies for inter-club races and that would be something to carry on with. The club would make every effort to carry on rowing and have the club functioning and in order for the enlisted men on their return. Thirteen new members nominated.

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