This year the boatshed was edging nearer to completion. Members had lined and painted the inside of the shed upstairs and down. The outside had been painted upstairs but still had to have the coat of render applied downstairs. Eight long years of long, and a lot of time and energy by a core group of members to achieve this goal but there must have been times when it seemed it would never end. It is a tribute to the club’s leadership and to the loyalty and effort of members and social committee members that the club did indeed rise from the ashes like “Phoenix”.
All this effort on the building did take a toll on rowing activities and from 1956, regatta wins declined significantly. Although the club attended nine regattas, we only scored just one win at Ballarat Regatta in the Novice fours with Daryl Brown, B. Kinnersley, D. Schmidt and Alan (Slim) Dixon. The regatta was held on the old mile course and while rowing authorities thought the Olympic course was best and fairest for racing the was no doubt that the amenities and the atmosphere at the boatsheds and View Point were better appreciated by the public. The Maiden eights race fielded ten crews across the Lake. The starter had to start them three times because of clashes. Obviously coxswains had become unused to starting in a race with any more than five other crews. To my knowledge this is the last time the old course was used. Five of the Italian Olympic rowing team returned to Ballarat and signed up with the club. I’m sure members had high hopes of them sharing their training and coaching ideas and raising the standard of rowing at the club. The members were R. Campficto, D. Deterio, A. Rucco, J. Costa and E. Depaoli.
Veteran coach and coxswain Teddy Jones was much in demand by other clubs and this year he coxed a number of winning crews in Championship races most notably steering the winning crew in the inaugural Australian Lightweight fours Championship. The Victorian crew for the first Penrith Cup crew was from Albert Park Rowing Club. The race was held on the Nepean River in Sydney and Victoria won the Penrith Cup by 3 feet. So the diminutive Teddy Jones, Life Member and Vice-President, cox and coach for more than 30 years, great worker and supporter of Ballarat City Rowing Club, became and Australian Champion! My best guess is that he would have been about 60 years of age and this was the very first Australian Championship win by a City member. Apparently the club gave some money to Teddy to help him travel to the National Championships- a fact that caused some dissention among some members because he wasn’t actually representing the club. Despite his massive contribution, more recent members couldn’t see past their own very limited point of view. Sadly petty jealousies are still part and parcel of club politics.
The Social Committee continued going from strength to strength with a credit balance in the Social Club account of 2399 pounds. They were still running the weekly dances at the Town Hall as the hall at the shed wasn’t finished and wasn’t big enough! The boatshed hall was, however, in much demand for different functions and was proving a great asset to the club. The Championships of the Table Tennis Association were held there and were a great success. The revenue from hall hire this year was 268 pounds. Again it highlights the great work done by the Social Committee and all members, just how popular and well supported the weekly dances were by the whole Ballarat community. The club had been running dances since the 1930’s and reached the peak of its popularity in the 1950’s providing a social venue for the citizens of Ballarat for all this time. Many a budding romance was started at the Ballarat City dance! Members volunteered their time to set up each Saturday, sell soft drinks, man the cloak room and finally clean up every Sunday morning and polish the floor. When the dances were held at the boatshed, it meant a lot of hard work for a small core group of members and when it was hired out for a function, again members had to do all the work of setting up and cleaning up.
Note: For those of you wondering, the reason 1958 was a very good year, is because it is the year I was born!