After nearly four years back in our own home the club began again to revive its rowing fortunes. Again the catalyst to this resurgence lay with one or two key oarsmen like Alan Dixon and Bob Coutts and coach Mr. Pat Harrison who reinvigorated training. The Lake was a hive of activity this season with the Victorian Champion Eights Day in November 1961, and in the following year the King’s Cup Regatta in February 1962 and the Australian National Regatta at Easter 1962. Lake Wendouree really was the premier course in Victoria for the sixties and seventies with nearly all championship racing held here.
Also after ten years in recess the Ballarat City Ladies’ Auxiliary re-formed on November 21st 1961 and added their efforts to fund raising for the club. Membership was increasing to the best the club had had since the before the war having over sixty members on the books but with only forty of these being financial. The club did manage to repay some of the loan this season and still finish the year with a credit balance of 187 pounds. There were 15 committee meeting for the year and once again the Life members Teddy Jones, Otto Hauser and Alf Quick attended the most along with Frank Findlay, who was President for the eleventh year.
The club attended 15 regattas including winter regattas and we had 46 crews entered across the season We only scored three wins for the season. At a winter regatta the maiden pair of Bill Moore and N.Carter won. At Ballarat Regatta we won our first Junior four for many years with the crew of Alan Dixon, Mick Walsh, Peter Dalton and Bob Coutts with Teddy Jones the cox. Finally at Barwon Regatta the winning Maiden pair of Moore and Carter won the Junior pairs. The School of Mines used the shed and the club boats for the Inter-technical Schools Regatta and won. Most members of the School of Mines crew were also City members. Bill Moore and N.Carter were two of the SMB recruits.
The club also boated several Senior crews for the first time since the war and while they did not win anything they certainly were not outclassed in this strong competition and they were not frightened to “ have a go”. In December 1961, which was the start of the 1961-62 season, the club had a winning lightweight four at Upper Yarra with the crew of D. Kelso, Daryl Brown, B. Hickey and Mike Harrison. An open eight was boated at the BRA Novice Regatta and came home the winner by a comfortable margin. The crew comprised Bob Coutts, Alan Dixon, G.Leslie, N.Anderson, B.Hickey, P.Moon, and I.Weir.
To matters of maintenance and although the shed was only some eight years old it was repainted this season and the ever contentious barb wire entanglements were installed at the side gates to thwart would be fishermen, vandals and trespassers. The hall was now set up so that we could comfortably cater for 120 people for a sit down meal and dancing. This made the club one of the most popular venues in town for dinner dances and socials. Otto Hauser made the extra trestle tables for the hall. Unfortunately, I think these were thrown out in the last couple of years, in one of the “clean up” efforts of the new committee.
Sadly Mr. Stan Wilton passed away this year. He had been one of the main movers in getting the club going again after the war. He had done so much for the club as coach, committee man, Vice-president and Life Member. It was a sad loss to the club. I didn’t get to meet him, but his daughter Jan Sadler, who had married club member and club secretary Bill Sadler, wrote to me when I was researching the club history. Stan was a very quiet man who just got things done. He coached St. Patrick’s College when the club relocated over there after the fire. He coached the first winning Head of the Lake crew for St.Pat’s in 1955.This broke the drought for them as they had not had a win since 1937*. The boys thought that much of him they carried him shoulder high from the finish line to the boatshed! They also presented him with a silver tea service that Jan still had in the family. The club also recognised his service over the years with small honorariums such as a Noritake dinner set and a set of stamps which Jan still treasured. St.Pat’s were also supposed to win their 50th football Premiership this same year and they were beaten. The boarders who were rowers and footballers cleared out from the school and all ended up at Wiltons for the evening while Stan and his wife dispensed tea and sympathy.
*The winning 1937 St. Patrick’s first crew was also coached by a Ballarat City coach, Otto Hauser. He won in his first attempt at coaching a Head of the Lake crew. The crew set a new race record of 5 minutes and 41 seconds.