If last season was outstanding then this season was exceptional. Having achieved the unprecedented number of 46 wins it was felt that it would be difficult to repeat such a performance. Not only did we reach that target but exceeded it with a total of 51 wins. Of this, the women scored 31 wins. This was enough to win the Women’s Champion Club Premiership again, some six points clear of Melbourne University Ladies in second place. Not to be outdone the Novice men’s crews and scullers won more races in that division than any other club and were the second top country club on the Men’s Champion Club Premiership. Again this was achieved with probably twenty or so competing rowers against clubs like Essendon and Mercantile who could boat multiple eights to our pairs and sculls. If those achievements weren’t enough, the club also won three Victorian Championships with Sonia Adrians winning the Women’s Champion Youth Scull and Kate Elliott winning double Championships in Women’s Elite and Senior A sculls. So in two years coach and Captain Danny Elliott had coached us to 97 wins. In earlier years it would have taken 10 years to reach this total.
The King’s Cup and National Regatta was held on Lake Wendouree again and for the first and probably only time the club had 100% participation rate at these Nationals. Every active rower had the opportunity to compete at some level in the National Championships. The strength of club rowing at Ballarat City and nationally was indeed at its peak. A VRA Special regatta was held at the newly designated National Rowing Centre at Carrum, next to the treatment works. There were portable toilets, no landing staging, no buoying-absolutely nothing. However the club did have the honor of winning the first ever final at the Carrum Regatta. A picture of the crew appeared in the Weekly Times. The winners of the end of season trophies presented by the committee were Most Improved Novice- Tim Wise; Most Successful Oarsperson- Kate Elliott and Club Person of the year, Peter Buenen. Danny Elliott presented a perpetual trophy this year for the most successful oarsperson.
Life member of the club Graeme Angow had a busy season as he was president of the BRA and responsible for the staging of the Nationals this year. Women’s rowing underwent a quantum leap this season when the race distance was changed from 1000m to 2000m-the same distance as the men raced. Status rules were also changed this season that initially caused confusion and consternation. This was an organizational tactic the VRA enjoyed employing every couple of years to give the illusion of progress but achieving very little. The only good thing that did come out of it was that there was now a class for Novice sculls whereas previously everyone started in racing sculls at the second level, Senior B for women and Maiden for men.
Membership increased this year and club “spirit” was at its zenith. Everybody worked so hard and spent so much time training and racing together it was very much like an extended family. Like all families there was the odd disagreement put in retrospect they seem few and far between. Maintenance work on the building continued particularly in the winter months at the Tuesday night working bees. New curtains were purchased for the hall and upstairs foyer. Treasurer Lynn Gibbon’s mum, sewed metres and metres of curtaining to re-do the entire hall and the upstairs foyer and ragged, faded curtains that had seen over twenty years service were happily consigned to the bin. Painting of the interior continued and the ceiling in the upstairs foyer was cleaned and painted as well as the partition wall in the dressing room, which had been completed. We also replaced the hall seating with 130 plastic stackable chairs and donated the eclectic mix of old kitchen chairs to the Salvos.
The club managed to find the money to buy a new Sykes fibreglass tub scull, which again proved to be invaluable for all our novice rowers. Everybody in the club learned to scull and they started in the new tub scull which was christened “Lynn Gibbons”.One of the more novel fundraisers held to help fund the scull purchase was a Fancy Dress Ball which we held upstairs in the hall organised mostly by club president Colin. The hall was decorated and of course being the ‘70’s we had a disco!
Open Day was a combined open day and Christmas Break-up. The usually highly competitive racing was held and the new training four purchased last season was christened the COLIN ANGOW in recognition of all the work done by our president. An end of season “Highlights” video was again compiled and screened by Angow Film productions as a fitting conclusion to the season. The VRA also held a Future Directions seminar that ran over an entire weekend at St. Patrick’s College in Ballarat. It was very well attended and for the first time country rowers had a real opportunity to have their voice heard.