1986 First women’s Australian Championship

This season there were insufficient superlatives to cover the club’s achievements. The Annual report opened with  secretary Kate Elliott’s summary of the year.

“This is the eighth Annual Report I have prepared and each year, as I sit down to review the achievements of the past season, I am amazed at the efforts and achievements of such a relatively small group of people. Each season, particularly the last three, I have also wondered-can we possibly repeat such a magnificent effort? So far we have not only repeated but bettered the previous season’s achievements.”

The highlight of the year was the second Australian Championship won by the club with Wendy Spicer and Elizabeth Sliwa in the Women’s Senior B (Under 23) pairs. This was the first Australian Championship won by the women of the club. President Colin Angow coached the crew, devoting many early morning sessions to achieve this goal. The National Championships were in Adelaide on the new Westlakes course. Sonia Adrians also in her first season of sculling, placed second in both the Women’s Junior scull and the Schoolgirl’s scull. She was training and racing in Danny Elliott’s scull and this was an outstanding achievement at her first National Championships. The South Australian Rowing Association  did have silver medals and bronze medals for the regatta to commemorate the 150 anniversary of settlement. Kate Elliott racing in Lightweight sculls at her fifth National Championships made the final and placed 5th.The club again won three Victorian Championships. Sonia Adrians winning the Champion Junior sculls and teaming with Sharon Cassidy to win the Champion Junior pairs. Wendy Spicer and Kathy Lloyd were successful in winning the Victorian Senior B Championship.


While the men’s crews did not win Championships they certainly were moving towards that goal.Our men’s crews achieved outstanding results boating and winning our first Novice eight race for several years, our first Intermediate (maiden) four for about 17 years and our first Senior C (junior) four since 1963.The “boys” also won the prestigious Executive Challenge Cup at Australian Henley and the Old Oarsmen’s Cup at Ballarat Regatta. The crew of Tim Wise, James McKee, Andrew Rich and Russell McBeath raced brilliantly to become the only City crew other than Albie McGuire, Frank Beattie, Dave McCallum and Max Harris to win at Henley. They won back in 1947!

Coach Danny Elliott was now in his fourth year of full time coaching and had assisted our all our men to win from Novice to Senior C level winning all possible races at each level for each rower-an outstanding achievement that reflected in the number of wins per rower. In any other year the club would have easily won the men’s Junior premiership but, due to the rearrangement of classes of races and the premiership table we finished second to the much larger club Essendon Rowing Club. We finished fourth on the Senior Men’s premiership which was the  the best placing in the club’s long history. We missed out on winning our third straight women’s premiership by a mere three points-one more win and we would have done it! With a total of 59 wins for the season our win average for the past four years had been 50.This was a magnificent effort that reflected the hard work and dedication of crews and coaches alike.

Henley Men’s Intermediate four, Executive Challenge Cup. Vicki Knight(cox),Andrew Rich(str),James McKee(2),Tim Wise(3),Russell McBeath(bow)

Coxswains became a problem to find this season and we were lucky at many regattas to obtain the services of Vicki Knight of Footscray Rowing Club. Vicki steered many of our winning and almost paid the ultimate sacrifice when she suffered acute hypothermia after a particularly wet, cold, windy Ballarat Regatta. Her concerned crew carried her upstairs and plied her with blankets, hot drinks and a heater so that she could go out and do it all again! Stewart Moors, Virginia Wise, Mark Ralph and Andrew Armitage (also Footscray) also contributed to steering crews in racing and in training. Vicki is still in high demand as a cox steering crews from her home club Port Adelaide and at Master’s regattas all over Australia.

Work continued on the shed with the interior of the hall completely repainted, the kitchen washed down and repainted, a new trophy cabinet installed in the office by Albie McGuire. Wires were strung up in the hall on which decorations could be affixed minimising damage to the new paintwork.As a fund-raiser we ran a series of Craft Markets in the hall during the winter months and ran our own stall selling hotdogs and soup. These initially proved popular and successful but the monthly organising of enough stallholders to fill the hall and organise and man the club’s stall did become quite an onerous task for the secretary on top of all her other tasks.

Open Day and Christmas break-up were again celebrated together. The two new boats, the tub scull and the racing coxless pair were christened-the scull the LYNNE GIBBONS and the pair the LITTLE FELLAS.

Several Great Ballarat City bike rides were held during the Christmas break. This mainly social activity also had the added benefit of good training. Our longest ride was just over 100 kilometres. Everyone enjoyed the rides and the casualties were minimal. New members this year included Michael Rankin, Belinda and Lucinda Bilney, Michaela Murphy, Virginia Wise, Sonja Crouch, Sharon Cassidy, and Hugh McKee. Each of these new members would also make their own unique and considerable contribution to the club and this year they started their Ballarat City journey.

At the end of the season a special trophy was presented to Wendy Spicer, Liz Sliwa and Colin Angow for their achievement of being the first Australian Champion women’s crew from Ballarat and the second only National championship winners for the club. Andrew Rich was the Most Improved novice, Sonia Adrians was the Most Successful oarsperson and Tim Wise was awarded the Clubman of the Year trophy.

On Ballarat regatta days it was all hands on deck to man the food stalls and work in the kitchen. James McKee, Kathy Lloyd, Danny Elliott and Stewart Moors are pictured here cooking the unique and tasty Ballarat City hamburgers back in the days when hungry rowers would eat anything!

Winning Novice eight:Vicki Knight(cox),Russell McBeath (str),Andrew Rich(7),Peter Buenen(6)Tim Wise(5),
James McKee(4),John Lyle(3),Jamie McDonald(2),Peter Roberts(bow)
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