Ballarat City was once again “to the fore” in rowing activities finishing this season with the third National Championship win in three years. James McKee won the Champion Senior B Sculls of Australia taking our tally to four Australian Championships .The outstanding success of the club last season really galvanised the metropolitan clubs into action and so the competition for the Premierships was considerably greater. Despite this the club still had the second most successful season on record with 76 wins recorded. While this was again a magnificent effort by an even smaller group of rowers than last season it meant that we were unable to take out back-to-back premierships. The men finished a creditable equal fourth with Melbourne University on the Champion Club premiership and the women came second just behind Melbourne University Ladies Rowing Club. We were by far and away the most successful country club being 16 points clear of the nearest country club and with the combined men’s and women’s total, some 50 wins ahead of the country opposition.
The club won a total of five Victorian Championships. Kate Elliott won back-to-back Lightweight sculling Championships. James McKee and Tim Wise scored a quinella the Champion Senior C Sculls placing first and second respectively. Sonja Crouch won the Junior Sculls and teamed with Michaela Murphy to win the Junior Pairs. Tim Wise and James McKee also paired up to win for the second time the Sprint Pairs Championship at Footscray Regatta.
At probably the most dismal King’s Cup and National Regatta in history held at Penrith on the Nepean River, the only highlight was James McKee’s win in the Australian Champion Senior B sculls. Once again we loaded up the trailer, hooked up the Chev and drove up to Sydney. Danny did all of the driving.The small band of rowers battled continual rain and a rising flood on the Nepean to put in creditable performances-Tim Wise in his first season as a lightweight, fought through to the final of the Lightweight sculls which was the most competitive field on the program. Kate Elliott made her fifth National final but finished just outside the medals in fourth and Sonja Crouch competing in her first National Regatta did well in Junior sculls and composite double scull with Murray Bridge which finished third. The regatta was eventually abandoned as on the final day, the Warragamba Dam flood gates had to be opened which washed away the course and causing racing to an abrupt end. The times for the racing are unusual as a result. This was the last national Regatta held here.On the way home we found that the Chev had leaked through a perished window seal so part of the back seat and the boot were saturated. It was a very long drive home!
Individual scullers achieved some excellent milestones with Jacqui Thomas in her first season winning six races, James McKee had eighteen wins for the season culminating with selection to row for Australia in the Tran’s Tasman Senior B Series, Tim Wise clocked up his fiftieth win and Kate Elliott scored her century. Tim Wise also made the move to lightweight sculling which meant he had to get down to the 72 kilogram weight limit and not only get to that weight but be able to race competitively at that weight. James McKee raced at the Trans Tasman Regatta in Adelaide in September 1988 winning 2 out of 3 scull races and all 3 double sculls with doubles partner Wayne Diplock from Queensland.
This year was also the return of the Country Championships held our home course of Lake Wendouree, having been held in Geelong on the Barwon River for the previous few seasons. The club was successful in winning five Country Championships being Men’s and Women’s Champion Open Pair, Women’s Champion Novice and Open Sculls and Champion Women’s Novice pair.
Some introductory rowing programs were held for girls from Sacred Heart College. About 50 girls participated with Kerry Sidaway, a rower from YWCA and a teacher at Sacred Heart organising and running the groups with assistance of club members. Several of the girls who participated became members and were hoping to race for the club next season. This became the model for recruitment for the next 10 years.
Danny Elliott and Tim Wise continued as Captain and Vice-captain respectively, Danny in his 10th consecutive year as Captain and Tim in his 5th consecutive year as Vice Captain. They contributed so much time and effort to the club both training ,racing, coaching, maintaining the equipment, maintaining the boatshed, fundraising, catering at regattas and keeping things running on the rowing front. They were at the forefront of every endeavor. The jetty top was replaced this season and the old tub fours and one racing four were sold to make more room and because they had outlived their usefulness. New chairs were bought for the hall and new carpet laid on the stairs in an effort to make the place more attractive to potential hirers. The club held a “Chair Appeal” to replace the eclectic collection of chairs in the hall. The engine on the motorboat had to be replaced at a cost of $2000 when the old one blew up. Norm and Dorothy Angow were still cleaning the hall, polishing the floor and helping at regattas and at the Craft markets held this year. Henry Sowa of St. Patrick’s College kindly lent the club a tub scull during the season, which assisted in boating our large numbers of novice scullers.
The Craft Market was declining in attendances so it was decided to try a stall at “Trash and Trivia” with members donating goods and various “treasures” cleaned up from around the shed. This was successful in raising $200 and giving the stallholders a crash course in aggressive bargaining tactics!
The awards at the Annual meeting for this season were: Most Improved Novice-Sonja Crouch; Most Successful Oarsman- James McKee and Clubman of the Year -Peter Buenen. Tim Wise was awarded a special trophy in recognition of his 50th win. Subscriptions were again raised to $45 for senior rowers, $30 for junior rowers and a third category was re-introduced, a social membership at $20. Several members from last years triple premiership group moved to Melbourne with Treasurer Kathy Lloyd joining Melbourne University and Jamie McDonald going to Essendon.
Another all Ballarat City wedding took place this year, President Colin Angow married Wendy Spicer at Loreto Chapel on 27th February 1988. Although this was the middle of the rowing season, they managed to avoid any weekend when there was racing on. Once again a guard of honour with oars was provided. Members looked resplendent in their navy jumpers with the club crest embroidered on them. Captain Danny Elliott was Best Man. The seven oar holders were all members of the intermediate eight.