Ballarat City continued to forge ahead hosting Australia’s only regional Talent Identification Program. On a meagre budget (compared to programs in other states) but with extreme dedication and enthusiasm the program exceeded all expectations in its first year. The 14 recruits went from total non -rowers to seasoned competitors in ten months. Four participants left the program through this time but the ten that continued and began contributing to the club. It was considered important from the outset not to repeat the mistake of the Canberra pilot program where lack of integration with the host club was seen as one of the greatest downfalls. Our TIPS (as they were affectionately known) contributed greatly to our on water success and continued the Ballarat City tradition and their parents, by and large, also “joined” the club and assisted with everything from getting TIP’s to regattas to helping with fundraising. In the evaluation completed by squad members and parents after the first 10 months, the program was more successful than they expected and all that continued on did so because they enjoyed their participation in rowing and the club. Secretary and coach for the TI Program, Kate Elliott, was recognized for her work in promoting rowing to women and girls and received an award in the Prime Ministerial Women and Sport Awards in 1992.
This year saw the first and only National Championships ever conducted at National Sports Centre at Carrum. The course was built as part of the Melbourne 1996 Olympic bid and proved to be a good course in the mornings but subject to adverse wind conditions (read howling gales!) usually in the afternoon. The weather for the regatta was wet and at times, windy. Day 1 racing started well but by mid morning the wind commenced. Some lightweight and junior single sculling races hit 12.5 minutes in duration. After almost a six hour delay, racing recommenced late in the afternoon. The impact of this was that our TIP squad who were meant to race early left Ballarat at 5 am to race their heat and with the delay didn’t race their final until late evening by the light of car headlights. they managed a creditable fifth. The highlight of the regatta was winning two Championships in men’s Senior Lightweight Double Sculls and Men’s Senior Lightweight Quad Sculls and seeing three club members Tim Wise, Danny Elliott and Anthony Edwards on the victory dais twice on finals day. Our total number of wins for the season was 55 –this being 21 more than last season. Many of these wins were contributed by our new TIP crews.
The club also recorded its best result for winning Victorian championships,winning six in total and winning back to back Championships in Women’s Junior sculls and Junior pairs and Mens’ Senior C sculls. The club had won the Women’s Junior Pair and Scull ever since their inclusion in the Championship program. Two of our TIP rowers Rachel Taylor and Heather Murray showed exceptional promise both winning state Championships in their first season. Heather Murray in her first race in a racing scull won the Champion Schoolgirl sculls. Tim Wise and Anthony Edwards combined to win the Senior Lightweight double sculls Championship and Edwards also won the Lightweight Senior B sculls. Their performance was rewarded by being given financial assistance in the form of VIS scholarships from the newly formed Victorian Institute of Sport. They were the only non-metropolitan rowers to receive scholarships. Our sixth and final championship win came from another new member, Dave Mayes, who won the Champion Senior C sculls thus following in the footsteps of Tim Wise, James McKee and Anthony Edwards who had all won the same event in the previous five years.
After the National Championships both Tim Wise and Anthony Edwards were called back for the final selection camp in Tasmania and after a week of gruelling set racing and much physical and psychological exertion Anthony Edwards was selected to row in the Trans Tasman series with Jason Tutty from Sydney. Danny Elliott was selected as coach-his third consecutive year as Australian coach. The crew was untroubled winning all their events comfortably in Queensland in July. Tim Wise was offered the position of Australian sculler at the Shanghai International Regatta but this was subsequently cancelled so he did not get the opportunity to compete.
Fundraising continued to be a constant battle although we raised $2000 through constant cake stalls, cookie drives, lolly sales and chook raffles. Again any sponsorship was not forthcoming. The club drafted a development plan in order to spread the workload a bit more and give all members the opportunity to have input into the running of the club. We also set up the weights/ergo room and added a second ergo which along with two that were on loan from the VRA meant we could actually train a crew of four at the same time.
In many ways the club was moving into a new era of rowing incorporating new ideas, broadening our horizons, adopting new ideas and new training methods. We faced all the challenges that face a small volunteer, amateur organization in making the move to a more professional approach that of finding enough people to do all the things that needed to be done.