This season will be remembered as the Masters era of rowing, with the return of several former members now keen to participate in the growing area of Master’s rowing. Two of these “born again” rowers who would have a great impact on the club over the next five years were Norm and Ron Young. Also going from strength to strength was Tim Wise who after a brief “rest” from competition returned reinvigorated and faster than ever. He also won the club’s first ever-Australian Masters Championship in B and C sculls. Our win rate increased slightly on last year with 37 wins across all levels of rowing. Many wins were again thanks to a strong group of scullers with the club again very strong in sculling events. The club won a total of four state Championships, three of these at Carrum with Anthony Edwards winning the Champion Elite Sculls and Shane Young and Lora Steele winning the Men’s and Women’s Junior Scull Championships. Shane Young also won the Champion Men’s School sculls at Ballarat Regatta in March where he won two other events, Men’s Intermediate scull and Men’s Junior scull, achieving a rare triple win at one regatta in the scull.
We also won a record nine Country Championships with nearly every competing member of the club scoring a win at this regatta. Most notable was young coxswain turned sculler, Jordan O’Keefe, who won the Under 16 scull Country Championship. Jordan had started coxing at age 11 while still at primary school. He would go on to be the club’s only competitor during the 2006-2012 drought and would be instrumental in reviving the club after the drought. At the National Championships, held at Lake Barrington, Anthony Edwards won the Lightweight senior A Sculls Championship and was also in the winning Lightweight four .He represented Victoria in the Victorian Penrith Cup four which placed second. Lora Steele was selected in the Women’s Youth eight which won the interstate race. Former member Amy Pearce was also in the eight. Anthony Edwards was also selected onto the Australian team for his fifth World Championships in rowing with Gary Lygnah in the Lightweight double scull where they finished 5th . Former TIP squad member Rachel Taylor and former member Bronwyn Thompson were both on scholarships to the AIS this year and were combined as a pair, which had considerable success at international regattas.
At the Australian Master’s Games in Adelaide, where he was competing for the first time in Master’s competition, Tim Wise took gold in both the Men’s A and B scull Championships. He and Belinda Bilney won the first of their Mixed A double sculls, in what would prove to be a world class Master’s crew. Tim also raced in a Men’s B grade eight winning gold, a Men’s B double scull winning silver and a Men’s A quad scoring silver. Tim raced in a total of nine events scoring 5 wins, 2 second placings and 2 third placings. Not bad for a first attempt! Buoyed by the success of the first foray into serious Master’s rowing, both Tim and Belinda competed at the FISA World Master’s Regatta which was also held in Adelaide and Tim won gold in the Men’s A and B sculls and he and Belinda again won gold in the Mixed A double sculls. So it really was the start of the Golden era of master’s rowing at the club. It would be a tough act to follow.
The club continued to provide the Ballarat community with opportunities to be involved in the sport of rowing holding a Come and Try Day for Senior Citizen’s Week, Kidzrow program for primary age students and Learn to Row Programs for Loreto. Over fifty new people came through these programs and several took up membership.
The exterior of the building began to receive some attention this year with the old unsafe balcony on the lake side of the shed removed and a new welded steel balcony installed. The interior of the kitchen was repainted mainly through the hard work of Aaron Block, and the hall floor polished and returned to its best. Along with Aaron, the small band of workers who regularly turned up to help were Tim Wise, Phil Dixon, Andrea Dixon, Danny Elliott, Kate Elliott, Traci Robbins and Janine Roberts. The hall was let for different functions, as we had been unable to find a long-term lessee. Fundraising and social events held were again the Australia Day Fireworks and the Parent’s Committee as part of the inaugural Springfest (an innovation that had Lake Wendouree as the focal point for a large spring market) put on a very successful Devonshire Tea. We raised over $1000 on that day.
Kate Elliott was awarded a Life Membership in recognition of her contribution to the club for 24 years. She was and is the first and only female to be awarded life membership of the club. Little did she know, but life as she knew it, was going to get turned on it’s head, when on the 29th of November 1997 she was rushed to Melbourne and her son arrived two months premature and immediately went into Neonatal Intensive Care. This also immediately curtailed her activities as secretary, coach and general go to person. She also was an apology for the December committee meeting, only the second meeting she had missed in 20 years. It made for a very interesting time for the club also, as suddenly they found themselves having to find somebody to do all the jobs that she had done to keep the club running.
From the 1998 Annual Report “ I can not think of a better example of the tireless volunteer whose work was pretty much taken for granted until the sudden arrival of Rory Elliott in November. After a short period of panic and an emergency “what are we going to do” meeting, Kate’s jobs were shared out amongst seven or so people.” Belinda Bilney, Acting Secretary, 1998.