This year continued to see changes and rapid hands on learning phase for many members engendered by the sudden, very early arrival of Rory Devlin Conroy Elliott. Although not a member of the club, he continued had a profound effect on the activities of the club this year as well as his parents, Kate and Danny, who took some time off to adjust to the new regime! Colin Angow was in his 16th year as President, Belinda Bilney took on the secretary’s job, Traci Robbins was the Treasurer and Tim Wise took on the Captain of Boats replacing Danny Elliott who had been in the job for 20 years. Danny still remained on the committee and coached crews but was unable to devote the seven days a week that he had done previously. Again although small in number our rowers continued to be very successful with 47 wins to our credit this year. This include two Victorian Championships in Women’s Novice quads and Women’s Intermediate sculls, 1 Australian Championship with Anthony Edwards in a composite Lightweight coxless four and an avalanche of 5 gold medals, 2 silver and 3 bronze at the Australian Master’s Games Regatta November 1997 at the start of the 1997-98 season. The event was held at West Lakes, Adelaide, attracted 1800 competitors, and was promoted as the largest regatta ever held in Australia. We also won 4 gold medals at the FISA World Master’s regatta held in Munich, Germany. While small in numbers, the members really did travel far and wide to represent the club, state and country. For the 10th consecutive year Ballarat City was represented on the Australian Team with either current or former members rowing in the green and gold including Anthony Edwards, Rachel Taylor and Bronwyn Thompson.
Belinda Bilney very capably took on the secretary’s role and bought the club to the next level with our development plan. Sub-committees were convened and responsibility delegated for Promotions and Recruitment, Maintenance and Fund-raising. Traci Robbins, as Treasurer worked very hard to clearly define the club’s financial position and factor in liabilities such as outstanding loans to members so that we could clear our debts and budget for the forthcoming year. Belinda also took on Kate Elliott’s coaching duties with great success and also managed to find some time to train and win races! The Novice quad scull of Carla Pearson, Traci Robbins, Marianne Moore and Andrea Dixon won the State Championship at Nagambie. This was the first National regatta held at the new Nagambie Lakes course. Lora Steele won her second state title winning the Intermediate Sculls Championship and teaming with coach Belinda to finish second in the Intermediate Double sculls. Phil Dixon took over the transporting of boats and crews to regattas and organising rigging and launching for races in the absence of 25-year,trailer-towing veteran Danny Elliott. The club was extremely grateful to Phil for taking this on and not only getting them to regattas but helping with rigging, organising crews on the water and the myriad of other jobs that befall Danny in the past.
At the National Championships the club had two representatives Anthony Edwards and Lora Steele. Anthony Edwards rowed in the Lightweight pair finishing second. Tim Wise and Belinda Bilney competed at the FISA World Master’s Regatta in Munich, Germany in September 1998 and again represented the club and Australia with distinction. Prior to the World Championships they rowed with the City of Oxford at City of Oxford Royal Regatta winning Men’s Senior 1 scull and mixed Senior 2 double scull. With two wins from two starts, they attended Abingdon Sprint Regatta and again took out the mixed Senior 1 double scull and Tim teamed up with Peter Schumacher, Mark Richards and David Wilson of City of Oxford RC to win the men’s Senior 1 quad scull. Suitably “warmed up” by their sojourn in Oxford,in Munich Tim again took gold with the City of Oxford crew in the Men’s B quad, gold in both the Men’s A and B sculls and with Belinda won gold in the mixed A double scull! Then Belinda, rowing with 3 BIG Germans, scored a silver medal in the mixed C quad. It was a super impressive and inspiring performance from these two senior members of the club who financed their own trip, to train so hard, to travel so far and then to win 8 gold medals and 1 silver in international competition. This was made all the more impressive as in Europe, FISA Master’s regattas are a big deal and in the single sculls, it was not unusual to have over a hundred entries in each category as compared to the Olympics where you have only 36! Many of these master’s rowers were also former international rowers having competed for their country
Phil Dixon was convenor of the Maintenance sub-committee and with the small but determined band of workers, kept getting jobs done. The Wendouree Parade side of the shed was repainted grey by club members including the front doors and roller doors. Not everyone was completely happy with the shade of grey but it did improve the appearance and protect the weatherboards. Spouting and downpipes were replaced at the same time. Boats had necessary repairs and the coaching boat was overhauled to much improve its performance. Phil also installed the white board, first aid cabinet and fire extinguishers. The boatshed was kept particularly clean and tidy throughout the year with all members pitching in to keep toilets and changerooms clean.
At the end of 1997 a permanent tenant was found. Michael Prior, a photographer, rented the entire upstairs including the kitchen and office for storage of his extensive collection of props and occasionally use the hall for photography. This at last meant a steady and regular income stream was once again flowing in. With good budgeting in the years to come, meant that the club could achieve many of the maintenance projects that hadn’t been realised before due to lack of funds. Kate Elliott had been running the Loreto Learn to Row program and Traci Robbins, Jordan O’Keefe and Carla Pearson stepped into the breach and continued to coach the two fours that had just startedrowing.
Annual trophies for 1997-98 were presented to Andrea Dixon-Most Successful Novice/Junior, Clubperson of the Year-Phil Dixon and Most Successful Oarsperson- Tim Wise.