The low level of water in the lake in the second half of the season also meant many regattas were cancelled or the venue changed. It was the beginning of the “big dry” that would impact our activities for the next nine years. Consequently the Masters National Championships were moved from Ballarat to Nagambie. This meant extra effort for the club but a record 25 rowers went and competed in 26 events and bought home 45 medals. This was an outstanding effort with everyone competing bringing back a medal of some description and was the culmination of the effort and enthusiasm put in over the last three years. All who attended including families and supporters had a great time and everyone is to be congratulated on representing the club so successfully. This season has again seen a marked increase in memberships, the majority again being in the Masters category. It is great to see these members becoming involved, not only in the sport but in the running of the club as well. Our Beginners’ Program that ran in Term 4, 2002, was extremely successful with all participants continuing on after Christmas and several more joining the club. Most Tuesdays and Thursdays saw 20 plus women from juniors through to masters developing their skills. We have also had an international flavour in memberships with two overseas oars people calling the shed home during their extended stay in Australia-Brendan Leary who was originally from Ballarat and was back from Canada to compete and visit at the World Masters and Michael Streat who is on exchange from England teaching at Mt.Clear College.
In December 2002 the club was fortunate to obtain a low interest loan through Heritage Ballarat and the repainting of the exterior of the boatshed could finally go ahead. The repairs to the jetty also continued on and on one momentous weekend in August work began on replacing the north side of the jetty that had been pulled up 16-20 years ago (after the 1984 drought). After 5 years with us as tenant in the hall upstairs,Michael Prior departed on November 13th,2003. Michael made a significant financial contribution to the club without which we would have really struggled. Negotiations began with Lake Physiotherapy with Michael Pierce and Simon Ellis keen to start a Pilates Studio upstairs.We were still liaising closely with the City Council on how the club is progressing and continued to meet with Council officers.
Belinda Bilney and Kate Elliott really got onto stride with their grant writing this year and applied for 11 grants of which they were successful in obtaining 5 grants totalling $25,000. This contributed greatly to the scope of activities that the club could undertake. A grant from the City Council for an innovative program to assist Master’s women to become involved in rowing. The program called REACTOAR (Recreational Activity with an OAR) looks at not only teaching them to row but also involving them in coaching juniors. The $2600 will go towards recruiting, coaching and equipment for the program.This year we were able to purchase a second-hand tub four from Loreto Mandeville in Melbourne. It has proved a boon particularly for the novice programs run earlier this season when there would often be 16 -20 rowers struggling with just two fours-one of which is the wooden tub four that is very difficult for beginnings to manage.
Another grant was from the Australian Sports Commission we were able to organise and run a Level 1 Coaching Course in Ballarat saving time and making it more accessible by not having to travel to Melbourne for it. Fifteen members of the club took advantage of the opportunity to obtain their Level 1 accreditation. Several members also presented modules at the course and participants were lucky to share their expertise. It is hoped that if each of these members only looks after 2-4 new rowers it will allow us to increase our membership base by 30-60 rowers! Wayne Lyle organised a motorboat licence testing session at the shed at which club members obtained their licence.
Time and effort has continued to be expended on the completion of the jetty. We’re finally able to use the north side after a period of some 15 years! To older members who probably thought they’d never see the day when it would be replaced it bought a tear to the eye. The repainting of the upstairs of the shed was completed in April 2003 by Dennis Decorating at a cost of $12,583 and has improved the appearance of the shed greatly. Members also busily painted window frames,trims and railings to get the whole shed looking great.
As outlined in the treasurer’s report, we were fortunate to receive sponsorship totalling $4000 during the year. Eddie Sullivan and Gavin Cormick who developed and distributed Sponsorship packages. Several other sponsors supported the club with donations of materials/supplies for fundraising efforts for which we are very grateful. Fundraising events were catering at the University Games, Pizza on the Jetty at the conclusion of the Masters Games, catering at Springfest, Australia Day BBQ and participating in a raffle run by East Point season is $16,000.While these funds are allocated to specific projects they have allowed the club to complete some very significant projects that otherwise would not have been undertaken. The grant received from the Australian Sports Commission was one of only four that came to Victoria, which was very gratifying. The $65 spent on the Our Communities -Grants and Fundraising newsletter has proved very valuable!
We celebrated another all Ballarat City wedding when Tim Wise and Belinda Bilney got married in February 2003. The club made a presentation of a silver tray to mark the occassion. Members again provided an arch way of oars.