The highlight of the season was Jordan O’ Keefe winning the Rowing Victoria Male-B grade rower of the Year. This was an outstanding achievement and one the club is very proud of. To achieve this award,Jordan had to travel to Melbourne every weekend and train and race while working all week in Ballarat. Jordan won an Open Quad scull event at Colac Regatta early in the season rowing composite with Footscray. This was our first club win in 2 years! He applied for a clearance to compete with Footscray and went on to win more races being Footscray’s most successful male rower and Victoria’s most successful B-grade rower.
Once again we faced a season that for a rowing club could only be called catastrophic and for the third year in succession we were unable to row or train at all due to lack of water in the Lake. We effectively lost six years of our existence, with all being put on hold because we are unable to participate in the sport that is the reason for our club’s existence. We had lost a generation of rowers. Those of us that had teenage children have missed the opportunity to introduce them to the sport we love. Those of us that came to the sport as Master’s rowers and were just beginning to have an impact and win some races for the club have been condemned to ergos which everyone here knows is a far less enjoyable form of the sport and for older athletes, a fast track to injuries and muscle strain.
In all this time, not one entity we are affiliated with and who supposedly promote the sport of rowing, has enquired about the effect the drought has had on our club, nor has anyone offered assistance to help the club through the tough times and assistance to rebuild the club once the drought ends. Not Rowing Victoria at a state level, not the Ballarat City Council at a local level, offered to reduce affiliation fees, rates or any of the associated running costs that we are still expected to pay in full! As usual we had to battle through the tough times by ourselves. It was and is a credit to the members who stuck by the club and continued to contribute when the club could offer very little in return.
Belinda Bilney commenced training sessions for our stalwart band of Masters rowers with the aim of competing in Sydney in 2009 at the World Masters Games. This reinvigorated our somewhat tired and jaded members and got the ball rolling again. She was joined by Sonja Crouch, who returned to the club after some time away, and was completing her Degree in Human Movement at University of Ballarat. She was planning and testing participants for resistance training etc. She also started training herself for the Masters. Their efforts had a positive on morale and motivation.
In March Tim Wise and Belinda Bilney went to look at a second hand coxless quad scull at Mercantile. At their recommendation the club purchased the boat which was in very good condition. It also came with quad and four riggers and needs only a little work and the replacement of the shoes to bring it up to excellent condition. All we needed was some water to row it on. This was the first boat purchased by the club in over 10 years! We also purchased a new Concept II Model D ergometer. This increases the number of ergos to 6 and allows our Masters to more effectively train together.
Ballarat and Clarendon College continued to store their boat trailer in our third bay as it is more accessible than their shed. Their contribution to the club has been invaluable to the club during the drought and assisted us financially to meet our running costs. College had a successful season with their girls first crew winning the Australian Schoolgirl’s Championship. They have also signed up for the 2008-2009 season and we welcome their continued presence at the club.
Lake Physio signed on for another three years and again the club was very fortunate to have their support and the income from the sub-lease during this period. The small upstairs office was turned into a file storage area and they have further modified the upstairs change area to provide an onsite treatment room.
Apart from some internal alterations such as the installation of light switches and power-points in the ergo room there has not been much enthusiasm for continued maintenance. After four years of almost non stop working bees, everyone needed a break. We hoped that repairs to the upstairs balcony would commence prior to the end of the 2008.