2013 Back in the winner’s circle.

This picture at Footscray Regatta says it all!

Four outstanding events occurred this season-the first, early in the season, was the boating of an all Ballarat City men’s eight for the first time since the Country Championships of 1995. The second was also racing related with our first women’s eight since 1980’s competing at the last regatta of the season Footscray. This was the first time ever we were able to boat a men’s eight and a women’s eight in the one season.

The third and possibly the most amazing event happened late in the season when the club was contacted by the Lawrie family. Nance and Jean Lawrie and the Lawrie family had decided to make a substantial donation to the club for the purchase of an eight and a four. Never in our 144 year history had we ever received such a generous donation. The timing could not have been better, as after the long drought, all our equipment was in dire need of replacement and upgrading in order that the club be competitive. An eight was purchased and it will be named The Lawrie Family and a four, yet to be purchased, will be named “The Robert Lawrie”. This was great recognition of the Lawrie family’s 4 generation association with Ballarat City spanning close on 100 years with the club. Starting with Jack Lawrie in the early 1920’s then his son Bob for over 40 years to Edward Lawrie, Bob’s grandson, Edward Lawrie,who commenced rowing with the club this year.

The fourth outstanding event was Tim Wise and Belinda Bilney’s returned to Master’s racing with great success, showing the younger rowers just how it was done. They went up to Canberra to the Master’s National Championships, the sole representatives of the club, and came home with three gold medals and a bronze despite the fact they had not raced at this level since 2000. In fact, they won all their lead up races as well, at Footscray, GRA Geelong Master’s, Victorian Master’s Championships and Albert Park Master’s Regattas.


Male Masters C scull (43+) Tim Wise                                                                      BRONZE

Mixed Masters AB double scull (27+) Tim Wise, Belinda Bilney                      GOLD               

Male  Masters D scull (50+) Tim Wise                                                                      GOLD

Male Masters B scull (36+)           Tim Wise, 5th in final      

Mixed  Masters D double scull (50+) Tim Wise, Belinda Bilney                               GOLD

Belinda Bilney also did a great proportion of the secretary’s work, putting in entries, updating ROMS, emailing members, putting out newsletters, coaching and training. She coached a group of women who continued on after the Learn to Row program and regularly went out on a Thursday night. Kate Elliott has continued working with the Social Rowing ladies who continue to train in the gym and on ergos once a week. A coaching sub- committee was set up this year with the aim of trying to meet every couple of months to co-ordinate rowing activities. We could no longer provide one coach to one crew but as in the past, we felt if we drew up a training plan and then coach people when we could. Kate Elliott, Belinda Bilney, Jamie McDonald and Jordan O’Keefe met initially to plan out the season. Jordan O’Keefe was also been responsible for the day to day coaching a men’s and women’s squad which consists mainly of school age rowers from Ballarat Clarendon College. He has also signed up and supervised the training of new members from Ballarat Grammar and St. Patricks College. This group has trained consistently over the winter under Jordan’s supervision.

Lake Physio  have continued to lease upstairs and have made further improvements turning the old kitchen into two new treatment rooms and a small kitchenette. The kitchen had not been used as a kitchen since the 1980’s and then only on regatta days. It had had a coat of paint but nothing else had been upgrade since 1956. The original gas stove, water heater and refirdgeration were no longer functional or safe. So it was wonderful to see the kitchen totally cleaned out, refurbished and repurposed into useable space. Both the upstairs and downstairs foyers have been painted again by Lake Physio and some great photographs of the Lake hung along the stairs. Apart from the painting of the downstairs foyer and repainting of the front of the shed, a much smaller proportion of our budget had to be spent on the shed. We still had the balcony to renovate but we had money set aside for that. A Christmas break-up BBQ was held on December 2012. A good number of members attended and enjoyed lunch on the jetty.

Noel Edwards donated photos of his father Ted Edwards rowing back in the 1920’s. It is always fantastic to receive any items relating to our early history. Jan Edwards also supplied the originals so that they can be scanned and a digital copy kept by the club. Kevin Burke of Footscray Rowing Club, passed on to Jordan O’Keefe a photograph of club captain Peter Cram in 1919. It shows very clearly the old Ballarat City shed and is a great addition to the archive. Our World War 1 and World War 2 Honour boards were finally hung on the wall of the upstairs foyer and complement the freshly painted walls. It was great to see another important part of our history back on public display.

Ross Henderson and Ballarat Clarendon College were great assistance and support, especially for Jordan O’Keefe, in getting the club back on the water this year with the loan of boats, oars, speedboats, trailer and helping out with any and every request made. Kevin Bourke, Footscray Rowing Club and Mark Dwyer, Essendon Rowing Club also came to Jordan’s assistance with the loan of equipment, coxswains and support to get us back on the water racing at early regattas. Geelong College also loaned us one of their good eights at Barwon Regatta.

Wayne Lyle and Barry Lyle refurbished the Ballarat City trailer in time for Tim and Belinda to tow it up to Canberra for the Australian Master’s National Championships. They completely stripped it back, replaced the rotted timber tray with metal and resprayed it, as well as making sure it met current safety standards with brakes and wiring etc. It will now serve the club for another 20 years.

2014 is a very significant year in Ballarat rowing as it marks the 150th Anniversary of the first ever rowing race on Lake Wendouree. It was held on the 4th May 1864 with members of the Ballarat Rowing Club racing against each other in pairs and sculls. The first four oared races were held later in that year on the 9th of September of the same year. Not much was could be seen of those early races due to the weeds and the course was probably somewhat shorter than today, but I wonder if the men that instigated rowing on the Lake ever thought their legacy would be going strong 150 years later!

We were also planning for the World Master’s Rowing Championships that were to be held on the Lake in October 2014. Hopefully Ballarat City will have good representation on our home water and we will be granted some decent water. As we entered our 145th year and things were finally on a more positive footing. We had crews training regularly, we are at last able to afford to upgrade our fleet and the majority of the building maintenance has been done- for now!

Jordan O’Keefe was the main coach and also the person who took over towing the trailer to regattas. He was the main force behind getting the club going again. I am including his report on the year’s activities in today’s post as well as pictures of the crew’s he coached.


It was a long time coming but the start of the 2012-13 season saw Ballarat City Rowing Club once again back on the water competing at the first of many regattas. The location would be Hamilton and the contingent competing was modest, but even with a small group starting out, the enthusiasm amongst the rowers to be out on the water representing the club showed plenty of spirit. A consistent pre-season training over the winter months within the learn to scull program saw the likes of young rowers Gus Coltman, James Simpson, Liam Fitzpatrick and Pascal Doughton take an honourable second placing in the final of the Male C Grade Quad Scull, the first ever junior Male Quad the club has ever produced. This was followed by a win in the final of the Male C Grade Four. Not only was this the first victory for a crew boat from the club in some time, it was also the first medallion Gus, James, Liam and Pascal had ever won.
Hamilton Regatta had had the preparations for it, tainted the day before. This included BCRC zooties failing to arrive in time despite being ordered six weeks before the regatta, the boat trailer wheel bearings seizing up, electrics not working and a torrential storm that night. With the last minute and late night assistance from Ballarat College in loaning their boat trailer and boat we trekked to Lake Hamilton and had a fantastic day.
We also attended Lake Colac, Barwon, Wendouree-Ballarat and Footscray Regattas where the Male Quad had a significant victory and continued to place well in various grades, the Male D Four also took home honours, and were also well placed in finals of other four combinations from B to C grades. One of the season’s highlights was to boat the first Ballarat City Male Eight in over 20 years which also showed how strong our small numbers at the time were. We placed a tight second placing on both occasions at Lake Colac and Wendouree-Ballarat regattas.
As it turns out, boat trailers and bad luck go hand in hand if I have anything to do with it as the night before Footscray Regatta our “newer” boat trailer came to grief with flat tyres and no spares! Memories from towing the trailer in 2005 where a tyre blow out on the trailer with no spare to fix it on the morning of a regatta came flooding back – back then both car and trailer had to be towed home later that day with the car breaking down on the highway.
However after many hours of ringing around and brain storming, it was Jim Wight of Wight Plumbing (my Uncle) who was the savior. He not only personally delivered wheels and tyres, he brought a selection of four different sizes, jacked the trailer up and tried all of them before doing a full under and over trailer inspection. He has also been responsible for providing towing gear and tow lug for my car to see I can continue to tow the Ballarat City trailer to regattas.
Endless thanks to Ballarat Clarendon College, Essendon Rowing Club, Footscray City Rowing Club and Geelong Grammar who all loaned us boats over the course of the season. I was extremely fortunate to have the support and understanding of so many.
This past preseason has seen an influx in new members to the club  with not only the word of the rowing program at Ballarat City getting around, but the on water performance and results from a small group of rowers is ensuring  that more attention is drawn to our program. This has also been reflected in local media which is a fantastic advantage for us, as a club. Our member base grew over winter and has currently sustained with a strong core group of junior rowers – 14 males and 4 females. The current group of young rowers bring a plethora of determination, enthusiasm and also fun in their approach to training and club rowing which makes the experience for myself and the other rowers all the more enjoyable. Also, seeing so many wearing new Ballarat City Rowing Cub apparel has been fantastic – I hope to see more members following suit!
It has certainly been a privilege, and I am humbled, to have the growing support over the past two years from a fantastic group of young and keen rowers. It was 1991 the first time I took to the water for Ballarat City Rowing Club and I couldn’t be prouder to see the club, after surviving the adversity of the drought, once again thrive through its junior rowers as it did some 20 plus years ago. Results may be mixed and modest now in comparison to back then, but we at least have a jump start on working our way back to leading the way for country rowing. Everyone should be proud of their contribution towards what is a great club. Thank you to all the rowers who make coaching an invaluable and worthwhile experience. Many thanks to Belinda Bilney and Tim Wise for assisting with the fleet, entries, boat loading and racing over the past season. Special thanks to Danny & Kate Elliott for trailer help, loaning zooties, rowing help, coaching help and who have been my motivation for all of this over the past few years. Thank you.

This has been a long post but well worth the read, I think. It was certainly one of my favourite years in recent times.

Remembrance Day 2020 Lest we forget-all the members of Ballarat City Rowing Club who fought for their country.

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