2014 Victorian Sprint four Championship

It certainly has been a busy year for the club with significant achievements in all spheres of our operations-competition, social activities, fundraising, recruiting and fleet upgrades. The racing season commenced at the end of 2013 and Jordan’s squad of school rowers were well placedto outdo last season’s achievements. A strong contingent of junior rowers attending Bendigo Regatta in October 2013 and recording 2 wins from 7 entries. In November we held our very first Presentation Dinner where our junior rowers were there in force and a most enjoyable evening was had at the City Oval Hotel.

At Dimboola Regatta the highlight was the men’s four of Gus Coltman, Sam Hayden, James Simpson and Liam Fitzpatrick winning the club’s first Victorian Championship for many years taking the Victorian Sprint Four Championship from a very well-credentialed Mercantile crew. Our junior women were also on the winner’s podium with vengeance winning gold in four more events at the same regatta. In December we held a Christmas break-up BBQ and took out our newly refurbished eight “Robert Lawrie” for a row. February saw things heat up literally and figuratively. On one of the hottest days of 2014 we had the club’s first boat christening for 20 years, christening 3 new boats. One of the highlights of the season was the christening of three boats and the chance to catch up with members old and new. The three boats christened were the “Robert Lawrie”, an eight, named for former treasurer, honorary auditor and life member Bob Lawrie. The boat was christened by his wife Nance and his sister Jean. The second boat christened was the “Young Brothers”, named for Treasurer Norm Young and former Captain Ron Young again in recognition of their valuable contribution to the club. The third boat was named the Lyle Brothers for Wayne and Barry Lyle who have contributed their time and practical skills to the committee and to the upgrade of the boatshed that took many years.  It was a fantastic day and it was great see so many old and new members attending. After the influx of new boats, racking space became an issue so several older wooden boats were donated to Shepparton Rowing Club. The “Albie McGuire” a racing four and the “Tim Wise”, a double scull, went to their new home in March and the “Kate Elliott” racing eight, followed them in October.

 In September and we took our first (and possibly last) foray into the world of showbiz. We provided equipment, advice and extras for the Dr. Blake Mysteries television program. It raised substantial fun ds for the club and gave a few members the opportunity to “star” in a television drama.

Ballarat City wooden boats play a part in period drama “The Doctor Blake Mysteries”

October bought the “main event” for our Masters rowers with the FISA World Championships held on our home water from the 9th -12th. Seventeen entries featured Ballarat City rowers and all competitors did the club proud bringing back two gold, three silver and a bronze medals most of these in composite crews. The best placed, all Ballarat City crew, was the men’s B four which placed second in the final to Chile. Perennials Norm Young and Wayne Lyle raced in Men’s Masters F double scull and Kate Elliott and Belinda Bilney were the only Masters women competing in Women’s Masters D double sculls with both doubles managing a creditable 4th. Kate Elliott also came seventh in the final of the E sculls. Jamie McDonald, Penny Johnstone and Barry Wright also volunteered on the organising committee and were very busy in the lead up to the Championships with promotion etc.

The other significant equipment upgrade was to our club trailer which was refurbished by Barry and Wayne Lyle at Miller Bros Engineering to ensure that it continues to meet VicRoads regulations while sporting a brand-new paint job. Also in mid 2014 a new Ballarat City Rowing Club website was developed and launched to provide information about the club to current and prospective members as well as to the broader Ballarat and rowing communities. Once again I am posting Jordan o’Keefe’s coaching report in full as it demonstrates the hard work and camaraderie amongst the group of young rowers we had then. They were a lovely group to have in the shed and they contributed to the club’s success but they also fitted in to the club’s ethos and daily operations so well that we felt like they had always been there.

COACHING REPORT 2013-2014 Jordan O’Keefe

Ballarat City Rowing Club was strongly represented at Rowing Victoria regattas. Various combinations of the club’s youth male and female squad attended five regattas and were successful with 14 gold medal wins, a State Sprint Championship title, two bronze medals at the Victorian State Championships, and a host of other tightly contested minor places in finals. The squad core group consisted of male rowers Ben Martin, Gus Coltman, Sam Hayden, Liam Fitzpatrick, James Simpson, with female rowers Sarah Maher, Madeleine Ross, Steph Edwards amongst the regulars competing. Other rowers that made brief racing appearances were Courtney Blythe, Marion Peters, Grace McDonald, Amity Musgrove and Jordan O’Keefe. The number of rowers attending regattas varied amongst these eight regular squad member’s, however the club always tallied results that saw Ballarat City ranked inside the top 10 best performing clubs at each regatta. The season commenced with Bendigo Regatta with nine rowers racing representing the.This was the first time most of these rowers had competed outside of school rowing, and the first time for all rowers competing at Bendigo. Gus Coltman and Marion Peters were competitive in the heats of their single sculls, with Gus progressing through to the final to finish in second place. The Male C Grade Quad performed brilliantly in their heat, with James Simpson, Sam Hayden, Liam Fitzpatrick and Ben Martin winning by seven lengths and finishing a credible third in the final. The Mixed Eight combined Gus Coltman, Sam Hayden, Liam Fitzpatrick and Ben Martin together with Steph Edwards, Marion Peters, Madeleine Ross and Sarah Maher. After a lengthy 20 minute delay on the starting blocks waiting for Mildura and Shepparton to figure out how to align a boat up a straight course, the race was sent away with Ballarat City lined up half a boat length behind the other two crews. What was an unfair disadvantage out of the start, didn’t deter the City eight as they cruised past Shepparton but were unable to reel in Mildura to lose by a canvas. The highlight of the day was the Male C Four whom led their final from start to finish against the two crews who defeated them in the C Quad and to register a well-earned win.

 At Dimboola Regatta the following members raced with great success-James Simpson, Gus Coltman, Liam Fitzpatrick, Sam Hayden, Madeleine Ross, Sarah Maher, Steph Edwards and Courtney Blyth. Ballarat City Rowing Club proved to be commentator Roger Wilson’s favourite at this regatta, as our small group of rowers were frequently up and down the course in various events and heats. The girls won their heats of the C Grade Four and C grade Quad easily took out the finals in both events by a significant margin. A great effort by the girls who raced their first quad scull event this day. The City boys had a tough row early in the day in their heat of the Male C quad where they finished second and did not progress to the final. Gus Coltman competed well in his single scull to win his heat, easily again, but was defeated in the final to again place second. In the Male C Four the boys won heat and final in convincing fashion and then had to turn around and go straight back to the start to race the Male Open Four – Victorian Sprint Championship against a Mercantile/Corio Bay/Essendon composite crew. Our opposing crew featured the Australian U23 Lightweight double scull duo, the Victorian U19 State Sculling Champion and U19 sculling National bronze medallist, and a Victorian trans-Tasman U19 rower. What would have seemed a formality for the highly credentialed Mercantile composite crew, unravelled quickly as the Ballarat City boys threw down the challenge early out of the start and built on our race plan from there. With 200 metres to go Ballarat City had pushed out to a two length margin which drew onlookers out from their marquees and had Roger Wilson singing the praises of seeing Ballarat City, who were not only back on the water, but proving to be very competitive. The boys crossed the line to win the Victorian Sprint Championship ahead of the Mercantile composite who had won the title for the previous three years. To finish off the day, the City Mixed eight were to line up against Wendouree-Ballarat in a first and final. With just the two Ballarat clubs competing in the final, a seat change to include Jordan O’Keefe in the eight was made. Ballarat City again led early and retained a three length margin to cross the line first, bringing the clubs tally to six wins and a Sprint Championship for the regatta.

At Hamilton Regatta only four rowers attended. Ben Martin, Jordan O’Keefe, Gus Coltman and Sam Hayden who raced and won both the Male C Grade Four and C Grade Quad. This was the first win the club has recorded in a Male Quad Scull at Rowing Victoria regattas The C Grade Four also were recipients of the “Bill Brammel Perpetual Cup” for winning that event. Gus Coltman competed well in his single to win through to the final but was unable to hold his lead to finish in second place. Sam Hayden took to the water to race his first single scull event, the Male under 17 single, and as the only competitor in a tub boat, performed beyond expectation to convincingly win his heat. Unfortunately for Sam, when crossing the finish line you must do so within the markers and on the course. He was subsequently disqualified which was disappointing as the rower he defeated convincingly took out first place in the final. Another first was the duo of Ben Martin and Sam Hayden again to team up and row the Male C Grade double scull. Although the pair had only had two sessions in the double together, they contested the other crews well out of the start and kept aligned with them over the first 500 metres. The double looked calm and relaxed and maintained a consistent steady rhythm to push past the other three crews to amazingly win the event by four lengths. Not a bad effort for first time double scullers and the only timber boat raced in at any regatta. After coming away with three more wins from this regatta, the highlight, or low light, was yet to come. Hamilton Highway patrol came to the party and had the Ballarat City trailer pulled over just outside of Lake Bolac. After the issue of speeding (apparently) was mentioned, highway patrol spent an extensive amount of time taking photos and making notes and not of the rowers. The non-compliant boat trailer seemed to pose a problem and a summons was received in the days following. The summons was later retracted and a warning issued. On a positive note, it saw the boat trailer brought up to regulation once and for all and has made commuting to regattas easier without the worry of something dropping off the trailer or being pulled over!

 Geelong was the next location as the club attended the Lake Colac Regatta. Gus Coltman, James Simpson, Liam Fitzpatrick and Sam Hayden combined to win the Male C Grade Four final by 12 seconds, then with the substituting of James Simpson for Ben Martin, the crew went onto to win the Male C Grade Quad final by over 15.40 seconds. The Female squad of Madeleine Ross, Sarah Maher, Steph Edwards and Grace McDonald had much closer results as they edged their way ahead in both heats of the Female C Grade Four and Female C Grade Quad. The Quad Scull event had a total of 24 entries and was split into two divisions. To win the heat of the quad was a great result in itself with the experience, depth and number of entries making things extremely competitive. The girls rowed a stellar race in the final of the C Grade Four, winning by 0.86 seconds over four of the Melbourne Girls Grammar School Firsts Eight, however in the final of the quad weren’t so lucky with Ruyton Grammar leading early and maintaining their lead to win the event. The end of the day again saw the male and female squad combine to race the Mixed Eight, an event that we have proven we are always the crew to beat. This occasion was not exception with the City crew looking well drilled to cross the line first, 27.46 seconds ahead of second.

The final regatta attended was the Victorian State Championships. Many clubs focus on Championship events and generally racing is at a very high standard. Ballarat City boated a Female C Grade Eight which placed a credible sixth given the absence of consistent training in the lead up. Madeleine Ross, Sarah Maher, Steph Edwards and Amity Musgrove combined to race the Champion Female C Grade Four, this event being the first time Amity has rowed in a racing boat before. The girls scraped though their heat in third place to progress to the final where the goal was to just go out and have a better row than the heat and if we beat a crew then that was a bonus. As the final made its way through the 1750 metre mark, Ballarat City found themselves ahead of two other crews and fighting with a third and were looking to be in medal contention. With around 100 metres remaining the girls not only produced a terrific row, but did the club very proudly pushing up into third place, winning a Bronze medal by 0.42 seconds. It was a similar story for the male crew of Ben Martin, Gus Coltman, Liam Fitzpatrick and Sam Hayden who also pushed themselves into third position to take out the Bronze medal in the Male C Grade Four.

After a regatta season that spanned six months and covered a lot of kilometres on water and towing the boat trailer, it is pleasing not just to see Ballarat City competing in numbers, but competing and winning more races with recognition. We have been fortunate to have such a committed core group of young rowers over the last three years. To see the level they have taken their rowing to in that time gives me much confidence and hope that they will continue to build on that as University studies relocate them away far and wide from the club. These young rowers having written a chapter of Ballarat City Rowing Club history of their own, have laid the foundation to further develop and nurture junior and youth rowing outside of the school program in Ballarat. We have proven we offer something very unique in an environment that young members want to be part of, it’s our job to see we continue to be proactive in ensuring that the Ballarat City continues to embrace youth and continues to be the club of choice for those aspiring to take their rowing to the next level.

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