On the rowing front we had a stellar season lead capably by Andrew Leehane who had returned as a Master’s rower and was Captain this year. Andrew lead by example, training hard and racing hard and following the tried and tested Ballarat City formula of everybody pitching in and working hard. We had 64 wins for the season including a women’s Victorian Championship in the C grade eights. The crew was Kellie Dunn, Sue Peacock, Laura Foley, Katelin Cartledge, Claire Boatman, Danielle Foley, Sharon Waters and Kath Mills. This was the first Victorian Championship the club had ever won in an eight. We also won 2 silver medals in the Women’s C coxed 4 and Men’s D pair and two bronze medals in Men’s Open scull and Men’s C quad scull with Jack Doust, Andrew Leehane, Ben Martin and Jordan O’Keefe.
At the Australian Masters Championships in June 2016, held on the very aptly named “Sunshine Coast” (it poured rain most of the time!) we had our biggest contingent for many years attend and come home with 3 silver medals and 5 bronze medals. Mike Doust towed the club trailer all the way there and back safely.
Belinda Bilney organised a Sculling School again over winter. Kath Mills and Sharon Waters undertook coaching and rowing in the women’s squad and were congratulated in the Annual report on their success. Boat insurance was taken out this season as we had many more boats out on the water and travelling on trailers to regattas. Rowing Australia had an extremely affordable scheme and we are able to insure boats, oars, motor boat and boat trailer about $90,000 worth of equipment for a very reasonable $1400 premium.
This year’s Annual report began with an outline of our recent past achievements, which was a plea for people not to forget the past and to respect the achievements of previous members when they joined the club or the committee. Unfortunately newer members seemed not to be interested in the past. As numbers grew, diversity became division and division created discord. At a committee level, after successfully holding the club together through the drought and beginning the rebuild, we had new members nominated for the committee. We were initially glad that there was at last someone to share the load. Unfortunately some of these new members had no appreciation or respect for the older committee members. Nearly every decision made by the committee became a sticking point and a pushing of their point of view. Committee meetings had always been efficient, effective and business like with everyone focused on the business at hand. Most committee members were practical, hardworking, skilled people who didn’t waste time. If a job needed to be done, they got on and did it. Unfortunately the new committee members were the antithesis of this. This is the summary of our achievements from the that report.
Ballarat City Rowing Club has a long proud history. Established in 1870 we will celebrate our 150 anniversary in 2020. Not many amateur clubs have survived for this length of time so we must be doing something right. Many times in the past events have occurred that could have seen the club finished but after each adversity key members have worked tirelessly to get things back on track It is important that we look back at our past because it helps put current achievements in context and it helps us move into the future following the traditions and the culture of the club that has developed over 146 years.
Each new influx of members have the chance to add their page to the club’s history. The last time our membership was around the 60-70 mark was probably in the 1890’s. The last time we won 64 races was in 1993-94 season. And 2016-2017 is the 30 year anniversary of the club’s most successful season ever when, with a competitive membership of 24, we won three Premierships. That season we attended 25 regattas and had 94 wins. We also won three Victorian Championships and an Australian Championship that season. We dominated sculling races at every level. Our success rate was close on 100%. We literally won every race we entered. Interestingly, our president Danny Elliott was the only coach and coached everyone and was also Captain of boats, towing the trailer to every regatta and frequently transporting a car full of rowers as well.
More recently, from 2006-2010 we had absolutely no water to row on and a core group of about 15 members kept the club running. We were a rowing club that couldn’t row so we couldn’t recruit any new members. All we could do was to hang on and hope water returned to the Lake. While we didn’t do much rowing in those years we pretty much renovated the shed from top to bottom, repainting, re-rendering, re-roofing and re-decking the jetty!! When water did return enough for training and racing in 2012 it was almost like starting from scratch all over again. So considering the most recent history, the club has come a long way in four short years.
In 2012-2013 season after 6 long, long years of drought and absolutely no water to row on, Jordan O’Keefe returned to the club after rowing at Footscray and Essendon. He recruited and coached a squad of 14 juniors mainly from Ballarat Clarendon College. He organised everything, as we didn’t have a Captain of Boats that year. He did all the coaching, training over winter, towing the trailer to regattas and generally kick started the club’s regatta racing. In that season we attended 6 regattas and 4 Masters Regattas and scored 13 wins. 9 of those wins were scored in the second half of the season by our Masters dynamic double of Tim Wise and Belinda Bilney. At the Australian Masters Nationals in Canberra ,as the clubs only representatives, they won 3 gold medals and 1 bronze.
The following season 2013-2014 we attended 5 regattas and had a big contingent racing at the World Masters Rowing Championships held on the Lake. Jordan’s squad of juniors mostly continued on and were joined by some new members to win a very creditable 15 races including the Male Open Sprint 4 Championship at Dimboola Regatta-a very big achievement against some very well credentialed opposition! The group won nearly every race they entered in and if they didn’t win they came second. At the Victorian State Championships, again held on Lake Wendouree we won Bronze in both the Female and Male C Grade 4+. We picked up 2 gold medals, 3 silvers and a bronze at the World Masters Championships and the Lake turned on the perfect regatta. Having trained hard over winter and having this regatta at the start of the season it was difficult to maintain the momentum after it was over.
2014-2015 season saw the club attend 11 regattas for a total of 11 wins. We had four Masters rowers attend the Australian Masters Championships in Sydney and while they came away without a medal they certainly started planning for the next season.
So in light of the achievements of the last three seasons, this season has been an extraordinary year with the club attending 17 regattas and recording 64 wins-our greatest number of wins since 1993-94. We also placed 7th on Rowing Victoria’s Club Premiership. The most pleasing aspect of this was that the wins were spread amongst all members, with everyone who raced regularly at regattas scoring wins. The most successful regatta came early in the season with Hamilton Regatta where we recorded 10 wins and had about 20 members representing the club.