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History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club in Victoria Australia

History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club

1979 - First season as Ballarat City Rowing Club

Membership remained fairly stable with several new recruits making an appearance and an impact this year. Jenny Hyatt, Sharon Mills and Roslyn Rixon joined and immediately filled vacancies in crews

The 1978-79 season was extremely busy with regatta every other weekend. Kate Wise continued sculling and having considerable success. There were no novice scull events for women at this time and so it was straight into a racing boat and racing Senior B. Handicapped scull races were held at most regattas and did provide some opportunity for those new to sculling to race the more experienced scullers on a more equal footing. The allocating of handicaps was not that scientific though, and if you had had a couple of wins you were often bought back to scratch depending on who the handicapper was on the day. While the club had some good novice and Senior B women rowers coming along there was reduced opportunities to row in crews while the new recruits worked their way through to Senior A level. 

The club was represented at the National Championships at the new Westlakes course in Adelaide in April 1979. Captain Danny Elliott raced in the Champion Lightweight Double Sculls with sculling partner Terry Poole. They placed second by 1 second. Kate Wise became the first female Ballarat sculler to race at a National Championships. In her very first National Championships she made the finals of both Lightweight and Senior sculls finishing fifth in both. She also finished second in the Champion quad sculls, racing in the very experienced all Victorian crew of Mary Renouf, Leisa Patterson and Rosemary Hoffman.

At the Annual Meeting on September 3rd, 1979 Kate Wise was voted in as the first female Secretary of Ballarat City Rowing Club. This was a position she would hold continuously until 1998 and then after a year off resumed the role in 2000 and continued as secretary until 2017-a total of 37 years. Ballarat City Rowing Club was one of the first clubs in the state to amalgamate the men’s and women’s clubs. Only one other club in Victoria had a female secretary and that was Horsham Rowing Club. Marg Elliott continued as Ladies Captain and Jenny Hyatt became a member of the general committee. 

In December 1979 the club recorded its first ever Victorian Championship win by a women’s crew and the first Victorian Championship won by a Ballarat women rowers. The Ballarat City girls who had been competing for just over 12 months in their new navy and white colours were successful in taking out the Women’s Senior B four Victorian Championship at Albert Park Lake. The crew comprised Kate Wise in stroke seat, Marg Elliott, Andrea Kriz and Jenny Hyatt with Chris O’Brien cox. Later on that season the pair of Jenny Hyatt and Sharon Mills with Kate Wise as cox, also won the Senior B Pairs Championship of Victoria on the Yarra River. 

Sash presented with Championship trophy. Sashes were presented at 1979, 1980 and 1981 VLRA Annual regattas. 

Kate Wise competing at her first National Championships, Westlakes, Adelaide, 1979

1979 Regattas and Racing

1979 was the last year of separate men’s and women’s regattas. Once the VRA and VLRA amalgamated then each regatta would program men’s and women’s events. 

1. Essendon Ladies Regatta, February 11th, Maribyrnong River, Essendon. 

Ladies Senior B scull:- Kate Wise-first.

Ladies Novice four:-Sharon Mills, Jenny Hyatt, Jenny Burzacott-first

2. VRA Championships, February 13th Lake Wendouree. 

Ladies Champion Elite scull:-Kate Wise-fourth

3. VLRA Regatta, March 4th, Maribyrnong River, Footscray. 

Ladies Handicap Sculls:-Kate Wise-second

4. YWCA Regatta, March 18th, Albert Park Lake. 

Ladies Champion double scull:-Kate Wise, Sue Cresswell (Corio Bay)-second

Ladies Champion Lightweight scull:-Kate Wise-second

5. Victorian Universities Women’s Regatta, April 1st, Yarra River.

Ladies Handicap sculls- Kate Wise-second 

6. Australian National Championships, April 25th-28th, Westlakes, Adelaide.

Women’s Senior sculls:- Kate Wise –fifth

Women’s Lightweight sculls:- Kate Wise-fifth

Women’s Quad scull, Victorian composite crew:-Kate Wise, Rosemary Hoffman, Mary Renouf and Leisa Patterson-second

7. Essendon Ladies Regatta, October 3rd, Maribynong River, Essendon.

Ladies Senior B pair:-Kate Wise and Marg Elliott –first

8. VRA Special Regatta, October 20th, Yarra River. 

Ladies Handicap scull:-Kate Wise-first

9. Val Bertrand 5km Marathon, October 27th, Yarra River. 

Ladies 5 kilometre Marathon:-Kate Wise-first

10. Barwon Ladies Regatta, November 3rd, Barwon River. 

Ladies Handicap scull:-Kate Wise-first

Ladies Senior B pair:-Kate Wise and Andrea Kriz-first

11. VRA Regatta, December 1st, Yarra River. 

Ladies Handicap sculls:-Kate Wise-second. 

Ladies Senior B four:-Jenny Hyatt, Marg Elliott, Andrea Kriz, Kate Wise (stroke)-first

12. YWCA Regatta, December 9th, Albert Park Lake.

Ladies Handicap scull:- Kate Wise-third

Victorian Champion Senior B four. Ballarat City Rowing Club:-Jenny Hyatt (bow), 

Marg Elliott, Andrea Kriz, Kate Wise (stroke);cox, Chris O’Brien.

This was the first Victorian Championship won by any female crew from Ballarat. 

1979 Victorian Women’s Champion Senior B four. Kate Wise (stroke), Marg Elliott (3), Andrea Kriz (2),Jenny Hyatt (bow). Chris O’Brien (cox).

Note: This was Chris O’Brien’s first championship win. He went on to coach at the highest level in Victoria and nationally. O'Brien, Chris - Australian Rowing History (

Cover from YWCA Regatta 1979 with Victorian Champion Lightweight four from YWCA.

Entries for Victorian Championship Double scull. Kate Wise and Sue Campbell placed second to Mary Renouf and A.Nother, March 18th, 1979.

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