Wendouree Ballarat Rowing Club (VIC)
Eric has been instrumental in Ballarat not only gaining major aquatic events for the city, but successfully managing them so that the events return to the city. The events include National Rowing Championships over many years, National University Rowing Championships, 2012 World Masters Rowing Championships and the 2014 FISA World Masters Championships.
Eric has served as President of the Ballarat Rowing Association since 1984 and has been responsible for championing many improvements at Lake Wendouree including the lengthening and widening of the rowing course, the building of a judges box, creating several buoying systems over the years and purchasing the current buoying system.
In recent years as President of the Ballarat Rowing Association, he has also been instrumental as an advocate for the City of Ballarat to undertake significant works at Lake Wendouree following years of severe drought. This significant investment has brought the old 1956 Olympic course up to modem standards and restored this vital community asset for the use and enjoyment of all Ballarat residents and visitors. He is a member of the Lake Wendouree Aquatic Association which controls the use of Lake Wendouree.
Eric is also the course manager for the Ballarat Public Schools Regatta (Head of the Lake) and is the first contact with school officials for the event. During recent drought years, Eric co-ordinated the relocation of the event to Nagambie and Geelong, and was an integral part of the celebration of the event's 100th anniversary, back on Lake Wendouree in 2012.
In 1990, Eric was the recipient of the Ballarat Sportsmen's Club Mackenzie Award, an award presented to a person who has made a major contribution to Ballarat sport. In 2012, Eric was inducted into the Ballarat Sports Hall of Fame. In summary, some of Waller's achievements at Ballarat-level include:
- President of the Ballarat Rowing Association since 1984;
- President of the Victorian Country Rowing Association since 1989;
- Course manager for the Ballarat Public Schools Regatta;
- Member of the Lake Wendouree Management Committee;
- Spokesman for rowing in Ballarat;
- Led the many improvements to the course at Ballarat, including the current dredging and buoying system; and
- Successfully negotiated to bring many major aquatic events to Ballarat.
Eric (centre) at Lake Wivenhoe in a typical pose helping at a regatta, this time as boat driver
Eric's work at the local level is also demonstrated with his lifelong involvement with the Wendouree-Ballarat Rowing Club. He joined the club in 1957 as a beginner. (Eric's interest in boats, rowing and Lake Wendouree was created during his time as a primary school student at Pleasant Street State School which is situated 50 metres from the south shore of the lake.) Eric had a short but successful rowing career, winning novice and maiden class events over a two year period. In 1959, he became Club Captain, a position which he held for 20 years prior to becoming President in 1979: the latter position he held until 2015. During his two-decade term as Club Captain, he coached and watched over many winning crews including "The Cockies Eight" in the 1960s which won 11 eight oared events. His efforts in this period resulted in several Victorian Junior and Country Club Premierships and he coached crews at both Victorian and National Championships.
During Eric's years as captain of the Club, it experienced a 'golden era' in all aspects of the sport; membership, finances, race wins, maintenance of the clubhouse and growth in the fleet of boats.
As President, the Club has spawned Olympic medallists including Gary Gullock in 1984 and Rachael Taylor in 2000 and World Champions including Emily Martin.
Eric has facilitated schools rowing with the club housing boats from Ballarat High School and Ballarat Grammar School at times when their boat houses were being rebuilt, as well as providing boats for new schools to become involved.
Further to his tireless work at a local level, Waller has been an integral member of state and national bodies and administrator of events, including:
- An elected board member of Rowing Victoria for 18 years and Vice-President;
- The inaugural and continuing Field of Play Manager for Rowing Victoria, which has led to great innovation and improvement of regatta courses and standards in Victoria. This voluntary role involves Eric driving some 35,000kms each year to Victorian regattas and ensures that all events comply with safety standards and regulation to provide a safe and enjoyable experience to all involved
- Has introduced the requirement of life saving support at all Rowing Victoria regattas, which has been adopted by Rowing Australia at all its regattas;
- Field of Play Manager for the eight national championships, run by Victoria including the first national regatta held in Ballarat since the drought in May 2012;
- President of the Victorian Country Rowing Association from 1989;
- Has had significant input into the National Rowing Championships in all other states since 1962, with field of play or boat driving organisational responsibilities;
- Has created an association of skilled boat drivers who operated at every National Rowing Championships; and
- Has had important operational tasks at the 1990 World Rowing Championships, 2000 Olympic Games and the 2012 World Masters Games.
For his efforts, he has been awarded:
- Life membership of Rowing Victoria Inc
- The Rowing Victoria Kath Bennett Award for outstanding service to the sport
- The Old Oarsmen and Women's Association prestigious Tom Rodda Award
Whilst he has a long list of achievements and contributions, he is also widely liked, approachable, good spirited and performs all these voluntary activities with a deep love of the sport.
Andrew Guerin 2013