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History of NSW Central Districts Rowing Association

NSW Central Districts Rowing Association

The 2010s

Change to the RNSW Fee Structure

The major item of discussion at the 2011 AGM was a change to the RNSW fee structure. 

Since the association was established in 1981, member clubs had been affiliated with RNSW through CDRA which paid a single affiliation fee to the state body. This fee had been $500 in 2010. 

RNSW sought to improve the perceived financial imbalance between regional clubs and the metropolitan clubs who individually payed both affiliation fees and a significant monthly levy. 

Discussions between the two associations resulted in a levy of $500 per club to be paid by CDRA, which amounted to $5,000 for 2011.

CDRA also agreed to relinquish the rebate paid by RNSW from the individual state membership fees of the region’s rowers which had been $2,500 in 2010. 

To finance the additional $7,000 required to meet this new commitment, CDRA entry fees were increased.

In November 2010, Ivan Adlam of Endeavour RC had been appointed as director of finance for Rowing NSW. In August 2011, he was elected as president of RNSW, the first member of CDRA to hold the position. Ivan retained the presidency for nearly 5 years until he stepped down in May 2016. 

Newcastle Rowing Club boatshed – CDRA Sprint Championships (Picture Troy Adams)

Club Developments from 2011 to 2016

Prior to the start of the 2011/12 racing season, Hunter RC changed their name to Lake Macquarie Rowing Club. 

In October 2012 and January 2013, St Josephs Secondary College Port Macquarie and the Hastings Regional Rowing Group were accepted as members of CDRA. The two clubs operated together from the Rocks Ferry Reserve on the Hastings River at Wauchope. 

After eleven years of inactivity, Armidale RC resumed paying affiliation fees to the association during the 2012/13 season. The club would not take part in any CDRA regattas until a sole single sculler attended two regattas in 2019, however the club was to participate at the Taree Summer regatta from 2015 onward.

The 2014/15 season saw the re-emergence of Upper Hunter RC in 4 regattas after 8 years of non-participation.  Upper Hunter RC had operated under the umbrella of Scone Rugby Club until activity had ceased in 2006. In 2012 the rugby club had passed the rowing club’s assets into the joint management of St Joseph’s High School at Aberdeen and Scone Grammar School. After this brief revival, Upper Hunter’s entries lapsed for another 2 years.

2015/16 was the last season of participation for the group at Wauchope. After competing as St Josephs for two years then primarily as Hastings Region in the following two years, there were no further entries from either entity. 

Changes in the CDRA Executive

At the end of the 2013/14 season, Brian Kelleher retired from active participation in the conduct of the association due to ill health. Brian had been vice-president for 10 years, had operated the electronic regatta system, conducting draws and publishing results for 14 years, and had been a regular BRO at association regattas becoming the region’s first Rowing Australia official.

In September 2015, Brian passed away after losing his battle with cancer.

Brian Kelleher
Regatta Manager 2000-2014
Vice President 2004-2014

Peter Bond
Secretary/Treasurer 1991-2000
President 2015-2020+

In October 2015, Graham Nix stepped down from the position of president after suffering a stroke to be replaced by Peter Bond. Graham had served the association continuously for 35 years since its inception in 1981, holding executive positions as secretary/treasurer, vice-president and 20 years as president. After retiring from teaching, Peter had transferred from HVGS to Endeavour RC in 2012.

At the 2016 AGM, a special presentation was made to Graham of a CDRA plaque with the inscription: “Presented to Graham Nix President 1995 – 2015  In appreciation of his dedicated service and outstanding contribution to the success of the Central Districts Rowing Association since its foundation in 1981”

Changes in Regatta Procedures

After conducting draws in-house since 1990, it was decided in 2014 that CDRA regatta draws would be carried out by the Rowing NSW Regatta Secretary for a fee of $1430 in addition to that season’s affiliation fee of $7,260.

Since the association had first conducted regatta draws, entries for CDRA regattas had closed at 5.00 pm on the Tuesday 11 days before the regatta weekend, consistent with NSWRA procedure. In 2013, Rowing NSW had changed their due date to the Monday 5 days before. After 4 years out-of-synch, in 2017, the association resolved that the closing date for CDRA regattas would again be consistent with RNSW; 5:00 pm on the Monday preceding the regatta. 

The 2017/18 season saw the re-re-emergence of Upper Hunter RC. Scone Grammar had taken on full responsibility for the club after the original bequest of joint management had not been successful. Scone Grammar students racing as Upper Hunter have been regular competitors since then.

Evolutions in Regatta Structure

In response to the growing number of races at the Sprint Championships (175 races in 2012), it was resolved for the 2014 regatta to eliminate semifinals by limiting the number of entries in championship events to 9 with the number 1 crew from each club given preference.

In 2015, regatta events were separated into 2 formats, one for single regatta weekends and another for double regatta weekends.  The list of events for a single day included both age and grade events.  Double regattas had age events on one day and grade events on the other with seeded 1000m events added to both programs. 

In 2016, regatta programs were organised into 4 blocks enabling rowers to enter one race in each block and it was resolved to included a 45 minute lunch break in all CDRA regattas. 

In 2020, to reduce the length of regattas, some of which in recent years had run from 8.00am till after 5.00pm, it was resolved to shorten regatta programs from 4 blocks to 3 blocks.

At the same meeting, a motion was passed to reduce A and B grade races from 2000m to 1000m making all grade events the same distance. 2000 metre races were retained in U17/U19/0 events.  

Natural Phenomena

Being an outdoor sport, rowing is subject to the vagaries of the weather with the Hunter course on Lake Macquarie being the most vulnerable. Of the 16 CDRA regattas scheduled on Hunter’s Teralba course  between seasons 10 and 25, 7 were completed (some on “perfect” water, some on “very rough chop”), 2 had the course reduced to 500m, 5 were cut short as conditions deteriorated, one was abandoned before a race was run, and one was cancelled due to an unresolved clash with a sailing event. In the final 6 seasons from 2008 to 2013, only one regatta was successfully completed. The Lake Macquarie regatta moved to Berry Park in 2015 and has remained there since season 26.

Floods have also had an impact with the 2009 Port Macquarie regatta on the Wilson River and the 2013 CDRA Championships on the Manning River both cancelled due to flooding.

Manning River Rowing Club boatshed after the mini-cyclone
with broken Newcastle Grammar boats in the street above

The Brisbane Water regatta in February 2010 faced a different phenomenon with Australia’s east coast put on tsunami alert from an earthquake in Chile although the regatta ran without incident.

In recent years, excessive heat has had a significant impact. In 2017, the Endeavour regatta was cancelled when the temperature passed 38° and, one week later, heat wave conditions caused the cancellation of many events at the NSW Championships although selection races did proceed in temperatures up to 44°. The thermometer topped out at a record 47° in Penrith on the Saturday.

Although the 2017/18 program of regattas did not experience the extreme heat of the previous season, a quirk of nature did leave its mark. A Super Blue Blood Moon in February created strong incoming tides that resulted in a winning time of 9 minutes 46 seconds in one division of WD1x. (Super Moon: at its closest point to the Earth the Moon looks larger than normal / Blue Moon: the second full moon in the same calendar month / Blood Moon: in a total lunar eclipse, the Moon is bathed in red spectrum light refracted about the Earth)

In March 2019, an intense storm devastated the CDRA Championships with a mini-cyclone tearing through the boat park and ripping the roof off the Manning River clubhouse. All clubs suffered damage to their boats with Newcastle Grammar the hardest hit, having to write-off more than half their fleet. 

A Season Cut Short

The 2019/20 regatta season was devastated by 3 phenomena: weather, fire and disease.

Of the 10 regattas hosted by CDRA, 3 were cut short by the weather. The Newcastle Grammar regatta was cancelled after only 8 races due to gale force wind. Predicted temperatures over 40° caused withdrawals from the Lake Macquarie/Endeavour double regatta weekend resulting in redraws for both regattas that reduced a total of 204 races to 70. However, both regattas were cancelled inside 2 hours when the temperature passed 38°.

Extensive bushfires up and down the NSW coast prevented Port Macquarie and Manning River from travelling to regattas in November and December. 

In the week following the CDRA Championships, reaction to the world-wide corona virus hit all sporting activities. In mid-March, Rowing Australia cancelled the Australian Championships and a week later cancelled the Australian Masters regatta. At the same time, Rowing NSW cancelled the rest of the state’s regatta season. All rowing clubs went into lock-down with no activity for two months. Although the CDRA pointscore regattas had been completed, local rowers were deprived of the opportunity to compete in state and national championship regattas at the end of the season.

Hunter Region Rowing Complex - Berry Park

Preparations for Season 31 - An Uncertain Future

The 2020 annual general meeting was conducted electronically via ‘Zoom’, due to corona virus restrictions. 

Karuah Rowing and Aquatic Club based at the Karuah aboriginal mission was accepted as a member.

Due to the uncertainty of when full scale regatta activity could resume, it was left to the association committee in consultation with the host club to decide prior to each regatta whether or not the regatta should proceed. 

In mid-May, the first steps were taken to reduce restrictions with limited use of single sculls permitted although the future of the 2020/21 racing season remained in doubt.

Berry Park regatta – HVGS, Endeavour and NUBC boatsheds

Footnote: The 2020 CDRA annual general meeting set a regatta program that included 8 CDRA pointscore regattas, 2 non-pointscore regattas, 1 marathon and 2 RNSW regattas. Of the 9 events scheduled before Christmas, 7 were cancelled due to corona virus concerns and 2 were conducted with reduced programs under corona virus restrictions. After New Year, the Taree Summer Regatta in January was cancelled and the remaining 3 regattas were conducted with entries restricted to CDRA crews only.

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