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History of Ballarat Head of the Lake rowing regatta

1912 Ballarat Head of the Lake

The following record of this year comes from the booklet 100 Years of the Head of the Lake published by The Courier in 2012.

The first Year of the Head of the Lake Regatta - 1912 - was shrouded 1n controversy. Not only was the first event called a no-race, it was also the year that Ballarat High School was banned from entering teams.

The inaugural Head of the Lake was marred by a collision between Grammar and St Patrick's College boats and declared a no-race by officials. But it was the barring of the Ballarat Agricultural High School - now Ballarat High - from entering teams that was most controversial.

When the Ballarat Public Schools' Association was formed in 1912. its three founding member schools. Ballarat College (Clarendon). St Patrick's College and Ballarat Grammar excluded Ballarat High from the association.
While reasons for the school's exclusion still remain conjecture. BHS leaders at the time believed it may have been its large enrolment of students compared to Grammar. St Patrick's and College.

Ballarat High School was so annoyed with the boycott, the issue was taken to State Parliament to be overturned. On behalf of the school, MLA for Grenville, D McGrath asked the Minister for Public Instruction, A Billson, about it in the Legislative Assembly on October l, 1912.

In a responding letter. the minister wrote: "I have learned with regret that in a country with democratic institutions such as Victoria, action has been taken by the denominational secondary schools of Ballarat to exclude the boys of Ballarat Agricultural High School from participating in the organized secondary school sports of the district.

“It is pointed out that the same condition of things exists in connection with the Public Schools Association of Melbourne at the present time and I repeat with all the emphasis I possibly can that they have excluded the boys of our own Continuation School of the Melbourne High School. I hope sincerely that better counsels will prevail and that we shall not have this exclusion continued for any length of time"

In a City of Ballarat mayoral report 1912-13, the Ballarat Agricultural High School stated "In the matter of sport the school is still under boycott. Whatever contests in sport have taken place have been against schools from other places. In these contests the school has been fairly successful."

Ballarat High did not become a member of the association until 1943 when tennis and athletics matches were played. In 1944. the school began competing in cricket. football and rowing. Just three years later, Ballarat High won its first Head of the Lake.

The race was contested on October 15th before a large number of spectators.

Organising Committee and Officials

Organising Committee: Ballarat Public Schools' Association


Head of the Lake

Declared a no race after a collision

Ballarat Grammar
St Patrick's College
- F Anthony, W McGrath, V Rabl and D Little

The St Patrick's College Annual of 1912 reported as follows.

The interest in boating during 1912 was increased by the fact that a four­oared intercollegiate boat race had been included among the events of the year. There was a good deal of competition for the coveted honor of representing the school, but finally F Anthony, W McGrath, V Rabi and D Little were chosen to bear the college colors.

The race was rowed over the regatta course on October 15th, in the presence of a large number of spectators. It was very evenly contested until the pier was passed, where the boats got very close together; but from this point the SPC crew drew ahead and won by two lengths. There was great cheering among the SPC-ites over their victory, but to their surprise and dismay, the contest was declared "no race" on the grounds that the boats fouled one another. Though disappointed at being thus deprived of their victory, the SPC rowers are not disheartened, and are determined this year to win in a way which will admit of no doubt ...

1912 St Patricks College Crew

A crew of St Patrick's College in 1912

From '100 Years of the Head of the Lake' published by The Courier in 2012.

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