Scroll To Top
History of Ballarat Head of the Lake rowing regatta

1920 Ballarat Head of the Lake

This year brought the first win for Ballarat College. Not surprisingly, the fundraising and support group of the College boat club has adopted the name 'The 1920 Club' in recognition of the College's first win.

The Ballarat Star on 18th October 1920 reported: BALLARAT COLLEGE WINS - A MAGNIFICENT FINISH

Amidst a scene of unparalleled enthusiasm, and to the accompaniment of cheers from thousands of partisans, crews from Ballarat College, Church of England Grammar School, and St.Patrick’s College fought out a desperate finish on Saturday for the four-oared supremacy of the Lake. It was indeed a spirited struggle over that last fateful 200 yards, and the game efforts of the plucky young oarsmen, the yells of the excited supporters of the crews, as the culminating blast of cheering as the boats shot over the line almost abreast, will not readily be forgotten by those who witnessed this, the greatest of all the Ballarat public school rowing contests. Never has the Lake presented a more animated or picturesque scene than on Saturday. The interest in this annual contest…. Has been growing at a rapid rate, and the attendance was as large as at the last Ballarat Regatta………. It was a glorious day for the race. There was a gentle ripple on the water, with a light head wind, for the lads to pull against and over all the bright sunshine. 

Organising Committee and Officials

Organising Committee: Ballarat Public Schools' Association

Officials: From the Ballarat Regatta Association.

Judges: G Tonner, A H Nevett

Umpire: Lt ColBennett

Starter: T Moran

Clerk of Scales: I Moran

Course: Mile course


Head of the Lake

Time: 6 minutes  41 seconds.
Margin: one foot to second and six feet to third.

1st Ballarat College - J Coltman (str), W Hicks (3), A Clarke (2), K Bradby (bow), Cox: Alex J King, Coach: W D Dawson
2nd Ballarat Grammar - 
W Allen (str), A McMillan (3), N Eyres (2), O Damman (bow), Cox: C Henry, Coach: Fred Luke
3rd St Patrick's College - Leo Clinton (str), D Foley (3), F Utber (2), F Tobin (bow). Cox: A Carroll. Coach: J P Bourke

The Ballarat Star also provided a race description. Grammar School was the smartest to strike the water and they led for a few strokes, but whenthe crews had settled down Ballarat College, rowing a slower stroke than the others, had an advantage of about a quarter of a length from St.Patrick’s, who were a few feet ahead of Grammar School. Nearing the St. Patrick’s College boatsheds Ballarat and St. Patrick’s were about level, while Grammar owing to steering to far to the north had dropped back and were now about a length behind. Coming to the Point it could be seen that it was anyone’s race, and the cheers rose to hurricane pitch. Ballarat in the centre and St. Patrick’s on the south appeared to be going stroke for stroke, neck and neck, while Grammar had moved up and were now almost with the other two. After the Point had been passed Grammar seemed to obtain a slight lead over Ballarat with St.Patrick’s almost even with the latter. A few yards from the post Grammar and Ballarat were together, but with a last effort Ballarat shot over the line in front, amidst tremendous cheering, while St.Patrick’s finished a splendid third. The official verdict was that Ballarat College won by a foot from Grammar School, who beat St.Patrick’s by six feet for second place. Time 6 mins. 41 secs.

A big contributing factor to the success of the winning crew was the splendid course steered by their coxswain, Alex King. The coach of the winning crew Mr. W.D.Dawson was congratulated on all sides on the college’s success, and the stroke (J.Coltman) and members of the crew were chaired to their dressing room amidst the enthusiastic applause of the old boys brigade. The coaches and members of the other two fours were also felicitated on a magnificent showing made by them against a more experienced quartette. Probably had Grammar School’s course been steered straighter they might have won.

NOTE: Alex King went on to be a member of Ballarat Rowing Club and coxed many Ballarat crews to victory. 

Ballarat College Crew

Ballarat College Crew

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

Principal researcher: Kate Elliott

< previous 1919

> next 1921

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management