Boat names honor rowing stalwarts

TWO key people in the Ballarat rowing community were acknowledged for their significant contributions to the sport last weekend, with boats christened in their names.

Wendouree Ballarat Rowing Club members honored former long-term captain and president, and stalwart of the Australian rowing community, Eric Waller, and first-ever woman captain of the club, Alicia Ivory.

“Alicia joined the club in 2015, joined the committee straight away, and was club captain from 2017 to 2022, doing a fantastic job,” WBRC president John King said.

“She helped grow the winter rowing program… attracted new coaches to the club and retained them, and was passionate about the learn-to-row program, which attracted lots of new members, some of which are now on the committee, coaching and volunteering .

“Alicia has been strongly promoting women’s rowing, and women’s involvement in junior, senior or masters rowing, committee membership or volunteering.

“We’re very proud of her. She joined the Rowing Victoria board last year… and has been a strong club member. Whenever we’re short on a member in a women’s or men’s crew, Alicia jumps in and helps us out.”

Ivory became a WBRC member when she moved to Ballarat with an aim to meet new people.

“I’ve certainly made a lot of friends and really connected with a lot of people,” she said.

“This is a great community rowing club helping people integrate into all sorts of areas of sport and community life. It’s a pleasure to be part of it.

An eight has been named after Eric Waller.

“I intend to hop into this boat as many times as I can.”

Mr Waller is the former president of the Ballarat Rowing Association and has made national and international contributions to the sport, working as an official at the Australian National Championships, Sydney Olympics, the World Rowing Championships is Tasmania, and at the World Masters Games on Lake Wendouree.

“You meet people throughout the world, and I was able to use those contacts to… get the Ballarat course to FISA standard,” Mr Waller said.

“Ballarat is the only FISA approved course in Victoria.”

Mr King said it’s important the club continues to have a boat named after Mr Waller, who’s contributed “enormously.”

“Eric is well respected in the rowing world. Not because of what he says, but what he does. He gets things done, and in a simple manner. Nothing becomes too complicated,” he said.

“I took over from Eric in 2014, but he’s been a fantastic mentor during that time to help navigate the rowing world.

“We hope to see Eric around the rowing club for some time to come, and we felt it important to have a boat in his name that’s getting used a lot on the water. It will continue to go out at nearly every regatta.”

Rowing Victoria president Deb Spring was present at the boat christening and said Mr Waller’s commitment to the sport, including stints as an RV board member and vice-president, has been immeasurable.

“He’s dedicated, passionate and there’s such a depth and breadth of what he’s done, from being on the field of play for years, to coaching a winning crew,” she said.

“He’s a legend, and that’s what makes the rowing community so strong; the people like Eric.”

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