Grammar stamps itself as the one to beat as racing returns to the lake

BALLARAT Grammar signalled itself as the school to beat in next month’s Head of the Lake after strong displays at the weekend’s Wendouree-Ballarat Regatta.

Grammar took out the schoolboys open fours event and finished second behind Melbourne-based Lauriston Girls School in the schoolgirls equivalent.

The two-day regatta was used as a main lead-up for schools competing in the Head of the Lake on March 3.

More than 1600 competitors took part in more than 200 races across the weekend in what was the first Wendouree-Ballarat regatta held on Lake Wendouree for six years.

Regatta secretary Lance Deveson praised the work done by the City of Ballarat, saying the course infrastructure held up well throughout a busy two days of racing.

“Ballarat turned on beautiful weather and it has been fantastic,” he said.

Deveson said past Wendouree-Ballarat regattas, held at Nagambie, had been largely for open or elite athletes, whereas the weekend’s racing had catered strongly for club-level rowers.

Well-known broadcaster Roger Wilson, who has commentated at Olympic Games during his career, called all the action.

“It’s a thrill for me to see the water back in the lake again,” Wilson said.

“This is the biggest Ballarat regatta I think I can remember.

“We’ve never had two days where there has been 200 races.”

One of the many highlights was the men’s eight C-grade race, which saw Wendouree-Ballarat take out the event from local rivals Ballarat City.

Competition was held over the 2000m course, which started from near Haddon Street, with the finish line at Hamilton Avenue.

Next month’s Ballarat Associated Schools’ Head of the Lake will follow the event’s return to Lake Wendouree – for the first time in nine years – in 2012.