Head of Lake date change defended, with state regatta a bonus for city

THE transfer of this year’s Head of the Lake rowing regatta to Friday is expected to reduce crowd numbers at the event.

The Ballarat Associated Schools (BAS) premier rowing regatta has been staged on a Sunday since returning to Lake Wendouree, but

organisers agreed to swap to the weekday with Rowing Victoria holding its state championship on the same weekend.

The state event will bring hundreds of competitors and support staff to Ballarat in another tourism boon for the city, as it tries to position itself as one of Australia’s premier rowing venues.

Head of the Lake is the feature event on the Ballarat schools’ rowing calender with  more than 500 student rowers  involved in the event.

Ballarat BAS executive officer Sharyn Canny said Sunday continued to be Head of the Lake’s first preference.

“We’ve all worked together to work out the best fit for Ballarat,” she said.

“I expect it’ll have a big impact on crowd numbers in general. I’ve had lots of emails from parents asking for exact race times so they can get out of work.”

Ms Canny said a Sunday did not impact on learning times and was an important factor in why Head of the Lake had developed a family atmosphere.

Organisers looked to reschedule to another weekend, but the school rowing calender was full.

Ballarat City Council’s  infrastructure general manager Eric Braslis said Rowing Victoria set the regatta calendar every year in consultation with the Ballarat Rowing Association and the Lake Wendouree Aquatic Association.

In September last year, a booking was made for the Rowing Victoria state titles regatta at Lake Wendouree for this weekend.

“Council is aware that, traditionally, the Head of the Lake is held on the Saturday before end of school term one,” he said.

“In recent years the schools have not chosen to continue that tradition of utilising that weekend.

“There are a number of alternative days available on weekends in February and March for the event to be held.

“Council continues to support the Head of the Lake as a great event held by Ballarat schools for more than 100 years.”

Rowing Victoria field of play manager Eric Waller said the weekend of rowing would bring more than 3400 people into the city.

“It’s a balanced, merged date that has been organised between all the parties,” he said. 

“It will help the ... schools run a smoother and better regatta as they’ll have all the infrastructure that go with the state championships to go with it.”

The state championships are alternating between Ballarat and Nagambie for the next five years, with Head of the Lake likely to get a weekend date back in 2015.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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