TOMORROW, 9am, Ballarat Associated Schools crews will line up to launch Head of the Lake’s return to Lake Wendouree for the first time in nine years.
Spit crews will line the shores near the finish at the western edge of the lake. There will be more colour, more noise and more war-paint at the regatta than in the past eight years when held at Nagambie Lakes and Geelong. There will be greater expectations and heightened nerves in the sheds as rowers prepare to race in the regatta’s centenary celebrations.
No rower on the water tomorrow has experienced Head of the Lake on home water. But they have heard the legends.
Homecoming has drawn massive hype for tomorrow’s Head of the Lake and the spotlight will be firmly on those in the title races – the firsts.
Crews have admitted to nerves, tinged with excitement, in the lead-up to the much-heralded Ballarat Associated Schools’ regatta.
The distance is greater, the crowds more vocal and the pressure, intense.
This is the first Boat Race on Lake Wendouree since 2003 and will mark the centenary of Head of the Lake.
Ballarat Clarendon College girls are seeking a “three-peat” in the marquee girls’ race.
They return to the water with four of the same crew, including coxswain Tilly Graovac, this season and have focused on fine-tuning for improvement.
College and Ballarat Grammar have maintained a fierce on-water rivalry the past decade and Grammar, runner-up the past two years, has been touted as a major contender on Lake Wendouree.
Loreto will field an impressive fleet of 17 crews in its first venture back on the lake in 32 years.
A Loreto rowing program was relaunched at Nagambie Lakes in 2007 with five crews, minus a firsts crew, after a 26-year hiatus from the BAS regatta.
Grammar is the crew to beat in the boys.
Like the College girls, the defending boys’ champion is back on the water with all but its winning captain.
Grammar severed a four-year St Patrick’s College reign in the event last season and St Pat’s, with a relatively new crew, wants the title back.
But Grammar captain of boats Sam Ballantyne remained wary of Ballarat High School in a profile with The Courier earlier in the week.
Captains agreed a return to Lake Wendouree could break the competition wide open.
Head of the Lake will be contested on a 2000-metre course for the first time since 2002 with windy conditions tipped to affect the first 1000 metres.
And there is the added hype. All crews want to be the one standing on the podium tomorrow.