TO SAY Boat Race is a big deal is an understatement. But there can be no doubt when the girls firsts hit the water on Sunday they will not be taking their place on Lake Wendouree for granted for arguably one of the biggest days on the Ballarat sporting calendar.
This year marks 40 years since girls were allowed to compete in the Ballarat Associated School's Head of the Lake. Firsts and seconds, buried in the open program to get out of the way before the leading boys rowed for glory.
The girls had 500 metres to make an impact. In heavy tubs, too.
History tends to always favour the victors. The inaugural Girls' Head of the Lake title was claimed by Ballarat Grammar, which incidentally will defend the girls' marquee crown this weekend.
History should show this incredible feat was just as much about Ballarat Clarendon College and Ballarat High School girls' crews as well.
Until 40 years ago rowing was not deemed physically appropriate for young women in Ballarat - or that had been the line from what was very much a traditional boys' club in town for almost 70 years.
- READ MORE: Head of the Lake comes home for centenary
Ballarat schoolgirls had been rowing and competing in carnivals about the state before they were allowed into Head of the Lake. Interestingly, even media paid more attention to the fact this was the first Head of the Lake regatta for which alcohol was banned then the pioneering young women preparing to make waves.
It was only about a decade earlier women working in Australia's public service won the right to keep their jobs once they were married.
Only seven years before Girls' Head of Lake did Billie Jean King and her band of eight renegade female tennis players broke away to form their own professional women's tennis circuit for a better future in the game. One of these women was Judy Dalton, who is now based in Ballarat.
It took the best part of a decade after the inaugural Girls' Head of the Lake for waves to settle and for there to be equal billing in the BAS program.
In some ways, so much has changed since courageous young women and their coaching advocates created history in Ballarat. Although, for these schoolgirl rowers, this was about showcasing what they had been doing all along - rowing regattas.
In some ways, the same battles are being fought in modern sporting fields.
The most obvious comparison is AFLW and arguments, from male and female armchair critics, about the length of the games and comparative skills to full-time professional male players. Will we still be having such debate on AFLW or women's cricket or women's soccer in 40 years' time?
As a coach standing out on the spit, Grammar's Priscilla Herington said there was a lot of noise - just not really much cheering when the girls were in action. But the girls were out there, competing.
Forty years on, the Boat Race roar is phenomenal for all crews and none more so than when it reaches Head of the Lake, boys and girls, races. This is definitely a tradition worth celebrating.
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.