The Ballarat Grammar School’s first rowing crew is devastated following a controversial decision by school principals’ to re-row the 2017 Head of The Lake race instead of disqualifying the first- placed crew, St Patrick’s College.
The race concluded with a convincing win from the favourites, followed by Ballarat Grammar School (in second place), Ballarat High School, Ballarat Clarendon College and Damascus Col- lege.
“We were definitely the underdogs,” said Zac Oliver who occupied Ballarat Grammar’s Stroke Seat during the event last month.
Following the race, it was announced that the St Patrick’s College cox had not followed correct weigh-in protocol, weighing 2kgs under the required 55kgs. The race referees recommended dis- qualification, meaning the title would be given to Ballarat Grammar.
“I thought that disqualification would be the only outcome. We would either get the win or they would call it a null race,” said Jonty Trotter who occupied Grammar’s Three Seat. “I was excited as soon as I heard we could win.”
“It would have been tainted, but I’d take it,” followed Oliver about the possible win.
The decision was passed to the principals of the five competing schools, who later announced that a re-row would be held three days later in the “best education interests” of the rowers.
“Everyone assumed that as contentious as it would be, the rules would be followed. It was a defi- nite curveball,” explained Oliver. “We should have been the winners, just for rules sake.”
“We were really disappointed. They’ve blurred the line between right and wrong for future races,” said Trotter.
The crew found it difficult to prepare for the re-row, having put everything into the first race.
“When it first came out, none of us wanted to row,” said Trotter.
“Three days later it’s hard to work yourself up again. We only had a limited timeframe to prepare,” explained Oliver. “We had nothing to lose, but St Pats had a lot.”
St Patrick’s College came through with another strong win, whilst Ballarat Grammar fell back to a disappointing third place.
All five crews will travel to Sydney to compete in the National Championships over four days. “Now is when we can really flog ourselves. If the water is good, we’re out on it,” Trotter said.
There is a possibility that Grammar will face-off with St Pats again at the Nationals, however the heat details have not yet been released.