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A short History of :
The West of England Amateur Rowing Association
The South Coast Rowing Championships Regatta
Rowing on Wimbleball Lake

The West of England Amateur Rowing Association
The first meeting was held on the 29th January 1896 with representation from the rowing clubs of Exeter, Totnes, Dart, Torquay, Paignton, and Dartmouth.  At this meeting a Mr W. Wilson from Dartmouth was elected as the first Chairman of the association.  The objects were agreed as, "Regulation of amateur rowing generally and deciding all questions of dispute that may affect Boat Racing and deciding on all questions relating to Status of Amateurs and Professionals and Juniors and Seniors.”  The Laws and Bye-Laws were finalised at a meeting on 29th April 1896.
A Silver Shield was purchased in 1922 for the Senior Championships at a cost of £25; this shield is still presented today and remains a centrepiece of the WEARA armoury of trophies.   

The first South Coast regatta was held at Poole in 1957, eight WEARA men's crews and three ladies’ crews took part.  In 1958 the regatta became known as The South Coast Championships and was held at Dartmouth, WEARA Clubs won Senior and Junior Senior Championship Fours.

The WEARA Ladies Championships started in 1965, and was won by Torquay, who also won the South Coast Championships in 1966.

In 1985 Wimbleball was rejected by the South Coast Championship Committee as there were "insufficient social facilities"; it was queried whether this was a "Social" regatta or a "Rowing" one!

Thanks to Alastair Barr for providing this account. The full version can be found on the WEARA website.

History of the South Coast Rowing Championships Regatta.
The South Coast Rowing Champions was the inspiration of Archie Fraser, of Westover & Bournemouth Rowing Club who had the idea of an event involving the three South Coast Rowing Associations who would provide a champion in each class to compete in a "champion of champions" race at the end of the season.

The first Championship Regatta was hosted by the Hants & Dorset ARA at Poole in 1957 where Christchurch were the winners of the Senior event, for the Bideford Bowl, donated by the West of England ARA and BTC won both the Junior Senior and Junior Events. The following day officials from the three Associations decided that the Regatta should continue and be hosted by each Association in rotation. It was agreed that the host Association would include any supporting events of their own choice.

Although the supporting events had often included ladies races their was no Ladies Championship event until 1976 - and in 1992 a Junior Ladies Championship event was added. The Veteran Championship was added in 2004 bringing the total of Championship events to six.

Trophies by Event

Past Champions

Club Colours

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Rowing on Wimbleball Lake
A great number of those reading this will not know how rowing came to enjoy a presence on this lake. It was back in the late 1970’s when South West Water and Wessex Water saw the completion of the dam that allowed the Lake to fill to what you see here today.

The Sailors of Wimbleball Sailing Club were first on the scene after the lake filled, but had it not been for the efforts of a small band of people, competitive rowing may never have seen the light of day on Wimbleball Lake. The original licence for recreational use of the lake afforded the Sailing Club control over all water borne activities and no allowance had been made for the potential of a Rowing Club.

Fortunately for WEARA and the rest of the rowing fraternity, WEARA Chairman Colin Myrone, Torquay stalwart Mike Ferrigno, together with the late Len Rey of Exeter and others, got into talks with South West Water to begin lengthy negotiations to ensure the sport of Rowing was represented, and it was to take over five years of legal wrangling to achieve a satisfactory outcome.  At a meeting on June 14th 1979, a group consisting of the then WEARA Chairman Colin Myrone , Mike Ferrigno, Ray Grigg, and Ray Mallett, formed ‘Wimbleball Rowing Club’, which then existed purely to give Rowing a voice in the activities on the lake, there were no members as such and no boats.  The Clubs badge depicting the appropriate ‘Excalibur’ Trophy, which is competed for annually in the Men’s senior race, and year of foundation, was designed by a former Exeter R.C member Richard Willows.

The inaugural regatta took place on September 16th 1979, shortly after this Mike Ferrigno departed to live in France, but the happy trio of Ray, Colin, and Ray continued to act in a caretaker capacity staging an annual West of England Championship regatta for the next ten years, until at last a small group of locals co-ordinated by Sue Tout and Chris Pine amongst others, realised the tremendous potential for our sport on the lake, and took over the running of the Regatta in 1989.

With a small fleet of second hand boats donated by many of the WEARA clubs, plus a lot of hard work by the ‘new’ membership, a proper Club with regular members and therefore a regular presence on the lake took over the responsibility of protecting the interests of rowing at this wonderful venue.  In recognition of their efforts, each of the ‘intrepid threesome’ of Ray, Colin, and Ray, were proposed and nominated as Founder Members and Life Vice -Presidents  of Wimbleball R.C. , and each was very proud to be honoured in such a way.

Still a relatively small club, due in the main to the sparse local population, Wimbleball R.C. today thrives, and is extremely proud to host this South Coast Championship with the help and support of WEARA, it not only marks a significant event in the history of Rowing on the lake but also the culmination of the efforts of that small group of volunteers who over thirty years ago, had the foresight to ensure that our sport will hopefully continue to grow from strength to strength for the benefit of all on Wimbleball Lake.

From those Three Founder Members, we say a hearty well done and Congratulations to the Officers and Members of Wimbleball R.C. on their ‘Coming of Age, with the staging of this South Coast Championship of 2010.

(account prepared by Ray, Ray, and Colin). [top]