On the Waterfront
- Dominic Dietrich
- Thursday, 24 May 2012
The Balmain Rowing Club and the Balmain Sailing Club enjoy a history that dates back to the 19th century, yet both aim to keep ahead of the tides despite threats of increased traffic.
The Rowing Club was founded in 1882 and some of its members worry about the increased traffic on the main strip south of the Iron Cove Bridge.
The Club’s unofficial historian, Barbara Ramjan, said the proposed expansions of the Birkenhead Point Marina include the growing number of swing moorings established by other marinas and a potential new ferry service which threatens to shrink available rowing space.
The Club’s captain, Liam James, said around 30 to 40 boats use the area in mid-season, but on regatta days there are around 200 boats.
The bay is certified by Rowing NSW to allow for six rowing lanes.
“The Harbour works in a delicate balance,” Mr James said.
“The power boat guys, the fishermen, the ferries, the commercial vessels.”
A few years ago his rowing boat was cut in half by a fishing boat near Cockatoo Island.
“When one of those groups starts to increase … it affects all of the others.”
The Sydney Morning Herald cited a document by consulting firm Booz & Company earlier this month which assessed the viability of several new ferry lines.
The April 2011 document was obtained under Freedom of Information and highlighted the Iron Cove as a potential site.
Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, has specified that new wharves would not be constructed in the near future.
The Balmain Sailing Club began operating in the 1880s and now strives to lure a young membership.
The Club’s Commodore, John Blair, said they established a Futures Direction Committee this year and are looking to attract young sailors.
The Club’s Vice Commodore, David Stenhouse said:”I think the culture’s changed. Younger people are working more and not considering boats.”
He said that in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s sailing in the Harbour was much more of a working class phenomenon.
“There is a perception that yachting is a bit of an elitist thing when in reality there are quite a lot of boats here that are struggling to find a crew. You don’t need to own a boat to come out and go sailing.”
“Even if you do want to be a boat owner there are plenty of boats out there that you can pick up for a relatively cheap price.”
Like this article? Register as a subscriber here. It's free! We'll keep you up to date with new stories on the site.