I would say that since the Club was founded in 1876 its main aims and aspirations have undergone little change. At the time of our move to the new premises in July 1995 this was enshrined in the lease by which they are held. The permitted use is as "a rowing club to promote the sport of rowing under the FISA rules as well as other complimentary social, recreational and sporting activities."
There have been many changes since our 100th anniversary in 1976. The role of the club, not only in rowing but also in social terms, has evolved immensely. The rowing season which then encompassed around 12 regattas now comprises 71 regattas including team events, small boats, junior and senior male, senior female and veterans.
In 1976 the rowing squad may have been made up of 16 oarsmen whilst in the 2000-2001 season the club had 38 rowers registered with GARA. They have ranged from girls and boys as young as 12 to veteran oarsmen closing in on 50. All have participated in at least one regatta this year.
During these 25 years the club has enjoyed what must rank as one of the most successful periods in their history. Illustrious oarsmen have worn the red vest with pride. Names such as Antonio Teuma (who was also captain during our centenary anniversary), Clive Baker (the most successful captain the Club's history) and Leslie Grech and E Bensadon (both of whom have probably won more regattas than any other oarsmen, not only in the history of the Club, but in local rowing. Many momentous occasions have been witnessed during such as the Commonwealth Games in 1986 attended by several of our top oarsmen; numerous outings to Spain, England, Portugal and as far away as Italy; the mile course record being lowered for the first time under 6 minutes by a Calpe Crew; and Leslie Grech becoming a world champion in Masters Rowing.
But what of the future?
As in every sphere of life the future lies with the new people entering the sport. Sometimes there is a barrier of elitism associated with the sport of rowing in the community, which is why we must endeavour to introduce as many people as possible into the sport. Their rewards will be considerable.
The junior section is growing at a steady rate primarily as a result of the summer courses and partly by word of mouth. At this early age enjoyment is paramount in order to encourage development of skills. However apart from the introduction of new athletes to the sport there is also a need to involve more parents and volunteers.
All visitors to the Club will see the boathouse is full to capacity with a splendid range of boats. As a result training space is somewhat restricted and this is now the main problem that needs to be addressed in the near future. It must be borne in mind that improved training facilities would not only benefit the rowing fraternity but also a wide section of the remaining membership (young and old, male and female) who use them.
Finally it is important to consider that although the primary objective of the club must be the promotion of rowing it is important that all ancillary activities are well catered for. The success of any club must undoubtedly be based on its members. It is important that both the social and rowing sections within the club should be encouraged to organise their own social functions in which everybody is able to participate. This will ensure that all members continue to feel part of a club, or should I say institution, that will continue to form part of Gibraltar for many more years to come.
C. A. Russo