Yarra Yarra Rowing Club, a community resource
Our mission is to bring the sport of rowing to all, and Yarra Yarra Rowing Club (YYRC) does this through a number of rowing pathways; we have a strong Learn to Row programme that is run frequently throughout the year, and takes beginners through the basics of rowing over a set number of sessions. This leads into a blossoming development programme, a strong ‘Masters’ rowing cohort and a Youth Development programme that is offered to under 18 / youth rowers who show talent at the sport. In short, our mission is to share our love of the sport with as many people as we can. We are not alone in this endeavour: many rowing clubs on the Yarra, including Richmond RC and Melbourne RC run similar programmes.
Our diverse membership
Our membership numbers approximately 200, made up of people of all ages from under 18s to the over 80’s, some of whom still like to get out in a boat when possible. We have members who just want to row to stay fit, or row as a social outlet. We have social members who don’t row but like to be involved with the club. We have members who train hard and compete at club level at Regattas around the State and beyond.In short, we are anything but a purely high performance-focussed club.
Sharing costs with a partner and a tenant
We also share our facilities with two schools. Their participation more than doubles the number of people using YYRC’s facilities and provides students with the opportunity for regular exercise, and learning new skills. One school has a very small rowing programme, and sharing our facilities with them in exchange for a partnering ‘membership’ arrangement enables their school to offer a rowing programme to their students, whilst helping with the running costs of YYRC. The other school is considered a tenant as part of a sub-lease arrangement with YYRC and the City of Melbourne, and their financial contribution helped YYRC to rebuild the clubhouse that currently sits on the site. In return, they use the facilities and contribute their share of the day to day operational running costs of the club.
Limited revenue generating opportunities
As part of our very strict Liquor Licence agreement, we are allowed a small number of licenced events for non-members per year, and this ‘private function’ revenue is important to help us not just with operational and running costs, but also to help set aside funds for building maintenance, and repair and replacement of rowing equipment (boats and oars).
Support for country clubs, interstate and overseas rowers
Yarra Yarra Rowing Club has a rich history and deep community connections with many country rowing clubs. We understand very well that many of these clubs are ‘doing it tough’ and have far fewer members than we do. We recently waived the remainder of the agreed cost of a second hand boat we’d sold to Albury Wodonga Rowing Club, recognising their need for the boat and their limited resources. We actively support other clubs, by attending their Regattas and other competitive events throughout the racing season - many country clubs rely solely on revenue generated from entry fees and catering at these events.
The rowing community stretches across State boundaries and overseas. We regularly welcome overseas or interstate rowers who find themselves in Melbourne. For large events, we have strong ties with many Interstate clubs who call Yarra Yarra their ‘home from home’ when competing in Melbourne.
Support for community events
We support community events along the river bank as opportunities occur:
A club run by volunteers
Yarra Yarra Rowing Club is a community club with a proud history of being run solely by volunteers, stretching back over 150 years. At its inception in 1871, the club was created to provide sporting opportunities for working class men - not the privileged few - and that is how it has grown and continued. Today we are an inclusive club of all ages, genders and rowing abilities.
Without the support of our volunteers, without the support of the schools who share our facilities and our love of the sport, it is unlikely that we would be able to provide the services we do at the current membership cost for our members. Paying a commercial rent would mean no longer being able to operate as a community based volunteer organisation.
We are keenly aware of the privilege that is afforded us by the terms of our agreement with the City of Melbourne, as well as the restrictions posed on us as part of that agreement, which limit the revenue we can generate through other means. Without this type of lease from the City of Melbourne, the sport of rowing would most likely disappear from the banks of the Yarra, as it would become too costly to provide these services to the community.
President, Yarra Yarra Rowing Club