Principal's Address: Rowing Assembly 2010

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Principal's Address
Sydney Boys High School
at the annual Rowing Assembly
Held on 26 March 2010

Special guests, Head of the River crews, coaches, parents, teachers, students. It is a very special rowing assembly for us this year. We have with us the crew of the first IV from 1960. They won the Yaralla Cup. High has experienced some lean times in GPS rowing since then. I am pleased to be able to welcome these distinguished Old Boys to our assembly.We join together each year before the Head of the River to acknowledge and honour our rowers who are preparing for the biggest event of the year for rowing. I want to thank Oliver Wilson for coaching the first VIII and Simon Hoadley for bringing a fresh perspective to the rowing program and also coaching the second VIII.

James Mackay was very busy coaching all the IVs. The Year 10 VIIIs were coached by David Vien, David Luscombe and Chong Shao. Thank you too, Jonathan Adams and Mark Gainford for managing the five crews in the Year 9 Quads. Shahar Merom has done a great job in his first year as coach, working with the Year 8 Quads. Assisting him were: Matthew Ling, Jonothan Le, Robert Chen and Nathan McDonnell. Well done to all our dedicated coaches.

The Rowing program owes a great deal to the efforts of the Rowing Committee, in particular Julie Blomberg, Geoff Andrews, Peter Ambrose and Steve Whiting. Their dedication to the cause and teamwork in implementing Simon’s vision to re-design the promotion and presentation of rowing at the Outterside Centre, their great organisation of the inaugural Taree Camp and the smooth running of the High regatta, went way beyond what could be expected of volunteer committee members. The season was complicate by problems with our pontoons and the Rowing Committee rose to the challenge. They gave up their time in maintenance of the southern pontoon and during the most unfortunate sinking of the northern pontoon. Their work helped greatly to keep boating crews on training and racing days. They stuck together wonderfully and made it happen for the boys. I must also thank Cranbrook School Rowing for their generosity in allowing our first VIII to compete in one of their Sykes racing hulls. Psychologically, the crew is primed to row fast.

Goal setting is a very significant aspect of competitive sport. Goals need to be established within each person or team’s zone of proximal development. That is, the goal is within your reach if you strive extra hard to achieve it. The first goal for our rowers at the Head of the River is to better High’s long term average time 1999-2009. For all our crews, this is our benchmark of performance and an attainable goal. The second goal is to go for the margin of excellence, set at 5% longer than the winner’s time. If you can reach a level of performance that is 95% of the best possible on the day, that would be an excellent row. For the first VIII, goal one is High’s long term average of 6:22:48. They bettered this time on Wednesday at 6:21:12 and can do it again tomorrow. Their second goal is 6:14:19, the 5% barrier. The second VIII has a first goal of winner’s time + 7.85%. That figure is High’s long term average for that event. They can row sub 6:30. The first IV need to row within 8.36% above the winner’s time. The second IV has a target of 11.39% and the third IV 12.35%. The first year 10 VIII needs to beat 7.82% and the second Year 10 VIII, 9.58%. I will be judging your performances as High crews against standards set by High rowers before you. Your place in our history should be your prime motivator. If you can do better than that, your proximity to other competitors will give you the adrenalin you need.

I appreciate that things are different on race day. Sometimes crews are worn out by expending their nervous energy in anticipation of their event. On the race course the wind conditions or wash from other competitors will be difficult for our crews battling in outer lanes. Nevertheless, the test of character and crew performance remains constant for all crews. If you can row to your best time or improve on it, that’s all we can ask of you and all you need to expect from yourselves. The main competition will be within yourselves – working in unison, coping with the pressure, mastering the race conditions, striving to the end, wherever you finish in the race. High crews have done it before, seven times since 1999. In 2003 all three Year 10 VIIIs rowed within 5% above the winner’s time. Be inspired by the occasion and sustained by your self-belief. Congratulations to all crews selected to represent High.