Principal's Address: Rowing Assembly 2011

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Principal's Address
Sydney Boys High School
at the annual Rowing Assembly
Held on 1 April 2011

Special guest Terrence Alfred, Head of the River crews, coaches, parents, teachers, students. Welcome to our 2011 rowing assembly held traditionally on the day before the climax of the season – the Head of the River.

We are gathered this morning 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 again this year and Julie Blomberg, MIC Rowing for bringing great energy, focus and organisational skills to the rowing program. Thanks to Shahar Merom who took over the second VIII after his success with junior crews in 2009-10. Thank you to coaches appointed in 2010: Mitch Estens -Year 10 VIII, Joe Banh -Year 10 2nd VIII, Thomas Parker -Year 9 Quads and Toby Ledgerwood - Year 8 Quads. It was gratifying to see that the Taree Camp innovation of 2010 was continued this year.

The Rowing program owes a great deal to the efforts of the Rowing Committee, in particular Anita Bezjak as President. Helen Montanaro, Anna Caetano, Charles Ovadia and Cec Eveleigh have given much of their time to help the rowing program – thank you all. Geoff Andrews, as both Rowing Committee member and Foundation Chairman, has devoted hundreds of hours of his time as Project Manager for the installation of the new pontoon and Outterside Centre management. On your behalf I thank him for his wonderful effort on behalf of a generation of rowers to come. The dedication of the New Pontoon was a most enjoyable event, ironically marking both the installation of the replacement of the old pontoon and the retirement from active involvement with High rowing of the man who had the original pontoon built – Bob Outterside. He is remembered in the Annual School Report but on a personal level, for me Bob has been since 2000, a great source of wisdom and practical advice about how High operates. I value his contribution to my leadership of the school very highly. His work for the Outterside Centre has been tireless, meticulous and effective.

Rowing parents have contributed upwards of $60k in ASF donations to help fund the new pontoon – a great effort. Old Boys have kicked in another $15k. The High Club donated $25k. I thank the parents of current rowers for what they are doing to help rebuild High rowing. We have to take on the challenge of bedding down a sustainable model for coaching, management and maintenance. We need to build our capacity to manage our people, programs, facilities and equipment. We must confront the issues of recruitment and retention head on. This year in the rowing program I was saddened to see that only 8 rowers in Year 12 had stayed in the program since Year 7 and even fewer, just four, had stayed until Year 11. To those who stayed the course – thank you. The future of our rowing program depends upon us recruiting and retaining rowers like you. Our 46 Year 9 rowers are showing the way forward. It is heartening that we have 12 boys who have joined the school since Year 8 who are involved in rowing. Let’s hope we can attract more boys to the sport next season.

The first goal for our rowers at the Head of the River is to better High’s long term average time 1999-2010 of 6:23. The second goal is to beat 6:20. The third is to go for the margin of excellence, set at 5% longer than the winner’s time. For the 2nd VIII, the goal is High’s long term average of 7.65% slower than the winner’s time. The first Year 10 VIII needs to beat 7.67% and the second Year 10 VIII, 9.83%. The quality of your performances as High crews is judged by us on historical data – not your place on the day. Your place in our history should be your prime motivator. If you can do better than that, you will row for the margin of excellence. Whatever the result – I know you will do your best for yourself as a rower, for your crew and as a representative of High. We are impressed by your commitment to your sport and your personal management skills that allow you to balance your life to achieve this standard.

Congratulations to all crews selected to represent High.