Principal's Address: Rowing Assembly 2012

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Principal's Address
Sydney Boys High School
at the annual Rowing Assembly
Held on 9 March 2012

Special guest, Alan Skinner (SHS 1959), Head of the River crews, coaches, parents, teachers, students; welcome to our 2012 rowing assembly to introduce and honour those crews who will compete for us at the Head of the River on Saturday.

There is such a lot of work by so many people to bring the boys in the rowing program to their peak levels of performance. Our Rowing MIC, Julie Blomberg, has again demonstrated great administrative skills and considerable soft skills when managing relationships in the rowing community at High. I thank her for her dedication to the role and her wonderful commitment to the boys and their sport.

I want to thank Adrian Henning for his work in preparing the fleet, oars and chase boats, straightening out the maintenance routines at the sheds and coaching the first VIII this year. I extend special thanks to Michael Morgan, the legendary GPS coach who has been an inspirational coaching advisor this term. Thank you to Mitch Estens who has brought along the second VIII very impressively. Thank you to Shahar Merom for his coordination of the Year 10 VIIIs and to Gareth Deacon and Adrian Webster who worked well with him. Well done to Thomas Parker for his guidance of the first and second Year 9 quads and to Terence Alfred and Lucas McBeath for their assistance. Our Junior Coordinator, Alexandra Wallace, has brought professionalism and communication skills to the junior program. She has been assisted by a great team of recent Old Boys: Ryan Caetano, Tim Gollan, Pravin Radakrishnan, Alan Low, Hayden Schilling, Isaac Eveleigh, Bach Trang and Koren Fang.

It is great that the Taree Camp in January has become a fixture on our training calendar. As usual, the Rowing program owes a great deal to the efforts of the Rowing Committee, in particular Craig Phillis as President. Kim Jones, Nada Andrews, Rick Wilcox, Helen Montanaro and Sachi Purcal, 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 many hours of his time again this season.

This year we have tried to up the level of professionalism and discipline in the rowing program. There are more rowers joining the sport and our challenge is to hold them all through their final years at school. To sustain our more structured and professional model for coaching, management and maintenance we will need ongoing support from parents and Old Boys. Most importantly, we will need to build our intensity on and off the water so that we can start emulating the numbers coming from other rowing programs that we want to compete with.

The first goal for the first VIII at the Head of the River this Saturday is to better High’s 13-year average of 6:23.4. The second goal is to beat 6:20. If you followed Ron Barassi’s AFL dictum of the 6000 second game plan, you would make 220 strokes at 35 per minute or 5 sets of 11 strokes repeated 4 times. Each iteration of the plan breaks the task down into moments for focussed action – the next stroke. The third tier goal is to go for the margin of excellence, set at 5% longer than the winner’s time. On average this would be 6:14.5. High crews achieved this goal in 1999 and 2005. For the 2nd VIII, it would be a fine effort to row faster than the winner’s time + 7.8%. The first Year 10 VIII needs to beat + 8.2% and the second Year 10 VIII, 10.7%.The school has only boated a third Year 10 VIII twice before, so + 7.8% is the target. What we need from you all is to focus and suffer pain beyond your accustomed threshold.

The great Olympian, Edwin Flack, won gold medals in the 800 and 1500 metres at Athens in 1896. He had nothing to prove and had not run more than ten miles before, but he entered the marathon – from Marathon to Athens. He recalled that “it was very disappointing to give in after twenty three miles and with just three miles to go. However, I was awfully done up and could not have run another 100 yards to save my life. As it was I should have fallen from exhaustion if some of the bystanders had not caught me...” On Saturday we want you all to see yourselves as Edwin Flack’s neophytes and give everything you have for your place in our rowing history. Row together right to the end and do so with the greatest intensity that you can muster, oblivious to your suffering. If you do it as a crew, you will assuredly reach one or more of your goals.

Congratulations to all crews selected to represent High. Good luck tomorrow!