Sydney however, were not of this view, with the better part of two eights in the race wearing the light blue, it is fair to say the depth of talent in our men’s masters ranks has never been greater. A strong spring’s training behind them under the eye of master coach Steve Handley, saw the growing squad confident of an upset as they lined up, with the Sydney crews in the outside two lanes.
As the race got underway, the first hurdle to overcome was the age handicap in Mosman’s favour, as an ‘F’ category crew, the men in red hoops started a few precious seconds before the two SRC crews which were ‘D’ category. A concerted effort by the number 1 crew saw them overcome this deficit before the pylon which marks the dogleg turn to the finish. Once this was the case, and with a perfect course navigated by coxswain Scott Trayhurn, the result was no longer in doubt. The crew raced away in the concluding stages to a clear water advantaged to take the win over Mosman, with the other SRC crew back in 3rd. This was a fantastic result, and reward for effort for the squad which has made huge improvements since they began training in eights some 18 months ago. The result sees the squad well placed as they move into the predominantly grade stage of the season, and they will no doubt be very hard to beat in B grade races over the rest of the season regardless of opposition.
The other highlights on the day for Sydney were wins in the women’s and men’s B grade four races. The regatta hosts, St Ignatius’ College, have made an effort to raise the profile of these races in recent years, paying homage to the importance of club, as well as school rowing. Unfortunately this year, perhaps due to a clash with the Head of the Yarra and national selection events, Sydney provided the only entry in both races. Nonetheless, it is always a thrill to win a coveted silver oar so congratulations to both crews.
The men’s eight went down fighting in their much anticipated clash with Sydney Uni in the Gold Cup itself, finishing a little over a length behind in second. While the crew progressed through the heats comfortably the Uni Crew, which was shooting for its 6th consecutive win to match the feat last achieved by SRC from 1978 to1983, were too good in the final. Led by London Olympian Nick Purnell and Sasha Belonogoff, the Uni crew stuck with Sydney during the early stages, with SRC unable to gain the lead it hoped in turning for home. The Uni eight then popped the rating over the last 300m and Sydney was unable match them in the sprint home. The final margin was 3.23 seconds in favour of Uni, who are to be congratulated on another great win in the famous race.
It’s a busy time for the club’s elite athletes, with the dual pressures of preparing crews for the busy racing season ahead and meeting the Rowing Australia national selection criteria through a series of boat speed and physiological testing. So taxing is the schedule that the top athletes are rarely seen around the club during daylight hours, so it was a rare treat at the recent annual dinner to find a moment to speak with one of our most impressive oarsmen, Tom Gunton.
Sat at a table with a group of the club’s under 23 athletes, Tom is poised circumspectly, sipping quietly from a glass of water as his peers revel in the bacchanalian delights of the evening. I ask if this restraint is born from a sense of duty, to one’s self and to crewmates, in the lead up to the much anticipated Riverview Gold Cup regatta. Gunton shakes his head, for on this occasion it is professional duties which take precedence, “I’m on call tomorrow”. As a paramedic with Ambulance Service Australia, he bears the highest burdens of public trust and he takes this accountability seriously. This is not to say that training is not at its peak intensity at the moment, but rather places in perspective the significance of sport in his life. On the rowing course, death and injury are merely figurative concepts, but on the front lines of the medical services, Gunton faces these realities daily.
Tom is also part of a large group of current SRC athletes that are members of the Australian Defence Force, alongside the likes of Tim Hughes (Operation Astute – Timor Leste), Simon Coates (Operation Resolute – Indian Ocean) and Hugh McLeod (in training - Singleton). That he has dedicated his working life to such high stakes environments speaks to his strength of character and willingness to sacrifice. This provides some clue as to why he has overcome all expectations to achieve multiple national and state representations and find himself in the club’s top men’s crew. Tracing his rowing career also reveals an enviable coaching pedigree that explains how he has reached the highest levels of the sport despite dedicating most of his time to professional and benevolent pursuits.
I ask Tom about his beginnings in the sport, “I first became serious in the 2007-08 season when I was rowing in the 3rd VIII at Shore”. This was also the beginning of his association with Sydney Rowing Club, as the crew was coached by then Vice-Captain Paul Coates. They finished 2nd of 2 crews in the GPS Head of the River that season. Next year Gunton atoned, racing in the winning first VIII of that season alongside other SRC members Hamish Playfair and Louis Snelson. The crew was prepared by master coach Dave Jennings, who has also produced the likes of Nick Purnell, Sam Wheatley, Ryan Barraclough and Bryan Edwards to become future international oarsmen.
Gunton then rowed for a period at the Mosman Club, where under the guidance of elite coaches Tom Laurich and Nick Garrett, he made his first national team at the Junior World Championships of 2010. He then became a victim of the mechanics of the national system as Laurich was commissioned to the Institute of Sport in Canberra and Garrett was tasked with the preparation of the women’s eight in the lead up to the London Olympics. This left him without a coach, precipitating the move to SRC in 2011.
Once here, his performances have continued to improve, partnering with Ed White in a most effective pair combination at the Youth Cup in 2012. This pair have continued to race together and ultimately were selected in the national U23 eight earlier this year. This exposed Gunton further to the national system, as he spent some time in Canberra with the highly regarded Tim McLaren. Considered one of the best coaches in the country, McLaren heaped praise on Gunton when I spoke to him earlier this year, referring to him as ‘The Lizard’ due to his cold blooded approach to training.
Given all these experiences and achievements in the boat, it is no wonder Gunton has established himself at the pinnacle of the elite program at SRC. Speaking to him though, one gets the impression that it is his experiences in life more so than in any crew that shape his approach to the sport, and give him the edge over the competition in the defining moments of the race. As I rise from the table for a toast being proposed by the President, I glance to where Gunton was seated a moment earlier but he has gone. No doubt home to rest himself for a long day in the service of the community, thoughts of the Lane Cove River and the cherished Gold Cup far from his mind.
Sydney’s first crew off the start was the men’s quad of the besilvered Simon Nola, the champion lightweight Hugh McLeod, Canberra journeyman Joe Gubler and the two time Penrith Cup representative Dean Robinson. With all four members of the crew having finished on the podium at the national championships it was no surprise to see this crew race down the course in a slashing time of 14:46 and win their category.
Next up was the men’s eight, who were delayed in reaching the start due to an especially focussed warm-up en route to the Ryde Bridges, but wasted no time during the race winning the category comfortably. This was the first win for the men’s eight in what promises to be an exciting season with high goals set for the months ahead. Other winning crews included the Legends eight, the master’s quad, the women’s quad and four and the men’s four.
The success of the regatta was in large part due to Jim Stride and Tony Brown who conducted a thorough review of last year’s troubled event, which was marked by a schoolgirl eight going under and unacceptable delays to the city’s public transport infrastructure. Reform of the starting procedure saw a far more orderly beginning to the race, which mitigated downstream issues experienced at the start.
The army of club volunteers were also an invaluable component of the day, marshalling crews on the water, timing the races, organising the many crews on the pontoon and providing food and beverage relief in the boatshed after the racing. All athletes, and the many guests of the club who boated from Abbotsford, commented on the friendly spirit in which the day was conducted. Congratulations to all involved.
The Foundation was formally established on 31 August 2009. The trustees of the Foundation are Doug Donoghue AM (Chairman), Ian Clubb, Keith Jameson OAM, Michael Morgan OAM and Andrew Rowley.
The Foundation, with trustees separate from the Board of the Club, has the task of seeking donations and bequests or other gifts from members and supporters of the Club. The trustees have resolved to concentrate on applying the funds raised by the Foundation to the following:
· Upgrading or replacement of rowing sheds and facilities
· Provision or support of training, coaching and other programmes of the blu
· Funding or assisting in funding the purchase of rowing boats and equipment
· Financial assistance and scholarships to the club’s rowers.
By its very nature we believe the Trust would grow over time through donations and bequests and we are heartened that this is proving to be the case.
The Foundation gained registration with the Australian Sports Foundation in June 2010, thus enabling members and supporters to make tax deductible donations to the Sydney Rowing Club Foundation and this is continuing.
Click here for an ASF Donation/Pledge form
Dedes Restaurant frequently plays host to the glitterati of the Inner West, but Friday’s crowd reached new peaks of style and glamour as a “whose Hugh” of SRC’s finest gathered to celebrate the club’s annual dinner. In attendance were a diverse mix of members from junior athletes to club legends, all enjoying the typically delightful Dedes catering and the opportunity to catch up with club mates, young and old.
The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the address by world champion para-rower Erik Horrie. Erik had the crowd hanging on every word as he described his remarkable journey from carefree young man, to crash victim, to paralympian and, most recently in Korea, rowing world champion. Erik spoke of the importance of self-belief and the motivation of being told his goals were unachievable. He also paid tribute to his coach Jason Baker, under whom he has achieved a phenomenal improvement in performance, to the extent that in the World Championships final in Korea he beat the previous world best time by 10 seconds. President Keith Jamieson OAM and Simon Nola both offered thanks to Erik on the night for his speech but they were not alone as all in attendance agreed it was one of the best in memory.
On Sunday morning it was the Rowers’ Reunion, always a great occasion but even more so as the club celebrated the christening of an incredible 8 new boats. As such it was no surprise that a capacity crowd was in attendance to mark the historic occasion and enjoy the company of old friends. In particularly fine form on the day were senior union official Russ McLean, RNSW CEO and guest of honor Doc Blower and fresh from a trip to the beach, Gina de George.
The only downside to the day was the thick smoky haze which had descended upon Sydney, causing considerable discomfort to all in attendance apart from Ken Ambler, who having just returned from one his trips to Nimbin was well acclimatised to such conditions.
The boat naming ceremony began with a Sykes four named the “Jim Goulding”. Michael Morgan spoke eloquently about the late Jim, of his lifelong connection with the club and the great friendships which that association brought, as well as recognising his incredible service to the club over many years before his passing.
Next were two Empacher fours, appropriately named the “Mick Allen” and the “Dallas Smith”. It is fitting that three boats bearing the names of Mick, Dallas and Jim will sit together in the shed that those three spent so much time, building and maintaining both the physical structure and the culture of Sydney Rowing Club.
Five training sculls were then named. “Kirsten Liljekvist”, “Carl Quitzau”, “Ray Armstrong”, “Hugh McLeod” and “Martin Ward” all received the honour of having their names inscribed on a skiff that will carry rowers in the light blue of Sydney Rowing Club for years to come.
Kirsten thanked the club and recognised the great satisfaction that she has gained from both competing for and serving the club. Steve Handley provided a frank appraisal of Carl’s attributes, as a competitor and as a man. Ray spoke fondly of his experiences, both as a junior athlete training under the watchful eye of Keith Jameson and Ray Green, to his current role coaching the club juniors. Hugh made special mention of the role that John Bailey had in bringing him to the club he has made his home, and the great pride he had knowing that the boat bearing his name would provide for club athletes of the future to develop to their fullest potential. Finally Martin was humble in accepting the recognition for his fine contributions as a coach and in coordinating masters rowing.
Every year the Annual Dinner and Rowers’ Reunion are memorable occasions, but this year more than ever the events captured the spirit of the club with a strong reverence for the past and an ambitious eye to the future. Congratulations and thanks must go to all involved in the organisation of both.
After returning from our trip to Boston, I must say that it was a very good campaign for development and experience. The crew managed to get lots of km’s in on the Housatonic and Charles Rivers for two weeks with the season in mind. It was very important that they kept training their aerobic base to prepare them for the season ahead. The Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) was not something we were going to back off for until 2 days out from the race.
Based on the Housatonic Head race the Saturday before, the crew knew that they were too tense and not relaxed enough to row well. It just didn’t feel right. In order to improve this, the focus for the week leading into the HOCR was very simple. We wanted the crew to race with relaxation that would help them to get the feeling as though they only had to do 20 strokes. Typically when a crew know that they only have to do 20 strokes at race pace, it feels amazing because each person is aware that 20 strokes isn’t enough to fatigue them and they don’t have to commit to the 5km of agony after that. If feels light and easy. The aim was to achieve this feeling for the entire race.
After the Mon/Tues/Wed of high volume the crew did an all-out 1500m and 500m piece to practice the way they wanted to race. The 1500m piece was the first 1500m of the race which is almost 1/3rd of the course. They set out with a racing start to get them up to speed by the time they hit the start line which is Boston University Boat Club. Straight away I saw signs of relaxation and flow and I knew that if they could sustain this rhythm, they would be a serious threat to the 16 boats starting ahead of them. They looked the best they had ever raced and the Harvard Head Coach couldn’t help but follow and film the whole piece. He showed his Harvard Varsity Eight and said “Now this is how I want you guys to row”.
The 500m piece was meant to emulate the last sprint to the finish line. Once again the guys built up speed and rowed with the same purpose and nailed it. The crew was happy and Chappo said “guys, I’m actually starting to get a bit nervous because I realise now that everything is falling into place and we are now good enough to win this. We are fast and the speeds show this, I’ve been in very good crews and this boat is feeling that way”. From a coach’s perspective, there were many times throughout the week when the crew looked really good and it was exciting to watch. Bede was quiet and keeping things calm, Chappo was bending his rigger, Woody was squaring and placing accurately (which is monumental) and Matt was setting up a sweet rhythm.
On Friday, after a full tour of Harvard by Matt Edstein (Harvard graduate), we set out to do a detailed race rehearsal, so specific that the crew did the pre-row warm up, checked the boat and oars, pre-race nugget and Coach Carter race chat, to be on water just after 2pm for a 2.34pm race start time. The river was very busy with at least 50 crews just in sight off the Harvard pontoon. Kendall’s biggest test was realised. She knew that the race would be similar, with crews in her way, taking her lines and not giving up their position on the river. The guys had an OK row, but said that Kendall needed to be more selfish and command other crews to get out of the way. This is not easy for any coxswain, especially one who is used to a big, wide and straight river. After spending all of Saturday with Kendall and talking tactics and race strategy, she was ready. She had to be relentless and get fired up to yell at other crews, because this is her river and the Sydney Freight Train is coming through so you better get out of my way!
It is now Saturday 20 October and time to take victims on the river. The morning was pretty relaxed as the crew awaited their 2.34pm race. At 1pm we arrived at Newell Boathouse (Harvard’s shed) in our massive Suburban Vehicle. As per the rehearsal on Friday, the guys put the boat on trestles for Kendall and I to check that everything was in good shape while they started their erg/land warm up.
The tension, drama, the buzz, the crowd, the atmosphere in the Newell Boathouse was alive. The 7 foot tall Dutch Eight were getting ready to win the Champ Eight race which emphasised the quality of athletes competing in this regatta. After the warm up it was time for a chat. The guys were looking smart in their bright light Sydney Blue and I simply said to them that “all the work has been done and now comes the fun part. Just go out there and race it the same way you raced the 1500m and 500m pieces on Thursday, if you do that, you will do well. Stick to the things that we know work well for this crew i.e. set up, lateral pressure, feet out posture, relaxation and absorb the catch. Kendall, be selfish and own the river. Take the line you want and demand that others get out of the way. Back yourself with your decisions because this is your boat and you are in charge. Guys you need to respond to Kendall’s calls and just ‘go it’ when she commands to do so”. Then, with a steady hand, I shook theirs and said “it’s been a pleasure working with you guys, enjoy the race and have fun”.
At 2.10pm they pushed off and had their best warm up to date. What a sight to behold as they set off from the back, all blades off the water. The crowd was very impressed as I heard “who are they? They look good”. Then I think I heard someone say “that’s the Sydney Rowing Club crew from Australia, I believe they are the best rowing club in the world, and that is certainly the best crew I have ever seen”. In all honesty though it did look bloody good.
After the race I asked them how it was, before the results came out. They said it was a great effort and it felt good. Kendall nailed her role and commanded well. This was the highlight of the trip for me. It was very satisfying that Kendall had developed so much and stepped up on the day as the crew had done. They overtook six crews in total throughout the course of the race. Crew number 11, University of Pennsylvania Crew (USA) refused to yield and give up the inside of the last 280 degree bend leading into the last 500m. This cost us at least 3rd place and I believe that Chappo let them know what he thought about that.
To come 5th after starting back in 17th position is a great result given that they rowed in 4.8km of other boats’ wash. The four crews that beat them started in 9th, 4th, 1st and 2nd respectively. This shows that next year when SRC starts from 5th position, we are in a very good place to win the HOCR in the Champ 4+. They were 15sec behind first place which is about the amount of time we lost by rowing in wash and being forced wide around turns.
I am very pleased with the crew and I can’t thank them and SRC enough for the opportunity that I have been given. It was great development and experience for me as a coach and I loved every day of it. The crew developed massively as well and the experience gained from this trip will hopefully pay off this season. I hope to take a crew over next year to continue what we started. We now have the opportunity to win this event every year if we decide to do so.
That’s all I have to say about that.
A balmy Wednesday evening in Sydney’s Inner West, and I’m settling in at the local Trattoria for a meal of Carpaccio and Ragu. The waiter, a young woman named Carmela from Avellino, asks for a drink order, “bottle of white? Bottle of red? Perhaps a bottle of rose instead”? I ponder the question, but before I can offer an answer I spot a familiar figure near the special’s board, partially obscuring the catch of the day.
Allan Phillips, arguably the finest lightweight oarsman the club has produced, catches my eye and offers a familiar smile. Members who were active in the club in the late 60s will recall Allan and his brother Terry coxing novice and junior crews. Both would go on to successful lightweight careers, with Allan’s career culminating in a 4th place finish in the scull at the 1980 national championships before starting the Race 1 boat building company.
We exchange pleasantries, reminiscing on old times in and around the club, before conversation moves to boat racing “…It was about 10 years ago, I was racing at the State Masters”, I nod, assuming Alan is about to share a typical masters racing story of miss-allocated handicaps and erroneous starting, but instead he offers a solemn and cautionary tale which should be noted by all Masters rowers, young and old.
“I had just come off the water, and I felt an odd tingle up my right arm. I was being coached by Tim McLaren at the time (the former Australian and current NSWIS head coach). He said it was probably a rigging problem”. McLaren proceeded to check the pitch and adjust the gearing of the oars, before sending Allan off to row again. After his next race, Alan collapsed with a heart attack.
“I was fortunate that a doctor was on hand to administer assistance and I made a full recovery, but in a different scenario is could have been vey different”. The story is a shocking and confronting message, and as I completed my entree I couldn’t help but think of the many rowers who push themselves, and their bodies, to breaking point every week, perhaps without knowing how close they could be to breaking point.
As he returns to his table, Alan leaves me with a final thought, “I suppose all Masters Rowers should be educated, - if they feel that tingling excitement during a row, it’s probably a cause for concern”. Looking at Allan, you wouldn’t know he had suffered any health issues. He is high of spirits and wishes his club mates well. As the waitress brings me my Affogato, I glance over my shoulder to where Allan was seated but he has departed. Regardless, to have had the chance to catch up with the great man was truly a pleasure, and just the meeting you would want in our Italian restaurant.
A Sunday morning at the Club and a typically incongruous mix of athletes, coaches, parents and club officials populate the boatshed balcony. The day is between sessions, so those present are spread sparsely across the space, keeping mostly to themselves while enjoying the fresh pot of coffee brewed by Mick Allen. The mood is generally sombre, for as usual at this time the members are drawn to reflection on the events of the previous 24 hours. I have come to see the club captain on an administrative matter of dispute. The conversation is tense, Captain Pauli is in poor spirits as his usual Sunday morning coaching partner Ken Ambler has taken off on one of his increasingly regular trips to Nimbin this weekend and cannot join him for their later session.
Suddenly, however, I sense a change in disposition as a look of recognition crosses his face. Turning, I see the source of this abrupt excitement in the distinct but long unseen form of Ray Armstrong. The Captain immediately jumps to his feet, waving coquettishly across the room to attract Armstrong’s attention. Ray responds with a casual nod which belies the significance of this arrival, for Ray has just returned from a lengthy sabbatical from his considerable functions at the club.
It seems like months ago that Ray, suffering from chronic back pain and searching for a change of environment, decided to head to Queensland. Seeing him now, it seems this northern migration has had a restorative effect. The tropical weather eased the strain on his back, while the different seasons in Queensland allowed him to continue his passion for coaching while rowers in NSW lay dormant. This was realised by taking a position at the Coomera Anglican School, as well as the head coach role at the Bond University. By all reports these crews performed admirably, with the benefit of Ray’s extensive experience both in rowing and life no doubt driving his pupils to greatness.
Members of SRC have long been aware of Ray’s many talents; entrepreneur, international businessman, champion oarsman and coach. These have not been overnight successes, Ray has benefited from a long association with the club dating back to his time as a young man living in the area. Then he rowed in junior crews under the tutelage of the likes of Alan Grover, Ray Green OAM and Keith Jameson OAM. As he grew older his business interests relegated rowing to the sidelines as he pursued work in diverse fields such as water ski instructor, publican, maritime trader, publican, web developer and gaming consultant, jobs that took him all around the world.
When the tides of fate eventually brought Ray back to Sydney he returned to his childhood passion of rowing, taking up residence in a master’s pair with Ken Ambler. This duo enjoyed a great run of success together before Ray branched out into other crews, culminating in a career highlight win in the D grade eight at the 2012 Spring Regatta. Tragically, Ray will not be able to defend that title this weekend when the club’s best head to Penrith for the annual RNSW season opener due to his ongoing back issues.
Seeking a last word from Ray before he heads down to the boatshed for the morning session, his optimism is clear. While he would love to be racing this weekend, he is quick to note that the forced layoff he’s endured has allowed him time to place a greater focus on coaching. It is apparent from his impressive run of results, both with Sydney juniors in recent years and in Queensland over winter, that Ray is a coach of rare merit. More than that however, his brave and defiant response to the misfortunes of injury can serve as an inspiration to all competitors this weekend, at home and abroad.
The club’s Annual Dinner will be held on Friday 1 November 2013. The guest speaker this year is 2013 World Champion in the Arms and Shoulders Men’s single sculls, Erik Horrie.
Erik is has represented Australia in two sports. He competed in the Australian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team before taking up rowing in 2011. In his first year rowing, Erik was successful in winning his event at the National Regatta and went on to finish in third place at the 2011 World Championships. He has continued his rapid rise in the sport, gaining the Silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympics and this year, coached by SRC’s Jason Baker, won Gold at the World Rowing Championships against a quality field. His determination and dedication to his rowing are a great inspiration to all.
Download the Annual Dinner booking form by clicking here.
As ever it is a glorious day at SRC and in keeping with the club’s long tradition of supporting our travelling crews a healthy contingent of members and supporters have gathered on the Fig Tree Terrace. The crew in question is the championship coxed four, which has now departed to the land of hope and glory for the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta.
The crew for this year’s Boston regatta is undoubtedly the club’s strongest travelling boat since the 1912 Henley Grand Challenge Cup winning eight. Featuring James Chapman, Scott Woodward, Bede Clarke, Matt Edstein and Kendall Brodie there is little doubt the crew will be a success but, as with so many of life’s greatest journeys, the first step is the most taxing and in this instance the tariff has fallen upon club mates, friends and family.
The phenomenal weather which has greeted guests is matched only by the sartorial elegance of the club’s fresh young athletes who have wholeheartedly embraced the somewhat confused Henley theme. Standing out is President Keith Jameson OAM, looking sharp in his blue blazer with matching Boater, and coach Jason Baker who turns heads with his avant-garde ensemble. One man however, is clearly removed from the largely urban crowd; stood quietly under the Fig tree is Bede Clarke, the young man from the remote town of Taree on the upper reaches of the NSW Central Coast. He stares into the sunset wistfully, contemplating the road behind and ahead as does a long haul freight driver living forever in intervals between roadhouses. For Bede, it has been quite a road.
As a young man his interests were far removed from rowing. Instead he followed passions typical of those raised in coastal communities; walking the main street, hanging around the milk bar and surfing. It was this last pursuit for which many had marked as Bede’s calling in life. A renowned wave rider, he was known for his ability to carve the barrels of Wallaby Point and had a rewarding professional career in front of him. This was until he was spotted under the boardwalk by local rowing official John Corbett. John convinced Bede to give away the intoxicating adrenaline rush of the surf for the disciplined and conservative world of rowing, joining up young Bede to the Manning River Rowing Club.
The association reaped immediate rewards. From his earliest days rowing it was clear that Bede possessed the physical attributes to be an accomplished oarsman. What gave him an edge over the competition, however, was his hardened nerves and fearless approach to racing. Within a year of first setting foot in a boat Bede was a national champion sculler, achieving the feat at Lake Barrington in 2006. This performance caused ructions at the elite Newington College, who had expected victory in the race via their talented young sculler and Sydney Rowing Club product, Kurt Spencer. In recognition of Bede’s performance the College engaged its admissions team to recruit him into their eight for the upcoming season.
While that Newington crew would enjoy only modest success, the move to Sydney provided the avenue for Bede to begin his association with SRC. Under the guidance of Steve Handley, Bede rowed successfully at the club through his time at Newington. Many were impressed at the time by his dedication to both training and the nutritional regime that Steve prescribed, the cornerstone of which was a protein rich steak breakfast after early morning training.
Once he had finished at Newington, Bede accepted an offer to take up scholarship at the University of Washington. There he studied accounting, attained his pilot’s licence and rowed crew with the UW Huskies. While this was a great period in Bede’s life, he always longed to return to Australian shores and so, upon completion of his degree, he returned to Sydney.
Indeed a long journey has led Bede to this moment, but watching him overlook the tray of pork ribs on offer, it is clear that the challenges ahead are what occupy his mind. No doubt his American experiences will prove invaluable to the rest of the touring party. Many in the past have struggled on such tours to adapt to the foreign culture, food and language, but Bede is as comfortable now confronting these barriers as he was as a child facing a steep-faced barrel on the beaches of the Taree. As such he and his crew mates are well placed to live the American dream and bring home victory for SRC.
The 2013 Sydney Rowing Club Annual General Meeting has been brought to a close by President Keith Jameson OAM. It was an uncontroversial meeting this year, with no votes taken and no questions put to the Board from the small crowd in attendance. Whether this reflects the Board’s strong stewardship of the Club in the past year or the ongoing trend of disengagement from political process is uncertain.
Regardless, the principal concern of most in attendance is the immediate readiness of the hot breakfast items that are provided at this hour. An eager mix of blue-blazered Club legends and young athletes gather around the main bar, enjoying the conviviality of the occasion. One woman however hangs back from the crowd, a solitary figure, sipping from a glass of water and surveying the scene solemnly. Kirsten Liljekvist, the Club’s newly elected ordinary Board Member appears to be in a deep contemplative state. Curious, I interrupt to ask her about her feelings about the election, “I’m thrilled to be on the Board” she replies with genuine enthusiasm. Despite this willingness, it is clear that Kirsten is cognisant of the challenges facing the board.
An accountant by trade Kirsten has, not surprisingly, poured over the books in advance of the meeting, in between training and competing in the previous day’s time trial and finding time to coach the members of our junior program. When I ask her what she would like to achieve on the board she talks about balance into the future – both on the water and off it. And balance she has in abundance.
Recently competing in the World Masters Games in Torino, Italy, Kirsten joined a small contingent of SRC Masters, representing Australia against the best Masters rowers from around the globe and returned with a swag of medals to add to her collection of those won domestically over the many seasons of competition that she has rowed in the light blue for SRC.
Looking up from my conversation with Kirsten I see that the Club’s diligent staff have brought the promised tray of pies and cocktail prawns from the kitchen. Having spent this time with Kirsten I reminded of quote from Syrus, ‘audacity augments courage’. I have no doubt that she holds these qualities and will be well placed to drive improvements in the clubs administration for the betterment of all members. I am also mindful of the inverse, ‘hesitation augments fear’, and with this in mind I take no hesitation in leaving Liljekvist to take my place at the bar and enjoy the free food and drink the club has put on offer. At this point, it is hard to argue that it hasn’t been a fine AGM.
We wanted to share the following messages from AGM award recipients:
Simon Nola - Geoff Knight Trophy Most Outstanding Lightweight:
“People should really listen to what Keith has to say, because his words ring true for me. And what Tess said summed it up as well. “…my heart still warms with pride whenever I'm lucky enough to race in the light blue”. I also have trust in the board and management, who have done a great job and will continue to do the same. Have trust in the coaches and each other and bring each other up along the way. It’s not just a place to come and row or to have a beer or a coffee… It’s just so much more.”
Angus Bagby – Alf Duval Trophy Most Outstanding Junior
“…If it hadn’t been for Adam Vine-Hall I might have just concentrated on Uni and not kept rowing – thanks SRC…”
Ken Ambler – Michael Morgan Trophy Most Significant Contribution by an Honorary and Bill Andrews Award Highest Point Score for a Masters Rower in the Rowing NSW Season.
“… I’m proud to be a pot-hunter because rowing is about trying your best and trying to win…”
Nick Rhodes Drummoyne Rotary Club Community Spirit Award
“…SRC is more than a club it’s a family…”
President Keith Jameson read the following apologies at the beginning of the meeting:
Ladies and Gentlemen
Our Vice President Larry Parker is unable to be here due to his recent stroke. Larry is making a good recovery but it is a slow recovery and we will not see him around the club regularly for some time yet.
We are holding the AGM a week later than planned. We originally intended to run the AGM last Sunday. We put the AGM back a week to allow the club to participate in the racing against the visiting Russian crew at SIRC last Sunday.
The date has turned out to be inconvenient for some members.
James Chapman wrote:
Please pass on my apologies to the AGM. I have booked a holiday - I fly back in Monday 30th. This change in date is disappointing. I would very much have liked to attend the AGM, as I have been proud to sit as a Director this year.
Tess Gerrand wrote:
Unfortunately, I have just returned to Adelaide and have resumed training this week. I will be in the middle of a training camp with my new pair partner that weekend and will be unable to attend.
Please pass on my apologies at the meeting. Although personal life and training have taken me away from Sydney Rowing Club physically, my heart still warms with pride whenever I'm lucky enough to race in the light blue. Thank you for again recognising my efforts in the 2013 racing season, It is always a privilege and an honour to represent the Club.
Hope to see you soon, Keith!
Kind regards, Tess
Martin Ward wrote:
Dear Keith, yesterday, I received a letter from you advising me that I was to be awarded the Frank Hidden Award at the Club’s AGM on Sunday 29th September. Unfortunately, I have already booked a trip to Adelaide that weekend and will be attending the Annual Dinner at my old rowing club at Port Adelaide on the 28th.
Please pass on my apologies for missing the SRC AGM, and my gratitude for the Award.
I look forward to getting back down to SRC as soon as possible and assisting the Club wherever you feel I can.
Best Regards, Martin
Ed White wrote:
I just wanted to thank you and the club members for awarding me the W J Goulding Award for last season. It is a great honour to accept such an award and it is with much regret that I advise I won't be able to attend the Club’s Annual General meeting on the 29th September as I will be at Australian University Games.
Thanks again, Ed White
John Langley wrote:
Unfortunately, as I will be overseas at the time we hold our AGM on September 29, I would be pleased if you could register my apology and at the same time offer my congratulations to Peter, the Board and the staff of the Sydney Rowing Club for another successful year.
Congratulations also to our rowers, Tess, Alex, Spencer, Simon and Jason who were selected to represent their country at the World Championships Campaign in South Korea.
And a good Aussie welcome to our new Senior Elite Development Coach, Wayne Berger and coming from Boston - May the ‘curse of the Bambino’ not follow you to Australia - We wish you every success.
Finally, may our Club have continuing success in the year ahead.
Sincerely, John Langley
Andrew Rowley wrote:
I trust all is well. Thank you for sending me the notice of meeting. Unfortunately I am going to be in the US for work during that weekend.
Can you please give my apologies?
This Sunday the membership of the club will convene in the Wharfside room of the clubhouse for the Annual General Meeting. This event marks the zenith of the Club administration’s interaction with the membership, as all current social and active members are invited to attend, vote on matters of significance and voice their concerns to Committee members. As the elected officers of the membership, the committee participate in the AGM in the truest spirit of community, kinship and democracy and under the legislated mandate of the NSW Registered Clubs Act (1976).
In the words of current President Keith Jameson OAM, “Our current meetings are very tame compared to past years when there was much vigorous discussion, robust criticism of the club’s Board, intense competition for positions on the Board and a lot blood on the floor. Nevertheless I encourage active members to attend and support the award winners”. In light of this we are catching up on the history of these important meetings by reliving some of the most momentous decisions made at AGMs over the clubs 142 years.
1871 – The first annual report records that “a large number of persons who asked to be proposed never responded to their election”.
1883 – Subscriptions were £589 in 1880-81 but dropped to £426 in 1881-82 leading to employment of a collector by the club. This did not, surprisingly, prove popular with members.
1935 – Draught Beer first became available at the branch in 1935, the favoured brew being Reschs until 1961 when Tooheys was also placed on tap.
1952 – For the first time in the club’s history a “no confidence” action was taken against the committee
1953 – The committee determined that SRC crews would row in a new type of singlet from 1953/54 season, a woollen athletic replaced the short-sleeved singlet adopted in 1936. No further change took place till 1967/68 when the club crest was added over the left breast.
1965 – After long consideration the Club Committee decided this year to seek applicants for the position of professional coach of the club. Accordingly advertisements were placed in major newspapers and wide publicity was received. A reasonable number of applications for the position were received, but the Committee decided against making the appointment.
1993 – Members voted in favour of the proposal to allow women to become members of the club.
2001 – There was much contention at the Annual Meeting following the Committee’s decision to increase the size of the annual report to the current A4 format. Members voiced their dismay that this decision was made without due consideration of the impact that this had on those who had purchased bookshelves to the specifications of the previous format. A compromise was requested to publish the report in both the old and new format until the bookshelf was filled.
2013 – The licensed club has never been busier. Financially the club is performing very well and is in a sound position. We are reporting a record surplus after maintaining very substantial funding of our rowing program, and we have reduced our mortgage significantly over the year.
“We owe much to the foresight of Q.L. Deloitte and his colleagues who, a few years after the establishment of the club, purchased in 1874 the Red House Inn and the surrounding land at Abbotsford for £460, for use as a branch of the main club, which was then situated at Circular Quay on the site now occupied by the Sydney Opera House. The club’s glorious site at Abbotsford underpins all of our activity and provides the platform for our ongoing success.
Keith Jameson OAM - President
Phil Cayzer Award – Most Outstanding Oarsman
· Alex Lloyd and Spencer Turrin
No surprises here, and how could you split up Alex and Spencer? They’ve been going from strength to strength since joining SRC in 2009. Alex and Spencer made up the engine of the Australian Men’s 4-, and after wearing the yellow jersey at the 2013 world cups, we saw the boys narrowly miss out on Gold at the World Championships as the crew from the Netherlands broke our hearts and “stole” it from them in the dying seconds of the A final. We look forward to following this popular pair’s progress as they continue on their quest for rowing success.
Yvonne Ellis Award – Most Outstanding Oarswoman
· Tess Gerrand
Again no surprise as Tess wins her second Yvonne Ellis Award. Tess and the “Motley Crew” delighted us all at the Sydney leg of the world cup, winning the eight and then doubling up with partner Katrina Bateman to collect a silver medal in the Pair. Tess has been an inspiration to all the young women in the boatshed. Who will be able to topple Tess from this award in years to come? No small challenge SRC.
WJ Goulding Award – Most Improved Rower
· Ed White
We’ve seen Ed enjoy representative success this season for both NSW and Australia. Ed has become accustomed to the lofty heights of rowing competition after joining SRC in 2011. He recently competed in Linz, Austria in the Under 23 men’s eight and will no doubt be in the fray in light blue and green and gold over the next season and beyond.
Michael Morgan Trophy – Most Significant Contribution by an Honorary Coach
· Ken Ambler
One of SRC’s keenest stalwarts, Ken Ambler’s is a face that is never missing from the boat park, no matter what the regatta, big or small. Our junior program is buoyant and thriving due in no small part to the tutelage of Ken and his ilk. Ken is also a handy sculler and crewman and when not putting his crews on the water, is out there himself bolstering the point score for SRC!
Geoff Knight Trophy – Most Outstanding Lightweight Rower
· Simon Nola
Former SRC Club Captain Simon Nola made his great leap forward this year. One of this seasoned campaigner’s proudest moments was winning his first national title for SRC in the Lightweight four in 2013. This performance caught the eye of Australian selectors and Simon was picked in the Australian squad - stroking the lightweight men’s eight at the world championships in Korea to a silver medal.
Alf Duvall Trophy – Most Outstanding Junior
· Angus Bagby
A new but very welcome addition to the SRC boatshed. Angus may be small in stature but he’s made a huge impact as a coxswain steering crews to medals in many key regattas over the 2012/13 season. Angus was selected as coxswain for the men’s eight which competed in the Under 23 World Championships in Linz, Austria with his club mates Tom Gunton, Ed White and Coach Tom Morris.
John Hackett Trophy – Most Points in the NSWRA Season
· Romola Davenport
We’ve loved watching Romy fly down the course in her signature white sun hat over the past couple of seasons. A cool, calm and collected young woman, Romy has had her feet firmly planted on the podium at most regattas over the season and we don’t think this is going to change any time soon.
Bill Andrews Award – Highest Point Score for a Masters Rower in the Rowing NSW season
· Ken Ambler
Perhaps Ken should be awarded the “Captain Bullshot* award after the “WWI ace fighter pilot, Olympic athlete, racing driver, part-time sleuth and all round spiffing chap”. Coach, athlete and member of SRC’s Wednesday morning maintenance mob, we look forward to Ken’s contribution over the coming seasons.
*Bullshot is a 1983 film based on the stage play – Bullshot Crummond. “Alas, Crummond’s Thames ARC crew at Henley has been struck by influenza, so he ends up sculling the restricted coxed VIII on his own against the London crew – inevitably coming through at the finish to win…:
RJ Daley Award – Highest Point Score for a Coxswain
· Scott Trayhurn
Scott claimed fame as he took the reins for the “Legends” - SRC’s masters men’s eight with a notable victory at the Australian Masters Championships. This has not been this young legends only success and we look forward to Scott continuing his success in the coxswains’ seat.
Award of Merit – For Novice Rowing
· Max Brenner
With the likes of young Max Brenner coming up through the SRC ranks, we can rest assured the future of the rowing club is looking strong. Standing out in his trademark bright red bandanna Max has won in every boat class bar the coxless pair – what will we see from this talented man in the coming seasons?
George Schneller Award – Service to the Club
· Phillip Coates and Jenny Cole
Columnist and Editor of The Catch – Phil and Jenny have their ears to the ground and noses to the grindstone when compiling the club’s weekly e-news. Phil is also at home in front of a microphone adding a little je ne sais quoi to race day commentaries. While Jenny keeps us up-to-date will all things social media.
Frank Hidden Award – For Service to the Club
· Martin Ward
A member of the men’s masters rowing squad – Marty Ward has been integral in building up and organising this group over the past season. Martin’s efforts have resulted in a strong and successful group – a dead set “Legend”!!
Drummoyne Rotary Club – Community Spirit Award
· Nick Rhodes
Nick has proven himself to be a bit of a whizz behind the camera and is passionate about the importance of documenting SRC’s history and current events. He is also a keen crew man and we are looking forward to seeing the fruits of Nick’s labours on and off the water over the coming seasons.
The following nominations for the Board were received:
President: Keith Jameson OAM
Vice-Presidents: Steven Handley
Michael Morgan OAM
Captain: Paul Coates
Finance Director: Scott Turner
Vice-Captain Scott Woodward
Board Members: James Chapman (Senior Active), Jenny Cole (Social), Kirsten Liljekvist (Life), Hugh McLeod (Senior Active), David Sollom (Life).
See you all at the meeting on Sunday – starts 9am sharp – refreshments served after the meeting!!
The early morning races are completed and a weary group of rowers, both in the red of Mercantile and the light blue of Sydney, return to the middle shed on Boathouse Drive to refuel and reflect on the Cayzer Cup thus far. The day began with 4km time trials at the break of day from the boatsheds to the harbour, followed by 1 mile match races on the return journey. Spoils are shared evenly between the two foundation clubs at this stage with all to race for in the 2 furlong sprints scheduled for later in the day.
The atmosphere is collegiate as rowers of both clubs enjoy a breakfast provided by the Mercantile club in the truest sense of Melbourne hospitality. One Sydney member however appears confused by the sights around him on the banks of the Yarra. While most in Australia accept Melbourne as the cultural capital of the Nation; home to its most valued artistic institutions and the intellectual impetus for its zeitgeist, Stuart Maeder has come from foreign shores and is an alien in this environment. He looks on uneasily at the lengthy beards and exotic tattoos which pass along the cycle ways of the riverbank. Distressed clothing and colourful sunglasses are typical of the inner city counter-culture which exerts a hegemonic influence on the population from Docklands to the Dandenong Ranges, but to Stuart they represent a disquieting novelty.
Maeder is an American citizen, born in Washington D.C. he began rowing at Woodrow Wilson High during his freshman year after being talent-spotted by a knowledgeable cousin. This led him to selection in the US men’s junior coxed four at the 2011 junior world championships at Eton Dorney, a regatta that saw his first interaction with Sydney Rowing Club. While Stuart’s crew ultimately raced in the B final, they watched the A final with interest, noting the fine performance by the gold medal winning Australian crew. It was in this crew that the figure of SRC’s Philip Adams loomed large as a dominant physical presence.
While Stuart did not speak directly to Phil or make enquiries about his home club in Australia, Lorenz’s ‘Butterfly Effect’ theory of determinism would contend that the crossing of this pairs’ paths at that Regatta on the outskirts of London undoubtedly was the catalyst for Maeder ultimately racing for SRC today.
In recent years, Maeder has been rowing crew at the prestigious Ivy League college Dartmouth. Located in New Hampshire amongst the fertile academic grounds of the American North-East, the college is noted as much for its athletic excellence as for its scholastic record of merit. Stuart is currently on a sabbatical from his studies and decided to visit Australia. While enjoying the usual pleasures of travel, Stuart was also mindful of keeping up to speed with his crew training, landing at the doors of SRC recently to get back into the boat. It is surely no coincidence that as Maeder flew into Sydney just two weeks ago - Philip Adams was departing to his own Ivy League College; Princeton.
With plans to stay in Sydney for some months, members will become familiar with Stuart’s presence in the boatshed, as he too becomes accustomed to the oddities of the southern culture. While this process will take time, the language of boat speed is universal, and it is in this sphere that Maeder has already made a noteworthy oration by winning four races in the club men’s eight at the Cayzer Cup. A fine performance indeed from the club’s newest member and one to be celebrated from sea to shining sea. Congratulations Stuart and to all members who represented the club with similar distinction over the weekend.
The 4 km time trial was followed by match races over a 1500m course from the Bolte Bridge back towards Mercantile’s shed. Coxswain’s skills were a deciding factor in each event with Sydney winning the men’s A eight and Mercantile wining all other categories.
All crews then mingled on the banks of the Yarra, where breakfast was served. The Mercantile mothers put on a luscious feast with our development eight hovering over the toasted sandwiches.
This break was also a great time to get to know our new coach Wayne Berger, who exchanged some fantastic stories leaving many in stitches.
Racing commenced again after breakfast with two 400m sprints. The local crews were quick off the line and every race was hard fought. The Sydney eight continued their form winning both their races. The men’s lighty four crashed into oncoming traffic in their first sprint, but won their second. The women’s eight was a spirited race with a clash resulting in some wonderful calls from the Mercs coxswain.
Despite Tom Birtwhistle suffering a wrist injury between sessions, the men’s quad managed to fend off a determined challenge from the development eight to win both their races.
The night kicked on at numerous places with no one ending up arrested or in hospital WELL DONE SRC.
Overall a fantastic weekend!! Thank you to the coaching staff, team managers and Keith Jameson for making the trip down and for their fantastic support.
Cheers to next year!!!
It is 9.30 on a Saturday morning, and while most of the club’s top athletes are only just arriving at the boatshed for their weekly training row, the club women’s eight is just now coming from the water. Despite the early rise it is clear from afar the good spirits in which the crew undertake the usual tasks of washing and stowing the QL Deloitte in which they train. It is appropriate that they row in a boat that bears this moniker. Mr Deloitte was referred to upon his passing as ‘the father of rowing’ and this crew is coached by Jim Stride, known to many as the father of Kelli and Nicole.
While most of the crew drift upstairs, minds wandering to the possibilities of the weekend’s remainder, Leah stays on the pontoon. She speaks solemnly to coach Carter, no doubt exploring new and fertile lines of technical enquiry with the goal of gaining boat speed and cohesion in the lead up to the Cayzer Cup. Leah is one of a large group of club members that has never tasted victory in the famous race, let alone one on the harsh grey waters of the Yarra. It is one of a very few successes that have evaded Saunders thus far in a rowing career that has featured representation in NSW crews at the Youth Olympics and Australian honours at the junior level, as well as recent recognition at the hands of the influential Union of rowers.
Given this record of excellence her drive for improvement, even at this late stage, is understandable. It is even more so when one considers that the journey, which will culminate in the race against Mercantile in just over two weeks, is one in which the morning’s 20km row is just a tiny increment. To understand the distance that Leah has travelled it is necessary to trace back the steps to 2011. It was then, as Leah was just a novice rower grafting away on the Clarence River with dreams of a career as an OT that she first heard of Sydney Rowing Club.
Long time friend and fellow Lower Clarence RC member Riley Elvery was considering a move south to continue his rowing development at SRC. Leah had already achieved a great deal racing on the Northern Rivers and been rewarded with selection in the Australian Junior team for the World Championships of 2011 at Eton Dorney, but with Riley’s encouragement she decided to chase the big city dream and move to Sydney as well.
Making the journey up the divisive Great North Road to SRC for the first time is a daunting experience for most, but considering Leah arrived in Abbotsford with just the zootie on her back made this an even more revealing test of character. It was a challenge she would overcome with deceptive ease, quickly becoming a popular member of the boatshed while continuing to perform admirably on the water.
While most casual observers have noted these outward successes, when one questions her crew mates about Leah they speak of intangibles; leadership, inspiration and collectivism. It is these qualities, rather than past glories, which the Sydney crew will need to draw upon in the gruelling 5km race against Mercantile for the Cayzer Cup. We wish them well in this endeavour, knowing with Leah in the boat that a worthy performance is guaranteed.
Leah is travelling to rowing camp in Canberra this weekend and prior to Cayzer Cup will cross the ditch to New Zealand and compete in the inaugural Trans-Tasman Under 21 Regatta on Lake Karapiro from 4-8 September. The Under 21 crews will also compete in the Gallagher Great Race on the Waikato River as part of the final race of the day on 8 September. Leah will be joined by SRC's Milly Cheetham and former coach Adam Vine-Hall.
All the best with your racing and training schedule Leah and Milly.
Team SRC was greeted by perfect conditions in the village of Leichhardt for the final race day of the JB Sharp series. Tension in the boat park was high with the top clubs in NSW all racing for inner west immortalisation on the storied trophies on offer, and this was reflected in the frenetic rowing on display in the bay.
The most significant performance for Sydney on the day was Anais Alonso’s win for the Walker and Hall Chalice, which was as dramatic as it was impressive. The race is unique amongst non-masters racing in NSW, as it is raced as a handicapped event over the five regattas of the series. Early wins in the competition result in a greater time penalty for future races, and as such the overall point score is one of the most difficult to win on the calendar. Indeed, former club stars like the champion lightweight Hugh McLeod and Ken Ambler have tried and failed to win the cup.
After strong performances over the first four races, Anais was placed at the head of the leader board. A victory in the final race by Oscar Fawkes of Drummoyne however tied the ledger, forcing a match-race to determine the winner. While the pressure of this scenario would have affected many, Anais was clinical in foiling the plot of Fawkes. She started brilliantly, taking a lead of 25 seconds in the early stages of the race. This margin was reduced towards the finish but she never looked like being overtaken, and crossed the line with a 2 length margin to spare.
Sydney’s other trophy wins were in contrasting style. The juniors had dominated the U16 events throughout the series and had an unassailable lead in the point score race going into the final day. Ultimately Sydney claimed the trophy and the $500 prize money donated by sponsors BMG Aviation having collected twice the points of the nearest club. Romola Davenport collected the U16 women’s scull medallion for the 2nd consecutive year and also an impressive win in the double scull with partner Anais Alonso.
The Sydney men on the other hand were facing a big deficit in their attempt to win the Glebe Centenary Shield for the 3rd consecutive year. Most had conceded victory to the Glebe Club, who had been well ahead throughout the competition, but the presence of the STAP crews, coached by Dom Grimm and Karl Quitzau, precipitated a gold rush for the men in light blue. Sydney took 1st and 2nd in the men’s four, won the quad and placed 3rd in the double to bring them within striking distance going into the last race - the open eights. With a STAP and a club crew in the race, Sydney needed a 1-2 finish, and for Glebe to finish off the podium to tie the point score. Within the first 200 metres of the race it was clear the first condition would be met, the Parlby and Cayzer rushing away from the competition. There was a close race for 3rd but Glebe just missed out, giving SRC joint custody of the Shield for the next twelve months.
At the conclusion of racing a presentation was held in the Leichhardt boat shed to honour the winners. Amongst Sydney’s trophy triumphs, the JB Sharp officials also rewarded Max Brenner with the BMG Youth Scholarship, in recognition of the promise he has shown throughout the series. Max was unable to be present for the occasion due to competing in the city to surf so his two brothers accepted the award from Tim McLaren on his behalf.
Not the best of starts for a long row! Finger-chilling cold and nil visibility because of the thick fog that stopped all shipping in Newcastle harbour and prevented the start of the regatta.
The SRC boys in the double were well prepared with food, drinks, a race plan of sorts and iPods.
Safety briefings were carried out by the race organiser and the harbour master, and after a delay of about an hour and a half the regatta was given a 30 minute window, in between shipping movements, to get all competitors started and moving across the harbour.
Conditions were challenging for about the first 7kms due to large choppy water and wind in the harbour, and little respite from small chop in the first 25kms due to a head wind against the incoming tide.
Fraser and Anthony caught me at about 22kms and the last I saw of them was their puddles as they smashed forward. They looked disturbingly rested when I saw them at the finish!
I didn’t cross paths with Patrick and Harry in the other double during the race but they well managed the distance and looked good when they crossed the finish line.
Everyone completed the distance, no damage sustained and SRC brought home two shields, and all in all a good day.
A mid-winter’s Sunday in the inner west of Sydney and the conditions are right for another JB Sharp Regatta. The series is known for its relaxed atmosphere and generous entry requirements, and as such it is no surprise to see a large and diverse crowd drawn from the clubs of Sydney taking over the parklands surrounding the Leichhardt boatshed.
What is a surprise however is to sight the figure of Maria Daniele standing by the SRC trailer in the boat park. While generally a dedicated patron of racing on Iron Cove, Maria had not been a regular this season, and was not expected to be on course today. To see her now, speaking amiably with the mix of athletes, supporters and coaches that have gathered around the Sydney fleet, provides an immediate lift for those preparing to race.
I can see that she has just come off the water so I ask how her race went. She explains the crew came in second place, but as is usual for Maria she emphasises the value in the journey (the collegiate atmosphere in the crew born of a unified application of effort and spirit) over the resulting destination (Balmain).
Given this enthusiasm for the race day experience I am troubled as to why I have been seeing less of Maria at regattas lately. I decide to broach the question tactfully, lest I inadvertently intrude on personal matters, “So Maria, been up to much lately”? I ask. The response is as impressive as it is unexpected. “I haven’t been in the boat for a couple months since I’ve been training for the marathon I ran last weekend”. For any athlete the marathon is the pinnacle of physical achievement and Maria can rightly be proud of achieving the feat, a measure of her personal drive and dedication.
A lawyer by trade, Daniele is an uncompromising competitor in the professional arena, but it seems she is able to find balance at SRC. An experienced solicitor, she is an expert in the practice of law, but is a relative newcomer to rowing. As President of the Inner West Law Society she is a leader in her field, but at Sydney is happy to work for the team, today filling in a seat in the crew at late notice. I spot her speaking to the club captain. In the past she has advised him on antitrust, defamation and transport law but today he is advising her on the merits of tandem rigging.
It is this helpful and humble approach that has made Maria a great contributor to the club in her time here. She has played a large role in coaching and mentoring the younger athletes at the club, and many of the juniors she coaches are racing today. She is always a keen contributor to club crews, happy to fill in if required in any seat. Above all she displays the best attributes of a club member, placing the collective above the individual. For these reasons it was a pleasure to catch up with Maria on the weekend, and we look forward to her slipping out of the sneakers and into the foot stretchers once the regular rowing season commences in a couple of months’ time.
Perfect conditions greeted competitors at the penultimate regatta of the JB Sharp series. Blue skies and still winds augured well for racing on what is often a troublesome Balmain course, which brings rowers from the usually benign waters of the Iron Cove out into the open seas of the Parramatta River.
Taking full advantage of the glassy early conditions were young scullers Romy Davenport, Max Brenner and Lloyd Caetano who combined for 2 wins and a second placing in the U16 sculls. This was a continuation of the success enjoyed throughout the series, in which Sydney now holds a commanding lead in the point score for this category.
The women’s quad came from the water thinking they had achieved a close second, but upon reviewing the official results, came the pleasant surprise that the crew had won the race by a canvas. The deceptive finish gave the Sydney crew its second successive win in the category.
Next to race was the beleaguered men’s coxed four, who to date had failed to record a win in the series. This string of poor results saw attention directed from the highest levels of the club administration with President Keith Jameson OAM making a strong statement with his presence on the Leichhardt pontoon as the crew boated.
Facing their hitherto kryptonite in the Glebe Club, the SRC men changed their seat order for the race, moving Phil Adams into the stroke seat. This proved a masterstroke as Adams, inspired by the performance of former Australian crewmate Louis Snelson at the U23 world championships the previous evening, brought a devastating rush into the Sydney boat that the opposition could not match. The crew gained a length margin within the first quarter of the race and could not be reined in.
The final race of the day was the men’s eight, which again was to develop into a drag contest between Sydney and Glebe. Buoyed by their earlier transformation, the Sydney team put on a convincing performance at the start to get in front of the opposition. Then followed a revealing finish that left onlookers in no doubt as to which crew had crossed the line first.
The women’s intermediate quad where the shining light for Sydney on another day of mixed results at the prestigious JB Sharp Regatta series. The crew had shown enormous promise in the small boats so far in the series but had been unable to translate that effort to the crew boats until the Drummoyne Regatta. However on this, the third in the five race series, the crew worked magnificently in the collective and in a close finish prevailed for SRC’s best win of the day.
The juniors continue to race strongly, while the senior men’s squad annus horribilis showed signs of abating via the return of star athlete John Quincy Adams’ reformative influence and the institution of a new training program overseen by NSWIS director of high performance Alan Bennet. While failing to record any wins they did close the margin to the all conquering Glebe crew in the open eights race, a result that augers well for the remaining races.
This Sunday the series moves to the challenging Balmain course, so often the decisive day for the various pointscore competitions. SRC will again be out in force, represented by a diverse group including the STAP program athletes.
Women’s Coxless Pair
The heats of the pairs required a first place position for guaranteed progression into the A final. Tess Gerrand and partner Katrina Bateman placed third in their heat and moved into the repechage where they missed out on a berth in the A final. However, they kept the pressure on in the B final leading from start to finish and beating the German pair by nearly six seconds.
Men’s Coxless Four
After Eton Dorney we thought we were in for a show down with Great Britain in the final World Cup for 2013, but we are at the pointy end of the international competition and GB failed to make the A final. It was in the nail biting semi-final that the Aussies sneaked into the final taking out third and a qualifying spot in a spectacular photo finish behind the USA and Italy.
It was the USA’s first international regatta together in the four and they stamped their authority on the final race leading from start to finish, but Australia stuck to their tail for the entire race. The Italians closed in on the frontrunners with every stroke over the final quarter of the race and in the closing metres finished in a photo for the Silver medal with the Australian crew. Australia prevailed by seven hundredths of a second taking the medal and the coveted 2013 World Cup trophy.
Congratulations Tess, Alex and Spencer. We look forward to more exciting racing in South Korea next month!
It is mid-afternoon on Saturday when I arrive at SRC so I am not surprised to see that the club is operating at peak capacity. There is a sea of people enjoying the signature weekend jazz music and little room to move, let alone find a seat so I am relieved to spot the SRC supporter's group gathered near one of the recently installed wide screen HD televisions. I make my way over with drinks in hand, expecting the usual warm greeting of club mates, but rather am met with cold and distant recognition. It is not an unusual collection of members to sight in the club on a Saturday afternoon however the occasion dictates that the typical candour of the group has been replaced by a nervous anticipation that supersedes social norms of manners and politeness.
The crowd is watching the World Championships, which is being broadcast into the club. The next race to start will be the men’s four which will feature the first appearance of SRC’s Spencer Turrin and Alex Lloyd at a major international regatta. The apprehension amongst the supporters is obvious; Jenny Cole shifts uneasily in her seat and Captain Pauli’s eyes water from the heady mix of nerves and a serving of Wasabi Peas from the bar, (a bargain at just $2 a serve). One man however stands out from the crowd for his placid demeanour and relaxed posture, that man is Hugh McLeod.
As the starter begins the roll call, signalling the imminent commencement of the race, McLeod looks on calmly. He is unperturbed by the high stakes racing that is about to unfold, gently sipping from his glass of stout. This reservedness is certainly not borne of ignorance, for of all those in the club at this moment there is perhaps none who is better qualified to speak to the demands of the occasion than the whip-cracking Novocastrian.
Hugh is a former Australian representative himself, having won a Bronze medal for his country at the 2006 World Under 23 Championships. With this performance he emerged from the provincial rowing scene and was scouted by Sydney Rowing Club where he made an instant impression. This placed him amongst a long line of rowers from Newcastle to make a big impression on the international scene, alongside the likes of Bede Clark and Nick Filmer, such that it has often been said, ‘there must be something in the water in Newcastle*' Since then however he has not pursued senior representation, settling for numerous state titles and honours in the club rowing scene. For many casual observers it has seemed incongruous that he shouldn’t have continued on the path to international rowing and become an established national team member by now.
As the camera cuts to the Australian crew on the start line McLeod recognises the expression on the faces of the young crew, “…there is no feeling like being on the start line at a world championships” he offers sagely. Indeed, behind his eyes I can see the memories of his past glories being replayed now. It is usually in the presence of artistic and spiritual beauty that men are inspired, but on this occasion it is in the reflected glow of this regatta, broadcast from thousands of miles away in a land to which he has never travelled, that the embers of McLeod’s elite ambitions are being stoked.
The FISA starter in Chungju calls the crews to attention. In just a moment’s time he will press the buzzer, tipping the first domino in the sequence of events that over the next 6 minutes will determine which nation is crowned world champion. Beside me I can sense that another journey is about to start, one that will take months and years but given the pedigree and the newfound determination of the man, one that I do not doubt will take McLeod back to the world stage.
*In 2011 testing by the NSW Environment Protection Authority revealed above threshold levels of ammonia, arsenic and hexavalent chromium in the Hunter River.