The 2017-18 rowing season was a successful one for the Program. We began the season with the aim of building on our points success from last season while also building members and ensuring programming covered the goals of each athlete. Our coaching numbers have also increased and our fundraising has been spectacular and pleasing.
It’s a healthy exercise to review the season and to see where we hit our set mark and where we fell short and then for the coming season to refocus and try and hit those missed marks and meet the new ones.
We have over 23 current members and of those there are 15 actively rowing and preparing for competition or have been competing already this season. We have over 10 members who are happily part of our non-competition social group and who train when injury permits.
Of the above members we have 8 aiming for selection for Tokyo and of those eight the majority will be heading out to take part in next season’s time trials – some from TT1 others as they are ready.
Para Rowing has three classification categories. Currently we have categorised our squad as 4 PR1
members; 5 PR2 members and 16 PR3 members with several names on a waiting list yet to be categorised.
Successes On and Off the Course:
On the Course Successes:
Each time one of our squad races for the first time we see it as a success. Success in overcoming adversity and challenge; success in accepting the challenge to see where that rower’s technique and rowing ability is up to and success in accepting the challenge to race and finishing – no matter where that finish places the rower in that race.
The individual performances of the squad would be too numerous to comprehensively list here, but a more detailed record of our results is available on our website. In general however, some highlights are mentioned below.
We had a great turnout of squaddies race at the Reindeer Regatta and Sprints Championship Regatta and the squad picked up many medals at both. These regattas were followed in the new year by the Small Boats Regatta and again we had some great wins and pleasing times.
There are two big regattas of the season for us – Rowing NSW State Championships and the Edward Trickett Regatta. We’d like to say that the Rowing Australia National Championships is also a big one for us but sadly it isn’t as many of our rowers are locked out of competition by Rowing Australia due to their insistence that the FISA rule for International racing that lists specific brand name boats be followed at this regatta (which we discuss below).
One of our squad raced the NSW Schoolgirl Head of the River with the aim of bettering her time over the 1km and attempting to win a race she’s always wanted to win and as this was her last chance to race this event as she finishes school this year, it was all stops out to try and secure that win. She won by bettering her PB by a huge amount and finished school and the season on a high.
Rowing NSW State Rec Champions Zarni Tun, Stephanie Walker and Sophie Delezio
Off The Course Successes:
Zarni Tun was recognised by the Public Education Foundation’s Eliza and Walter Hall Trust and received a financial scholarship to assist with his University studies.
Ruby Sutherland was recognised by the Katie Kelly Sport Access Foundation and was one of their inaugural scholarship winners which allowed Ruby to purchase her own boat and oars.
The Primary Club of Australia recognised the Program and made us their fundraising recipient allowing us to purchase an elite PR2 double/pair scull.
The Jane and Michael Joukowsky Foundation recognised the program and awarded us amounts toward new equipment.
Matilda Slater-Philips’ sporting prowess and potential was recognised by UTS Sports Union and she is the recipient of one of their sports scholarships
Jack Calderan’s rowing potential was recognised by UTS Sports Union and he is also the proud recipient of one of their sports scholarships.
James Talbot has been selected into the Australian Rowing Team in two events (a first for a para-athlete), and awarded an NSWIS Scholarship which will allow him to access much needed gym and physio services.
Daniel Clark was recognised for his book on Borneo and Orangutans and Orangutan fundraising project and selected to carry the baton in the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton relay and was further recognised by the NSW State Government and is now a member of the NSW State Youth Advisory Council [ we expect that come the elections next year Daniel will no doubt be a candidate somewhere!].
Stephanie Walker represented NSW at the Special Olympics in tennis where she won silver.
The Program was recognised by the Inner West Council and won the 2018 Amy Large Volunteer Team / Group of the year and the overall 2018 Volunteer of the Year and is now in the running for the 2018 NSW Volunteer Team of the Year.
A Win and a Loss :
The Program began the season lobbying for rule changes at the FISA Extraordinary Congress to allow for 2km Para events at International FISA Regattas and for the rule limiting the hull that PR1 and PR2 rowers can use. We lobbied hard and had wonderful support from many overseas international rowers and rowing organisations.
It was heartening to receive the emails and messages urging us on to try and bring change. We are happy to report that the 2km race distance was passed but the hull change while not rejected is still under discussion and yet to be determined.
We know that USA Para Rowing organised for formal testing and assessing of both free choice hull [ the same as other non para rowers can access in single scull events] and para hull [ a cumbersome 24 kg non responsive hull ]. Not surprising to us there were no additional safety issues found in using the standard 14kg hull but each para rower that used the 14kg hull marvelled at the run of the hull and comments such as ‘ I felt like I was really rowing; that was amazing ‘ and so on were reported back to us.
We await FISA decision makers view and again hope that sense prevails and allows for free choice. We also expect that if there is a continuance of the bar on free choice hull someone from FISA will finally answer our long standing question : what safety issues are there in using a lighter hull?
This rule severely limits the brand of boat our rowers can use – it is not weight based, nor a rule that relies on the amount of boat touching the water, but rather one that states only certain boat brands can be rowed and those listed are all overseas brand boats and extremely expensive.
This rule has a disproportionate impact on our domestic competition as well which confuses us as FISA clearly states in their own rules that their rules apply only to Internationally FISA accredited events. Last year, these restrictions were applied to the Rowing Australia National Championships, despite it not being a FISA accredited event. This rule was only introduced two weeks before the Nationals last year, meaning we had to sit and watch while our PR1 category rowers were denied the ability to race in their category, but had to race a category above their classification, thus guaranteeing them a loss and not the win they had trained for.
Regardless of the position taken by FISA, the application of this rule to domestic regattas was and remains a rule that, in our view, needs speedy re-consideration unless Rowing Australia is prepared to provide these expensive sculls for general use. Rowing Australia has an opportunity to take a leading role in developing a more progressive (and less restrictive) set of rules for PR1/PR2 competition. We did ask for assistance from RA both in relation to the rules and equipment, but none was or has been forthcoming to date.
We live in hope of sense and sanity prevailing and the exclusion of rowers who do not have access to a listed branded boat from the Nationals in the PR1 1x and PR2 1x be discussed and altered.
2017 – 18 Pointscore
The Program again won the 2017-18 Para- Rowing Shield pointscore finishing a very comfortable 229 points with our nearest rivals finishing on 85.2 points. The Squad deserves to be commended for getting out and racing and supporting each other at every regatta we chose to enter.
They raced in every event possible and whether winners or not gave their all and we are so proud of their efforts and their support for each other. What makes us strong is this wonderful camaraderie and esprit de corps shown by every member. We cannot wait for next season’s racing to begin.
Overall top point-scorer for the Program was James Talbot on 40 points followed by Ruby Sutherland on 32, with Zarni Tun close behind on 30. Congratulations and well scored!
For many many years we have been requesting the NSW State Government approve our request to move to Callan park into an accessible unused building. We’ve watched with sadness as the building has been left unused and therefore falling into minor disrepair.
Over the years of lobbying we’ve received wonderful letters of support from a variety of State Government Ministers and Shadow Ministers but to date we’ve not had a formal response to our request for usage. The Inner West Council remains supporting our request as does the Office of Sport NSW and our many many other supporters,
we only hope the relevant Minister sees and understands our need and responds accordingly.
Currently we have no accessible toilets and physical access to the pontoon that is embarrassing and frankly demeaning to our physically diverse and challenged squad members. We have a trailer of equipment we cannot access as we have no room where we currently are and where we know there isn’t space available. Our need to move is great, and we hope that this time next year we can put this topic under our wins section of the Annual Report !
Jim Maxwell, the voice of cricket, inspecting our Resolute Para single.
We have finished the season on a high:
- Through a very special sponsor we’ve been donated a Jeep 4 wheel drive V8 in order to allow us to pull our trailer;
- the Primary Club of Australia’s donation allowed us to purchase a racing double/pair;
- the Premier of NSW, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian donated $5,000 to assist the program in continuing the work we do;
- our Honorary Member, Misha Joukowsky and his wife Jane made a wonderful donation through their Foundation in recognition of our work;
- an anonymous donor impressed by Ruby’s dedication and effort over the year provided $10,000 toward the purchase of a new Four which is due to arrive late July; and
- The HMAS Adelaide hosted the Program at a fundraising BBQ lunch onboard the magnificent Adelaide where $840 was raised and then the crew decided to increase that and donated a further $160 to make the total $1,000.
We have also been invited to take part in a Global Ergothon which will allow us to fundraise over the course of the event. This event is currently being planned as well as a series of small fundraising dinners to be held over the next few months.
We finish the year financially smiling with more plans and more equipment targeted for purchase over the coming months!
Finally, thank you to all our supporters, family, friends, other rowers that assisted us, coaches, volunteers and Rowing NSW. Without your support we could not do what we do and our rowers would not be able to compete at the level they do without this ongoing and hands on support.
Special thanks to the mums, dads, brothers, sisters, Junior men’s squad and Scott our wonderful Boatmaster that assist us each coaching session putting in and taking out our tinnies; carrying motors, petrol, equipment; tightening screws, taking equipment home and remodelling or repairing; bringing to the shed additional equipment begged borrowed or, dare we say, s….. You are all invaluable and allow this wonderful sport to be provided to those not able to access it anywhere else and who, having discovered it, fall in love with it as we did and then move forward with the challenge of conquering it.