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Friends’ Rowing was established in April 1905. It has gone from strength to strength and seen many changes over the years. The dedication, hard work and training has reaped the reward of success for so many rowers, supporters and parents alike. Rowing provides challenges, self-discipline and the camaraderie of a lifetime. Heartfelt memories of training and rowing together as a crew are held as one of life’s greatest treasures.
Through the great endeavours and hard work of members of Friends’ Rowing, and the tremendous support from the School, the sheds have been extensively redeveloped over the years. They are sheds to be proud of and they need to be maintained.
On December 1 2007 John Green (Principal) officially opened the new Boat Club extension. John spoke about the history of the Club, the valuable contribution of Friends’ School rowing community to the building effort and how the Boat Club had become an important part of the School. J
“We have taken up rowing this year, and have a crew training for the race to be held at Hobart on the 15th of April in competition for the Clarke Shield. Rowing means a good deal of work, as the school is so far away from the river. We go out every morning from 5 to 6 o’clock, and also on Saturday afternoons. At first we thought that taking up rowing would spoil our cricket, but the four in the crew get cricket practice in the dinner hour.”
This is how the commencement of boys’ rowing at Friends’ School was announced in the April 1905 edition of Echoes.
Just three-quarters of a century later, in 1981, a girls’ rowing programme commenced, although one girl had competed as a coxswain in 1979. The 1979 Echoes records this special event:
“Friends’ certainly provided a first in rowing by having Sandra Geard as the cox of an under sixteen four. Rule books were perused to see if this was permissible, but apparently the authors of these books had never considered the possibility of a girl in rowing.”
The history of rowing at the school is marked with numerous fundraising ventures to buy new boats and equipment and to establish or upgrade the facilities at the boat shed.
And so it was with the start of rowing in 1905 when a Rowing Club Bazaar was held to raise funds for the purchase of a new boat. The event is written up in great detail in the September 1905 Echoes. There were stalls for plain and fancy needlework, art, produce, flowers, confections and cakes. The numerous sideshows included pony rides, hat trimming, nail driving, cotton winding and a shooting gallery. It “proved to be a great success, £53 clear being taken, which will enable the boys to buy two boats, instead of one, as was first hoped”.
The challenges of rowing, on and off the water, were underway.