The Outterside Centre saw much excitement on the 7th December, the date marking the annual school shed race and Back to the Sheds Day for old boys. The day began in a frenzy with all rowers from year 7-11 arriving around the same time in the morning, helping to unload cars filled with food and memorabilia in preparation for the arrival of the old boys. Although the smoke haze had lingered over the Parramatta River for the past few days, this particular morning was clear and the shed race was confirmed to be proceeding: and so began the long process of getting every single crew in the school onto the water.
Once on the water, all crews proceeded down the river towards Silverwater, making their way to the start line 3.5km away. Once everyone arrived at the start after a thorough warm-up, racing began. The shed race is conducted in a time trial manner, with all crews starting at different times, the goal being to see all crews finishing in front of the sheds together. So, a double from the senior B squad commenced the race, followed closely by the year 8 quads, year 9 quads, year 10 VIIIs, and finally, the Senior VIIIs. Crews of note included the double, who took away a convincing win, the mighty 2nd VIII, who pulled back numerous places, finishing 3rd after starting 2nd last, and the Year 10 1st VIII, who fought hard to stay with the 2nd VIII.
Upon arriving back at the pontoon at the sheds, it was clear to see that some of the old boys had arrived. Men from the 1989/90 and 2005/06 rowing squads were due to make a special appearance for a race between themselves and the current school 1st VIII. The old boys from the 2005/06 squad had arrived and made their presence apparent, towering over everyone else and boasting raging muscles as they helped crews off the water. It was easy to see that they meant business and had once established themselves as some of the best High rowers in recent history. Once they had the space, they promptly got a boat onto the water to begin warming up.
Soon after, the 1989/90 old boys arrived, still looking amazingly strong. The senior squad were eager to interact with them and took them upstairs for a 100m erg competition among themselves and a tour around the sheds. The erg competition saw blindingly fast times, assuring the old boys that power was something they had not at all lost. The winning time was 15.8 seconds.
After the tour was complete, the 2005/06 crew arrived back from their paddle and it was soon time for all crews to get on the water. The 1st VIII was filled with nerves as head coach Gareth Deacon assured us that the key would be to maintain a high rating and skill through the stroke. They made their way onto the water first to begin warming up. The race would only be around 600m, a power-driven and not so fitness intensive distance, and so, a recent old boys crew was put together in the last minute.
At the start line, the 2005/06 crew looked over at the 1st VIII, aiming to intimidate and somewhat accomplishing this as they sat proud and tall above the boat. The recent old boys sat ahead of everyone else and refused to move back to be level, intent on winning, through whatever means. As the start of the race began to be called, they started abruptly, prompting the 2005/06 crew to start, followed by the 1st VIII. The 1989/90 crew started quickly with immense power and took a small lead against the first VIII. The first VIII consisting of year 11s dug deep and focussed in, overtaking the 1989/90 crew once power was no longer vital and instead, anaerobic fitness kicked in. Unfortunately, they were not able to take down any more crews, the recent old boys crossing the line first, followed by the 2005/06 crew, and then the 1st VIII. However, the recent old boys were promptly disqualified for refusing to sit even and for a false start.
Once off the water, the top three crews were awarded prizes by John Croll (SHS 1981) and the President of the Rowing Committee. Photographs were taken with the Old Boys Challenge VIII oar as the morning began to wind down. Numerous other old boys who had not been racing had now arrived and were welcomed enthusiastically by coaches and parents alike. A notable appearance was Mr Gainford, who had not been seen at the sheds for the best part of a year, due to his illness. The senior rowers were happy to speak with all of the boys, who managed to pass down some of their wisdom and interesting stories. Some old boys even walked away with wooden oars as a reminder of their time rowing at High.
Overall, the day ran with a couple of hiccups, but was enjoyed by all who attended. The seniors were very lucky to have interactions with the old boys, and I thank them for coming. I would also like to extend my thanks to Dr Jaggar, Mr Paul Harapin (President of the Old Boys Union), and Mr Marcos for their support of the event and Anna Egeressy, Leslie Wait, Leslie Cheng, Binh Johnsun, and all the other parents from the rowing committee who helped to organise the event, and of course, Mr Barris for overseeing the event. Thank you all.
Alan Jessup (2019-20 Captain of Boats)