“We will put a man on the moon before the end of the decade”…John F Kennedy 25 May 1961.

“I have a dream”….Martin Luther King 28 August 1963.

“We can build it”….Barack Obama 8 January 2008.

“Moving forward”….Julia Gillard 17 (and far too many days thereafter) July 2010.

“The Marist rowing vision….and shed”….. Neil Smith 27 March 2011.

In the annuals of famous speeches it was up there Neil.  Welcome all to my last wrap of our inaugural Marist rowing season.  As Neil so eloquently stated last Sunday, it has been a privilege for all of us to join with our sons to be part of such a strong Marist sporting community. And yes before I start tearing up (a quality that I am forever criticised for by my children) I am sure we all shared Neil’s sentiments as he summed up the season that was.


Before I dwell on the speech of the century, let me share with you all the afternoon celebrations that marked our wonderful season.  Leah Kennedy had all of our boys marshalled, with hair combed, ‘pearly whites’ glistening and guns primed (ala Ron Burgundy) for their individual, group, and year photographs. With a classic autumn afternoon, back dropped by an iconic Canberra setting, the Marist boys in the immortal words of Madonna’s stopped  to ‘strike a pose’, none more than our head coxswain and funny guy, Charlie Waldren.  The group photo in particular, which included our rowers, coaches and committee members will be one to cherish.

Regattas and war games

A fun regatta ensued with teams being divided under the guidance of our captain, Hugh Cowan, and vice-Captain, Ed Hallissey. All rowers, coaches (Dick, Simon, Michael, Matt, Neil and Jane) and our parents, super Manager, Deb Jeppesen and dad Tim Mason displayed their rowing wares….. of various vintages and fitness levels. It was wonderful to see:

  • The boys getting their first taste of the speed of the sweep in the eights;
  • Dad and daughter, Jane and Tim Mason sharing an eight
  • Nat Smith rowing behind super stroke, dad Neil; and
  • Coach Dick recovering…..still

Thank you to our supportive CRC President Brendan Proust for officiating and our ‘super sub’ tinnie man, Steve McDougall for your assistance.  The overall winning team was the red gang steered by our Captain Hugh.  

The attention then turned to our gladiator corner where Neil challenged the fitness levels of our boys (the prize of a lindt gold bunny always brings out the big guns). It was amusing to watch the level of intensity and concentration despite the range of distractions. Year winners included:

  • Year 12 – Ed Hallissey and Hugh Cowan
  • Year 10/11 – Nat Smith and Lochie Rebetzke     
  • Year 9 – Charlie Waldren  and Brendan Clark
  • Year 8 - Jack Freebody and Hugo Webster.    

Yummy food

The crowd were then lured by the tempting culinary delights on offer. Whatever awards were won on the water this season, few challenges can be thrown out to the Marist families in the food stakes.  Thank you all to those who cooked, catered, and cleaned under the coordination of Carolyn Dunphy. Your efforts were all much appreciated. There are too many mentions for my master chef awards so please all take a bow (please note my rowing pun).


As hinted earlier, the evening was concluded with a moving series of speeches. Neil Smith reflected on our humble beginnings on a cold August afternoon last year. We were reminded of the journey that included (once again ) food support by parents, the swimming tests, the rowing camp, Zootie fashions, and most importantly the comittement shown by our boys, committee, coaches and support members.

Neil particularly thanked our partners and supporters at Canberra Rowing Club who were present with us for the afternoon.  In summary, Neil welcomed all to the Marist AGM which will be held during August and encouraged all parents to be involved as either committee members or injecting their talents on sub committees.

CRC President, Brendan Proust thanked all boys for their concentration and commitment to the sport of rowing. He reminded the boys that as a race official he was impressed with their race discipline given their limited time in the sport. Brendan encouraged all rowers to strive to attain First VIII status …..”afterall the game of rugby played in heaven is for those that missed out on the VIII”…. (Dunphy and AFL families we will translate that for you another time).

Our Rowing Captain, Hugh Cowan graciously thanked CRC, parents and boys for their support and commitment over the season. Once again thank you Hugh and your senior rowing team for being great ambassadors to all the rowers. 

A special vote of thanks was delivered to our rowing Manager, Deb Jeppesen who is standing down from her role. In front and behind the camera, Deb's work has been invaluable, her passion, drive and commitment to making Marist rowing happen has been second to none. Thank you Deb. 


Our sole medallists from our First ACT Championships: Under 15 Quad scull Bronze Medallists: Year 8 James McDougall, Patrick Dunphy, Hugo Webster, Mitchell Colbert, Coxswain: Brad Spackman.

The inaugural Most Improved perpetual trophy winner was Stephen Hancock (Year 9). Without a doubt this award received the loudest applause and was accompanied by a moving testament to the effort, hurdles, and application Stephen displayed during the season. Congratulations Stephen.

Each rower was then presented in year groups with a pennant and an individual trophy. 

Lucky raffle winners included:

First Prize: Won by Tim Mason (Father of Coach Jane)

*      Dinner, bed and breakfast at the Forrest Hotel and Apartments

*      Massage voucher to the value of $100

Second Prize: Won by Cath Paton (Mother of Andrew) 

*      Dinner voucher for two at King O’Malley’s Irish Pub in Civic

*      Two premium Dendy Movie vouchers (value of $70)

Third Prize: Won by Freebody family.

*      itunes voucher

Thank you to our generous sponsors/donators. 

As I conclude my final wrap for the 2010/2011 rowing season, hoping I earned my ‘Koko Black’ treaty, it has been a pleasure to write about the achievements of our boys, and yes at times their parents, probably unaware, provided just as much entertaining material. The family connections have been a highlight and ones which I am sure will carry the momentum over the winter sports and into next rowing season including a sip or two at the Blue and Blue ball?      

Till next on the water.