Being a Government School, The Melbourne High School Rowing Club struggles to attract funds for activities at the same levels as the private schools it rows with. Coupled with a traditionally smaller cohort than say the Music Fraternity or other co-curricular activities, it is doubly difficult to muster support for raising funds. One very fair question parents can ask is “Where does that money go? What is it spent on?”.
Good questions and in this article I want to provide two good examples from this last year of where donations have been invested.
Everyone talks about our new boat shed, referred to now as the Yarra Centre… It is a big ticket item and fortunately any donations to that fund are tax deductible. Although having a club house, a destination, a place to store the boats is important and is a dream that is as old as the +100 year old school itself, it is not where boat races occur.
Boat races occur on rivers and lakes all over Victoria and in the case of Nationals and school exchanges – in places far far away.
There are two things that until last year the rowing club didn’t have. One was a school boat trailer to transport our boats from the Powerhouse to the Yarra, Nagambie, Barwon, Moodemere, Wendouree, Maribyrnong and beyond to the Nationals in Sydney. (If you don’t know where these places are, here is a map with them marked out.
Last year the rowing fraternity, guided by our Director of Rowing – Paul McGann invested in a brand new custom built boat trailer to transport our boats to races. All boat trailers are custom built, so that fact doesn’t make our trailer special or more expensive. What makes it different is the combined experience of the coaches who were able to design a practical trailer that is not only durable, but functional with lockable storage bins that can double as platforms to assist in boat stacking.
The maiden journey with boats was to Carrum Downs (not even mentioned in the list above) where the boys gained experience in not only taking the boats off the trailer, but placing them back on the trailer, tying them down so they didn’t become a flying boat somewhere along the Monash. It was obvious that as good as the boys are at rowing, not all had participated in scout knot tying activities… an important skill.
So what does investing in a boat trailer provide the boys and coaches with? Saved money because we don’t have to rent a trailer to transport boats to regattas. Also as you can see from the photos, these trailers are not quite like a Bunnings courtesy trailer and in some cases such trailers just not available or only one or two boat spots are available on another trailer, meaning that some of the boys miss out. So more racing in more boats for more boys at less cost. That gets a big tick all round.
The other item was a double-sized Melbourne High School branded marquee. Yes, we had an unbranded marquee and our two tear-drop flags – proudly placed in the regatta locations where the boys could return to an recover after a gruelling race. A marquee provides a focal point, a rallying point for parents, coaches and students alike – in the same way a herald, or legion’s flag from the Roman Empire created a location to be defended, even if it was in far away lands. Okay – I might be exaggerating a bit here, however it is certainly fantastic to have a professional marquee that parents turning up to a regatta can easily spot and head to among the sea of vibrant colours from other schools. If you do arrive at a marquee that looks like ours and don’t know anyone, don’t worry – it just means that you are in the Haileybury Marquee (Their colours look a little like ours).
The new Melbourne High School marquee celebrated its inaugural opening on the banks of the Barwon River early in 2018 and has travelled to many locations throughout Victoria since. Many a muesli bar and pasta dish have passed the lips of our regatta rowers under the maroon marquee.
So here are two examples of where donations are invested. Other areas are repairs to boats, replacement oars and supplementing travel costs to regattas. If you have connections or would like to make a donation, you can visit the pilotographer site (why is the MHS rowing website currently on a site name after planes and not boats?) and either buy tickets to the captain of boats event in September, donate directly or buy canvas prints of your boys in their boats on the rivers and lakes.