Rowing Tryouts – Day 2
After dropping Joe off, Helen and I walked back along the Yarra River, across the Church St Bridge and walked along the north bank of the Yarra.
The length and quality of the bicycle path that snakes its way along the Yarra is incredible. The parts we walked on were actually floating pontoon pathways. The sheer volume of bike traffic was something to behold. Not ten or twenty but many hundreds of riders during the 3 hours we observed activity on the path. We were there when the casual bike riders were enjoying their ride, well after the early morning bike commuters.
Ducks and swans were enjoying the summer day and as we slowly walked along the path, we noticed a pop up art exhibition with hundreds (about 500) of paintings on public display by artists after a gallery showing. The volunteer organisation – Contemporary Art Society of Victoria runs the exhibitions every year under the noise and protection of the M1 motorway.
The artworks are stunning and cover a variety of styles. Almost every piece you would be pleased to hang in your lounge. One of the curators indicated that many of the hundreds of cyclists stop, browse and purchase paintings for Christmas because they do make a lovely present.
It did make me think about cities like London and Paris where I can’t recall seeing natural stretches of river so close to the centre of the city. By that I mean stretches of river with natural reeds and grasses rather than concrete embankments. The similarity was the artists in Paris and Melbourne don’t snap and post the instantaneous digital landscape selfie but rather spend the time becoming part of the location as they paint their visual interpretation of the landscape.
In these places of high urban density, there is a rush-rush to beat the clock, win, strive and achieve. The Melbourne High experience with rowing tryouts is a good example. The extensive testing I mentioned in my last blog continued today with running time trials and actually putting the rowing boats into the water and becoming familiar with the commands.
The boats are interspersed with older more experienced boys who are mentors for the new starters. It really reminded me of my junior and senior class experience at Portsea although the tough edge is, as one would expect, far more conciliatory for the Melbourne High students.
That said, to make the first cut you had to be in the top 50% and the variety of tests were not a random selection of exercises, but a batch of tests refined over many years of implementation.
As we wandered along the Yarra walkways making our way to a vantage point on the opposite side of the rowing club where I could take some photographs, we passed by Burnley Harbour. Being used to Darwin Harbour, Port Phillip Bay, Sydney Harbour and other locations, it was intriguing to see this harbour.
http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/Environment/Parks-and-reserves/Natural-heritage-walks/ (scroll to the end to view notes about Burnley Harbour history.
http://urbansystemsigs.wikispaces.com/Topic+-+The+Yarra Interesting historical perspective
We continued our walk along the trail until we were opposite the rowing club and through the trees and bushes obscuring most of the opposite bank we spied a number of rowing boats with their new charges learning how to operate the oars and react to commands.
Similar to our experience the previous day, with three groups of around 25 students, we couldn’t locate Joe in the boats or on the shore. Young men on skateboards road the trails alongside the Yarra with megaphones shouting commands to the boys in boats. It was truly 21st century coaching.
After taking some photos and discovering Melbourne’s largest gathering of flies in the open paddock of Loy’s reserve, we retraced our steps back along the path, across the bridge until we were at the rowing club were I ventured down to the launching ramp and finally caught sight of Joe in one of the rowing boats.
I met one of the Dads whose son was also trying out for the rowing team. He hailed from Sri Lanka and they had been in Australia for four years. Another lad who Joe had met took the test in Malaysia and had just moved to Australia so as the principal mentioned in his speech, the boys selected to join Melbourne High are picked from among thousands who apply from not just Victoria, but from all around the world.
The boys groups were organised according to height as that has an effect on how they operate in the boat with their leg length. Joe is in the tallest grouping and is the second tallest of the group. In the running test he came third and he seemed to do well in other tests as well.
We hope and are fairly confident that he will make the first cut for the rowing team.
After proceedings concluded at about 1pm, we gathered at the car and made our way to Acland Street in St Kilda for lunch. Acland Street is a vibrant place and you certainly get into a party mood when you visit the strip. For those who have spent time there, there is a sadder, darker side as people who have lost their way try to find it among the vibrancy of this place.
After lunch we made our way back to the vicinity of Melbourne High to pick up Tina and head home.
Another day and another adventure. We talk about flipping the classroom, but I think we are flipping life… going for a wander in a location related to a task Joe is performing and then when we find things we don’t know about or pique our interest – the internet provides the answers to fill in the blanks and add value and context to the day’s journey. All in all a satisfying way to spend a day.
Joe was told that he would be informed within 48 hours whether he had made it to the next round.