2020 Head of the River is Like No Other - Insights from Rowing Captain Hilary Barrett

The Somerville House Rowing Team, led by Hilary Barrett and Elly Ready (Rowing Captains), will compete this weekend at the Head of the River (HOR). It will be unlike any other HOR. The Covid-19 restrictions have required the Somerville Rowing Team to adapt their training, teamwork and also find new ways to reach their peak performance for this weekend’s event. They have done it! 




The school community got behind efforts to ensure the rowing team could boat and train, albeit in an adapted format and developed agile plans that enabled training to continue. There have been sacrifices and lifting one another up throughout. 


What the team envisioned for 2020 has turned out differently, but what came through to me when speaking with Hilary Barrett earlier this month was the recognition of the challenges and the inspirational way that all levels of Somerville House, the Rowing Team, the support group and parents - pulled together to make sure the Somerville House Rowing Team is in peak performance this weekend.





Leadership under difficult circumstances - is not for the feint hearted, but Hilary speaks with deep admiration about co-Captain Elly Ready and all the rowers for how they have adapted to the circumstances this year and pulled together to get the best outcomes. There were many changes to the rowing program this year, but once new plans were put in place with the support of the Somerville community - Hillary says ‘It is all about self motivation… and we have drawn spirit from one another. Crew bonding has gone really well.’ In amongst it all, the rowing team raised money for good causes and bonded through team work. There was a blessing of the fleet and the unveiling of a new ‘8’ which can only inspire any oarswoman. The 8 was aptly named ‘Debbie Baskerville’ one of our strongest supporters and leaders in Somerville Rowing history. 


The coaches have led the team this year through uncertain times and the team expresses its heartfelt thank you for your commitment and skill in adapting programs to shorter timeframes and the fast up-skilling of the athletes on the team. You brought stability and consistency. 

In addition to their leadership roles as Rowing Captains this year, Hilary and Elly are also competing in the First VIII. It has been an intense period of training for the First VIII and other senior crews with different methods and formats - but what has remained is the steadfast support of the Somerville Rowing community and the commitment of the crew to achieve their goal no matter the challenges. Mental toughness is not new to Somerville rowers and when listening to Hilary speak about how they have adapted training methods to the current Covid circumstances and remained accountable and focused, I am inspired! The training regime led by first class coaches has been tough, rigorous and innovative. It has hit the mark, and I look forward to the results of this weekend. Even greater is the legacy of resilience and team work that has shone through. Thank you also to the program head, Samara Quinlan for your enormous faith and effort that a different approach was possible and for making it happen. 



Congratulations to the Somerville Rowing Team and everyone who has enabled such a creative solution to the training challenges this year. Our deep admiration extends to the whole team, senior rowers who have led the team through example, the First, Second and Third VIII’s in their final year and your rowing Captains, Hilary Barrett and Elly Ready. Enjoy every moment. 


Tracey Martin (1992 Rowing Captain, First VIII 1990, 1991, 1992) 

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