What an absolutely massive outcome for the club as the inaugural John “Fordy’s Ford Surfboat Academy” was completed in January 2022.
With kids from the Port Kembla Surf Club, Kiama Downs Surf Club and Shellharbour Surf Club in the mix with our very own group of kids here at the Kiama SLSC, the entire exercise will yield 10 patrolling Bronze Medallion members next season on the beach here at our club.
It was our privilege to name the academy “Fordy’s Surf Boat Academy”, in recognition of a man who has done an enormous amount for the club over many years, advocated for all with in the club and strived to have it be inclusive for all members. Fantastic that the Ford family and former rowers were able to make it to the graduation and see that the legacy will always remain.
Having 14 bronze medallion members has exceeded our greatest expectations, and a huge amount of recognition needs to go to Lachy Payne, whose vision and forward thinking while leading the Nippers for the past several seasons has seen his hard work and that of his outstanding JAC committee come to fruition this season.
We can’t thank the club enough for getting behind this program in encouraging the youth in our area (14-19 age bracket) to check it out and have a try. The support across the board to enhance and encourage the cadets has been recognised nationally by the @teamnavyASRL.
The success of this academy lays entirely at the feet of Beck Hamilton. Not only the mastermind of this concept but an absolute driving force in the planning, execution and success of the Academy. Professional but at the same time a bunch of fun, the kids warmed to her persona and are chomping at the bit to continue, not only rowing in surf boats but broadening their aspect in SLSC as a whole. Every surf club needs a Beck Hamilton.
We were very lucky to have had Beck organise Australian Surf Boat winning Gold Medal Winners to be on hand to help the kids in their initial foray into surf boat rowing. A sweep from Nth Cronulla SLSC (Yappy), two highly credentialed lady rowers from Coogee SLSC (Lara & Elle) in amongst a massive support group including the kid’s parents, they didn’t miss a session with the kids. Watching the kids achieve something so foreign to them had all of us impressed at the progress they made.
This then culminated in a graduation ceremony on the Sun Deck where the kids and support team were presented with their one-off academy shirts.
The planning has already commenced for the next instalment of Fordy’s Surf Boat Academy, most likely being held in January season (Oct 22) where we hope to again give to the youth in the area access to SLS in all its different forms.
A special thanks to Carol Tyne for her enormous help on graduation day.
To Dave Gorman for facilitating the bridging training course for the SRC kids to the Bronze Medallion. My understanding is that combined with the SRC kids in the club that were not apart of the academy Kiama SLSC will have as many as 18 new young patrolling members next season.