SUN, SURF, OLYMPICS & STARTING WORK AT 3am; Jock O’Keefe catches up with Dick Garrard OX 1961.
Monday, 3 May 2021
Jock O’Keefe catches up with Dick Garrard OX 1961.
Q; As a Kostka kid you rose through the ranks at the Big school developing a passion for rowing. You represented XC at the Head of the River in 1960/1 and that was the beginning of a lifetime involvement in competing and coaching competitive rowing around the world.
What were your most memorable moments of your time at Xavier?
A; Getting to Xavier in 1957 was a journey in itself.  It entailed taking the St Kilda to Brighton Beach tram. I was first on board, then along St Kilda St we picked up Adrian Cahill, Malcolm Lynch, Dave Thomas, Richard Fakhery, Noel May, Peter Newman, Tony Conquest, Michael Resch, John Bowen and Tony Alston.
We went past Norwood Castle (no longer exists), then past Brighton Beach Baths (alas, no longer).
I stroked the firsts in 1960 and 1961. This whetted my appetite for more competitive rowing over the next 60 years.
Fortunately I was involved in winning Australian championships and world titles, I then coached in two Olympics, winning a silver medal and a seventh.
For the last 20 years I have been involved in winning crews at Australian championships. And it all started at Xavier.
Q; You live and work at Torquay and since school days have always maintained a strong connection with the local Surf Club, these days you coach the Surf Boat crew saving lives, and competing at surf carnivals around Australia. Your trophy cabinet must be groaning with awards?
A; I have enjoyed every moment of surf boat racing – both rowing at carnivals and coaching. On the coaching side my crews have won Australian titles, and a World title.
Q; After leaving school you graduated in all things Engineering with postings around the world before starting on your own as Ironbark Composites with world headquarters in Torquay. To allow time for all your surf boat coaching your day kick starts at 3 am, answering local and overseas orders and general correspondence.
 A; My day starts at 3am so I can plan my day, then I coach at 6am, work all day, and coach again at night. My business is supplying Composite materials to the aircraft industry, rowing and canoe manufacturers, surfing industry, and I teach people to make composite parts without labour.
Deakin University students and PHD students work regularly with me on projects. My beginning in Composites was in 1969, as Manufacturing Manager in Clayton with ACI.
Q; Your father represented Australia at four Olympic Games as a wrestler and is probably the nations most awarded wrestler. You represented Australia in rowing at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.  Peter Gillon (OX 1958) rowed in the same crew. What memories do you have of the Tokyo?
A; We sent our boat to Tokyo in a crate filled with VB beer!
We had a quorum of the Mercantile Rowing Club Committee - David Boykett, Peter Gillon, Simon Newcomb and myself.
We bought the fastest rowing shell from the Italians (a Donoratico) which we sent back to Melbourne with our boats.
This changed the rowing standard in Australia.
Q; Your son Craig, aka Boots carried on the tradition at XC leaving the hallowed halls in 1997 and these days he is also active in the surf club.
Torquay boasts a strong contingent of Old Xavs. Who do come across now and again?
A; My sons Craig and Paul were boarders at Xavier and both are involved in the surfing industry.
Paul owns G Boards (a learn- to- surf board), he sells about 1000 boards per year to surf schools.
Craig manufacturers surf boards (he makes about 30 per week)
Both are gun surfers.
The Xavier contingent in Torquay is strong.
The Haydens (Peter, Ben and Bryan), David Galbally, Alex Buxton, John Findlay, Chris Mc Donald, Simon Mulvaney and Billy Keenan.