We would like to congratulate Life Member of Clifton Beach SLSC Steve (Fatman) Gray on receiving life membership of the Australian Surf Boat Rowers League, presented at this mornings 2020 Annual General Meeting.
Congratulations Fatman, this is incredibly well deserved and a testament to the many years of involvement within Surf Boat Rowing and the wider Surf Life Saving movement.
Please see below words on behalf of the ASRL by Alan Griffiths.
Wording by Alan 'Griffo' Griffiths
Nomination seconded by Bert Hunt
Fulfilling an early life ambition, Steve joined Clifton Surf Life Saving Club at 17 years of age in 1967. He was a perfect fit for Club life and this was the start of a star-studded career in surf lifesaving with a particular emphasis on surf boats, which saw him reach the highest of levels. He gained universal respect for his dedicated involvement which had an outstanding influence on the administration and competition of surf boats in Australia. There was a particular interest generated on surf boats in Tasmania where he was the State’s inaugural ASRL President for six years from 2009 to 2014. During this time, he was particularly influential in establishing a firm base for the ASRL both within Tasmania and also in representing the State at National level.
Steve’s capabilities and reputation became widely known and was no doubt enhanced by his taking up of carnival announcing duties quite early in his career. This was a result of an accidental act of volunteering his services which was typical of Steve’s “ready to help” nature. This pleasant nature and overall knowledge had given him the attributes of an “announcing natural.” He grew with it until he became one of Australia’s longest serving and best beach Announcers. His forte of course was surf boats.
I first met Steve and worked with him at the Aussies at Moana in 1986. He had become a part of the National Announcing Team and was paired with me to work the surf boats. I could not believe my luck – he was an absolute joy to work with and he remained a member of the Aussies Team for 33 years. And so, commenced what has been acknowledged as the longest serving announcing duo in surf life saving’s modern era.
Announcing gives you a lot of exposure and has a lot of hidden demands. These include not only speaking with credibility to the masses but speaking to and about dignitaries and current and prospective sponsors of Australia’s wonderful sport of surf boat racing. This is in addition to the basics of knowing the rules of boat racing, details of the history of previous performances of clubs, crews, and individual crew members. There is much more to announcing than simply race calling. From time to time announcers are obliged to deal with a wide range of carnival officials and other services. These include Referees, Sectional Referees, Chief Judges, Marshalls, Recorders, Support Services and Emergency Personnel, and also Coordinators. Accordingly, they must have acute knowledge of organisational and functional structures of the workings of boat carnivals. Steve could always be relied upon to provide correct assistance when a request was made. His interpersonal skills are excellent.
Many hours of research can be justified before major and also minor carnivals. Steve’s energetic preparations always made for good listening. His voice was always at a pleasant pitch and understandable with well mannered, sensitive content even in an exciting boat race finish. His unselfish ability to combine with others was always at the highest order and was well appreciated by fellow Announcers and listeners. He was particularly active during National Boat Series Events like the Breakfast Cereal Series during which he undertook announcing at each State and for each of Tasmania’s annual Navy Series of events, over a period of several years. This series is Australia’s prime surf boat series which is still current in partnership with the ASRL in all States.
The ASRL open carnivals commenced in the late 90s with the first commentary team provided at Dee Why 1998. Steve became involved in these annual events at Fingal Bay in 2001. As a highlight, his excellent call of the open final at Broulee Surfers 2009 won by Jan Juc is always remembered. He participated continuously until 2013 at the Stockton ASRL Open where he suffered a severe aneurysm of his aorta while actually announcing on the Saturday. This nearly took him from us and required open heart bypass surgery. He survived some intricate procedures and two prolonged periods in hospital.
He retained a desire to return to announcing and was able to participate for a lighter period of duties at Shell Harbour 2014. He continued in this mode until Elouera 2018 when it became obvious that his health could be irreparably damaged should he continue in the demands of an Announcing role. He still attends all ASRL events in Tasmania and also major events in other States. These majors included the most recent Open’s at Elouera and Mollymook. In total he has participated in 18 annual ASRL Open Carnivals.
Steve is generally credited with giving the ASRL in Tasmania the impetus and drive to become a force to be reckoned with during the six years of his foundation Presidency. His participation also lifted the standard of ASRL announcing. There was particular interest generated in the administration and competition disciplines in Tasmania during Steve’s involvement. This included the authorisation and commencement of the enormously popular female surf boat racing.
His greatest asset however is that he is a quality human being who has been a credit to the ASRL since joining some twenty odd years ago. Bert and I feel he is well deserving of the Life Membership accolade.