Christopher G Noel OAM
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Sydney University Boat Club (NSW)
Chris is a highly effective sports leader. He gains a clear vision of what is required and then goes about finding ways to make them happen. His record of achievement in the highly under rated area of sports administration is outstanding.
Underlying his activities is always the desire to establish an environment in which athletes can succeed at the highest levels in sport. His citation which is provided in full below states: Christopher Noel has been a significant contributor to the University of Sydney over nearly 40 years through supporting the Sydney University Boat Club; contributing towards enabling the University’s students to gain a complete education through the attainment of values of excellence; and instigating a number of key initiatives for the benefit of the student body.
As an administrator, he has successfully changed his club from a largely undergraduate university club to Australia’s leading rowing club. His citation below highlights that the situation SUBC was in when he returned to the Club in 1987. At the time the club had less than a dozen active rowers, obsolete equipment and was struggling to compete in local competition. Chris addressed this situation with extraordinary capability and focus and led the rebuilding of the Club and its facilities … .
He is logical, thoughtful, thorough and almost always correct in his approach to issues. He is also a superb fund raiser and generous benefactor himself, having established the Sydney University Rowing Foundation in 2005.
But most importantly, he finds solutions where others fail. The following are a few examples to illustrate.
Whilst there were many people involved in the creation of the new world class SUBC boatshed, it would not have happened without Chris.
The Vice-Chancellors of both Sydney University and Melbourne University wanted an opportunity to show case and differentiate their universities - Chris initiated the Australian Boat Race.
NSW rowing was being left behind in the Interstate Championships. Chris, along with Steve Handley of Sydney Rowing Club, changed the approach to selecting state crews and the support of these teams from Rowing NSW. The initial changes, coupled with a dedicated group of rowers, saw NSW reverse its fortunes winning a high proportion of the Kings Cups since that change.
In 2019, Sydney University Sport underwent a governance review. Chris along with John Boultbee were involved in representing the interests of the clubs in the new structure. Chris was elected as Secretary of the newly formed Sydney University Sport Clubs Advisory Committee. This is a representative advisory body of delegates of the forty Sydney University Sport clubs.
In 2006 the SUBC boatshed “The Thyne Reid Boatshed” (and the whole club fleet) was destroyed by arson. For the next 11 years the Club became the “homeless of rowing” having to use various other Clubs to continue rowing – first a demountable at Riverview College, and then a bay at the UNSW Shed. During this period, Chris led the charge to get all that was needed to be done to get a new shed built. This involved persuading the University to build a new shed, finding a new venue on the Lane Cove River, negotiating with the university, Sydney University Sport, the Lane Cove Council and the Roads and Maritime for a lease, with architects and builders, and residents near the site, then returning to the site of the original boatshed, and raising $1.6 million which the University required the Club to raise towards the $8 million cost of the shed.
The men’s and women’s clubs amalgamated and the new shed eventually opened in 2017, and as a result of his efforts, was a 4 bay shed, instead of the earlier 2 bay shed, with magnificent club rooms (named the Chris Noel Club Room) above. In the years since having a new home, the boat club membership grew from about 60 to more than 200. During the intervening time, the Boat Club managed to continue operating, and developing rowers for State and National crews. Now the club with 5 full time coaches continues to grow and prosper.
Chris gets things done, for the right reasons, and done well.
Chris making a speech with Liz Kell in the background
1964-67 – Started rowing at St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill
1967-8 – Joined Sydney Rowing Club but soon moved to SUBC
1969 – Australian University Championships, Men’s Eight, two seat – Second
1970 – Australian University Championships, Men’s Eight, five seat – Second
1970 – National Championships, Bicentennial Eights, three seat - Third
1972 – Australian University Championships, Men’s Junior Eight, stroke – Second
1972 – Rowing blue
1975 – National Championships, Men’s Third Grade Four, bow – First
1976 – National Championships, Men’s Open Eight, stroke – Third
1976 & 1977 – Captain SUBC
1977 – Australian University Championships, Men’s Eight, coach – Fifth
1987 and 1996-04 - Vice-President of SUBC
1988-96 – President of SUBC
1988-2004 – Sydney University Blues Committee
1990 – Awarded University Colour award (now Gold award)
1991-2009 – Initially Vice-President of Sydney University Sport then University Senate Representative
1994-12 - Program Co-ordinator of SUBC
1995 – Sydney University Sports Administrator of the Year
2000 – Sydney University Sports Administrator of the Year
2005 – Founded the Sydney University Rowing Foundation
2006-8 - Rowing NSW President
2007 – Conferred with the title Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney
2008 - Commenced the annual NSW King's Cup luncheon
2006-12 - Rowing NSW Board
2009-14 - Rowing NSW selector
2011-18 - Rowing NSW Competition Commission
2011- Joined Riverview Gold Cup Stewards with the objective to promote and enhance this regatta
2012 – Awarded Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the sport of rowing in New South Wales
2014 - Life Member Rowing NSW
2016 - present – Honorary Secretary SUBC
2018 - Life Member SUBC
Life member Sydney University Sport
The following citation for Chris’ Honorary Fellowship of the University of Sydney is provided in full. The title of Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney was conferred upon Chris at the Economics and Business graduation ceremony held at 2.00pm on 11 May 2007.
The Chancellor the Hon Justice Kim Santow (a former SUBC oarsman) conferring the title uponChris
Photo, copyright Memento Photography.
Chancellor, I present to you Christopher Noel, Bachelor of Economics of this University for the conferring of the title of Honorary Fellow of the University.
Christopher Noel has been a significant contributor to the University of Sydney over nearly 40 years through supporting the Sydney University Boat Club; contributing towards enabling the University’s students to gain a complete education through the attainment of values of excellence; and instigating a number of key initiatives for the benefit of the student body.
Over the last 20 years, he has been the driving force behind a wide range of major initiatives which have considerably raised the profile and reputation of the University, as well as providing exceptional opportunities to its community, particularly its students.
In 1968 Chris entered the Faculty of Economics. Soon after, he joined the sport of rowing at the University Boat Club. During his period as an active athlete, Chris competed for the University in numerous intervarsity competitions and also represented New South Wales.
In 1972 he was awarded a Blue in Boat for his achievements in the 1971 season.
Chris’ greatest contributions to the University have, however, been in his recognition that an education must be a complete experience and that a University needs to provide its students with the tools and directions to excel.
In 1987 Chris became President of the Sydney University Boat Club. At the time the club had less than a dozen active rowers, obsolete equipment and was struggling to compete in local competition. Chris addressed this situation with extraordinary capability and focus and led the rebuilding of the Club and its facilities for which he received a University Colour award (now Gold award) in 1990.
Chris has moved the Club to a position where it is now the best performing and most successful elite rower programme in the state, arguably the country, and is unquestionably the most successful university club in Australia. Following the recent national selection trials, Sydney University will field 17 rowers and two coaches in 2007 Senior World Cup and Under-23 World Championship crews following the announcement of the national rowing team; the highest ever representation by Sydney University at the international level. Furthermore in recent years, the club has won both New South Wales and Intervarsity competitions many times; University Club of the year, twice, and home of Sportsman of the Year, again twice.
Throughout this period Chris has mentored many athletes and coaches, many of whom now play leading roles in the elite sport structure of the country. He has also been one of the Club’s major financial benefactors over this period. Chris founded the Sydney University Rowing Foundation in 2005 which already has commitments exceeding $750,000.
Chris has applied the same philosophies and drive to the wider University sporting community. In 1991 he was elected a Vice-President of the Sydney University Sports Union, now Sydney University Sport. Some years later he became a representative of the University Senate on the Management Committee of the same group, a position he continues to hold. He played a key role in the redevelopment of the Noel Martin Recreation Centre.
He was also a driving force behind Sydney University sporting scholarships, recognising that the profile of a university in Australia can rise with its profile on the sporting field and that this requires the attraction and development of exceptional individuals. There are now hundreds of these scholarships which provide not just financial support but also academic and personal development counselling, and career advice; hence, ensuring a complete education for many University students.
In summary, Christopher Noel has contributed extraordinarily to the University through his support of one of its oldest and most successful sporting clubs, enabling its students to gain a complete education through the attainment of standards of excellence. He has made significant financial contributions to the buildings and facilities of the University and has been the instigator of a number of key initiatives for the benefit of the university student body.
Chancellor, I present to you Christopher Guy Noel, and invite you to confer upon him the title of Honorary Fellow of the University.
- Citation for Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney – Uni Sydney 2007
- Author’s records
- Interview with Chris Noel, January 2022
- Interview with John Boultbee, January 2022
- Interview with Chris Shinners, January 2022
- SUBC website – News post https://www.subc.com.au/post/chris-noel-susf-administrator-of-the-year – extracted 12 January 2022
- Rowing NSW records