The NSW Grade Championships was upon us again and marked the final regatta for the season for the majority of our rowers. It allowed us to race big crew boats that are not possible in aged racing and allow the mixing of experienced and less experienced rowers to compete in different grade events.
Singles took to the water in the Novice, D, C and B categories. Miles went off hard from the start in his D heat and held on to make it through to the semis in a personal best time however he was unable to progress further. Erik and Magnus both progressed to the final in the B single where Magnus then went on to win the silver.
The men’s eight has been a work in progress for a few years now and this year we had the numbers and depth to warrant entering both a C and D eight. The C eight of Elizabeth, Chris, Joel, Jason, Angus, Henry, Daniel, Will and Erik, though competitive were unable to hold onto the top three and went away with fourth. This crew split up into fours with a couple dropping out and Matt and Airtarn coming in and both coxed by Elizabeth. The C four of Jason, Joel, Will and Angus had to back up with less than an hour passing since the C eight. The boys got out well however through the later stages were unable to lift and had to settle for fourth. The D four of Chris, Henry, Airtarn and Matt had a longer rest and with two fresh rowers were keen for the race. After last year’s steering issue by an experienced coxswain who will not be named, they claimed the silver. Henry and Chris were part of that crew and were ready for redemption. The start was rough, and the rest of the row was just as rough, but the boys gave it their all and claimed the gold.
Tallara and Raquel after having their first row in the pair only a matter of hours before the race performed very well. The girls got off the line in a controlled manner and given their lack of work together in the pair it was always going to be through the middle where they could make ground. They both worked very hard together and pushed through to go away with the bronze.
The day’s racing showed much like the next day of racing, that the lack of crew familiarity can be overcome with a positive attitude and everyone giving it their best.
Sunday began with the men’s C grade quad of Joel, Angus, Henry and Miles. Due to the boys moving up grades, the usual quad with Chris had to be altered and Miles was put into the hot seat. They had to work hard in the heat but progressed to the final. The final was a very tight race with third to seventh only being separated by two seconds. The boys just missed out on the podium and came in the same position as the crew of last year did, fourth.
Next up was Raquel and Tallara in the more familiar double. The girls had a comfortable heat coming in second with Leichhardt pushing off early. The final saw the same unfold with Leichhardt pushing off early with the others having to fight out for the other positions. They were able to settle into second position early and they maintained it for the duration of the race to claim silver.
The men’s D grade eight was up and after two prior attempts in this event that saw a fourth and a third in past performances, we were ready to step up a spot, or two. The crew saw a late change with Joel being replaced by Jason. Elizabeth, Chris, Henry, Jason, Angus, Airtarn, Matt, Will and Pat pushed off early and maintained the lead throughout the race to take the gold.
Novice racing for the day saw Macleay and Liam row through for the silver in the novice double and Elizabeth after a hard fought race took away fourth in the Novice single.
The long awaited ‘priority crew’ of Jason and Joel in the C grade pair took to the water. A comfortable heat saw the boys not lacking confidence as they approached the final. The experienced Glebe pair were always going to be hard to beat and given the boys were coming into the final only having been in the boat together four times including the final, they were going to have to pull a great race to get on the podium. They went off hard and held a high rate throughout the race but were unable to hold with Glebe and took the silver in narrowly holding out the Canberra crew who claimed bronze.
The men’s D grade doubles saw four crews take to the water. Airtarn and Matt pushed hard in the later stages of their heat to make the semi but were unable to progress further. Alaaddin and Miles along with Daniel and Will progressed comfortably through their heats and faced off in the semi. It was tight to the line but both crews’ progressed, coming in fourth and third respectively. Conditions changed for the final too much rougher water than early on in the day, however both crews gave it their best. Alaaddin and Miles came in seventh while Daniel and Will took out the silver.
The final race of the day saw Elizabeth once again in the coxswain seat. The women’s D grade four of Tallara, Victoria, Fiona and Jacqui did not have a good start and were at the back of the pack from the start. They fought hard through the entire race to eventually take the win by almost five seconds and claimed the gold which bettered last year’s silver.
The teamwork exhibited over the weekend was again great to see. From loading on Thursday, unloading and rigging on Friday, cheering on of crews, jumping in new crew combinations and loading/unloading on the Sunday. It was once again a credit to all rowers and supporters alike who were a part of it all and it was a great way to finish off the 2015/16 rowing season (except master’s rowers who will continue to compete).