Big Guns out for Small Boats
The Small Boats Regatta is always a major selection event as athletes return from summer training for the first major competition of the New Year. This year, however it wasn’t just NSW coaches cycling the banks of SIRC, as national team aspirants were required to race in advance of the official selection event in a few weeks’ time.
Sydney has a number of athletes in contention for national team selection and, depending on Rowing Australia’s decision with respect to eights qualification, the men’s heavyweight sweep squad looks likely to hold the greatest SRC seat potential for Rio 2016.
Sydney’s contingent has had a divergent preparations over the summer, with some at the National Training Center of Excellence in Canberra and others at the club’s camp in the Southern Highlands, while James Chapman trained with new partner Nick Purnell on the Manning River and its tributaries.
The incumbent pair of Turrin and Lloyd were clear winners in the elite pair, finishing over a length ahead of the experienced Victorians Josh Dunkley-Smith and Josh Wilkes-Booth. Just behind the hyphenated pair were SRC’s Hicks and Moore, leading some to hypothesise that selectors may opt for a Joshua three in the national team. Also making the A-final were the vestal combination of Chapman and Purnell, a satisfying result for their first time together.
In the single events, Leah Saunders finished 3rd in the C Final and Chris Morgan continued his encouraging form with a third place in the A final won by young Sasha Belonogoff of Sydney Uni. Morg’s time of 6.57, while unremarkable on paper, was very sound given the tempestuous conditions in Penrith on the day.
Ultimately the storm front moving from the West resulted in the cancellation of the afternoon racing, but not before the Sydney under 21 squad delivered an impressive set of results in the singles and pairs. With State Youth eight selection soon to be decided, this was a timely performance from Coach JB’s squad of young lads.
Full results are available here.