Coach Carter reports on SIRR 2016


When I first joined SRC I was told by the then club captain, Simon Nola that the club has on numerous occasions won every event at the National Championships. At the time I thought that this was an absurd joke to make as no club could ever be that successful. After last week’s results at the Australian National Championships or the Sydney International Rowing Regatta as it’s known these days, anyone could believe that statement to be true. SRC won the 2016 Champion Club point score after bringing home 21 Gold, 6 Silver and 8 Bronze medals to become the best rowing club in Australia.

harriet hudson

There were so many great performances during the week which makes it very difficult to know where to start but it makes sense to begin with our most successful athlete, Harriet Hudson who won five Gold medals in five events (U19 1X, 2X, 4X, 8+ and Club 8+) which is a remarkable achievement. Her focus and determination throughout the season and the regatta have been on point and her preparation flawless. Congratulations on a terrific regatta and all the best for the junior selection trials in April.


It was not only Harriet who did well for the Sydney ladies, in fact every female at SRC at least won a Gold medal. Romola Davenport teamed up with Harriet to claim the U19 4X and 8+ titles and secured a solid 5th place in the U19 1X. All the best to Romy also for junior selection.


Right after I cleaned up their boat, Madison Brown and Emily Partridge cleaned up the Club 2X race. They won in fine form by over a length to finish their tough week on a high and pave the way for the rest of the club boats on the final day.


In the U19 4X Georgia Bradley teamed up with Lauren Lyon of Leichhardt, Crystal Piper of Lower Clarence and Hannah Lisa-Wilding of West Aust RC to storm through the field and claim the silver medal in one of the best races of the regatta. We took Crystal Piper under our wing for the regatta as she also rowed the 2X with Georgia. Crystal and Georgia had a terrific regatta and learned some valuable lessons from their first Nationals.


Lesson #1. Check the weight of your boat before racing.

Crystal won her heat in the U19 1X but was relegated to the repechage after her boat was found to be 900g underweight. Luckily she accepted the lesson by learning the hard way and won her rep. She finished the regatta a finalist in the U19 1X, a silver medallist in the 4X and a bronze medallist in the SG1X which was a very strong race for her. Georgia was not far behind Crystal in 4th position and Lauren Lyon in the same race was right at their heels so well done girls. It is exciting to know that the three of you still have another year in the U19 and School Girl categories and we look forward to seeing you go for gold together in the future.


To make up our Club 8+ we called upon our handy utility women Brianna Caputo and Bianca Riley. The last seat was filled by Charlotte Trent from Sydney Girls High School. These girls combined really well with our already tired full time girls. The fresh legs were greatly appreciated as they won the club 8+ by half a course over UTS and Sydney Uni.

Club Women's 8+
Club Women’s 8+

Well done to all of our girls this week. It was great to see the birth of a new women’s eight out in force and you delivered fantastic results across the board. Special thanks must go to Milly Cheetham who coxed the eight. Milly did a terrific job commanding the crew and getting them fired up for the race. The girls had never rowed the eight before but Milly got the girls to focus on one basic theme which was to finish each stroke together. Timing was the key and from there the rhythm flowed on. Once they got out to a two length lead Milly kept asking for more. “I know I keep asking you for another length, well guess what? I want another one!”


I was so impressed by all of our club boats on the Sunday. We won five out of the six club events which is an amazing achievement and the best result any club has ever produced. My only regret is that we didn’t enter our girls into the Women’s Club 4- event. With the club eight events being included into the regatta for the first time we are incredibly proud to have SRC down as the first victors.


The U21 men’s sculling group was a strong showing for SRC. Charlie Patterson, Dylan Boakes and Max Duignan came 2nd, 4th and 5th respectively in the single scull. Charlie and Max demolished the U21 2X in fine form. Max Brenner (U19) joined them in the U21 4X which was a joy to watch. Clean blade work and absolute relentless determination to go flat out to the line snuck them in under the psychological 6:10 barrier. Charlie has impressed everyone this season with consistent results. Unlike previous years he was prepared and organised for each race. It was satisfying or me to see him arriving early, checking oar measurements and boat set-up and even performing a land warming up before each race. It is this level of professionalism that we aim to teach every athlete at SRC and to see them make the step up is very pleasing. luck to Charlie and Dylan for your U21 selection trials. Take everyone on with plenty of passion and don’t hold back.


Max Duignan and Dylan teamed up to win the Club 2X. It was great to see them drive the boat so well when under pressure from the Mercantile crew. Through the 1000m they were 2nd and pressed on to win by clear water with a 3 point step with 500m to go. Well done on a great regatta fellas.

The Winning Club Men's 8+
The Winning Club Men’s 8+

The U21 sweep category saw Hugh Courts, Rob Wells, Henry Kamp and Hamish McDonald take the Gold medal in the coxed four which was steered to victory by George Davis. Henry, Hamish and Hugh joined Charlie in the Youth Eight for NSW in the Interstate Regatta on Sunday. That race was something those guys will never forget as they charged out very aggressively from the start to ask Queensland the question of how much they really wanted it. The NSW crew cruised to victory in an official time of 5:40. The boys prefer the time of 5:39 as it says on the minimax data so let’s go with that. This was an impressive victory and a great way to finish a tough week. The coach of this crew, Jason Baker was elated and deserves huge congratulations as he has worked tirelessly to get this crew right for the Interstate Regatta.


The Club’s token German and chocoholic Max Brenner raced very well all week. He showed signs of being a very intelligent racer and one who is quick to come up with brilliant strategy in his racing. Max would work to hold contact with the leading crews through to the 1000m and would look to break them in the second 1000m. It was a very tough and mature way to race. He backed his ability to be patient and wait for his moment to make his move like the sneaky German he is. Max was just short of a Silver medal in the U19 1X as the Italian Matteo Sandrelli managed to hold off Max’s final sprint to the line.


The U19 2X had Max and Matteo join forces which made for an interesting combination. It’s been a long time since the Axis Powers of Germany and Italy joined forces and this time it was to work in their favour. They matched up really well and conquered the field in the last 500m. This was a gutsy performance and one that I loved watching. Their last 500m was 4sec faster than anyone else which made for a very exciting finish. It was terrific to see Max go from no medals last year to three Gold and one silver this year.


The Men’s Club 4- and 8+ were very dominant for SRC. A big thank you must go to our senior men Matt Dignan, Scott Woodward and Jack Farthing for leading the charge here. Their leadership for our youth athletes goes a long way to teaching them not only how to race really aggressively but how to win. The three of them had a good saying for the week to get the young guys fired up and prepared for some solid hangin’ & bangin’ racing. They got the guys together and simply just said “Get around it fellas.” “We all have challenges in our lives and the only thing to do is to get around it and get around us cos we’re gonna get around you and get you across that line first.” These guys put serious power in the water and do their first 500m like it’s their last. Will O’Connell was in these crews and commented on how nervous he was about keeping up with Diggers in the four.

“It’s just so fast and scary. I’ve got Woody breathing down my neck telling me to rock over and then I’ve got Diggers launching himself back at me fu@$ing quick. It’s like I’m in a psycho sandwich from hell. I’m worried that I won’t be able to keep up but I know that this experience will teach me how I need to race in the future to be a winner”.


The reaction from everyone on the bikes watching these races was priceless. “HOLY SHIT”! was the common expression from other coaches as they watched our 4- and 8+ get clear water by the 250m mark. This was an awesome way for Diggers to go out. He has raced hard for SRC over many years and we thank him for his contribution. He always said that Lloyd Caetano is the hardest man at SRC but Diggers is by far the only one who can claim that title.


Anthony Kenny stroked a composite U19 4X with George Finlayson (Scots), Alex Grzeskowiak (Capital Lakes) and Brad Pearsal (Corowa) to a gold medal. He kept the beat up really well as they had a stroke for stroke battle with the Hawthorn crew. The lead swapped a couple of times throughout the race but they managed to hold on for a 2sec victory. Kenny was also a member of the club 8+ as well with Rob Wells, Dylan Boakes and Max Brenner. Max Brenner and Kenny are also trialling for the Junior Team with Tom Barnes, Jackson Kench and Pasha Bevan so all the best to you boys.


Chris Morgan was in fine form at this year’s regatta bringing home 6 medals. The final of the single was very impressive as Nick Purnell charged from 6th place into 3rd with a 1:36 last 500m. Morgs just held him off to secure the silver medal which was a great scramble to the line. His Olympic 2X preparation is coming along well as he and Dave Watts look to find more speed at the higher rates but they won easily. They teamed up with Wilson Mure and Max McQueeney in the 4X which managed to edge out the crew of Girdlestone, McCrae, Hill and Purnell.


Before this race went ahead the boat was 6kg overweight. Morgs came up to me and mentioned something about a hacksaw and the Empacher boat which almost gave me a heart attack. It turns out that the weights were corroded and stuck inside the boat which explains the use of the hacksaw. I was relieved to find out that the Empacher was not harmed in the process of removing the weights.


With the boat now closer to the required weight, they were ready to race. Morgs typically coached it the whole way down the course very calmly. He has so much experience in the 4X and he brings a lot of confidence to that boat. The calls he made were spot on and the crew was very responsive every time he called second half legs or shaping the blades out. It was very noticeable the difference he made and even when under pressure from the other crew, he calmly lets the guys in front of him know how far they are ahead and how to cover their push. I’d go as far as saying that he’s the best in the country at sitting in the bow of a 4X.


His performances at the interstate regatta for South Australia in the single and eight were also very impressive. Two bronze medals in two and a half hours is no easy task. Congratulations on a great week Morgs and all the best for Rio.


The senior Men’s sweep section was again dominant for SRC. In the Men’s Pair, Angus Moore and Josh Hicks once again proved that they are two of the best rowers in Australia as they won the silver medal ahead of Spencer Turrin and Alex Lloyd who came 3rd. It was amazing to see how well Gus was performing after he had Glandular Fever only a month ago. His diligence and commitment to picking himself up and getting back on top has been inspiring. Spencer and Lloydy got their own back however, as they put together a solid row in the coxless four a length ahead of Gus and Hicksy’s crew which also included Alex Hill (Adelaide) and Will Lockwood (MUBC). Hilly and Gus have a good history of rowing fours together with Spencer and Lloydy so this was a bit of fun to see who would win when they go side by side. If you ever want to see what good sweep oar rowing looks like, do yourself a favour and watch Spencer and Lloydy in action. They are in my opinion the best in Australia which is why they’ve been selected as the Aussie Pair for the Rio Games. If you had to pick two guys to go up against the Kiwi pair, these are the guys you would pick. Bloody good job guys, well done.


I encourage everyone to get around these two and give them your support.


The Coxed Four Championship of Australia was again won by SRC. James ‘Chappo’ Chapman along with Nathan Bowden, Simon Keenan, Ed White and Kendall Brodie won very convincingly over the crew from Adelaide to defend our title. The coxed four is such a good race to watch and we encourage more crews to enter this race in the future.


A special mention must go to Josh Hicks and James Chapman who have been selected in the Australian Eight to go for qualification into the Rio games. Congratulations on your selection and good luck.


The Open Men’s Eight Sprint Championship of Australia was an opportunity that we did not want to miss out on, so Coach Don Cech put together the fastest eight in the country to see how fast it could go. The line-up was Kendall Brodie (c), Josh Hicks, Ed White, Alex Lloyd, Spencer Turrin, Simon Keenan, Nathan Bowden, Chris Morgan and Angus Moore. They went 1:15.0 for 500m which is moving. The tail wind had the water moving with a fair bit of momentum and the boat was on the run before it hit the line so it was hard get good purchase on the blade and bend it in the first seven strokes but they did a good job in the chop and ticked it along nicely. Maybe another 1cm longer on the oars and a held start could have given them another two seconds I reckon. Having their blades feathered on the quick start made things a little difficult. Kendall said she saw 1:08 splits which are unheard of so well done fellas and Kendall. What I love about this is the willingness of all these elite guys to do some fun club races. They are under the pump every time they race as selectors are always watching so it’s nice to see these guys get around it and have some fun. There isn’t enough of this anymore and I think that it is important to have fun and compete. It’s not often you get to put eight really good athletes together to see how fast you can move an eight.


Leah Saunders flew the flag for the club in the Open Women’s categories claiming a bronze medal in the pair and a silver medal in the 4X which was great to see. Leah has also just been selected to trial for the Women’s Four to compete in the Non-Olympic World Champs. Go for it Leah! We’ll get around ya. The highlight for Leah as well as Kendall Brodie was their first ever podium finish in the NSW Women’s Eight in the Interstate regatta. The girls flew out to hold contact with the leaders Victoria and Queensland to post a time of 3:06 to the 1000m. To finish in 3rd place and be on the podium for the first time since 2007 is a fantastic result and something that Leah and Kendall should be very proud to be a part of. They have been an integral part of helping NSW achieve this result and deserve free ice cream for life.


Another notable performance was that of Gavin Parcsi in the Open Lightweight Single Scull. Gavin studies medicine and works in the hospital full time so has not trained full time this season. He manages to fit in the occasional row each week and gets most of his work done on the erg. He performed brilliantly in the Semi Final to qualify for a spot in the final. He said his boat was a good boat and that she’ll go all day. ‘Siope’ is a 1999 Sykes Mould 26W which is the best Sykes single ever made. It is far stiffer than any single they make today and certainly a very sturdy vessel. Not coming last was the goal he set for himself and he managed to fight all the way to the line to take 7th place in the dying stages of the race. With about 500m to go Gavin was in 8th position so he stepped, chipped over the top and regathered to cross the line ahead of the mercantile sculler who would later go on to race the club 2X and get beaten by SRC yet again.


Tom Cavanagh and Matt Bladen won bronze in the U23 lightweight pair but the real hero here is Lloyd Caetano. Lloyd has a reputation for being a good club man because of his selfless nature and willingness to help out where needed to support the club. Lloyd entered into the U23 lightweight pair race having never rowed the pair before to enable Tom and Matt to have a race off for the bronze medal because unless you beat someone, you don’t get a medal. This was Lloyd’s first time making weight and he sat on the bike all rugged up for 2hrs just make the bronze medal race go ahead. You the Man Lloyd!!


Overall SRC won 258 points ahead of Mercantile (222) and Toowong (177). Out of 43 SRC athletes, 35 won medals. 32 athletes won a Gold medal. Well done to all who participated in the regatta for the club and thank you for the support you provided for your team mates. The strength of the club is at an all-time high and I feel privileged to be a part of such a terrific community. Last week at the SIRR was extremely fun and it was a very enjoyable culture to be part of.


#SFRC #SRC4life #bepartofit #getaroundit