Novices Shine at Leichhardt Regatta – by John Bivell

As the dutiful barbecue loitered in the shadow of the boathouse and the annual Bay Run thundered past, the novices got to work. With many racing solo for the first time in their fledgling careers, they assembled bright and early by Leichhardt Rowing Club. Undaunted by the stampede of joggers marauding through the congregation, they launched from the pontoon into the strange and wonderful world of competitive racing at the Leichhardt Regatta.


The odds were in Sydney’s favour for the first novice heat with 80% of the line-up toting the light blue zootsuit. Our furtive foursome battled all the way down the course and left the sole Central Tablelands representative wallowing in their wash; Tal “Smokin’” Lewis finished fourth, with Evan “Colorado” Wang in third, Oscar “Ends” Gullickson as close second and Alexander “Migdanamas” Migdalias in first place. Although facing a winning duo from Central Tablelands and St. George in the second heat, the Sydney novices still defied each other as they defied the course. Young ‘uns Bradley “Family Man” Deng and Adrian “Grape” Castillo finished in close third and fourth with Rahel “Ironfam” Sahni placing fifth to trump the unsuccessful Penrith presence.


Not long after came Lucas “Crack” Chabo who achieved an honourable third in his D Grade scull. The following A/B double snagged the second win of the day as Lloyd “Broken” Caetano teamed with a local Newington coach for a whopping final push past Rodd Island. He soon moved up a boat size to take out second place in the C quad scull, marred only by a post-start disparity between bow seat and his presence upon it. Kisha “Prep” Chabo served in her first D Grade scull and ranked a hotly contested fourth, displaying remarkable concentration for such a newcomer to competitive regattas.


The A/B scull, stretching from beyond Iron Cove Bridge to past Rodd Island, had some new faces in the start – three young rowers who were racing up a division to tame the dreaded 2000m. Accompanied by the more mature Lloyd Caetano, they challenged the entrenched boyars of this event. Cristian “Orange” Pezo kept pace with his competitors almost to the finish and allowed the aforementioned Lloyd to rank third. In the second heat saw Ben “Mumford” Brenner have as fun a race as he predicted on the start line, while John “What-A-Head” Bivell held forth against a boat whose fin had been unceremoniously savaged by a tree en route to the event, creating all manner of directional intrigue down the course.


The return of the novices spiced up the atmosphere one again – finally, another chance to prove their mettle against the big boys of the regatta. Oscar, Alex, Rahel and Adrian came fourth after some solid rowing upon the bay – ditto the second crew featuring upcoming athletes Bradley, Tal, Evan and Lucas. Both boats exceeded their expectations and showcased proudly the skills honed over the summer holidays in the shadow of Sydney Rowing Club. With a job well done, they loaded their boats and retired from the event. The regatta slowly eased into the afternoon – CHS hopefuls from Sydney Secondary College Ben and Tal pulled a cheeky third in the D double – aside from one major upset involving a Concord High double, a five boat length lead and an oar that attempted escape velocity. Pleased with a fine day and an even finer barbeque from the hosts, the junior janissaries of the Parramatta River loaded the trailer and hit the road.

Next Time: The Drummoyne Denouement Gets Personal