Mercantile wins Cayzer Cup with Red Hot Passion

The annual festival of winter rowing that is the Cayzer Cup was held last weekend in Melbourne with the host club Mercantile reclaiming the coveted cup. With Phil’s passing this year the event held extra significance and the club was duly represented by a touring party of 17 athletes.

Three crews were sent south to defend the Cayzer Cup for SRC in 2015. A development men’s eight, drug a women’s youth quad and a lightweight four were selected by coach Carter for the annual regatta, this year held on the Yarra River.

The rowers, led by team managers Tim Hughes and Paul Coates, flew down on Friday and after a twilight row were hosted by Mercantile for a spit roast in the shed and some pre-race imbibements. SRC President Keith Jameson and Mercantile ex-president Andrew Guerin addressed the men and women of both clubs, speaking to the legacy of Phil Cayzer.
Notable amongst Phil’s achievements while head coach at Mercantile was his decision to change the club colours from blue to red, with the rationale being that red was a more passionate colour that would invoke greater boat speed from the athletes. The move had an immediate and lasting impact on the club, which is now considered one of the premier rowing institutions in the country.
Racing kicked off early on Saturday morning. First up was the men’s eight, which boated under controversial circumstances as coach Cech made a race day decision to relegate the strokeman Max Brenner to the 2 seat, moving the rest of the stroke side down the boat. This saw young Piers Haskard in the hot seat stroking the crew over challenging 5km time trial. It was to be tears for Piers as the crew lost the race by 2 seconds – whether the late crew change was a help or hindrance cannot be known.
Thelightweight four were next, struggling to maintain their bearing on the winding course. Despite their many years of rowing experience, the crew of Nola, Taylor, Farthing and McDonald, were novices when it came to negotiating the Yarra River. This resulted in a final deficit of 15 seconds at the finish.
Finally the women’s quad took to the water. They too struggled against far more experienced opposition, eventually clocking a time 40 seconds slower than Mercantile. After breakfast the crews went back to the water for 2km and then 500m races. The girls were able to find their rhythm in the later races, reflected by the reduced losing margins recorded at the race distances decreased.
The lightweight four were the flag bearer for Sydney in the second sessions racing, winning both the 2km and 500m races to bring the series scoreline to a 5 – 2 deficit. While winning the series was now mathematically impossible, the men’s eight took the water believing they could win the Cup for Sydney. Alas they were found short, beaten by the conditions, local knowledge, and the red hot passion of the Mercantile crew.
This concluded the racing, but not the event, as the rowers from both clubs joined together for an evening of celebrations. As always the Cayzer Cup was a great event and thanks go to Mercantile for their fine efforts as hosts. Next year the event returns to Sydney as the club will seek to regain the Cup.