Sensational Results for SRC at SIRR by Coach Carter
Welcome back to another edition of ‘Rowing Fever’ as we bring you all the spectacular sporting action from around the galaxy as well as the highlights and lowlights of the 2017 Sydney International Rowing Regatta (SIRR).
From the beginning of the week we knew we were in for a long and arduous seven days at SIRC with our best athletes being spread pretty thin over a number of events. SRC had a good start to the regatta in the heats of the small boats with most of our key athletes qualifying for the semi-finals and finals. There were so many highlights through the week but some in particular stood out to be sensational.
Harriet Hudson progressed nicely in the U23W1X with very comparable times to the 500m and 1000m marks against her competition. The 19yr old had a tough battle in the final as she found herself in fourth place all the way down the course. With a huge push at 1400m she was half a length off third but was just edged out by the NTC’s Caitlin Cronin. Whilst it was upsetting for Harriet to miss out on a medal, she gained a spot into the U23 selection trials which are later this month. She gave it everything and really put the older girls in a tough place as they had to suffer to hold her off. Harriet had a great regatta taking out the U21W2X with Romy Davenport and she also won the OW4X with SRC’s favourite South Australian and Rio Olympian Olympia Aldersey.
Leah Saunders and Harriet took on the Open Double and placed 2nd ahead of Sydney University which included Olympian and NTC rower Gen Horton. This was a special moment for Leah as she got to race in the Empacher boat that was so deservedly named after her earlier this year. Leah, Kendall Brodie and Harriet in the NSW eight won the OW8+ sprint Championship of Australia the evening before the Interstate Regatta in preparation for the Queen’s Cup Women’s Interstate eights race. The NSW QC crew lead the race for 1500m. Such a gutsy effort was needed if they were to have any chance of beating the Victorians who unfortunately went on to win their 13th QC race in a row. This was a courageous and brave row from the NSW women and such a major improvement on last year where they placed 3rd which was 10sec behind 2nd place. This year they are under 3sec off 1st which looks promising for next year.
Jason Baker once again coached the Youth eight which absolutely demolished the field with a 4sec margin at the 500m mark. Tom Barnes represented SRC in the NSW crew and was very pleased with the result. Tom commented after the race “I was very pleased with the result”.
One of the best moments of the regatta for me was seeing Spencer Turrin win the single scull. He shot out well in the heat and the semi-final to paddle down the course rating 24 in qualifying positions after the 500m mark.
In the semi-final Spencer had an agreement with Hamish Playfair (UTS) that if they were both in the top four qualifying positions, whoever was in the lead after the first 500m would be allowed to cross the finish line first between the two of them. It just so happened that Hamish beat Spencer to the 500m mark and at 500m to go they looked across at each other and Spencer said “you go first mate, I’ll take fourth and you take third spot”. This can be an incredible gamble because lanes for the final are seeded based on your placings in the semi. Sometimes some lanes are better than others especially if there is a cross wind and they all knew there was likely to be a cross wind for the final which would make Lane One more favourable than lane 8.
After speaking with Spencer about this he said “I just had a feeling that if I play fair and let Hamish Playfair place ahead of me in the semi, I would get Lane One” which is exactly what happened.
Things seemed to be OK but Spencer said he had been struggling to set the boat up right so he could feel comfortable in the Sgt. Fred Wellische. Usually this boat leaks like a sieve but it had just been repaired by Sykes the week before and was dry as a bone inside. Spencer said that he felt like he wasn’t getting the speed for the effort he’d been putting in. He decided to put the rigger as far toward the bow as possible to keep the stern out of the water to help it run on and he lengthend the oars to 290/88cm just to get more purchase on the blades. Now he was all set for the final and ready to take on Olympic Silver Medallist in the Men’s 4X Cam Girdlestone (SUBC) who was favourite to take out the final. Spencer knew this would be his only chance to have a crack at this event and prove what everyone has always thought which was that he is Australia’s best rower whether its sculling, sweeping, big boat, small boat, eyes closed, half slide, feet out, pants down.
He started fast and got half a length lead. Girdlestone was in lane 4 and found it hard to know where Spencer was as he was over on the edge of the course in Lane One. Playfair had drawn lane 7. With SRC supporters on the bikes, we were closer to the end of Spencer’s stroke side blade than he was. He worked hard to hold his half length lead and every time Girdlestone came back at him Spencer put in 10 hard strokes just like you do in the Yr 8 Quads when racing at school. Spencer seemed determined not to give up that margin and he just kept toying with the opposition with schoolboy tactics. At the 750m mark things started to get desperate. This is where the race would be won or lost. Spencer knew that if he remained tough until the 1250m mark, he would come out on top. Girdlestone was pushing hard and gaining on Spencer. His bow ball now moving an inch past Spencer’s body through the 1000m mark. With the challenge came great determination in Spencer’s mind and all he could hear from the bank was “DO IT FOR THE CLUB SPENCER, FOR THE CLUB!” Suddenly Spencer pushed out again and got his half length lead back and there was the 1250m mark. 750m remains between the battler from SFRC and victory. Closing in now on the 1500m mark Spencer heard “GO DUNGOG!” and as passionate about SRC Spencer is he never forgets where he comes from and those words set him off. He could hear his father’s cowbells now ringing in the distance and with 600m to go Spencer ran away like he’d stolen something.
Half a length became 2 lengths in the blink of an eye and suddenly my bike wasn’t fast enough to stay beside him. 250m to go and everything hit Spencer’s muscles all at once. Girdlestone two lengths back was no longer the threat but Playfair now surging on the outside lane was closing in and racing for the line. Spencer started to wobble and for a moment looked to have lost all control. “STAY ON IT SPENCE! LAST 200!” Sgt Fred was still moving fast but the slightest brain melt now would result in a monumental stuff up. Thankfully the finish line drew closer and Spencer collected himself again. Playfair now in second place but it was all too late as winning is a dominant trait for Nate who’s fate had him crossing the line under the psychological 7min barrier to become the Champion Sculler of Australia (dare I say World). The moment Spencer crossed the line, he released his oars, poked his tongue out and the arms went up. He’s a hero, a living legend, the best that’s ever been.
After that race, we rode the bikes back down to the 2000m barrier for start of the Open Men’s Pair where Angus Moore and Josh Hicks were all boxed and ready waiting for the start. Alex Hill (Adelaide RC) teamed up with fellow South Australian Bryn Coudraye who won the race for lanes. Hilly shot out to a canvas lead over Gus and Hicksy. That margin remained for the first 750m and then SRC started to close in and draw level. The Victorian pair of Josh Dunkley Smith and Josh Booth started to fire and joined the party at the 1000m mark and all of a sudden anything up to two or three horses could win it. Since Alex Lloyd is not competing internationally this year, Alex Hill is now the best stroke in Australia. He’s been rowing very well lately and I reckon he could win with a ham sandwich sitting behind him. Not that Bryn isn’t an adequate replacement for a ham sandwich.
Gus and Hicksy were now starting to take the lead as Gus throws the head back and takes a wild swing at each stroke. Booth and JDS were still in the hunt but the SRC and Adelaide pairs were in a race of their own and started to pull away from the Victorians.
The racing was ferocious and they were red lining to the max. If the course had been any longer than 2000m I don’t think either of the pairs would have made it. It looked like they were completely cooked with 500m to go and you can’t imagine how much it would have hurt. If there are two guys that aspiring rowers should see its Gus and Hicksy. That is how you race. People talk a lot about those athletes who are good trainers and good racers, well these two are phenomenal racers. It goes down to the wire every time and there’s never anything left in the tank. Anyhow, Gus and Hicksy managed to pull off one of the best pair races I’ve ever seen and crossed the line 1.75sec ahead of ARC.
The King’s Cup was another highlight especially with four SRC racers in the boat. Congratulations to Spencer, Gus, Ed White and Alex Lloyd for bringing the KC back to NSW and reclaiming what is rightfully ours.
NSW had lost the KC two years in a row and all they needed was more SRC members in the boat to get the job done. Angus Moore (formally ACT) has waited two long years to represent NSW and I knew he’d be quite emotional on the line as this meant quite a lot to him and his mates.
Erik Horrie took his familiar spot atop the podium winning the ASM 1X Erik stating:
“It is hard out there by yourself… but it’s good to be able to come down the course for the Australian titles and to still have that race available for my class”.
To widen his competition, Erik also raced up a class, competing in his second race in the TA Men’s Single Scull final. Although placing second, he was proud of his efforts and excited to have some new competition around. “Up against another category, I’m over the moon with second place… It’s an honour to be able to race against Curtis, it’s great to see him having a go at a great sport like rowing,” added Horrie.
I was delighted to see Ed White get his first spot in the NSW crew. He is the best bowman in Australia and the only man who can keep that boat straight. Ed has won more domestic races than anyone in Australia in the past three years and it was about time he was called upon to assist the Welshman. In my opinion the fastest eight that Australia could possibly boat is a crew made up entirely of SRC rowers. With half of the NSW crew being from SRC, we were in safe hands.
The NSW crew won in fine form and came out of the blocks in true SRC style. Half a canvas lead in the first three strokes and the race is over. The crew was coached by Donovan Cech who has a lot of success with eights racing since he arrived at SRC three years ago. SRC have since won two State Championships and three Gold Cups. Nick Garratt (Mosman) was also coaching the NSW KC crew this year and I thought it was fitting for Nick to have won the King’s Cup as his last time as coach now that he has been appointed the new ACTAS Head Coach position. Good on you Nick and all the best for the future.
The Women of SRC AKA ‘The Dolphins’ brought home three medals on the final day to secure the Club point score for SRC. Romy and new member Maddy Farrar kicked off the club events with a bronze medal in the Club double. This was Romy’s fourth medal of the week. She had a brilliant performance in the U21LW1X to come second and got a bronze in the U23LW4X. Maddy has been training for 8 days and showed us that she’s still got what it takes to perform well.
The Club 4- of Susie Dear, Emily Partridge, Tessa Mapplebeck and Candice Williams dominated the first 1000m to be over a length clear of the field. They cruised to victory to secure a gold for SRC. This was also a momentous occasion for Emily Partridge who since winning the club 2X and 8+ last year has now become the first person in Australian rowing history to win all three club events making her a hero, a living legend and the best that’s ever been.
Brianna Caputo, Lara Campbell, Maddy Farrar and Madi Brown joined them in the Club eight 2hrs later and they were coxed by none other than the fierce Milly Cheetham. They came out of the blocks first as practiced and got out to a half-length lead by the 750m mark. After half way the Banks crew started closing in but SRC just managed to fight them off and win by 0.7sec. Milly had a run in with the same Banks coxswain at the Head of the Yarra late last year where our Men’s eight collided with the Banks women’s eight that were strewn across the river. The girls hung in there and fought for the entire 2000m to stay ahead of a very sharp Banks crew.
Just like last year, every female at SRC came away with a gold medal. This was another very emotional result for SRC because it was the 10-year anniversary of the Sykes eight that our women use, The ‘Q.L. Deloitte’. She weighed in at a very slim 97kg even after being repaired with a new bow in 2009. Emily Partridge and Susie Dear said “The girls love this boat so much that we feel it necessary to retire the old girl out of respect. We’ll row in a new boat if we have to”.
Although Dylan Boakes and Nick Clifton’s single sculling performances wouldn’t go down as one of the highlights of the regatta they turned it around in the U23M4X as they teamed up with two blokes from WA to win a silver medal. They had a nail biting race going stroke for stroke with a crew made up of top 6 single scullers. They were almost level with 500m to go but were just edged out by a more experienced crew. This was the best rowing that JB and I have seen from Dylan and Cliffo. Pretty direct and loose out the front and matching up well with the rest of the crew which was great to see. Lucas Giles placed 3rd in this race to bring up his first National medal which was a fantastic result.
Nathan Bowden had a terrific regatta, single handedly winning the Open Men’s Four with James McCrea, Hilly and Brye Coudraye. It’s the first time an all South Australian Crew has won this event. I don’t mind the South Australians so well done fellas. Nath was representing SRC (sort of) which got us a ¼ of a Gold medal. This was quite selfish of him as our crew of Spencer, Gus, Lloydy and Hicksy came second since they were fried from winning the small boat finals the day before. Nathan should have checked his boat before the line to let SRC win a full Gold medal.
Nathan found it hard swapping sides throughout the regatta and his back started playing up. He stitched the club up again by pulling out of the Coxed Four. Luckily, we have some handy youth rowers like Will O’Connell and Charles Patterson who stepped up and managed to pull off a dominant display and win Gold again for Sydney. Charlie Patterson stroked the boat very well and Morgs and Ed White did their thing in bow pair. George Davis pulled some strings and steered them to victory.
Georgia Bradley, Lauren Lyon, Tessa Mapplebeck and Crystal Piper (Lower Clarence) had a good crack at the U19W4- which they had never practiced before. They showed great potential in the heat to qualify fastest for the final and finished with a bronze medal in the final. Lauren and Crystal raced an U19W4X in a composite crew and Georgia raced in a different crew. Both boats were level all the way down the course but Georgia’s crew were too good and claimed silver. Bronze for Lauren and Crystal. Well done girls.
Chris Morgan raced the OM2X with Wilson Mure (Huon) and won the silver Medal. This is pretty good stuff from Morgs who has been retired since the Rio Games. He’s been ticking over with some weights and a few rows each week. Morgs also raced in the South Australian King’s Cup crew with Nathan Bowden who placed third.
Sydney Rowing Club finished the regatta on top of the point score to be crowned Champion Club of Australia for the second year in a row and best club in the world for the 147th year in a row.
Coach Lachlan Carter