SRC Gears up at State Championships

The NSW State Champs, the traditional lead up event for the Sydney Rowing Club Regatta, was held at SIRC from 12 – 14 March. With National Team selectors swarming upon Penrith in unprecedented numbers, the stakes were high. While not reaching the heights of last year’s state champs, SRC nonetheless had a solid regatta with a few standout performances.


Tensions were high as the State champs kicked off on Friday. On the surface the boat park was a typical scene of preparation, boats being rigged, muscles being activated, coaching being broadcast. But to talk to the athletes, the occasion was clearly more muted than the normal celebration of rowing that this event marks. The spectre hanging over the participants was that of the Rowing Australia bureaucracy, which had taken over SIRC for the week and was monitoring the movements of all senior A players closely.


With the fruit hats of Rio close enough to taste, now was the time for national team aspirants to show off their wares to eager spectators in the SIRC grandstand. Josh Hicks and Leah Saunders raced in selection events, finishing 2nd and 4th respectively. Also in the single was Chris Morgan, who came 5th in the A-Final of the championship event, just 4 seconds behind the winner Sasha Belonogoff.


All eyes were on the men’s pair event on Saturday, with a big Sydney contingent engaged. In the final, Turrin and Lloyd were upstaged by Bill Lockwood and Lex Hill of the Canberra National Training Centre of Excellence. James Chapman and Nick Purnell continued their blossoming relationship, improving into 4th place after a slow start. The overall race was very close with only a few lengths between first and last so the signs are good for a potential tilt at qualifying the men’s eight.


With the focus of the senior squads on national selection, it was the club’s development athletes that took centre stage at this year’s championships. In particular the under 19 category proved rich pickings for SRC, with Harriet Hudson winning the women’s scull and Max Brenner placing 3rd in the men’s event. Both events attracted the very best athletes from around the country so both results auger well for Harriet and Max’s chances at the Nationals in March.


Also competing for Sydney in the under 19 category were a group of Shore boys coached by long-time friend of the club, Dave Jennings. The lads were up against fierce competition in all lanes during the quad and double event and the chances of success looked slim. Dave, a history teacher by trade, was undeterred and delivered a rousing pre-race address based upon the Battle of Rorke’s Drift. The crews went on to triumph in both races in slashing style.


The main event on Sunday was the champion eights of NSW. The marquee event of the regatta, the champion eight calls for men of strength, honour, dignity and piety. Alas, for SRC no such men could be found and the club did not boat a crew to defend last year’s hard fought title. This left the spoils of the QL Deloitte Trophy to the hands of the Victorians; with Sydney’s sister club Mercantile taking the win. The women’s eight was won by Melbourne Uni comfortably ahead of UTS and St George.


The lightweight squad should not be forgotten. While there were no Simon Nola’s or Hugh McLeod’s racing in the light blue over the weekend, the men’s four of Bladen, Parcsi, Farthing and McDonald performed soundly to claim the bronze medal in a competitive field.


Other notable mentions go to Charlie Patterson who continued his breakout season with a silver in the under 21 scull and Romy Davenport who raced in a couple of successful composite crews.