The Drummoyne Denouement: Flirtations With Victory – by John Bivell

Was there ever a derby so formative, so didactic, in dispensing the dastardly truths of racing? For one kilometre you rattle down the course, oars splashing, waves crashing, desperately hanging onto your tender lead.  The rasp of the slide blurs your ears as each breath grates to the heaving of the boat – back and forth, back and forth, wresting the water with your blade. As the promising shore curves inwards from the corner of your vision, your ears strain yearningly for the welcoming sound of the final horn, declaring your triumph over the lions of Leichhardt from a bowball behind. And then, as victory seems apparent, and the jubilant novices can already feel phantom medals hanging from their necks, their hungry opponents leap into offense and snatch the crowning victory.

Neither the harshest training nor the lowliest coach could crush the aspirations of a prospective eight as utterly as this tantalizing defeat. The Promised Land was spotted, grasped and then let slip into the shadowy waters below Iron Cove Bridge, its haggard grew pillars a morbid tombstone to the hopes and dreams of every denizen slumping dejectedly in that eight man vessel of remorse.

Apart from that, the Sydney novices had a whopper of a time at the 2016 Drummoyne Regatta. The calm early morning weather sported the junior scullers first heat featuring Bradley “Cramp” Deng who was afflicted mid-race by the eponymous affliction but still placed an impressive second. Joining him was CHS hopeful Tal “Steal-Yo-Girl” Lewis in fourth and first-timer Andrew “Fresh Meat” Li who was hailed by the commentary as a J.B. Sharp competitor for the winter series. The consecutive novice heat also featured young talent Adrian “Pressin’” Castillo and Evan “Ghost” Wang who placed third and fourth respectively after a close trumping by Balmain and North Shore rowers. It was a great effort by all the boys and fantastic to see them taking out seconds and thirds so soon into competitive racing.

One step above, Benedict “Safety” Brenner placed a nifty third in his D Grade Men’s Scull after a fast-paced start past the island. Lucas “Halo” Chabo also ranked fourth in his heat against a representative from the Sunshine State. The masters likewise competed well in their quads – the Women’s C Grade crew came in at fourth while the Men’s D Quad finished fifth. The female master’s returned again to come fifth and sixth in their C Grade Doubles, showcasing the ability and competence of our master’s squad. Following the unfortunate eight race mentioned previously, we bounced back from that 0.41s defeat to see our Women’s D Grade sculler Kisha “Pop-up” Chabo finish second over Balmain and St. George. The small boats presence continued in the Men’s C Grade Double: the master’s crew came sixth while Cristian “Double” Pezo and John “Hungry” Bivell ranked fourth.

And now arose the novices, fresh off the singles and fresh in the quads. The first crew of Bradley, Tal, Evan and Ben came nobly to meet the challenge head on by taking out second place to an experienced crew from our pontoon landlords, Leichhardt. Up next was a battler boat with a lot of personality: maiden quad racer Andrew accompanied Adrian and the newly arrived Rahel “Granddad” Sahni and Alexander “Brownies” Migdalias. After a long and hard tug, they finished an honourable fourth. They moved over for Charles Lloyd Jones to blaze it to fourth in his C Grade Scull while the D Grade Double was graced by returning Concord oarsmen Cristian and Lucas, keeping both their form and their oars intact in a solid third place. The masters returned in the same event to come in as sixth. The C Grade Four benefitted from the Coates brothers hat trick in the boat but was glorified by the presence of Curtis “Fresh Male” Aroney who utilised his trademark gung-ho toughness to motivate his crew across the line into second place.

A solid regatta equaled a solid performance across all categories. The masters enjoyed the laid-back and relaxed atmosphere of the Drummoyne Regatta with their circle of deck chairs overlooking the start line. For the young ‘uns, this was a significant event because it marked the penultimate regatta of the season and was the final stop before the climactic CHS showdown scheduled at Taree in April. With the news that Sydney Boys High– our rowers’ main rivals in spheres both academic and aquatic – had purportedly withdrawn from the regatta, the boys were buoyed with hope of a gentle introduction to the interschool championship. Satisfied with some solid ranking and flirtations with victory, the racers dispersed to the lives they allegedly held beyond rowing to gee themselves up for the final regatta of the 2016 season.

Up Next: SRC Hits Taree… Again