In bright November morn and April afternoon
Shedding top-button ties and uniformed cocoon
A migration assembles on a wooden pontoon.
To heads, place, launch! – and the waves they festoon.
Such was the origin of our aspiring rowers. Under the tutelage of Paul “Eskimo” Coates, Luke “Traps” Stait and Sean “’60s” Madeley, the future of the tribe club tested their wings and took flight. We’ve followed their story from the very beginning; the falters, the sacrifice, and the triumph. Now, in the final instalment for this season, we witness the thunderous climax of their interwoven journeys. The hand of Destiny, esoteric in design, had ordained their paths, like rains after drought, billow and muster down dusty riverbeds until they crest and collide at their tumultuous destination – Taree.
The 2016 Combined High Schools (CHS) Regatta had begun.
School ended on Friday 29th to the usual hustle and bustle of relieved weekenders. The CHS competitors each piled into their respective vehicles and, with Curtis “Battlelines” Aroney toting our Newington-donated trailer, embarked on the 5 hour drive north. Sydney eventually jettisoned the sluggish traffic onto the motorway for a cheeky Macca’s run; coal was all the rage; Civ 5 helped pass the time; and a cheeky accruing of beer mats saw one nifty little man become a surrogate father. After reaching the motel and cooling down with a few rounds of 500, the boys and coaches retired to their ample accommodation. A big day lay tomorrow.
Saturday saw a sleepy entourage ambling its way towards Manning River Rowing Club. They were greeted by recent emigrant Hugh McLeod, but there was no time to play catch-up. The Men’s Championship Scull saw Lloyd “Sing-a-long” Caetano place second in his heat and Max Brenner place first. The sole Asquith Boys High School competitor Evan “Cameraman” Wang also came second, an achievement made all the more notable given it was his first CHS.
Not long after was the under 17 Double Scull. The first heat was graced with four vivacious combos, the first being Ben “Soap” Brenner and Tal “Tobasco” Lewis from Sydney Secondary College, Leichhardt Campus. The second double was from Concord High School, Cristian “Feet” Pezo and Lucas “Uncle Grandpa” Chabo. From the Fort were Stephen “Coup” Lowe and Bradley “Fisheye” Deng in one boat and Aaron “Sunscreen” Winata and Richard “Tinder” Quach in the other. Tal, Lucas, Bradley, Stephen, Richard and Aaron were at their first CHS after months of dedicated training. A long battle down the course saw Leichhardt and Concord progress to the final. In the other heat were Jason “Noodle” Huang and Adrian “Ducktor” Castillo racing against John “Hen” Bivell and Alexander “Smug” Migdalias. For Jason, Alexander and Adrian this was also their CHS – John and Alexander progressed to the finals.
The Championship Men’s Scull Semi-finals returned later that day; Evan placed a well-earned third and Lloyd and Max progressed to the finals. Our two under 16 rowers, Andrew “Twenty Dollar Bill” Li and Rahel “500” Sahni hit their double heats soon after but were o’ertaken by a Boy’s High rower and Sydney acquaintance Tim “Lamb” Trent. The under 17 Men’s Scull saw Richard, Stephen and Lucas row exceptionally, especially considering it was the former two’s first single race. John and Cristian progressed from their heat – ditto with Tal – while Ben Brenner in the elimination position of third pulled off an incredible 20 metre push that saw him come from two boat lengths behind to take a cheeky second place and progress, to the jubilation of his screaming team mates onshore, to the final. Max and Lloyd pulled an easy win in their Championship Double Scull, gearing up for the big race of the day and indeed the regatta – the Inter-Regional Eight.
A bizarre conglomeration of singlets and zooties cast off from the beach that afternoon. In stroke, 7 and 6 seat were the green and gold Concord colours: Cristian, Lloyd and Max. Next was a fine Bathurst lad by the name of Simmons who joined the Sydney North eight on account of being his region’s sole rower. After that was Evan representing Asquith leading stroke four, the remainder of which were Fort Street pair Alexander and John with Lucas from Concord in bow. Our cox was from North Sydney Girls. The mood was confident in the boat as they sallied to the start line: some snappy and at times scathing banter took place between the Sydney North eight and the bow pair of the Sydney Boys eight next door, Tal and Ben from Leichhardt. Despite some cutting words from Max Brenner to his younger brother, the Sydney Boys/Leichhardt eight flew off the start line and held a narrow lead all the way down the course to trump the expectant Fort Street/Concord/Central Tablelands/Asquith/North Sydney Girls crew. With the banter resolved in the heat of the race, the first day drew to a close.
Sydney Boys and the Sydney Rowers all headed to the beach right after the races ended. A hearty game of cricket and some turbulent waves were had as the Sun set behind the continent. Once the mad sand sprints and beach-going were exhausted – despite the arrival of both teacup puppy and horse – the boys went home for a hearty barbeque. A phat pheed was provided with all manner of sumptuous meats. A massive shout-out to the coaches as well as the supportive parents: Mr Bivell, Mr Migdalias, Mr Brenner and Mr Lewis. Dinner done, the rowers had a cheeky night full of cards, Uncle Grandpa, How to Train Your Dragon and assorted pillowy altercations.
Sunday. Finals Day. The nerves were up – this was serious. It was where novices become rowers, boys become Ben and might begets medals. The U17 double was stacked with our lads – Fort Street, Concord and Leichhardt represent. At the word go, Maitland Grossman took off and left a hard-fought battle in their wash. Crabs were caught, medals were sought and John and Alexander took the silver home for Fort Street. Third was taken by Ben and Tal while Concord left Sydney Boys in the dust in fourth. A great achievement all round – but it wasn’t over yet. Leichhardt and Concord jumped straight into the pairs and blitzed the Championship Final. Max and Lloyd came first, Cristian and Lucas came a solid second second and Ben and Tal fourth after some navigational shenanigans.
“Behold,” the wise proclaimed while viewing the U17 Coxed Quads boating, “beyond lies the beef.” Sydney Boys, Fort Street and Fort Street were gunning for gold. It had started to rain but spirits were kept up; the weather smiled upon the rowers as start time drew near. With an enthusiastic exchange of “Good luck!” they accelerated off the finish. Oh, how they fought the lions of Sydney Boys. The cox John bellowed himself hoarse egging his crew of Alexander, Adrian, Andrew and Rahel slowly onto first place, while opposing Fortian coxswain Stephen kept the boys Jason, Richard, Aaron and Bradley working hard down the track. With 250 to go, it was now or never. John urged his crew to within a few bowballs of first place – but a last 20 metre push by Sydney Boys secured them the victory. A solid race, a solid achievement – next year, they conferred, would be crunch time.
Max and Lloyd took out first and second in the Men’s Championship Scull, with Max’s lead matched only in immensity by the C on his back. Once again, the eights lined up, this time for the Championship Eight. It was Sydney Boys, stroked by Tim Trent, versus Fort Street – Bradley, Jason, Adrian, Alexander, Richard, Rahel, Stephen, John and coxswain Aaron. This battler crew had trained hard together, having spent the last five months discovering the sport. Facing an experienced eight, they remained undaunted in the face of adversity and gave it their all. From the moment the starter blew his whistle, they showed their mettle and gave Sydney Boys something to fight against for the race. The experience High boys won a solid victory, but they had been warned. The warning shot graze their neck. Next year, they muttered, when the congratulating cheers had subsided. A hardened Fort Street crew would tap up to the start, ready to take that shield home to Petersham for the Fort.
The day slowly wound down – Cristian, facing an international rower from Maitland Grossman, came a well-earned third in the U17 Single Scull Final, with Ben, John and Tal taking the following positions. The Championship Double Scull was won with ease by winners Max and Lloyd who, with the exception of the Inter-Regional Eight, received perfect win scores. Max was proclaimed most proficient male sculler, while Sydney Girls won the regatta point score yet again over Sydney Boys and Grafton. With big grins, school chants and a bucket load of fresh CHS merch, it was time to leave. This 17-man team could never have existed without the parents who came along, but especially without the dedicated coaches. They put in countless hours of training, advice and motivation; they’ve been truly legendary. Shout out to Sean and Luke for stepping up and always helping out, and of course to Paul for the Trump memes, Migoreng chats and oodles of rowing loot. The lads had come a long way – for Evan and Max their CHS journey ended in 2016. But for team icon Lloyd, old-timers Cristian and Ben, and of course the dedicated and upcoming squadron who showed such commitment and humour these past five months – they will return. CHS had been scorched by the flames of Sydney Rowing Club. Now, as CHS 2017 beckons, be warned – they, tasting victory, shall idle ne’er be.
Congratulations to Leah Saunders, who has this week been named as a traveling reserve for the Australian Senior A Women’s 8+, just four days before the team is flying out to begin a training camp at the European Training Centre in Varese, Italy.
The short notice, due to sickness and injury in the crew has provided the opportunity for Leah to step up and fulfil the role of reserve. It appears history is repeating itself, as a similar situation last year resulted in Leah replacing a crew member of the under 23 W4x that went on to win a silver medal at the under 23 World Championships in Bulgaria.
There’s no doubt Saunders knows how to slot into a crew and she brings with her a wealth of successful international experience.
As the women’s 8+ is an unqualified boat for the Rio Olympics they will be seeking a top two result at the Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland from the 23rd – 25th May. The event known as the “Regatta of Death” will be a high stakes race for an opportunity to row at the Olympics. Should the crew qualify we will continue to see Leah’s involvement at World Cup Two.
We wish Leah and the crew all the best in their tour and for qualification!
Another sunny Sydney day presented itself for the May Rowers’ Reunion last Sunday. A total of five boats were scheduled to be christened, but with Australian Olympic team commitments excluding Alex Lloyd and Spencer Turrin from the festivities, the two coxless pairs bearing their names will be christened after their Olympic Games campaign. The remaining three of the new fleet were on display and duly named.
Three time world champion Erik “hat trick” Horrie spoke about how proud he is to row in the light blue before wetting the bow of the “Erik Horrie” a new single scull. David Sollom christened the new Sykes Coxed Four named after Dame Eadith Walker – who in 1895 was the first women to be an office bearer at the club. In 1886 she inherited her father’s estate, sworn for probate at £937,984. Dame Eadith was a philanthropist a keen oarswoman and a great supporter of the club.
John Coates passed on his apologies John’s currently overseas with Olympic Committee duties in what is a busy and important year for him. Daughter Fiona stepped up to christen the Empacher eight the “John Coates”. Fiona stating that “The six Coates’ children practically grew up at SRC and the club is absolutely in their blood”.
The assembled crowd then moved to the Wharfside Room for lunch and refreshments. With Dale Caterson away on Safari in Africa, Michael Morgan took up the position of MC, welcoming guests – including visitors from the Central Tablelands Rowing Club. Lyn and Don MacIver brought the young rowers along to provide them with the opportunity to visit a well-established club. The Central Tablelands Club being relatively young. The Rowers’ Reunion provided the ideal occasion to see the club working at many levels.
Rowers’ Reunion is a great opportunity for rowers to share stories and importantly memorabilia. Lyn MacIver spoke and displayed a framed photo of the 1963 Champion Lightweight Four of NSW. The same crew that went on to win the Penrith Cup. The crew was boated by Alan Simons (bow) Geoff Knight, Don MacIver, Greg Hancock (stroke) with Larry Parker in the coxswain’s seat.
The Dedes kitchen again provided a splendid meal at what was a very enjoyable afternoon at SRC.
Click here for photos from the day.
On Saturday 28th May 2016, 11.00am – 2.00pm, a unique opportunity has arisen to view the remarkable rowing archives, library and memorabilia collected by Louis Petrin. Louis is well known to rowing supporters and competitors both young and old as a popular NSW Boat Race Official and historian.
Click here for the flyer.
The President’s Trophy is presented to an athlete who, in the past year, has made an outstanding and inspirational contribution to the sport of Para Rowing in New South Wales. SRC’s Erik Horrie has taken out this inaugural award adding to a plethora of accolades received over the last few years. RNSW President Ivan Adlam donated the trophy which was presented by the Govenor at a ceremony at Government House. Erik is a paralympian silver medallist (2012), three time world champion (2013, 14, 15) and holder of the world’s best time. Deservedly, Erik and his coach Jason Baker have been named in the Australian Olympic team for the Rio games in September. Congratulations Erik and we look forward to following your road to Rio.
There have been some changes on the Club Board in recent weeks, with two directors stepping down and one replacement named.
Similarly, the champion lightweight and former fastest man in NSW, Hugh McLeod, has moved to Taree and stepped down from the board after many years of valuable service to all rowers in the club. All members are thankful for the unerring dedication to the club that both have showed and look forward to seeing them regularly when they are back in Sydney.
The SRC decks will be cleared during August with a total of 6 junior athletes and 2 coaches selected for World Junior Championships set to which take place in Rotterdam from 21-28 August. The Junior Men’s 4X is an entirely light blue crew – Max Brenner, Pasha Bevan, Thomas Barnes, Jackson Kench and coach Lachlan Carter.
Romola Davenport has earned a seat in the women’s quad and Harriet Hudson will be coached by Don Cech in the Women’s single scull.
Don telling The Catch: “I am really excited about the talent we have in our SRC junior contingent at the moment.The guys and gals have shown great temperament and composure in their racing this season and with their continued physiological development we are looking really good as a club going forward into the u21 and u23 age groups in the near future! For now we will focus on absolutely smashing our best possible races at this year’s Worlds and hopefully bring back medals from Rotterdam!”
Coxswain George Davis will be steering the Men’s Under 21 eight in the Trans Tasman series against New Zealand. The first regatta will take place at SIRC 30 June – 2 July with the return leg on Lake Karapiro from 8-10 September. Click here for full selections list.
The bi-annual rowers reunion is one of highlights of the SRC social calendar, as members young and old gather to reminisce on the glory days and learn of the latest developments in the club. Mark your calendars for the next reunion coming up on Sunday May 1, when the latest eight to join the club fleet will be christened along with the usual festivities organised by Dale Caterson and John Sivewright. Members are encouraged to organise a row with old crew-mates in the morning to get the blood pumping in advance of the main event. Click here for the invitation.
Members past and present came from near and far for the Sydney Rowing Club Foundation Cocktail Party, in support of the club’s future. The room was filled with Sydney Rowing Club members dressed in club and honour blazers, showing that club pride runs deep with this audience. The energy in the air was building as members circulated the room, catching up with old teammates and meeting current athletes.
Andrew Rowley opened the evening and invited current athletes in attendance to join him at the microphone for some questions. Past Vice Captain Leah Saunders spoke of the important role the club had played for her as she moved to Sydney from McLean at the age of 18 and knowing very few people, the club became her instant home and its members her new friends. Current Vice Captain Kendall Brodie gave the credit of her coxing to the athletes, coaches and mentors and to the opportunities to travel on international tours.
Current Australian Men’s eight members Josh Hicks and James Chapman talked about the current line up of their crew and the standard of competition they will face at the Olympic Qualification Regatta in five weeks time. Hicks commenting on the club’s accessibility to everyone from novice, junior, club to elite level which makes Sydney a world class Rowing Club.
The night finished off with some delicious duck pancake hors d’oeuvres and the viewing of a few races caught on video highlighting some of the club’s recent successes in the Men’s Open Eight race at Gold Cup 2015 which Sydney again claimed the title of in 2016 and Henley Royal Regatta finals in the Visitors and Brittania four. To make a donation to the Foundation, Click here.