Aussie week-long national rowing regatta brings the sport together

Australia has the unique privilege of combing the cream of its youth and senior racing into a single event, the Sydney International Rowing Regatta (#SIRR).  Adding to the glamour of the occasion is a trophy cabinet of amazing silver pots to rival Henley Royal Regatta and the final day’s racing includes an inter-state contest where the best of the best combine in a points contest for the Rowing Australia Cup.  The visible excitement in young athletes watching their heroes while competing in youth and club events makes this a very special event.


Rising talent in the U17 W1x gave the win to Townsville JCU’s Lauren Smith over Somerville House’s Ella Hudson by 0.66 seconds, and the men’s event was also tight as Lukas Matic of Essendon beat Brisbane / GPS Ben Birchall while he battled North Esk’s Daniel Barratt into third who had led for much of the race.


Friday’s racing focused on small boats and youth events. The winning margins for many of the small boats were over half a boat length, meaning that most of the outcomes were decided early on in the race and there were few tight finish margins. The prize for winning margin of the day goes to Sydney University’s U19 4- who cleared nearly 11 seconds over second place Melbourne High although UTS U23 scullers in LM2x Curtin and Chuter managed 10.42 seconds over UWA / WARC in their race.


In the small boats most of the Australian national team were strutting their stuff and the crowds enjoyed Sally Kehoe’s expected win in the W1x while Cameron Girdlestone of Sydney Uni showed his strength in the men’s event.  Chris Morgan snatched silver from fast finishing Nicholas Purnell of Sydney Uni who came from 6th with 1,500 to go through to a bronze medal.


Melbourne Uni lightweight India McKenzie beat her doubles partner Alice Arch in the U23 LW1x while UTS’ James Chuter comfortably wrapped up a gold in the mens event.


In the open lightweight 1x events Thailand’s Jaruwat Saensuk was nipping the heels of Mercantile’s James Wilson for the gold medal while Georgia Nesbitt of Huon-TIS commanded the women’s race with a 5.5 second win over Amy James of Toowong.


The Open LW2x event was a delight with so many visiting international crews lining up against home grown talent.  The Chinese team, Guangdong Province, took the win from Dunn and James of Toowong / QAS well ahead of Team Hong Kong in third place.  Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand made up the other visitors – the call-over before the start would have sounded like the World Championships!  In the mens event Australia triumphed with Swan River/Mercantile beating Hong Kong and Indonesia by clear water.


The final triumph of a week of amazing rowing racing were the Interstate events on Sunday.  Many of the Victoria athletes were wearing green ribbons in memory of Sarah Tait, Olympian who had died earlier in the week.


Schoolgirls single winner, Kardinia International college’s Annika Hoffmann beat off Olivia Bertram of Loreto Normanhurst nicely while in the corresponding schoolboys race Cormac Kennedy-Leverett won again complementing his wins earlier in the week.  Cormac is recently returned from London where Tideway Scullers School were proud to have him as a member.


The Schoolgirls eight event had a super finish as St Catherines led from the start while behind them Loreto-Toorak scrapped with Queenwood and Kinross Wolaroi for the minor medals – the latter got out-sprinted by 0.2 seconds having been 2nd all race. A disappointing end to their season. The Schoolboy’s eight was more clear-cut with Shore, St Joseph’s Sydney and Scotch College neatly finishing 2-3 seconds apart. Nudgee were looking promising up to the the third quarter but failed to consolidate and ended fifth.


Double triumphs for Sydney RC as they won both the mens and womens Club Eight in a limited field.


Interstate, it was pleasing to see the adaptive events getting good entries with Brock Ingram in the LTA 1x pushing Kevin du Toit hard for his win, while Kathleen Murcosh of NSW won convincingly in the women’s race.


In the 1x the women’s event was a non-race with such a wide-spaced field to be nearly a processional. But the mens event was a good fight between WA’s Rhys Grant and Victoria’s Karsten Fosterling with a 0.4 sec victory to WA.  The Youth eights events quickly sorted the pack with wins for NSW in the men’s and Queensland in the Women’s by nearly 4 seconds apiece.


Victoria were impressive in the men’s and women’s open eights leading both throughout and giving the crowd exactly what they wanted as they dominated NSW and Queensland into half-length second places.  Victoria enjoyed picking up trophies including the prized King’s Cup, the Queen’s Cup (for the 12th time in a row), the Victoria Cup, the Nell Slatter Trophy and the Rowing Australia Cup as the overall Interstate Regatta winners.


Full results


Rebecca Caroe is the host of the RowingChat Podcast and rowing education website, Rowperfect UK.

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