Whanganui's biggest rowing weekend of the season went off splendidly on December 1-2 with the Toyota Jury Cup over 2km and 10th anniversary Billy Webb Single 5km raced on consecutive days.
The Toyota Jury Cup attracted 13 clubs, featuring 461 rowers in more than 70 events over a very full Saturday on the 2km Aramoho course.
Star Boating Club (with its associated schools) took away the impressive Jury Cup, with Aramoho second and Hawkes Bay third.
Racing started at 8am and continued every 5 minutes on a fine day and flat water until the last hour, when some double races had to be cancelled prior to the Mens Open 8 at the end of the day.
That race was impressively won by Aramoho, with Jonty Thomson, Levi Carroll, Luke Watts, Cameron Lawrence, Tom Monaghan, Hugh Pawson, Adrian Van Bussel, Guy Thomson and Niamh Mullany (cox) storming away from two Hawkes Bay crews and Wellington.
Aramoho's senior men were at it again with Watts, Thomson, Carroll and Cameron in a Coxless Quad Scull having an impressive win from Collegiate's Girls Under 18 Eight, although racing again the Girls Under 18 eight of Catherine Pearce, Lydia MacLean, Charlie Robb, Phoebe Collier, Alyana De Fresne, Maddie Gundry, Chloe Lennox, Charlotte McKinley and Hugo Dalgleish (cox) had an impressive win from Petone in the Open Womens Eight.
Collegiate also had a well drilled Girls Under 15 Octaple (8 scullers) with Emma Pearce, Hama Kilmister, Emily McKinley, Alexa Gunston, Tessa Norman, Greta Murphy, Samatha Hayes, Annabelle Symes and Lucy Monkton (cox) impressively winning their race.
Union Boat Club has a relatively large contingent of novice rowers this season and its Novice Boys Coxed Quad of Peter Ninham, Tama Casserley, Hamish Dodds-McIntosh, Jacob Wylie and Hunter Moulder (cox) had a hard fought win. Neo Tichbon had a good win in the under 17 boys single and then winning the under 17 double with teammate, Tomasi Conner.
Another good race was the Womens Open Quad Scull with the well coached crew of Zeah Brewer, Niamh Monk, Jaimee Bridger and Ella Dudley having a very hard fought win against another Aramoho/Clifton composite crew of Georgia Keech, Jamie Williams, Ally Bennett and Grace Hogan.
Hopefully that composite crew gets together again and considers racing together at the NZ Champs in Twizel in February 2019.
Freddie Higgs and John Turner had a nice Under 16 Double win with Masina Barritt looking good in winning the Girls Intermediate Single. Jury Cup was a good hit out prior to the Karapiro Xmas Regatta from December 14-16 and is just a snapshot of many other good performances.
As reported by the Chronicle, Mahe Drysdale, possibly the world's best sculler ever, with 2 Olympic gold, a Bronze and five World Championship titles, had a dominant win in the 10th anniversary Billy Webb and looking in top form at 40 years of age.
Drysdale stormed home in 21 minutes and 7 seconds, 19 seconds clear of 2017 World Double champion, John Storey, with World Lightweight medallist, Matt Dunham third just 10 seconds back.
There were many other impressive performances in the 38 strong field, including Martin Bridger (Union) winning the Mens Over 40 division in 25 minutes, 46 seconds, but importantly well ahead of former Olympic medallist, Eric Verdonk and Colin Wright from Aramoho.
Bob Evans (Union) had a nice win in 27:27, over local legend, Trevor Rush with teammate Peer Neilson third. The first three place getters, Blake Hogan 24:17, Leo Hanna and Tim Haldane, all from Collegiate in the Boys Under 17 race, beat the Under 20 Men and Maadi gold medallist in the Under 16 Single, Evan Williams (Takapuna Grammar).
Niamh Monk 27:37 (Aramoho) had a good win over teammate Ally Bennett, with Catherine Pearce (Collegiate) third, although Phoebe Collier, also Collegiate, was second home in the Under 17 grade, but first Collegiate girl in 29:12.
The 10th anniversary event was a great spectacle and it is New Zealand's premier long distance race, but will be reviewed in the New Year to see if we can strengthen it further and attract more visitors and sponsors.