Luke Watts topped the gold medal tally for Whanganui with three at the annual North Island Club Rowing Championships on Lake Karapiro over the weekend.
The Whanganui accountant won the men's single sculls title wearing the distinctive yellow and red striped singlet of the Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club (AWRC), then teamed with fellow club member Tom Monaghan to win the men's senior double sculls before joining Monaghan, Guy Thomson and Jonty Thomson to successfully defend the men's senior coxless quad sculls title.
Watts has been in and around the top level for a number of years now, including success on the international stage, and modestly concedes to winning all three events numerous times at national level.
Watts beat Fergus Ritchie for East Coast in his heat clocking 7:41.47 then quickened the pace in the A Final to stop the clock at 7:21.89, again beating Ritchie.
In the double, Watts and Monaghan finished fourth in their heat before stepping up to win their A final over Elliot Janissen and Callum Tutbury for Bay Of Plenty. The coxless quad was an easier path with the four winning their heat then the A final by nearly three seconds over the North Shore crew of Levin Graf, Aaron Cordes, Max Brown and Hugo Verdonk.
Fellow AWRC competitors Georgina Ross, Messina Su'a, Perris Ross, Nikita McCarten and Sarah Thomas (cox) finished third in their U16 girls coxed quad A Final, while Victoria Soutar, Lana O'Connor, Hannah Palmer, Portia Easterbrooke and coxswain Lillie Taylor won their novice women coxed quad B Final, while Mikayla Manville and Kathryn Fleming combined to finish second in their U18 girls double scull B final.
James Clear and Jordan Manville won the boys under-17 double sculls B final, while Manville also won the men's intermediate single sculls B final. Clear and Manville also combined with John Turner, Joseph Barritt an cox Campbell Monk to place third in the under-17 coxed quad A final.
Best of the Whanganui Collegiate Club rowers was the girls under-15 coxed four of Samantha Hayes, Gretel Murphy, Emily McKinlay, Annabel Symes and cox Bridget Jones Long who ran second in their A final, while Phoebe Collier and Charlotte McKinlay paired up to finish third in the girls U18 double sculls A final.
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Also third in their A final was the Collegiate under-18 girls coxed eight comprising Charlotte McKinlay, Holly Lennox, Alyana du Fresne, Phoebe Collier, Jaime Maybery, Margy Hazelhurst, Ngatatau Tumanga, Ruby Hawley-Wedd and cox Bella Stevenson-Watt. Hawley-Wedd also finished second in her under-18 girls single scull B final.
Blake Hogan and Leo Hanna claimed third in the boys under-18 double sculls A final, while under-16 girls double sculls Haana Kilmister and Tessa Norman finished third in their B final.
An interesting combination for the Union Boat Club was Alistair Bond, brother of multiple world champion Hamish Bond and Justin Evans, son of Union legend Bob Evans.
They combined to finish fourth in the A final of the men's senior double scull. Evans works for Rowing New Zealand and it was largely because of his father's involvement that the pair decided to row for Union.
The only other Union rowers to perform with note were Neo Tichbon and Tomasi Connor who won their B final in the men's club double scull.
Meanwhile, AWRC members Kerri and Jackie Gowler, Chris Harris and Georgia Nugent O'Learly also featured rowing as part of the Rowing New Zealand Summer Squad.
Multiple world champion Kerri Gowler and regular partner Grace Prendergast won the women's premier coxless pair A final with sister Jackie and Ella Greenslade second. She then teamed with Jackie, Prendergast and Beth Ross to win the women's premier coxless four.
Harris and regular men's premier double scull partner John Storey ran seond in their A final, while Harris finished third in the men's premier single scull A final. Nugent-O'Leary finished fifth in the A final of the women's premier single scull.
Further Whanganui interest came from the Clifton Rowing Club in Taranaki where Philippa Baker-Hogan is head coach. Clifton crews made seven A finals, including silver in the women's novice quad, and nine crews raced in B finals.