I headed down to Twizel last weekend to watch my daughter and a number of Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club members compete at the 2019 Rocket Foods New Zealand Rowing Championships, held February 19-23.
Although this regatta, which mainly caters for non-school rowers and our elite, had 757 competitors compared to over 2000 at the NZ Secondary School Rowing Champs (Maadi Cup), there was some very good and close racing.
This was particularly true on the last day of finals, when water conditions were excellent.
I understand the weather/water conditions for most of the week were variable, which is to be expected with an outdoor sport, although the first day of finals, due to kick off about 8am, had numerous and significant delays.
Due to weather, they eventually needed to race 1000m (non-held) heats for Under 19 events, while the 2000m finals were being raced from about 5.30-8pm last Friday night.
Aramoho entered 23 crews, who made 12 A Finals and won three medals.
By their high standards, it would have been a slightly disappointing regatta for them, with four other crews gaining fourth place, but no championship title or old medal to bring home.
In saying that, the Men's Club Coxless Quad and Coxed Four of Petone's Matt Cummings and AWRC's Cameron Lawrence, Jack Pringle and Adrian Van Bussell, along with Campbell Monk (cox, in the Coxed Four) had an outstanding regatta.
This crew had little time together to form combinations, but had a really determined and positive mindset and with their coach, the experienced Des Lock.
They won a very comfortable silver medal in the Quad and a well earned bronze in the Coxed Four.
Jonty Thomson and Levi Carroll, who were very light but capable A finalists in the Maadi Under 18 Pair and Double last season, fought a very gutsy, "never say never" race in the Under 19 Double Sculls – snatching the bronze medal on the line by 0.29 seconds.
Aramoho's fourth placings came from the Women's Senior Coxless Quad of school girls – Zeah Brewer, Niamh Monk, Jaimee Bridger and Ella Dudley – and the Men's Senior Coxless Quad of Luke Watts, Jonty Thomson, Tom Monaghan and Hugh Pawson.
Watts and Pawson again got fourth in the Men's Senior Double Scull and Niamh Murphy, Grace Hogan, Jaimee Bridger, Mikayla Manville and Campbell Monk just dipped out of bronze in the Women's Club Coxed Four.
No doubt, AWRC will celebrate the successes, learn from the experience and for most of the female rowers, they will prepare to peak at Maadi Cup in a month's time.
As mentioned, there was some impressive finals on the last day in particular, and although the numbers were not high, the quality of a number of intermediate, club and senior races was excellent.
I was very impressed by some of the elite (Premier) events, with races like the Women's Premier Single having six international scullers going stroke for stroke down the course and four seconds between second to sixth place as the comeback kid Emma Twigg won in an impressive 7m 24.22s.
The long awaited Men's Premier Single Scull clash between the world's fastest man Robbie Manson and the double Olympic champion and five times World champion, Mahe Drysdale, did not disappoint.
Although Robbie took the NZ Title in 6m 52.03, Mahe was less then three seconds back in unfavoured tail conditions and has gained eight seconds on Robbie in the three weeks since North Island Rowing Championships.
To give an indication of the depth and breath of quality in NZ Rowing, former Whanganui rowers Jamie Harris and Jonty Wright, in their first year out of school, performed well but neither gained NZ Under 23 trials.
Our elite rowers move into two stages of NZ Trials, which will be completed in early April, in preparation for the 2019 World Champs, which is the key 2020 Olympic Games qualification regatta.
Our various school rowers will be off to the North Island Rowing Champs on March 8-10 at Lake Karapiro and then make final decisions around the make up of crews and what rowers they take to the week-long Maadi Cup, from March 25-30 March, again at Karapiro.