It began as just an idea and quickly it became a reality when seven rowers committed to the idea of travelling to Tasmania for the Australian Master’s Rowing Championships. We have not travelled interstate for any Australian Championships since 2011 and Australian Master’s Championships have been held interstate on many occasions but Nepean rowers have not attended. So this marked a big moment for the club. With only a small group we had a mix of experienced and less experienced rowers and they all were keen for the challenge ahead of them. We had Brisbane Waters Rowing Club join us for the trip and they kindly provided us with the opportunity to boat several composite crews together.
A day of driving with an extra stop off to pickup a repaired boat from Sykes, an overnight ferry, an extended trip to the course due to an oversight in directions to the course and two practice rows all preceded the four days of racing before us.
Thursday was wet and cold, just as we dreaded. Racing kicked off with Jacqui and Rachel in the A double. They had a good heat and progressed to the final where they rowed better than their heat and the new combination took out seventh and showed a lot of promise for future master’s racing in the years to come. One of our many composite crews for the regatta took to the water in the D coxed four with Fiona, Lorraine, Sue, Libby and cox Genevieve however the heat was too strong and they were knocked out. Sam and Lisa went out for the C double and the plan was to showcase there improved rowing however there start did not go to plan and they struggled to find a rhythm until the 500m mark. This was too late to contest the race but it was a step in the right direction. Jason and Flo progressed straight to the final in the A pair due to a scratching from another crew. By half way they were in the middle of the pack and it was only in the dying stages that they pushed into the medal race and were able to claim the bronze. Next up, Jason and Flo teamed up with Jacqui and Rachel in the mixed A quad. It was always going to be a tight race but the crew stuck to their plan and got off well and were neck and neck with the Shoalhaven/ADF composite crew at half way. A negative split in the second 500m saw the crew secure the gold and another gold for being the first non-composite crew to cross the line. The Brisbane water’s crew of Sean, James, Libby and Sue coxed by Genevieve went on to claim a bronze in the mixed E four.
Friday was again wet and cold, oh and I forgot to mention the wind. It was really fun. First up was the D quad and Fiona teamed up with BWRC’s Di, Libby and Sue. A well-paced race saw the crew come in fourth and progress to the semi where they were subsequently knocked out. Jason and BWRC Sean teamed up for the A double. They raced their own race and came second in the heat to progress to the final. Another good performance from the crew saw them claim gold in the final. However, all three crews who medalled would face off the next day in the B double, so it was not over. Lorraine made her return to single racing and what better place to do it than on Lake Barrington. She got off to a slow start but she got more comfortable as the race progressed and placed eighth in the straight final in F grade. The A quad of Jacqui, Rachel, Fiona and Lisa placed fourth in their heat to progress to the final where they came seventh. Unfortunately, the women’s coxed B four did not make it to the start but their was still plenty of racing over the next two days to look forward to. The final race for us of the day was the mixed double of Jason and Jacqui. An early lead was held onto and a close to five second win was recorded with the crew claiming two gold’s (one for the win and the other as the first non-composite crew). At a subsequent dinner during the week a friendly competition for next year’s mixed double was agreed upon, and should result in an interesting race next season.
Saturday was upon as and the rain had passed however the wind persisted and it was by no means warm. Up early again and this time it was Jason and Flo to the water first in the A single. With only two automatic qualifying spots up for grabs in each heat it was imperative to secure a top two spot so as not to leave anything to chance (with the two quickest times that did not place in the top two of their heat also progressing). Jason got off well and sat close to the Power House sculler who had the previous day won the C grade single, with the two placing second and first respectively. Flo fought hard and went on to place third but unfortunately it was not enough to qualify to the final. Jason knew he had to have a good race in the final to take it out. Early on in the race it was clear it was a three-boat race with Jason, Power House and Back Mountain (gold medallist in B single). Jason had another well executed race and another strong finish saw him claim the gold. Next up was the composite C eight with BWRC. The crew of Jacqui, Rachel, Sam, Lisa, Di, Libby, Lorraine and cox Genevieve gave it their best but a quick heat resulted in the crew being knocked out. It was a good effort by everyone involved in this eight and we are confident we will continue to build on this and be able to consistently boat eight’s in master’s racing in the future. Jason teamed up with Sean (Brisbane Waters), Sean (Endeavour) and Rhett (Manning River) for the C quad. The race was consolidated to a straight final. The crew got off well and before long they took the lead and a slight mishap with a lost oar did not stop the crew from pushing out and going on to claim the gold by a five second margin in the end. Jason and Sean were up again and this time it was the B double. Glebe were out for revenge and they claimed first in the heat with Jason and Sean taking second to go through to the final. Glebe came out strong in the final and they led the way for the majority of the race. A late surge by Jason and Sean saw them get their bow ball in front just at the right time and they claimed the gold by three tenths of a second. Next up was the much-anticipated women’s A singles. The wind had seemed to relax but unfortunately for Fiona, Jacqui and Rachel, the wind picked up dramatically shortly before their races. All three performed well and showed good signs of improvement but all were eliminated with Jacqui placing tenth overall.
Sunday was promising with very little wind and no rain, things were looking up for the final day of competition. First up was the B quad of Jacqui, Rachel, Sam and Lisa. They had a good race but just feel short of qualifying to the final with only four spots up for grabs and they came in fifth. Jacqui and Rachel were replaced by Lorraine and Fiona and the quad competed in the C grade event to place sixth in their heat to be knocked out. The mixed coxed A four saw a composite crew take to the water with Jason, Sean, Jacqui, Rachel and cox Genevieve. After taking out the mixed quad with a similar crew makeup the crew was confident but they knew the pressure was on to perform. They calmed themselves and inspired by a few words by Jason before the race tussled with the other two crews to eventually push out to a clear water victory, even though it wasn’t the cleanest rowing, they gave it their all. The final race of the day saw Jason back up from the mixed four to contest the champion of champion’s single after being invited by winning the A single. This was a great achievement by Jason and a first for our club. Jason pushed hard but was only able to bring back one sculler after a twenty eight second lead given to the eventual H sculler winner.
We had some impressive results with crews obtaining seven gold and two bronze, placing thirteenth in the medal tally based on pro-rata rate and placed twenty third on the champion club point score. This is a great result for eight rowers, a coxswain and we can not forget the help of Brisbane Waters Rowing Club.
Though the medals were nice and the accompanying points, it was the great team work and improvements in individuals rowing that was far more rewarding to see over the week. Something like this cannot happen without the hard work of many individuals. Thank you to everyone for helping along the way. A big thankyou to Mark for thoroughly (OCD like) packing the trailer both ways, towing the trailer to the course and rigging/fixing boats as required over the four days of competition. Also, a big thank you to Jason for helping coaching over the weekend while also competing himself and for towing the trailer back home.
Racing has not finished yet for the season with the State Master’s Championship’s scheduled for the 26-27th May. I am sure we will again have some good results and see further personal improvements by everyone involved.