Our annual rowing camp kicked off on the 2nd January as usual. Approximately twenty rowers took part in all or some of the week-long camp. The weather started off warm and cooled down as the camp progressed. The increase in training load and intensity was a shock to many of the rower’s systems but they all pushed through and saw some great improvements over a short period of time. We were able to boat larger boats that we can rarely boat in normal training sessions to prepare for the Taree regatta and other large club regattas where we will boat these larger boats.
We headed off on Friday morning to Taree Summer regatta with nineteen Nepean rowers in total. This is considerably lower than last year but was still enough to be able to boat several larger boats. Over six hundred rowers from across the state entered this year’s event which is one of the biggest club events in the state and one we always look forward to.
Upon arrival the weather was okay, warm and a slight tail wind though this wind turned far worse as racing began but did not lead to any racing being cancelled. We setup our tents, organised boats and got ready to begin for another year.
First up was Jack and Hugh in the D grade double. They had a good race but the Mosman and Macquarie Uni crews proved too strong and they went away with a third. The boys again teamed up on Sunday in the C double and improved on their performance and subsequently went away with a second against a strong master’s crew from Manning River. Next up was the women’s C quad of Aimee, Eleanor, Jacqui and Victoria. Though we had not practiced this combination this experienced crew put up a good race but the UTS crew proved too strong and the girls claimed second place.
The women’s D doubles saw Fiona and Sarah along with Letisha and Cleo claim wins in their respective divisions. The men’s C quads were up next with Jason, Jack, Daniel and Hugh facing off against Miles, Joel, Will and Jooya. Some healthy banter was exchanged before the race to build it up even more. Rough conditions meant a clean start was vital to set a good platform for the remainder of the race with conditions only getting rougher as the waterway opened up further down the course. Jason, Jack, Daniel and Hugh got off well gaining a lead early and holding on to it to claim the win with the other crew taking away fourth.
The final event of the Friday was the mixed quads. The first race saw two Nepean crews face off and resulted in a first and second. The crews were respectively Jason, Joel, Tallara, Aimee and the other Miles, Jack, Eleanor and Jacqui. The last division of the day saw a composite crew with Brisbane Waters with Daniel, Finn (BRISW), Fiona and Sarah (BRISW) take on Hugh, Will, Sarah and Victoria. Again there was much talk between the crews pre-race (that may have to do with one particular rower who was also in the C quad) about what the outcome would be. The composite crew got off well but the Hunter Valley crew proved too strong and they settled for second while the other Nepean crew took out fourth.
While banter and chat within and even to other clubs in the appropriate manner is all well and good, we must always be aware of the importance of respecting fellow rowers and being good sports. Never should the pursuit of winning over shadow good sportsmanship and no matter what the outcome, or your own personal performance, you should genuinely congratulate fellow club members and other members on their performance sincerely.
One day was down. We went back to the accommodation and had good feed from the pizza shop across the road, went for our traditional walk down to the shops to get our ‘healthy snacks’ and we were in bed early to get ready for another day of racing.
We arrived to the course with a small squad of those racing in the early races and the conditions on the water were far more favourable than yesterdays. First up was Sarah in the under 16 single who went away with third against some strong competition from Glebe and Mosman.
A highlight of the weekend was the number of composite crews we were able to boat, in particular in the master’s categories. The men’s master eight saw five clubs combine to form the B crew of Jason, Daniel, Rowan (NUBC), Sean (ENDVR), Rhett (MANN), Conrad (NUBC), Gavin (SRC) and Colin (MANN) and coxed by Aimee. The E crew from Sydney was the crew to beat and with a ten second handicap it was a big ask for a scratch crew, but they put up a good race however Sydney went away with less than a two second win with the composite crew placing second.
Next up was another composite master crew in the coxed four with Eleanor, Jacqui, Sarah (BWRC), Shantelle (NUBC) and cox Tiffany. They had a good row for their first race and took out second place with an experienced Leichardt crew claiming the win.
The master’s single has been an event Jason has had much success at recently however he was facing off against Hugh McLeod who beat him at the CDRA Sprint Championships late last year. It was a good race for Jason who moved through Hugh as the race progressed and went away with a clear water win.
The women’s D grade four of Fiona, Letisha, Sarah, Cleo and coxswain Aimee were not the most technically proficient crew but they worked together well to go away with a win.
The men’s C grade eight was next up and there were high expectations for the crew with Nepean having claimed three consecutive wins in this event from previous Taree regattas. A last-minute sickness meant Will was unable to race and a call was made for Tallara to jump in. This was a long-awaited call up for Tallara who has always wanted to row in the men’s eight. The crew got off to a good start and UNSW held with the crew for the first half of the race but the Nepean crew proved too strong and the crew of Jason, Daniel, Jack, Joel, Miles, Tallara, Hugh, Jooya and cox Tiffany took out first.
The men’s master pair saw Jason and Daniel take to the water and with a thirteen second handicap to St George and a nine second handicap to Sydney who were the crews to watch, it was going to be a tough race. Though unable to catch either crew they made substantial ground on the two crews and placed third in the race. The two teamed up again later in the day and with a smaller handicap implemented due to versing younger crews, went away with the win.
The much-anticipated mixed eight’s race was finally upon us. This is a wonderful spectacle even if you do not have a club crew in the race with fifteen eights lined up across the river. We for the third consecutive year were able to boat a crew. The handicaps for some crews was questionable but the crew did not let this affect them and they went out there and did the best they could. While not a perfect race (is there ever one?) for the crew it was a great effort and one everyone in the crew should be proud of and a respectful sixth place was attained.
On a side note we were the fortunate recipients of the lucky draw prize for the none placing crews and claimed a $750 Croker voucher.
The afternoon racing saw many more Nepean crews take to the water. In the pair racing Jack and Joel claimed the win in the C pair and Joel later on in the day teamed up with Jason to claim second in the men’s open pair.
The single racing saw Aimee and Sarah claim second’s in their respective C grade divisions while Cleo won her division. Aimee also raced a light weight single and placed third while Tallara placed third in the open’s single.
Hugh and Jooya both placed second in the under 16 and under 17 singles respectively behind Hunter Valley Grammar rower’s who will be tough competition come State Championships next month.
The big boat racing saw Victoria, Sarah, Cleo and Letisha take second in the D grade quad while the C coxed four of Miles, Jack, Jooya, Hugh and coxswain Tiffany had a rough row with the crew taking away third.
Another day of racing was behind us and back to accommodation we went. Food was prepared and we had a good feed together. One of the great parts of racing at Taree is not just the many races but the gatherings after where we can talk to each other (mostly banter about each other) and just relax from the day of racing.
We were up early again (one individual decided to have a sleep in but I hear he is important so it is okay) the next day with the open, under 23 and lightweight men’s singles up first. Jason was the first to race and while having a good performance (though still grabbing during the drive) with a strong finish a strong UTS sculler claimed the win and Jason took out a well earnt second place. Jack was up next and he had an improved race compared to past single races to take fourth. He improved on this with a better row later on in the day in the C single where he took second. Joel was next and rumours were he was super excited to race a 2km single, though not as excited as we was to have four 2km races in one day, which he thanked his coach for. Joel claimed fourth in his race and Miles took out second in the lightweight division.
The women’s masters eight was next. Four clubs made up the crew of Katrina (NUBC), Sarah (BRISW), Katrina (ENDVR), Diane (ENDVR), Shantelle (NUBC), Jacqui, Fiona, Eleanor and coxswain Conrad (NUBC). The crew had time to make up on most of the crews and they did so to take out the win. The men’s masters coxed four saw another composite crew of Sean (ENDVR), Daniel, Sean (BRISW), Jason and coxswain Tiffany take to the water. A large margin of thirty-four seconds was made up on the eventual second place crew from North Shore with the composite crew taking away the win. The same men’s crew also contested the master’s quad and went away with second with an experienced Glebe crew taking the win.
In the remaining small boats racing for the day Letisha claimed third in the D single. Aimee went away with a second in the under 19 double with Mosman rower, Bronte and then went on to claim another second in the B double with Jacqui. Jacqui later on in the day teamed up with Eleanor where they like the whole field had issues at the start with an issue in the handicapping by the starter, but they pushed on and raced hard regardless, taking third place. Jason and Joel rounded off their weekend of racing in a tough open double against strong UTS crews to take the second place.
The big crew boats remaining for the day were the men’s B four and the women’s C eight.
The four had a good chance though with one rower past his prime, another who is small, a social rower and one old man, they definitely had their flaws. The conditions did make keeping a straight course hard but the crew managed to gain a lead early and hold a reasonable line and hold off the other crews to take the win.
The eight had not rowed together before the race due to the difficulty of organising all nine rowers to be available at one time. A strong Hunter Valley crew took out a good win with the Nepean crew taking out second. The speed of the crew was respectable but there is still plenty of work to be done before the eight reaches its potential.
Racing concluded and we swiftly packed up so we could get on the road for the long trip back home.
A weekend like this would not be possible without the help from many people. I would like to thank everyone for there help packing/unpacking the trailer, helping at camp, at Taree with boats, food preparation, cheering on fellow rowers, helping each other on and off the water and so much more. It is always a highlight of this regatta to see fellow rowers help each other out.
Special thankyou to Jeff for being our photographer for the weekend. Lyn, Michelle and Nigel for helping with food at the accommodation and other odd jobs. Thanks to Mark and Lisa for providing food at the course over the regatta. As always, the regatta ran so smoothly because Mark was busy in the background rigging and de-rigging boats continuously. Thanks to Mark also for again towing a trailer and to Jason for towing the other trailer and assisting with coaching during camp and at the regatta.
The results were again a reflection of the hard work of all rowers and supporters and something everyone should be very proud of. Now we buckle down and get ready for the upcoming championship regattas that are held locally knowing the hard work put in during this period will help us achieve our goals for the season.