Competition may have been tougher than many observers had seen before, but a group of Marlborough athletes still enjoyed plenty of success at the recent New Zealand Masters Rowing Championships.
Rowers associated with both the Blenheim and Picton Rowing Clubs came away from Lake Ruataniwha with a dazzling array of medals.
There were eight rowers in the Blenheim contingent, which picked up five golds, five silvers and three bronze medals.
The men’s G quad of Steve Mason, Fred Murray, Shane Rohloff and Willie Parker won a straight final as did the mixed G and J quad of Suzy Scorer, Murray, Parker and Annie McNicholl.
McNicholl teamed with Bronwyn Judge from Oamaru to claim gold in the women’s G double, while Sarah Lissaman and Cynthia de Joux picked up win in the final of the highly-competitive women’s C coxless pair. They were also part of composite eight, with Picton RC members, who took out the mixed eight title.
Lissaman and de Joux finished second in the women’s pair, to former Olympians Lynley Coventry (nee Hannen) and Nikki Haig (nee Payne). They were also runners-up in the women’s D double, this time behind another former international, Phillipa Baker-Hogan.
Lissaman and de Joux bagged a third silver in the C double, while Scorer and McNicholl were second in the F double and Scorer teamed with Trish Kamizona for silver in the E double.
McNicholl picked up bronze in the G single, as did de Joux and Lissaman in the A/B coxless pair, against much younger crews, while McNicholl and Parker were third in the g-J mixed double.
Club stalwart Mouse Taylor said he was proud of what the Marlborough rowers achieved, suggesting the level of competition was rising by the year.
“There were 350-plus rowers there, 500 crews on the water, and the regatta was one of the tougher ones I’ve been to.
“Masters rowing is huge now … there is so much talent out there, ex-Olympians and internationals. The racing is close and more exciting these days. It’s all getting more intense.”
He thanked sponsors Mayfield Motorworld and Meaters of Marlborough for their help in ensuring the Blenheim contingent were able to attend.
It was also a very successful weekend for the Picton contingent, comprising Melissa Cragg, James Ashley and the Gaudin brothers (Ryan, Keiran and Hayden). A fourth brother, Shae Gudin, took on the manager’s role, following surgery earlier in the month.
The small Picton team punched well above their weight, claiming 10 gold medals, three silvers and two bronze.
Spokesman Ryan Gaudin said the highlight was winning the mixed eight with the three Gaudins, Cragg, Lissaman, de Joux and Kamizone, the Gaudin’s 60-year-old aunt, on board.
Making their win even more special was that fact they defeated a much-younger Avon/Canterbury crew.
Cragg capped off a remarkable return after 16 years to win her second gold in the mixed quad.