Marlborough’s rowing fraternity flexed their muscles on the Wairau River recently, relishing the chance to get in some early-season racing during the Marlborough championships.
Crews from local clubs Wairau, Blenheim, Picton and the Central RPC joined with visiting rowers from Canterbury, Nelson and Wellington for the annual event, a traditional season pipe-opener.
Of special note this year was the large number of crews decked out in the colours of the historic Picton club.
Under the guiding hand of former Picton stalwart Keirin Gaudin, with help from masters’ champion Cynthia de Joux, Picton had 23 athletes competing, 14 school-age rowers, plus four from Mana College who are competing under Picton’s banner this season.
This was the most rowers Picton had fielded at a single championships for over 30 years and they picked up plenty of meritorious results, including four seconds, five thirds and spots in several A finals.
“While we want to win every race, the biggest aim of the regatta was getting our novice rowers competing with our second year athletes, to help them get up to speed so they are competitive at the Maadi Cup in March. That’s the big focus for the season,” said Gaudin.
“The kids learnt a lot and enjoyed themselves so moving ahead things are looking good.”
The Marlborough Boys’ College contingent, rowing in Blenheim colours, also got plenty of encouragement from their weekend on the water.
Head coach John Robinson said, “the majority of our crews performed well, it was a really good start … last year’s novices have been working hard and have come into the new season strongly.”
Among the more impressive MBC crews were the four of Dylan Burton, Rhys Salvador, Sam Feltham and Levi McCauley-Bown who convincingly won both the intermediate quad and four, 17-year-old Logan MacDonald, who won the club single, and the highly-promising lightweight duo of Fred Vavasour and Nick Maltesen, who took out the club and intermediate double.
MBC fielded eight under-16 rowers, four under-17 and two under-18 athletes, plus a 12-strong novice contingent under the guidance of Matt Straker and Grant Morgan who also showed plenty of promise.
The MBC contingent has been working hard off the water as well, undertaking twice-weekly weight and endurance training since September.
Next up for the MBC lads is a four-day training camp at Lake Rotoiti before Christmas, leading into the Canterbury champs in January.
Several standout performances marked the efforts of the Marlborough Girls’ College contingent, competing in Wairau colours, who had what head coach Sean O’Neill described as “a really good regatta”.
One of their top efforts came from the novice eight who won on both days.
“Included in this crew were two girls who have only just started rowing in the last few weeks so it was great to see them slotting in with the other girls,” said O’Neill.
“Meg Flanagan had a really good regatta, coming away with a good win the intermediate single and then pairing up with Maggie Lane for a win in the intermediate double.”
The quad of Holly Blake, Olive Smith, Lily Crawford, Grace Waring-Jones and coxswain Lara Bacchus took out both the club and intermediate quad titles.
“Our under-17 eight had an impressive win over the Christchurch Girls’ High School eight on Saturday but the Christchurch girls turned the tables on Sunday. Our girls are looking forward to meeting them again in the new year to have another go at them,” O’Neill added.