The victorious Blenheim RC club pair of Fred Vavasour and Dylan Burton share the podium with coach John Robinson. Photo: Supplied. 

Rowers bring home their share of precious metal  

Marlborough-based clubs picked up 16 medals of differing colours when the 2021 national rowing champs concluded at Lake Ruataniwha on Saturday.

With changes necessary thanks to a Covid-induced lockdown from Monday to Wednesday, the programme was abbreviated and formats altered to condense five days of proposed racing into just three days.

This made for a busy schedule for most of the rowers, who stepped up admirably and made the most of tranquil conditions on all three days.

All finals were contested on Saturday, racing concluding with the women’s and men’s premier events in a new draft format.

Central Rowing Performance Centre crews came away with a host of medals, head coach Marion Horwell especially happy with the efforts of the younger brigade.

She made special mention of the women’s under-22 double crew of Mollie Nicol and Phoebe Collier who placed fourth in a very competitive field.

“[Mollie] had an outstanding regatta … the young ones really stepped up, many of them are straight out of school,” said Marion.

Collier went on to pick up her first red coat as a member of the victorious mixed women’s premier four, while Sarah Wootton also earned her first red coat, winning a premier title in the women’s quad.

Kobe Miller was another to have an energy-sapping final day, coming very close to bronze in the men’s U22 single final, won by Central clubmate Luke Brady, placing second in the U22 double, alongside Brady, then earning his first red coat as stroke of the victorious mixed premier men’s quad.

“That was his third race on the day,” said Marion, “he just put everything on the line.”

Brady, Miller, Wootton and Jamie Hindle-Daniels have all earned national trials.

Marion said racing at the premier level was tight, with the standard particularly high.

Of particular note among the more experienced rowers was the effort of Chris Harris to pick up a couple of premier bronze medals, while Georgia Nugent-O’Leary and Ruby Tew looked really strong in the women’s premier double, qualifying for the Olympic quad.

Marion also praised the way her charges handled the challenge of the Covid delay and inability to get on to the water until race day.

“It gave everyone the perspective of this is just one of those things that is normal in rowing … just one of those challenges that you have to learn to deal with. It definitely brought the group together.

“I think if we had had two days of finals instead of one, things may have been different … but it was certainly a learning curve for such a young group.”

The Blenheim Rowing Club also enjoyed plenty of success, their nine-strong group of MBC students picking up two gold medals and a bronze in intermediate and club events.

The crew of Fred Vavasour, Sam Feltham, Rhys Salvador, Dylan Burton, James Fitzgerald, Leon Poswillo, Flynn Mercer, Buster Jennings and coxswain Walter Wickham won the men’s intermediate eight, while Burton and Vavasour led all the way to take gold in the men’s club pair.

With their ultimate sights set on the forthcoming Maadi Cup regatta in March, their coach John Robinson suggests they are on track.

“They took it up a different level from the South Island champs. We only had a small contingent and they did a lot of racing, their endurance came through well.

“The whole group stood up and did what we asked for. It is hard to single anyone out.

“We now have a six-week training block so I’m sure we can go to another level again.”

Picton crews grabbed a brace of silver medals, to the men’s senior eight and the men’s club quad, while featuring in eight A finals.

Club spokesman Keiran Gaudin said the eights race was one of the toughest he had been involved in, the Picton crew being shaded by 3.5 seconds.

“We thought we would be there or thereabouts and just got run down after leading from the start,” he said.

“We were pretty happy with how we went … obviously you got there to win gold but the other crews were just faster on the day.”

Wairau club rowers also made several A finals, bagging two bronzes.

 

Results of Marlborough-based clubs on finals day:

Central RPC

Men’s premier single (Chris Harris) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

(Tom Murray) 5th in A final

Women’s premier single (Jackie Kiddle) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

(Zoe McBride) 7th in A final

(Ruby Tew) 6th in A final

(Sarah Wootton) 8th in A final

Men’s U22 single (Luke Brady) 1st in A final – GOLD

(Kobe Miller) 4th in A final

Men’s premier pair (Tom Murray, Phillip Wilson) 4th in A final

Women’s premier pair (Kerri Gowler, Ella Greenslade) 2nd in A final – SILVER

(Jackie Gowler, Beth Ross) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

Men’s U22 double (Miller, Brady) 2nd in A final – SILVER

(Arie Magasiva, Oliver Fahey) 5th in A final

Women’s U22 double (Mollie Nicol, Phoebe Collier) 4th in A final

Men’s premier double (Chris Harris, Phillip Wilson) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

Women’s premier double (Georgia Nugent-O’Leary, Ruby Tew) 2nd in A final – SILVER

(Zoe McBride, Jackie Kiddle) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

(Sarah Wootton, Alice Fahey) 5th in A final

Women’s senior single (Mollie Nichol) 8th in A final

 

Blenheim

Men’s intermediate eight (Fred Vavasour, Sam Feltham, Dylan Burton, Rhys Salvador, James Fitzgerald, Leon Poswillo, Flynn Mercer, Buster Jennings, Walter Wickham) 1st in A final – GOLD

Men’s intermediate double (Salvador, Fitzgerald) 5th in A final

Men’s intermediate coxed four (Vavasour, Feltham, Burton, Salvador, Wickham) 4th in A final

Men’s intermediate quad (Salvador, Fitzgerald, Feltham, Poswillo, Wickham) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

Men’s club pair (Vavasour, Burton) 1st in A final – GOLD

 

Picton

Men’s club double (Keiran Gaudin, Hayden Gaudin) 6th in A final

Men’s senior four (Mark Patterson, Will Johnston, Ryan Gaudin, Shae Gaudin) 7th in A final

Women’s intermediate double (Charlotte Lightfoot, Jamie Cunningham) 7th in A final

Men’s senior eight (Keiran Gaudin, Greg McLaughlin, Mark Patterson, Ryan Gaudin, Simon Smith, Will Johnston, Hayden Gaudin, Shae Gaudin, Cameron Leydon) 2nd in A final – SILVER

Men’s club quad (Keiran Gaudin, Hayden Gaudin, Angus Coull, Thomas Ryan) 2nd in A final – SILVER

Men’s senior pair (Ryan Gaudin, Will Johnston) 4th in A final

Men’s intermediate single (Matthais Alexander) 6th in A final

Men’s senior single (Mark Patterson) 5th in A final

 

Wairau

Women’s intermediate single (Bridgitte O’Leary) 7th in A final

Men’s club single (Lawrence Birch) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

Women’s club double (O’Leary, Stormont) 6th in A final

Men’s senior single (Docherty) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

Harrison Somerville, left, and Jordan Gasson in their prized red coats. Photo: Sarah Brown.

Rowers bow out in style

A couple of contrasting awards ceremonies provided appropriate stages to salute the careers of two of Marlborough’s hardest-working rowers last week.

On Sunday, Harrison Somerville and Jordan Gasson, premier champions at the 2020 NZ champs, were presented with much-coveted red coats during the Wairau Rowing Club’s prizegiving at the Royal Hotel.

The following day they stepped onto the Convention Centre stage at the Marlborough Sports Awards, wearing their prized red coats, and came away with the Team of the Year award.

The duo earned their Sports Awards nomination during the national rowing champs at Lake Karapiro. Harrison (26) and Jordan (22) joined forces with American brothers Sebastian (23) and Rhys Krappe (19) to create their own slice of rowing history.

The talented quartet claimed the New Zealand men’s premier quadruple sculls title with a superb row in the decider. It has been 17 years since the Wairau Rowing Club last won a premier title and 32 years since they last won the men’s quad.

Harrison, who had missed a place in the NZ summer squad and RPC intake this season, said his 2020 rowing plans were up in the air until a chance meeting with the Krappe brothers.

“I ran into the American boys for a beer, got yarning and decided, ‘you know what, maybe a club season wouldn’t be a bad idea – just to finish it off’.

“And it definitely worked out better than expected.”

Although there were no RPC crews in the premier final at nationals this year, the Wairau crew were up against some highly-talented opposition.

“Karl Manson was in the Waikato boat, along with three other former NZ or RPC rowers, and they had been dominant through the club season in the North Island, so they weren’t a crew to sneeze at.”

Harrison and Jordan are products of the highly-successful Marlborough Boys’ College and Blenheim Rowing Club development system. Both showed huge potential at Maadi Cup level, then went on to gain national recognition.

Harrison, a lightweight sculler, represented New Zealand at under-21, under-23 and University level, before graduating to elite selection in 2019.

Jordan, also a lightweight, wore the silver fern at under-21 level.

Now both young men have decided to call time on their rowing careers, recognising that it would be an appropriate moment to move on from a sport that they have put so much into over many seasons, and which has given them plenty in return.

“You can’t see into the future, but for now I’m content [to step away from competitive rowing],” said Harrison. “I’ve had a decent run and it’s time to start looking down other avenues. I’m excited to see what comes next.”

Jordan, who is studying law in Hamilton, has a similar mindset.

“I was seeing this as my last season of rowing and [a shot at a national title] certainly wasn’t on the radar to begin with, but we saw a chance open up and we just went for it.

“It’s really great to end my career on such a high note.”

Although he has pulled down the curtain on his rowing career for now, Jordan could not rule out a return somewhere down the line.

“Rowing is one of those things that you can come back to at any time, assuming your fitness hasn’t dropped off to much, so [getting back in the boat] is always an option,” he added.

Sophie Mackenzie, in Wairau colours, at the 2019 NZ rowing champs. Photo: Rowing NZ.

Sophie calls time on illustrious rowing career

A 14-year journey that propelled her to the top of the world has ended for Marlborough rower Sophie Mackenzie.

The 28-year-old double world champion announced last week that she had decided to retire from the sport which took her many times around the globe, including a trip to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Marlborough Sportsperson of the Year in 2014 and 2015, Sophie is one of this province’s most decorated rowers.

Growing up on a Waihopai Valley farm, Sophie attended Marlborough Girls’ College, quickly becoming immersed in their rowing programme. Success at schools level soon earned her national recognition, where she teamed up with fellow Marlburian Georgia Hammond. The dynamic lightweight double represented New Zealand at both under-21 and under-23 level, winning a bronze medal in Lithuania in 2012.

The following year she was back at the under-23 worlds, this time alongside Lisa Owen in Austria, but again they had to settle for bronze.

However, showing the determination that has characterised her career, Sophie went back for a third shot at world domination. In Italy, during the summer of 2014, she teamed up with Nelson’s Zoe McBride and the top of the south combination made it to the uppermost step of the podium.

Sophie Mackenzie, left, and Julia Edward won two world elite sculling titles. Photo: Rowing NZ.
Sophie Mackenzie, left, and Julia Edward won two world elite sculling titles. Photo: Rowing NZ.

But her golden summer of 2014 was not finished. In a bold move, the NZ selectors opted to put her alongside Rotorua’s Julia Edward in the lightweight double at the elite world champs in Amsterdam. Despite having only five weeks of training together, they stunned the rowing fraternity by claiming gold, then underlined their world champion pedigree by repeating the dose a year later in France.

Thus, they were among the favoured crews heading for the Rio Games where they finished agonisingly short of a medal, coming fourth in the A final.

After Rio, Sophie decided to take break from the sport she had based her life around since school days.

Her naming in the 2018-19 Summer Squad marked a comeback and she was subsequently named in the NZ elite squad in 2019.

However, as Sophie explains, her return to the sport has been far from smooth, prompting her decision to move on with her life.

“I have dedicated 14 years to the sport through high school, RPC, under-23s and elites, had a minor break after Rio and a particularly bumpy ‘comeback’ these past two years – with nine injuries in 12 months – then ‘turned’ heavyweight … I have achieved some big highs, but also at times I’ve had some very low lows.”

She made the call to end her rowing career last week, while still training with the NZ elite squad at Karapiro.

“We just had four weeks off and in that time I didn’t think about rowing much at all.

“Lockdown wasn’t much fun because before that I had missed selection and [the selectors] told me my erg score wasn’t good enough … which meant I had to sit on an erg for eight weeks at home beating myself up. That took away part of my joy at being involved.

“So, I went into the break not feeling that great about rowing, but came back and just tried to keep a neutral head.

“However, when I was rowing all I could think about was retiring and how I would do it.  Before I went to bed on Tuesday I said to myself, ‘if you wake up tomorrow and decide to go to training that’s cool, but if you wake up and are not looking forward to it you should probably stop Soph … because you are just kidding yourself now.

“Then I woke up on Wednesday and it was raining and I was just like, oh screw this, my hands are sore and I didn’t feel like going out and pushing really hard.

“I am pretty much at peace with my decision and very happy.”

She immediately informed the rowing hierarchy who were “very supportive” of her decision. “They were great,” said Sophie. “They acknowledged everything that I had done which was really cool.”

Asked to pinpoint the high point of her career, Sophie’s mind goes back to 2014.

“At the start of that season I couldn’t have envisioned things going how they did. It was just phenomenal to win the 23s, which I had been dying to win for three years, with Zoe. That was also the start of her wonderful career and it was great to be there with her at the start.

“And then going on to win the [elite] world champs with Julia and set the world’s fastest time … that was the ultimate.”

Along with the highlights there have been a few low points, including her 2019 campaign, when she was selected into the NZ lightweight single to compete in Europe, but was injured then joined the squad late. However, her injury never fully recovered and she asked to be sent home, straight into three months of rehab. She was then asked to try out for the heavyweight quad, which she did, but again missed selection.

“It felt like I never came back properly because I never got to compete on the world stage again, that still grates me a little bit.”

However, Sophie has no axe to grind, having got so much out of a sport she fell in love with while still a schoolgirl and which has repaid her hard work in spades.

“When I got into the rowing boat after a break I just couldn’t stop smiling. I loved rowing itself and the environment … pushing myself and helping team mates. I kept coming back because I genuinely enjoyed the sport, the feeling of training hard and being fit.

“The winning just makes it more rewarding.”

She leaves with no regrets, her trials and tribulations over the past two years making her realise how good the previous four years were.

“I would do it all again, definitely. Being able to travel the world and help my parents travel the world has been very cool.”

Along the way she has been constantly thrilled by the on-going support of the Marlborough community.

“It’s quite overwhelming … you don’t see it when you are slogging away at training or overseas, but when people say they have really enjoyed following your career it’s pretty humbling.

“I am so grateful for the support throughout of my family, friends, coaches, teammates and the entire Marlborough community. Thank you so much for supporting me, cheering for me and literally helping to fund my way towards reaching my goals which I would have never thought possible.

“It means so much that I’ve been able to go on this crazy competitive, all-consuming rowing journey.

“Now I’m super excited and happy for the next chapter of life and getting my nutrition career off the ground.”

The gold medal-winning MGC under-17 pair of Meg Flanagan and Liv Theodore, with coach Sean O’Neill. Photo: Supplied.

Medals for college rowers

Rowers from Marlborough secondary schools warmed up for the forthcoming Maadi Cup with a string of promising performances at the South Island schools champs raced on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Eight medals were claimed by crews from Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ College, plus Queen Charlotte College.

The MBC boys under-16 coxed quad took out their event, the crew comprising Sam Feltham, Ashley-James Fitzgerald, Rhys Salvador, Dylan Burton and coxswain Oliver Price. Also striking gold was the MGC under-17 pair of Meg Flanagan and Liv Theodore, plus their schoolmates, the under-18 novice coxed four of Daisy Vavasour, Lexi Timpson, Emma Flanagan, Molly Glover and cox Lara Bacchus.

The MBC under-15 coxed four of Shane Henry, Zac Jenkins, Hugh Straker, Lochlan Gilmour and cox Joe Judge took silver, as did the MGC under-16 coxed four of Georgia MacDonald, Holly Feltham, Maggie Lane, Paige Materoa and Bacchus. Also claiming a silver medal was the QCC under-17 girls pair of Charlotte Lightfoot and Jamie Cunningham.

William Dunkley from QCC bagged bronze in the under-16 single, while Feltham, Fitzgerald, Salvador, Burton and Price also placed third in the under-16 coxed four.

MGC rowers were also close to the podium on two more occasions, their under-17 coxed four and under-18 double finishing fourth in A finals, a feat shared by MBC sculler Fred Vavasour.

Wairau sculler Robbie Manson showed he is in top form leading into a pivotal international season. Photo: Rowing NZ 

Robbie makes most of national outing

As personal statements go, Robbie Manson’s performances at the recent New Zealand Rowing Champs were concise and very much to the point.

The 30-year-old, who rowed in Wairau club colours at Lake Karapiro, won the premier single and double sculls titles, both in emphatic fashion.

In the single he came up against former double Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale, who has been vying with Robbie for the seat in the Kiwi single for the past two years, and left him trailing in his wake.

In the double he paired with Chris Harris, who he rowed with at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and prevailed comfortably.

As an opening gambit to a year where he has made a bold change, his efforts could not be faulted.

Chris Harris and Robbie Manson.Photo: Rowing NZ 
Chris Harris and Robbie Manson.Photo: Rowing NZ

This international season Robbie has decided to forgo the single, in which he set the world’s fastest time in 2017 but was unable to medal at the following three world championships, to team up once more with Chris in the double. They have been named in the NZ elite team to contest forthcoming World Cups II and III in Europe, with Mahe selected in the single at this stage.

However, the Tokyo Olympics are everyone’s primary objective in 2020 and Robbie feels he is tracking nicely for the Games, especially after underlining his early-season form so comprehensively at Karapiro.

“It went really well. It was always the plan to do both the single and the double [at the nationals].

“On a personal level I wanted to go out there and show everyone that I am still the fastest single sculler in New Zealand,” said the man who last season qualified the single for the next Olympics.

“To trial for the double this year was my choice and I definitely feel as though I have made the right choice … it was nice to go out there and prove myself in the single one more time.

“I haven’t been beaten domestically in the single for four years now and I haven’t been beaten in a sculling race at the nationals for four years either, so I just wanted to keep those kind of records going and I guess, for me, it’s potentially the last time I will get the opportunity to race Mahe, so I just wanted to nail it really.

“The single went much better than I expected because I haven’t spent a lot of time in it over the past couple of months … and the double went really well, we were both really pleased with that.”

If their selection is confirmed, Tokyo will be the third Olympic regatta for both Robbie and Chris, who finished 11th in Rio. Robbie finished seventh in the quad at the 2012 London Games, while Chris finished 11th in the four. The duo picked up a bronze medal in the double at the world champs in 2015.

Robbie stresses that his decision to move from the single was not taken lightly, with the added enjoyment of being part of a crew boat a major factor.

“After spending three years rowing on my own it is nice and refreshing to be in a crew boat with someone else.”

And he is relishing his renewed partnership with Chris.

“We are working really well together. I feel like we are both fitter and stronger and rowing technically better than we were in 2015 and 2016.

“We are a natural combination physically – we both did two second PBs on our 2km erg back at trials in January and we did exactly the same time, to 0.1 of a second. We are very evenly-matched in terms of power.

“We also have a little bit of unfinished business, because we were a really fast crew right up until Rio … now I would say that we are faster and training at a much higher level, so that’s really exciting.”

However, looming over their international campaign is the potential disruption of scheduled events as coronavirus cases spread across the globe, with some media reports suggesting the 2020 Games could be adversely affected.

However, Robbie said recent communication from the NZ Olympic Committee had informed potential team members not to worry and said they were talking to the Tokyo organising committee and everything at this stage was going ahead as planned.

“However the World Cup events, planned for Italy and Switzerland in May, could be more at risk but we are just training as normal and basically prepared for anything. I’m sure this year will have a lot of curve balls, but we are just ready to take what’s thrown at us,” he added.

Robbie Manson enjoyed a top regatta, winning the premier single and double scull titles. Photo: Rowing NZ.

Rowers rack up NZ titles

Marlborough-based crews returned from the New Zealand Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro last week with 17 medals.

Rowers representing both Central Rowing Performance Centre and the Wairau Rowing Club, both based on the Wairau River, went stroke-for-stroke with the country’s best and came away with a decent haul of precious metal.

Showing the way was international sculler Robbie Manson who claimed both the premier single and double titles.

In the single, raced on Saturday, Manson prevailed in a comfortable 7:16.97 while Waikato RPC’s Jordan Parry took silver in 7:21.53 and Mahe Drysdale claimed bronze in 7:24.93.

Earlier this year Manson indicated his intention to target the men’s double for the 2020 international season, and was recently selected into the boat alongside Chris Harris for the World Rowing Cup II and III.

Parry is vying for selection into a men’s quad to contest the Final Olympic Qualification regatta, while Drysdale has been selected as the New Zealand men’s single for World Rowing Cup II and III.

In the double, contested on Friday, Manson and Harris were comfortable winners, prevailing by over 11 seconds.

The women’s premier four of Jackie Gowler, Keri Gowler, Beth Ross, and Ella Greenslade also struck gold at Karapiro, beating out a strong Southern RPC crew by over six seconds.

The third fourth gold for Central went to under-20 single sculler Ricky Kiddle.

The title-winning Wairau premier quad, Jordan Gasson, Rhys Krappe, Sebastian Krappe and Harrison Somerville. Photo: Rowing NZ.
The title-winning Wairau premier quad, Jordan Gasson, Rhys Krappe, Sebastian Krappe and Harrison Somerville. Photo: Rowing NZ.

On Friday, the women’s premier pair of Kerri Gowler and Beth Ross had to settle for silver in one the most exciting races of the day, being beaten by fellow international rowers Emma Dyke and Grace Prendergast from the Southern RPC by a mere .05 of a second. Central’s Jackie Gowler and Ella Greenslade took bronze.

Tom Murray and Phillip Wilson also had to settle for second place in the premier pair, losing to the Southern RPC duo of rowing legend Hamish Bond and James Lassche by a second and a half.

International scullers Jackie Kiddle and Zoe McBride landed a bronze in the women’s premier double while Phoebe Trolove placed third in the under-20 single.

Central RPC head coach Marion Horwell was “really happy” with the performances of her charges, especially after an early setback.

Kobe Miller, a key member of the Central under-20 and under-22 programme, fell ill and was ruled out of the regatta.

“That was really disappointing,” said Horwell. “Kobe started getting ill just before we left and tests showed he had contacted glandular fever. He was an important member of our group and I am sure he would have been very competitive at the championships. However, the rest of the squad were very positive and just got on with it.”

Horwell said Ricky Kiddle’s gold medal in the under-20 single had lifted the small group’s spirits. “[Ricky] can be proud of that, it was a great result for him.”

She also praised the efforts of youngster Trolove, who has battled illness over the summer, and the work of Jamie Hindle-Daniels. “He didn’t medal but it was an outstanding effort [to place fifth in the under-22 single].”

He and Angus MacFarlane were named to trial for the NZ under-23 team in coming weeks.

Horwell was also highly impressed with Manson and the women’s four. “Robbie was just brilliant … he and Chris were outstanding in the double and he rowed a great singles race.”

 

Wairau wonders

The week’s highlight for the Wairau contingent came when the crew of Rhys Krappe, Sebastian Krappe, Harrison Somerville and Jordan Gasson combined superbly to take out the premier quad title, earning each a coveted red coat.

Then, on the final day, the Wairau quartet added a second gold, dead-heating with Waikato for first place in the senior quad final. Both Wairau and the Waikato quad of Karl Manson (stroke), Charlie Rogerson, Jack O’Leary and Josh Toa recorded a time of 6:31.05.

The Wairau coaches labelled the quad’s efforts as “a fantastic result”.

 

“We are so pleased for the boys,” said Kaye Surgenor, who was awarded a Green Coat in recognition of training a premier-winning crew at the NZ Champs.

 

Brothers Sebastian (23) and Rhys (19) Krappe, who hail from San Francisco and are training under Surgenor at Wairau, underlined their potential with a clear victory in the men’s senior double and bronze in the premier double.

Deciding to take a gap year to focus on rowing in the double, the siblings travelled to New Zealand in September last year, training alongside the club and attending local regattas. They will soon return to the US to target Olympic qualification in April.

Surgenor is delighted to have the newcomers at Wairau. “These boys have proved the worth of a NZ rowing season and will surely feature in the US Olympic trials in this event, upon their return to the States – I am very pleased for them.”

Somerville added to the medal tally with bronze in the hotly contested men’s senior single, being beaten by Karl Manson, and Jack O’Leary both previously with the Central RPC.

Elliot Rose attained a hard-earned bronze in the final of the club single with coach Mark James commenting, “That was a wonderful result, well deserved for this young emerging talent who moved to Marlborough from the Porirua RC and worked locally to support himself to train here”.

Dylan Crick and Will Samson, from the Nelson RC, who trained under Surgenor at Wairau also stood out, medalling in both the pair (silver) and double sculls (bronze).

“The rowed out of their skins,” added Surgenor.

 

ROLL OF HONOUR

CENTRAL RPC

GOLD

Men’s premier double (Chris Harris, Robbie Manson)

Men’s premier single (Robbie Manson)

Women’s premier four (Jackie Gowler, Keri Gowler, Beth Ross, Ella Greenslade)

Men’s under-20 single (Ricky Kiddle)

SILVER

Women’s premier pair (Kerri Gowler, Beth Ross)

Men’s premier pair (Tom Murray, Phillip Wilson)

BRONZE

Women’s premier double (Jackie Kiddle, Zoe McBride)

Women’s premier pair (Jackie Gowler, Ella Greenslade)

Women’s under-20 single (Phoebe Trolove)

 

WAIRAU

GOLD

Men’s premier quad (Jordan Gasson, Rhys Krappe, Sebastian Krappe, Harrison Somerville)

Men’s senior quad (Krappe, Krappe, Somerville, Gasson)

Men’s senior double (Krappe, Krappe)

 

SILVER

Men’s lightweight Pair (Dylan Crick, Will Samson)

 

BRONZE

Men’s premier double (Krappe, Krappe)

Men’s senior single (Somerville)

Men’s club single (Elliot Rose)

Men’s lightweight Double (Crick, Samson)

rowing blades

Medals aplenty at Ruataniwha

Marlborough based rowers claimed a string of podium placings, including four golds, at the South Island championships staged at Lake Ruataniwha last weekend.

Gold medals went to Central RPC’s Tristan Gregory-Hunt, in the men’s premier single, the Wairau women’s club quad of Macey Kappely, Eva Lloyd, Polly Wenlock and Jaimee Bridger, the Wairau women’s intermediate quad comprising Meg Flanagan, Liv Theodore, Maggie Lane, Kelsey Daldorf plus cox Lara Bacchus and the Blenheim men’s intermediate double of Logan Macdonald and Fred Vavasour.

Seven crews claimed silver medals, including the Wairau girls under-17 eight (Flanagan, Daldorf, Lane, Georgia Macdonald, Lily Crawford, Theodore, Cleo Ingram, Paige Materoa and cox Bacchus.

Other silver medallists were the Wairau men’s senior pair of Jack Castle and Will Johnston, the Wairau women’s club pair of Maddi Robinson and Bridger, the Wairau men’s club quad comprising Will Dunkley, Elliot Rose, Lachlan Stevens and Will Samson, Wairau’s Flanagan in the intermediate single, the Wairau premier men’s quad of Harrison Somerville, Sebastian and Rhys Krappe plus Jordan Gasson, as well as the Wairau girls under-16 coxed four of Holly Feltham, Macdonald, Lane, Materoa and Bacchus.

There were also eight crews who managed to bag bronze medals.

They included Central RPC sculler Kobe Miller in the men’s premier single, Wairau‘s Niamh Monk in the women’s senior single, the Blenheim boys under-17 coxed four of Dylan Burton, Rhys Salvador, Sam Feltham, Ashley-James Fitzgerald and cox Oliver Price, the Wairau under-19 women’s coxed quad, comprising Robinson, Olive Smith, Holly Blake, Grace Waring-Jones and cox Maani Gasson, the Central RPC men’s premier double of Miller and Jamie Hindle-Daniels, the Picton intermediate men’s double of Matthais Alexander and Dunkley, the RPC premier women’s double of Phoebe Trolove and Mia Uluilelata, plus the Wairau intermediate double of Blake and Waring-Jones.

Weights sessions are a part of rower Phoebe Trolove’s training programme. Photo: Peter Jones.

Back home and ready to row

World champion rower Phoebe Trolove hopes a return to her home town will maintain the momentum she has built in the demanding sport over the past few seasons.

In August last year the 18-year-old stroked the New Zealand women’s quad to gold at the world junior champs in Tokyo, icing a highly-impressive junior CV the youngster has been compiling since 2017.

After completing her primary education at Rapaura and Renwick schools, Phoebe moved to Timaru’s Craighead Diocesan in year nine, where her rowing career took off.

A gold in the coxless quad at the 2017 nationals was followed by silver in the under-18 single and gold in the under-17 double at the 2018 Maadi Cup. In 2019 she bagged the prestigious under-18 single sculls crown at Maadi and added a silver in the quad, leading to her national selection and a world title in Japan.

With her school days at an end, Phoebe was recruited by the Central Rowing Performance Centre, based at the Wairau River, necessitating a return to Marlborough and immersion in an intensive rowing programme, designed to help talented youngsters on the pathway to elite selection.

The culture at the RPC was “very different” from what she had previously experienced.

“One thing for sure, we do a lot more Ks. In Timaru we were only able to row for one kilometre then we had to turn the boat around, here we can row for up to 15km, if we wanted to,” she said.

“There has certainly been a big jump between school and the RPC … the early wake-ups are hard, but you do what you have to do.”

An advantage of the RPC set-up is the size of the squad. There are only six non-NZ Summer Squad rowers in the camp, and just two females, so coaching can be more one-on-one.

“It’s cool because we are all quite close but we have to pace ourselves against the guys so the intensity has stepped up quite a lot, having to keep up with people older and faster than you. It makes you more competitive though and I feel I’m getting faster.”

Her training programme includes twice-daily sessions, except on Sunday, a varied diet of weights, ergs, hill walks and on-water rowing designed to have her ready for the forthcoming South Island and national champs.

Although she has achieved most of her success as a sculler, Phoebe maintains a sweep-oared four is her preference. “A good four is awesome, so much fun … a good sweeping boat, once you get it going, is amazing.”

Her immediate goals are clear. After competing at the SI champs and Nationals, Phoebe hopes to be chosen to trial for the NZ under-23 team. If she misses that opportunity she will look at trialling for the NZ under-21s. As she is tackling some Otago University papers, she is also eligible to try out for the NZ Universities team this season.

Longer term she has her sights set on a place in the NZ elite squad and a shot at the 2024 Olympics.

“It would be pretty cool to do [rowing] as a job … but at the moment it’s about finding a balance, getting a degree and working my way up the rowing pathway.”

Having rubbed shoulders with several of the world’s best rowers, Phoebe has a rough idea of what it will take to reach that elite level and highlighted one particular trait she had noticed.

“Just stubbornness … most of the elites that I have met they are just so stubborn that they won’t give up. If they set their mind to something they are not going to half-ass it … they are going to go 100 percent or nothing at all, never backing down.”

Asked if she had a competitive streak to match, the junior champion suggested with a laugh, “almost too much”.

“[Rowing’s] also very psychological, just knowing to listen to what you are doing, not let your mind take over and start pushing you back … that’s quite a big part.”

Noting that she is not particularly tall for a top-level rower, Phoebe says she is working hard on her technique with Central RPC and NZ coach Marion Horwell, as she builds towards attaining the level of her role models.

They include elite world champions Emma Dyke [women’s eight] and single sculler Emma Twigg.

“Emma [Dyke] went to Craighead and I know her well, she’s awesome. I also had a yarn to Emma Twigg and that was brilliant … she is so down-to-earth. There’s also Mahe Drysdale, he is so knowledgeable.”

The former basketballer has a group of friends who have succeeded in that sport, providing more inspiration.

“There’s Ashlee Strawbridge, Milly Knight and Sammy Arnold who have all played for New Zealand … I have seen them come from being so small to where they are now, playing at a top level. Ashlee’s work ethic is insane, through the roof, and she’s a year younger than me.

“What George Glover did [the Black Dog Swim] is also inspirational.”

While the leap from junior ranks to senior level is traditionally vast, if attitude and hard work can bridge the gap, Phoebe looks set to land firmly on her feet in 2020.

The MGC under-17 eight. From right, cox Lara Bacchus, Meg Flanagan, Kelsey Daldorf, Maggie Lane, Georgia Macdonald, Lily Crawford, Liv Thoedore, Cleo Ingram, Paige Materoa. Photo: Supplied.

Rowers prepare for new season at Marlborough champs

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 Picton crew of, from left, Jonty Frisken (cox), Bree Rossiter, Ella Watts, Olivia Proctor and Charlotte Lightfoot get into their work. Photo Karmyn Ingram.
The Picton crew of, from left, Jonty Frisken (cox), Bree Rossiter, Ella Watts, Olivia Proctor and Charlotte Lightfoot get into their work. Photo Karmyn Ingram.

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.

The Picton crew, from left, Kieran Gaudin, Ryan Gaudin, Hayden Gaudin, and James Ashley. Photo: Steve McArthur @Rowing Celebration.

Masters rowers claim medals galore

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.