Wanaka Rowers Win Four Golds

24 Mar

Wanaka Rowing Club,Mount Aspiring College rowers outclassed many of their secondary school rivals at the Meridian South Island Secondary Schools championships at Lake Ruataniwha, near Twizel, last weekend.

The squad of 17 teenage rowers won four gold medals and one silver medal in the A Finals and achieved three podium finishes in the B Finals.

The squad of girls, Pipi Horan, Ruby Boyd, Aneka Rossiter and novice rower Eva Humphreys (U15), Emily Findlay, Neve Faed, Lyla Chamberlain, Samara Goodall, Hayley Ambrose, Ella Salmen Parker and Bella Sarginson (U16), Rata Horan and Harriet Norris (U18) and coxens Patrick Hartley and Jem Curtis, coached by David Ayres and Matt Rickard, took top honours over the weekend in an impressive demonstration of rowing in the U15, U16 and U17 events.

The rowers, all members of the Wanaka Rowing Club (WRC), joined almost 1,000 other rowers from 49 schools scattered all over the South Island to compete in the three day annual schools’ regatta from Friday March 13-15. A similar regatta was also held in the North Island last weekend.

WRC coach David Ayers said the squad had been training hard and deserved their success. “I thought we had a shot at winning maybe two events but winning five medals was just fantastic,” he said.

Having efficiently won their heats, the new combination of Emily Findlay, Neve Faed, Lyla Chamberlain and Samara Goodall, coxed by Patrick Hartley, won the U16 quad sculls gold by a comfortable 10 second margin and, with Pipi Horan replacing Samara, the crew then went on to win the U17 coxed quad sculls by five seconds.

Gold medal winners Ruby Boyd and Pipi Horan flanked by their coaches (left) Matt Rickard and (right) David Ayres.

Pipi Horan celebrated a hugely successful regatta, adding to her gold medal tally by winning the U15 and Under 16 girls double sculls with Ruby Boyd in the former and Emily Findlay in the latter. Both pairs had blitzed the competition in the heats by 30 seconds but the finals were a different story with more fiercely contested races and Pipi and Ruby snatched victory in the U15 event by only a quarter of a second from arch rivals Wakatipu High School.

Wakatipu High School did gain the upper hand in the girls’ U15 coxed quad sculls however, as Pipi and Ruby, together with Eva Humphreys and Aneka Rossiter (coxed once again by Patrick) had to settle for the silver medal, five seconds behind Wakatipu.

The B crew of Hayley Ambrose, Bella Sarginson, Ella Salmen Parker and Aneka Rossiter, coxed by Jem Curtis, was second in the B Final of the U16 girls coxed quads.

Meanwhile, in the U18 competition, Rata Horan finished a respectable sixth in the A final of the single sculls; Harriet Norris rowed well into second place in the B Final singles; and the coxed quad of Neve Faed, Harriet Norris, Lyla Chamberlain and Rata Horan, coxed by Patrick Hartley, rowed into fifth in the A Final.

The successful regatta wasn’t just celebrated by the girls alone. Quinn Curtis and Owen Lea, coached by Rob Bruce, both made the B Finals of the U18 singles, with Owen coming first and Quinn in sixth place, and in U18 doubles Quinn and Owen rowed fifth in the B Final.

And while Tao Hawkey Hight, who made the B final in the U16 singles, didn’t reach a podium place, he pulled off an impressive feat nonetheless when he flipped his boat, managed to right it, clamber back in, and still cross the finish line.

Coaches David Ayres and Matt Rickard were concerned that the girls were lacking water time as it’s been so windy in Wanaka this season. The short, sharp erg sessions at Wanaka’s new watersports facility have paid off instead with the crews being supremely fit and rowing technically very well.

In added good news Pipi Horan and Emily Findlay have been invited to attend the NZ U18 trials this month in the North Island. New Zealand selectors attended last weekend’s regatta and selected the pair after witnessing Pipi and Emily’s commanding performance in the U16 doubles, where they won by at least four lengths of clear water.

The squad has been building towards the prestigious Maadi Cup Regatta due to start on March 28 but learned yesterday (March 16) it’s likely to be cancelled. “It’s a shame with the squad going so well but that is the situation we’re in,” David said.

PHOTOS: Rowing Celebration

Write up from: Diana Cocks, Wanaka App

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