Australia’s Rowing Classic takes place in Melbourne this weekend
This Saturday (24 November) 255 crews will descend upon Melbourne to take part in the 60th Head of the Yarra. The event will see 2,223 athletes take on the eight-kilometre race known as the ‘Australian Rowing Classic’. Crews navigate the 8km long course, negotiating difficult bends and eleven bridges along the course that takes between 25 minutes and an hour complete.
Crews from across Australia, and the world, have travelled to the capital of Victoria to compete in the event, which is open to rowers in the school, masters and open categories. Unsurprisingly, the most entries for the event come in the Masters category – with Australia’s thriving Masters Community making up 134 of the crews competing at the event.
There are many Australian Rowing Team alumni set to compete in the event, former Australian Rowing Team coxswain, Teesan Koo, is pencilled in to cox a couple of crews from Melbourne University while 1990 World Championships silver medallist, Pam Westendorf is set to race in a Mixed Eight for Corio Bay.
The University of Queensland and Toowong composite Men’s Masters AC category includes Australian Rowing Team alumni in the form of Ned Draydon, Ivan Hooper, Robert Finch, Hugh Baird and former U23 Australian Rowing Team member, Randall Martin.
Other familiar alumni set to race over the weekend include Fleur Spriggs, Marguerite King (nee Houston), Deanna Fekete, Adair Ferguson and Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist, Karsten Forsterling.
With competitors coming from Australia, New Zealand and Japan, there are a number of clubs combining to make composite crews. One of the mixed crews competing in the FME8+ category is made up of clubs coming from across Australia, with North Esk (Tasmania) combining with Sunshine Coast (Queensland) and Port Adelaide (South Australia) to race at the prestigious event.
There are a number of crews entered across the school categories, with 44 crews set to race from 13 schools. Scotch College Melbourne has entered the most crews of all the schools, 10. Meanwhile, recent Aon Club of the Year, Bairnsdale Rowing Club is combining with local school, Gippsland Grammar, to compete in in the Male and Female Eight Year 10 & Open Division 3.
2018 Australian Rowing Team debutants, Jed Altschwager and Alex Vuillermin, will be competing once again at this year’s Head of the Yarra, however this time they will race in crews featuring both para and able-bodied athletes. Vuillermin will join her Power House Rowing Club team-mates while Altschwager will form part of a Torrens/Adelaide Rowing Clubs composite in the Men’s Open Eight category.
A number of Australia’s 2018 international representatives are racing for their clubs, as are members of both the Reinhold Batschi Men’s National Training Centre and Hancock Prospecting Women’s National Training Centre.
Sixteen members of the HPWNTC will compete this weekend, include recent World Championships medallists Molly Goodman, Katrina Werry, Lucy Stephan, Georgie Rowe, Ciona Wilson, Jacinta Edmunds, Georgie Gotch, Leah Saunders and Emma Fessey.
Meanwhile, 19 members of the RBMNTC will race, including all four members of the World Championships winning Men’s Four. Joshua Hicks, Alexander Hill and Spencer Turrin will combine in an Open Men’s Eight competing for Sydney Rowing Club and Adelaide Rowing Club, while Jack Hargreaves will join fellow World Championship medallists Nicholas and Alexander Purnell and Campbell Watts in the Sydney University Boat Club crew.