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Para-rowing finals deliver plenty of excitement at SIRR 2019

A mist shrouded the course this morning providing some amazing photography opportunities but cleared in time for day five of racing at the 2019 Aon Sydney International Rowing Regatta (SIRR). Today saw a variety of boats and races from Open Double Sculls finals to School eight heats. There was action for every spectator.

Toowong had a strong start to their Friday, when they took the win in the U19 Women’s Coxless Four with a time of 7:13.79 with Sophie Gerber, Lucy Hope, Phoebe Robinson and Laura Chancellor. That was not the last we saw from the Toowong girls as Phoebe Robinson and Laura Chancellor backed it up only 40 minutes later in the U21 Women’s Double Scull. The pair won their second race by a close 1.04 seconds.

In their short turnaround between races, Robinson and Chancellor explained their plan for recovery. “We had our coach bring us a flat bottle of Coke, we sculled that then had to run to our boat and rowed straight to the start line!” This is the third National Championship title at this regatta for Robinson and Chancellor after they won the U19 Women’s Coxless Pair on Thursday.

Hamish Henriques (WARC) and Harry Fox (MUBC) were the clear winners in the U19 Men’s Double Scull, taking the win by 13.03 seconds; the pair won the Tim Hawkins Memorial Trophy.

The PR3 Mixed Double Scull saw an impressive victory from Mac Russell (UQBC) and Julia Story (Drummoyne) who won the race by 37.84 seconds, in second place was Bronte Marshall (Balmain) and 15-year-old William Clifton (Leichhardt).

Silver medallist Clifton said, “We had a great start and finished strong. It feels awesome to win a Nationals medal.”

Mac Russel of the winning pair explained, “We got out to a lead and then were able to push further in front; we managed to maintain a higher rate which we have been working on in training.”

Ben Gibson and James Talbot (Copyright RA/Delly Carr)

It was a thrilling race in the final of the PR3 Men’s Pair; Jed Altschwager and Will Smith went bow ball to bow ball with Ben Gibson and James Talbot and at the 1500 metre mark there was less than a second between the South Australians and New South Welshmen. It was Gibson and Talbot who lifted in the last 500m, to move away and cross the line first.

The four men were recently named have been named as part of the Australian PR3 squad, all hoping  to be named in the Mixed Coxed Four for World Championships later this year. “We always knew it was going to be tight – we’ve been racing these guys through trials and have been battling them the whole season,” said Talbot.

Kathryn Ross put on an impressive display in the PR2 Women’s Single Scull; the race was joined with the PR2 Men’s Single Scull so the athletes could race one another. Three-time World Champion Ross, showed her experience and strength in the event by outgunning the boys in the final. Winner of the men’s division, Hawkes Bay’s Gavin Foulsham, has travelled from home country New Zealand to compete in SIRR 2019. He said, “It’s nice to have some competition – at home I’m just trailing up and down the course on my own so it’s good. Though I don’t know if I was enough competition for [Ross] – she’s very impressive!”

Gavin Foulsham (Copyright RA/Delly Carr)

Ross returns to the sport after having two years away, and said she was excited when she saw that FISA had brought the PR2 single into the World Championships program from 2018 onwards. Ross said that the time off was enough to regain her passion and “heart” for the sport and has been selected to represent Australia in the boat class in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria at the 2019 World Rowing Championships.

Kathryn Ross (Copyright RA/Delly Carr)

Today also saw another confident win by Cormac Kennedy-Leverett (GUSPRC) and Harry Glackin (CLRC) in the U23 Men’s Double Scull, the duo clocked in at 6:30.68 over Jack Deans and Angus Dawson from Adelaide in second.

A final sprint to the line left the spectators on their feet as the composite from Melbourne University BC-UTS Haberfield RC took the win in the U23 Men’s Coxless Four over Sydney University BC by 0.69 of a second. The third-place position was also taken to the line as Sydney Rowing Club just snuck in by 0.20 of a second over the Mercantile/Adelaide crew.

There were many National Training Centre Athletes competing in the Open Women’s Coxless Fours, which proved to be an exciting race. The West Australian composite boat of Bronwyn Cox (UWA Boat Club), Annabelle McIntyre (Fremantle), Lilly Tinapple (Swan River RC) and Hannah Vermeersch (West Australian RC) took the win in a 6:42.35, over the Tamar composite in second and Melbourne University Boat Club in third. Hannah Vermeersch reflected on her race, in what what could be her last Nationals.

“It was really good fun. It’s a special feeling to row with three other West Australians in the boat with you.

“I think this is my last Nationals, I feel very content and complete with my rowing career so far and I’m happy to finish and leave it here,” admitted the London 2012 Olympian.

The Open Women’s Four Medallists (Copyright RA/Delly Carr)

A star-studded Open Women’s Double Scull provided some high-quality racing as Fiona Ewing (Sydney University BC) and Cara Grzeskowiak (Capital Lakes RC) took the win in 7:01.60, followed by Genevieve Horton (Sydney University BC) and Molly Goodman (Adelaide RC) in second, third place going to Sarah Pound (UTS RC) and Olympia Aldersey (Adelaide RC).

The afternoon brought on some more school racing with repechages and heats. An incredible close finish in the Schoolboy’s Single Scull Repechage saw the top three boats finish within 0.55 seconds of each other. Cooper Williams from Seda took the win by a tight 0.05 seconds over Daniel Webb from Nudgee who took second place off Lachlan Roach (Kings) by 0.50 of a second, moving Roach to the semi-final for C/D finals.

The U17 Schoolgirl’s Coxed Eight proved to be an interesting race with many boats competing in the event for the first time. MLC Kew made their debut in the sweep boat by winning their heat in a time of 7:01.15, the fastest time moving to the A-Final. Queenwood won the other heat in a similar time of 7:02.60 closely followed by Loreto – Toorak. MLC Kew, Queenwood and Loreto-Toorak are quite possible the ones to watch moving into the A-Final on Sunday.