It’s been more than a year since the King’s and Queen’s Cups Interstate Regatta. The last time our State crews raced together was of course in 2019, when we celebrated 100 years since the King’s Cup was first presented. In 2020, we were due to celebrate the Centenary of Women’s Rowing, particularly highlighting the fact that the year marked a hundred years since women had raced alongside men at Interstate Championships. However, COVID-19 sadly put a hold on that celebration, but 2021 has allowed us to celebrate the women of our sport and also the centenary of the Queen Elizabeth II Trophy first being presented, in 1921.
The trophy, affectionately known as Bertha, will be raced as the final race of the day at the 2021 Aon Australian Rowing Championships, with all the traditional racing schedule switched to acknowledge the importance of women’s rowing in our sport and to celebrate the 100 years since the Queen’s Cup’s first presentation.
In 2019, New South Wales historically took a clean sweep in all four Eights events, and snapping up the Rowing Australia Cup for the most successful state in the Interstate Regatta, but who will be the victor in 2021 on the pristine waters of Lake Barrington?
Queen’s Cup (Interstate Women’s Eight)
New South Wales are not changing what works, there is only one name change between the 2019 winning crew and the crew entered tomorrow. While Victoria were only 0.62 seconds off NSW in second, the already-strong crew have gained all important seat of experienced Australian coxswain James Rook – will that give them the edge to push in front of the defending champions? Western Australia held the bronze last time, with Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania battling for fourth – though both the Queensland and South Australia crews look like they have some more experience and horsepower in their boats.
Prediction: Nothing between New South Wales and Victoria, with Victoria to take the win for the first time since 2018. South Australia to push the strong Western Australia crew for bronze.
King’s Cup (Interstate Men’s Eight)
While the defending champions NSW have lost Angus Moore, Rob Black and Hamish Playfair from their 2019 winning combination, they have picked up some young guns in Sam Hardy, Will O’Shannessy and accomplished sculler Campbell Watts. Victoria keeps five of their key players but with the introduction of the Lavery brothers, Nick and Rohan, plus coxswain Stuart Sim, all named in the Australian Rowing Team this year, they will look to claim the prestigious cup themselves. South Australia took a podium finish just ahead of Western Australia in 2019, though with SA’s line up missing former Australian representatives Nathan Bowden and Jack Kelly, will WA push up on to the podium, or will Paddy Holt’s addition to the Queensland crew push them over the line?
Prediction: Victoria push early, but NSW retain the King’s Cup. WA look to unseat South Australia for the podium finish.
Victoria Cup (Interstate Lightweight Women’s Quad)
While Tasmania have traditionally done very well in the Victoria Cup, New South Wales are looking to bridge the four-second gap between the defending champions and with the introduction of Lucy Coleman, named reserve in the Australian Lightweight Women’s sculling team. The Western Australian crew who placed third last time will look to push further on the podium, however the introduction of Wallis Russell into the Queensland crew will make them one to watch as well.
Prediction: Home favourites, Tasmania, by a canvas over New South Wales, a length back to Queensland who upset for bronze.
Penrith Cup (Interstate Lightweight Men’s Four)
Only four crews have entered into the Penrith Cup this year, it will be a battle of the eastern states versus the home state. While Victoria and New South Wales have traditionally performed well this race, Queensland have put together a strong team who took out the silver in the Open Lightweight Coxless Four today. Also – never count out a lightweight crew from Tasmania, this looks like a strong entry from the home state!
Prediction: Anyone’s race into the headwind. Too close to call.
President’s Cup (Interstate Men’s Single Scull) and Nell Slatter Trophy (Interstate Women’s Single Scull)
In 2019 the Single Scull events were won by Alexander Hill of South Australia and Genevieve Horton of New South Wales who are currently on the Australian Rowing Team as sweep rowers – they will not compete in the scull this year per the requirements for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Selection Policy, but race for their states in the sweep boats meaning we will see new champions for these events.
In the men’s event, Cam Girdlestone looks primed to take the President’s Cup having won the Open Men’s Single Scull earlier this week against a full field of heavyweight scullers. The only wild card could be Caleb Antill, who scratched the final of the Open event, who could upset his Australian Rowing teammate. Victoria have lightweight rower Red Matthews out there, and young WA sculler Tim Sander will have his work cut out as will lightweight sculler Oscar McGuiness against the world class scullers.
Tara Rigney (NSW), Caitlin Cronin (QLD), and Ria Thompson (VIC) are all named teammates in the Australian Women’s quadruple scull – this will be a tight match between mates who train together every day. Verayna Zilm (SA) has been racing well, but as a lightweight, will have her work cut out for her. She will no doubt battle Thea Adamson (WA), and Lilli Reardon (ACT) for the minor positions.
Prediction: A New South Wales win for both the President’s Cup and Nell Slatter, with ACT pushing on NSW in the final 500 metres of the President’s Cup.
Interstate PR3 Men’s and Women’s Single
Nikki Ayers is the reigning champion for the women’s event, with the ACT sculler recently named in Australia’s PR3 Mixed Coxed Four. Ayers will be the one to beat, with Victoria’s Jessica Gallagher the one to challenge her. Paralympian Gallagher took out the PR3 Open Women’s Single Scull Championships of Australia earlier this week.
In the men’s event, Mac Russell of Queensland is the reigning champion, but the hot race will be between Ben Gibson of New South Wales and Jed Altschwager of South Australia. We predict it’ll be Gibson and Altschwager to the line, and too close to call, with Russell taking bronze.
Prediction: Too close to call a winner for the PR3 Men’s Single, while Nikki Ayers makes it back to back for the ACT for the women’s event.
Bicentennial Cup (Interstate Women’s Eight)
This race is always a hard one to call with so many up and coming athletes named across the field. It’s fantastic to see ACT fielding an Eight for the first time in a while giving spectators a full field. New South Wales tend to do well in this event, with Victoria and Queensland strong contenders too.
Prediction: New South Wales to take the win with the experience, but the silver and bronze will be duked out between the remaining states.
Noel F Wilkinson Trophy (Interstate Youth Men’s Eight)
Another tough one to call, with so much young talent and many of the athletes looking to attend U23 trials next week here in Barrington. New South Wales’ crew has a couple of past underage representatives, while in the past Victoria and Western Australia have done well in this event.
Prediction: New South Wales win again, with a humdinger battle between the rest of the crews.