Prevailing southerly winds greeted the small boats as they started the quarter and semi-finals on day three of the 2022 Australian Rowing Championships at Nagambie Lakes. The conditions forced an early redraw, the cross-headwind favouring the lanes on the far side, therefore the higher seeded crews from heats and repechages were drawn from lane two rather than traditional central lane spread.
The largest field of entries this regatta, the Under 17 Women’s Single Scull, saw quarterfinals this morning ahead of the semi-finals this afternoon. Loreto Marryatville sculler Victoria Binns looks strong to take the event out, having posted the fastest time in the morning winning her semi-final in the afternoon. Binns raced four times today, qualifying the Under 17 Double Scull with New South Welsh teammate Sophia Miller of Ascham School, and the Under 19 Coxed Eight with a combined Loreto Marryatville/Loreto Kirribili crew.
Talisa Knoke-Driver of Sydney Rowing Club qualified fastest of the three Under 19 Women’s Single Scull semi-finals in a time of eight minutes 37 seconds, while Madeleine Vagg of Sydney University BC was the quickest in the Under 21 Single Scull in eight minutes 33 seconds. Scotch College, Adelaide sculler Adam Holland will look to improve on his silver from last year in the Under 19 Men’s Single Scull, the SASI athlete posted far and above the fastest time out of a single scull from this morning’s events in a time of seven minutes 42 seconds.
Mosman Rowing Club made a showing in the men’s underage events, taking out both Under 19 Coxless Pair semi-finals and Patrick Burke winning the first of the Under 21 Men’s Single Scull semis, however Cormac Hayes of Canberra Rowing Club and the ACT High Performance program will be looking to win the individual title in the final tomorrow, posting the fastest of the three semi-finals with a time of seven minutes 42 seconds.
The Under 23 Men’s single scull Final will be a showdown of the 2021 Australian Rowing Underage team members, we expect a tight tussle between Griffiths Uni Surfers Paradise’s Cormac Kennedy-Leverett, West Australia RC’s Alex Rossi, and UTS’s Marcus Della Marta to push for the podium, with Melbourne Uni’s Lukas Matic not far off the pace.
Australian National University’s Caleb Antill posted the fastest qualifying time of seven minutes 28 seconds in the Open Men’s Single Scull. He will look to take the title after scratching from last year’s event, battling in-form Sydney University Olympic Champions Jack Hargreaves OAM and Alex Purnell OAM who were both within seconds of Antill’s time. While Antill was faster today, he pointed to his Australian Rowing teammates as the favourites to win the event.
“I’m not feeling the pressure – I think with two Olympic Gold Medallists in the race, Hargreaves is the favourite. You never know though – my plan is to just go out and execute my own race. Stick to the plan is the most important thing, and the outcome will take care of itself. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to race against some of my good mates.”
Purnell and Hargreaves were both in the gold medal winning four at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games last year, though both are showing their prowess with two oars, negotiating tricky conditions to progress through to the Final. Purnell was happy to qualify, saying, “I wanted to make the final for the single, I haven’t raced it for a while, I think my skills are a bit rough, so I’m happy I got through.”
The afternoon saw bigger boats taking to the water for their progressions. The Open Women’s Coxless Four was pushed all the way to the line, a tight race for lanes pushing the Mercantile/Sydney RC combination, Melbourne University BC Boat and a West Australian line-up crossing the line in that order, however the Mercantile composite crew were relegated due to their boat being underweight, will have to battle it out from an unfavourable lane in the final on Friday.
The West Australian crew saw half of the WA Queens Cup Eight pushing for the line, boding well for their big race on Sunday. Australian Rowing Team debutant Jacqui Swick said the conditions were less than favourable.
“It was pretty gusty out there, but I’m glad we got it done, I’m proud of both myself and the crew. It wasn’t long ago that I was watching the Olympic Games on the television and so now that I get to call some of those girls my teammates – it’s crazy. I’m super excited for the season ahead.”
The Under 19 Men’s Coxed Eight heats were a preview for the schoolboy eight races on the weekend for the Barrington Cup. Defenders of the title St Peters College Adelaide entered a composite crew with Scotch College Adelaide sculler Adam Holland and won their heat comfortably with a time of six minute 32 seconds, with Scotch College Victoria also progressing directly through to the final. Brisbane Boys’ College won heat two, recording a time of six minutes 2 seconds, the fastest time between the two heats. The Melbourne University composite crew, a combination that won the event title last year, recorded the second-fastest time of the two heats, will follow them into the final while the remaining crews will need to qualify through a repechage.
The Under 23 Women’s Coxed Eight showed the strength of the Victorian women’s squads, the Mercantile-VIS crew won heat one with a time of seven minutes 19 seconds, while Melbourne University Composite won the second heat, recording a time of seven minutes 16 seconds. The Queenslander KAND Composite crew will also directly progress to the final as will the Tasmanian Composite crew, while the remainder will progress to the repechage.
The first of the Finals will begin tomorrow, as will the heats of the school and club events. The morning will hold both A and B Finals, with the afternoon full of the hotly contested Club Doubles, and school single, quad and eight heats.