The best racing conditions in Lake Nagambie were saved for the last day, as Nagambie Lakes looked calm, the air was full of excitement.
The most anticipated race of the day was the King’s Cup, Interstate race between the Open Men’s Eights from each state, for which the showdown was between giants Victoria and New South Wales. Last year’s race the margin was as close as it gets, Victoria edging over the line 0.16 seconds over NSW. This year, NSW left nothing to chance, taking an early lead and steadily edging away throughout the length of the 2000m course to finish first with a length over the Victorian crew, with Western Australia claiming the bronze.
“It’s just an amazing feeling,” Olympic Champion stroke Alex Purnell said post-race. “We had a bit more preparation this year, and we really wanted to get that trophy back. We had some really good training sessions leading into the race today, and the war, up was spot on so we just executed what we needed to do in the race.
“I think that last year’s disappointment adds to this year’s jubilation.”
The Queen’s Cup saw another all-the-way win to early leaders Victoria, who took their fourteenth victory out of the last fifteen years.
Katrina Werry, the stroke of the eight and Tokyo Olympian explained, “I just needed to do my role the best I could, so that the girls behind me had something to follow.
“To be able to do this in our home state – in Victoria – it gives us a sense of home pride. The girls are just so ecstatic.”
The Interstate Regatta started with the home state leading early as Victoria’s Jessica Gallagher, the Summer and Winter Paralympic Medallist claimed the first win in the Women’s PR3 Single Scull. Gallagher, who was named to the Australian Rowing Team in March 2022, burst out of the starting blocks, leaving the battle for the minor placings behind her. Through the 500 metre mark, ACT’s Rebecca Jones lead from NSWs’ Lisa Greissl. Griessl pushed through the middle thousand to secure the silver medal, where Jones took the bronze.
The PR3 Men’s Single was a first time win for the ACT, represented by Nick Neales who bravely lead the whole way to claim a convincing win over NSWs’ James Talbot who took the silver, and Queensland’s Mac Russell who secured the bronze.
In the race for the Nell Slater Trophy, Queensland’s Lily Alton took an early lead over NSW’s Harriet Hudson, an Olympic Bronze Medallist in the Women’s Quadruple Scull at Tokyo. Hudson had a brave second 500 metres to push past Alton and extended her lead from there. Victoria’s Milla Marston put in a strong performance for bronze.
NSW’s David Bartholot rowed to a convincing win in the President’s Cup, close to six seconds ahead of ACT’s fast-finishing Caleb Antill, and Victoria’s Redmond Matthews who secured the bronze.
“It was a tough race,” Bartholot explained post-race. “I knew I had to get a bit of distance on Caleb [Antill], as he’s got a really good finish, so I just tried to push through the middle of the race and extend the margin”.
“It’s really nice to train and have it pay off. I’m really happy”.
Tasmania took out their third consecutive win in the Victoria Cup with a convincing margin of 17.56 seconds back to the NSW combination, who finished with the silver ahead of Queensland who took bronze.
Georgia Nesbitt, who stroked the winning crew, talked about the youth pushing lightweight racing further in Tasmania.
“It means a lot to us, so when race day rolls around, everyone is pretty keen to give it a go. There’s lots of younger girls aspiring to be in the quad, and as we’ve done well previously, that brings a lot of momentum to the crew.”
Queensland defended their 2021 title in the Penrith Cup, leading all the way to secure the win over a fast-finishing NSW who stole the silver medal from Victoria.
Jack Price who has won the Penrith cup six times in the last ten years, was thankful for his teammate’s energy and youth. “I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of their journey all the way through, and helping them develop as athletes, so to win with them is pretty special.”
The Youth Eights were light blue all the way as New South Wales claimed wins in both the Bicentennial Cup and Noel F Wilkinson Trophy.
Early leaders Victoria threatened the NSW crew in the Women’s Youth Eight, but a strong second thousand saw NSW establish themselves as the leaders in the closing stages of the race. Queensland put in an almighty effort through the final sprint to nip over the line for silver, with Victoria taking the bronze.
NSW Coxswain Hannah Cowap explained how the crew kept their composure to win from behind. “It was awesome. I could just feel the power going up and up throughout the race. It was crazy to be a part of.”
Six seat of the winning NSW Men’s Youth Eight crew, Max Von Appen, attributed their win over Queensland in Silver and Victoria in Bronze, to the cohesion within the crew.
“This year we got a new bunch of boys, and I feel as though we just gelled really well together. We hopped in the crew last week, and honestly, from the first session we were all together, it was really good”.
NSW also won the overall point score to win the Rowing Australia Cup.
Earlier in the day, the race of the morning was the Schoolgirl’s Coxed Eight, with only 0.57 seconds separating first and second. Melbourne Girls Grammar lead the race throughout the first 1500 meters, holding the smallest of margins over their rivals. St Catherine’s School then channelled into the electric energy of the crowd to push through to the finish line first, reversing the result from 2021. Wesley College claimed the Bronze Medal to make it an all-Victorian podium.
In the Schoolboy’s Eight race, Melbourne Grammar jumped out of the blocks early to win the championship in a tight race, bettering their seventh-place finish in 2021 to become the new national champions. Scotch College Victoria was three seconds behind, securing the Silver Medal, while The Shore School finished in the third position.
The winner of the Schoolgirl’s Single Scull was never in doubt, as Brisbane State High’s Sophie Malcolm defended her 2021 title with a comfortable victory. Sophie adds the gold medal to her collection, having already won gold in the Under 21 Women’s Double Scull and the Under 21 Lightweight Women’s Single Scull, and silver in the Under 21 Women’s Quadruple Scull and the Under 19 Women’s Single Scull.
The Schoolboy’s Single Scull Championship was taken out by Scotch College Adelaide’s Adam Holland for the second consecutive year, after leading the whole way and finishing in a time of seven minutes 44 seconds. Holland said that it was “great to be able to defend his  title,” and that winning was a “nice way to finish his school racing career.”
Sydney Rowing Club comfortably won the Club Women’s Coxless Four ahead of Mercantile Rowing Club in second and Carrum Rowing Club in third.
The race for gold in the Club Men’s Coxless Four was close between Sydney University Boat Club and UTS Haberfield Rowing Club, with SUBC ultimately victorious and UTS Haberfield claiming the silver. Sydney Rowing Club finished third.
Both Men’s and Women’s Club doubles were won by Banks Rowing Club, capping off a successful week for the club.
The Women’s Club Eight was taken out by Mercantile Rowing Club, crossing the line close to three seconds ahead of Sydney University Boat Club and a further 5.24 seconds back to Melbourne University Boat Club.
Sydney University Boat Club defended its 2021 title in the Men’s Club Eight, defeating their local rivals Sydney Rowing Club, and Mosman Rowing Club for the second year in a row.
Sydney Rowing Club win the overall medal tally as most successful club at the 2022 Australian National Championships.