The King’s and Queen’s Cups Interstate Regatta brought much anticipation and excitement to the final day of the 2017 Aon Sydney International Rowing Regatta, with many athletes throwing their hat in the ring to represent their home state.
New South Wales regained the much coveted crown of Interstate Men’s Eight champions, claiming back the King’s Cup after placing second to Victoria for the last two years.
They held a strong lead throughout the race, which was challenged by Victoria as they moved towards the finish line, but they had left their run too late and the boys in light blue reclaimed the title with a time of 5 minutes and 30 seconds.
“We’ve been working on getting the boat up to speed very quickly… we wanted to really dig in and make the other crews hurt as much as possible,” said Hamish Playfair.
“It feels spectacular. It’s my first time for the King’s Cup and obviously a real honour to get it back for New South Wales,” Playfair added.
In the Interstate Women’s Eight, New South Wales were racing with a vengeance, to try and break Victoria’s 12 year-winning streak in the Queen’s Cup. With New South Wales leading Victoria by 1.53 seconds at the 1500m mark, it almost seemed possible.
But stroke by stroke, Victoria clawed their way to level with them, and then pushed through New South Wales to win the race with a 2.74 second margin.
“We just had to trust in our crew and our cox. We could feel ourselves moving on the field and we just had to stick to what we knew,” said Jen Cleary, who sat in 6-seat for the race.
“The wind definitely started earlier, but we did it together and stayed in a rhythm which made the difference in the end,” Cleary added.
The Interstate Men’s Single Scull was difficult to pick from the talented line-up each state presented, but Cameron Girdlestone pushed through the field to take home the President’s Cup for New South Wales. After coming third to Spencer Turrin and Hamish Playfair in the Open Men’s Single final on Thursday, he knew his work was cut out for him today.
“On Thursday I was probably a little bit pedestrian, maybe too cautious… but my mindset for today was to just go out there and row, the body knows what it’s doing,” said Girdlestone.
Staying true to form, New South Wales rowed themselves to another victory in the Youth Men’s Eight, defending their title to lift the Noel F Wilkinson Trophy for the third year in a row.
When asked for their secret, the answer from stroke-seat Jack O’Brien was simple: “They breed them well in New South Wales.”
“It’s a great bunch of boys and we work really hard, it’s just awesome to be out there together… That was probably the best race of my life, I loved it,” added O’Brien, struggling to keep the joyful grin from his face.
Victorian women were in fine form throughout the finals, with their Youth Eight also rowing a strong race to reclaim the Bicentennial Cup from Queensland, who came second this year.
Stroke seat Ria Thompson said the win wasn’t an easy task. “We had a clean start but we weren’t out the front by any means, our cox, Adelaide, did an amazing job telling us where we were so we kept pushing through and trying to get away… and then the last bit we felt comfortable so we wound it up and just enjoyed the win!”
Up against stiff competition, the Nell Slatter Trophy was hard-fought, with the real contest of the race being between South Australian Olympia Aldersey, Queenslander Maddie Edmunds, and Genevieve Horton from New South Wales, who all rowed in together at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Aldersey and Edmunds rowed into the 1000m and 1500m marks side by side, making for a tight race to the finish line. Edmunds summonsed everything she had in the last stretch to surge forward and nudge herself past Aldersey, to lift the cup for Queensland.
“I had to work pretty hard to get up and move through… Stepping to the line is something I’m still trying to get right but it seemed to work for me today,” said Edmunds after being handed the trophy.
Queensland also rowed superbly in the Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Scull, establishing a lead early in the race. They cross the line first to win the Victoria Cup, which hadn’t been in their hands since 2011.
“Our aim was to get out in front early, trying to put as big of a gap on the other crews as we could,” said 3-seat of the champion crew, Amy James.
Queensland were the top tip for the Interstate Lightweight Men’s Four, however the Penrith Cup, was not to be theirs for a fifth year in a row. Western Australia snapped up the Penrith Cup for the first time since 2009, in a thrilling race. They were placed second coming into the last half of the race, but dug deep to get ahead of Queensland and finish in first place.
“We’ve had a really strong history in the Penrith Cup, it was one of the boys twelfth Penrith Cup today and we got to top it off with a gold which was awesome,” said James Kerr, who, being sat in bow seat, was the first of the crew to cross the line.
In the Interstate Women’s Legs Trunk and Arms (LTA) Single Scull, Rio Paralympian Kate Murdoch, who represented New South Wales today, has looked very strong all week, and she topped it off by taking out the final.
She recorded a time of 4 minutes, 6 seconds, defeating Tasmanian representative Emma Jago by 30 seconds. Kathryn Ross from the ACT claimed the bronze medal.
In the LTA Men’s Single Scull, it was a very determined effort by Mac Russell to claim gold representing Queensland. Russell was hungry for the win, and managed to defeat New South Wales’ Kevin du Toit and Western Australia’’ Kevin Wall.
Russell explained to post-race interviewer Cameron McKenzie-McHarg that his race plan worked to perfection.
“The plan was to go out hard. I wanted to do a push 250 metres in, and I did that and it got me in front, and then I managed to stay there,” stated Russell.