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Day Five 2018 Rocket Foods New Zealand Rowing Championships

  • 17 Feb 18

Robbie Manson was the star turn at the 2018 Rocket Foods New Zealand Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro today, completing a third Premier class victory of the regatta with the retention of his men’s single sculls title.

In the eagerly awaited battle for the Sir Bernard Freyburg Cup, Manson was a class apart comfortably adding to the men’s premier double sculls and men’s premier quad sculls crown snared yesterday to defeat a top-quality field in 7:19.48.

World double sculls champion John Storey (Southern RPC) grabbed silver in 7:22.89 to repel a spirited challenge from Ireland’s world lightweight single sculls champion Paul O’Donovan, who finished just over a second behind Storey. The official bronze – in lieu of O’Donovan’s overseas nationality - went to World Under-23 quadruple sculls champion Jordan Parry (Waikato RPC), who produced an accomplished performance in 7:25.29.

Eight-time former national single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale, hampered by a neck injury, finished a distant fifth in 7:45.30 – more than 25 seconds adrift of Manson. Both the New Zealand champion Manson and two-time Olympic champion, Drysdale, will compete on the World Cup circuit later this year to determine which Kiwi will represent New Zealand in the men’s single sculls at the World Championships in Plovdiv in September.

Manson was very satisfied with his efforts across the regatta with the only minor exception from an otherwise wonderful regatta was when his Central RPC crew had to settle for silver in the men’s premier eight final behind Waikato RPC, who romped to a fifth successive national title in the blue riband event. “I’m pleased to win three golds and a silver at this regatta,” says Manson. “I’ve got three golds now and that was my goal for this regatta. This summer is going really well. I’ve probably done the least amount of training I’ve done over a summer, but I’m still going fast on the water. There are still areas to improve on between now and the end of the World Cup and we’ll get trials out of the way and get back into it.”

In that men’s eight final, played out in steadily failing rain, a powerful Waikato unit - with Anthony Allen at stroke and Caleb Shepherd as coxswain - would not be denied as they held off Manson’s Central RPC to win by a length in 5:50.63. Auckland gamely held on for bronze in 5:59.05, in what was the concluding event of the regatta.

Brooke Donoghue produced a dominant display to secure her maiden premier national women’s single sculls with a stylish performance. The Waikato RPC sculler stopped the clock in 8:14.56 to defeat her fellow World Championship winning double sculls partner Olivia Loe by 5.42secs. An elated Donoghue said “Winning a national title is not something that happens every day. It’s something I’d always wanted and I’m pretty stoked with it. I feel like we’ve had a strong competition, we’ve worked off each other and this has pushed the whole squad forward.” Completing the podium was national lightweight single sculls champion Zoe McBride, who had to settle for bronze in the open event in 8:25.12.

The Boss Rooster Trophy remains one of the most prestigious prizes in New Zealand rowing and it was the North Shore Rowing Club who prevailed from their cross-city rivals West End Rowing Club in a rip-roaring battle. Traditionally the trophy, which was first contested in 1897, has been awarded to the men’s premier coxed four. However the highly coveted club trophy was switched this year to the men’s premier coxless four. In a highly competitive final, North Shore boasting a crew with New Zealand eights representative Michael Brake in the stroke seat supported by Cameron Webster, Louis van Velthooven and Samuel Jones broke clear of the pack in the final 500m to stop the clock in 5:55.33 – 2.17secs clear of West End, who included two-time Olympic single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale among their crew. Bronze was awarded to the visiting Skibbereen Rowing Club from Ireland including Olympic lightweight double sculls silver medallists Paul and Gary O’Donovan. In lieu of their overseas nationality, Canterbury Rowing Club also took home a bronze medal as the third New Zealand crew home.

Tradition dictates that the winning team has to paint the Boss Rooster trophy in club colours within one hour of the finish, or forfeit a keg of beer to the losers. In a humorous turn of events, with typical Irish humour, one of the Skibbereen rowers took off with the trophy after prize-giving before the North Shore crew wrestled back the prize possession, although Samuel Jones took a drenching in the lake for his efforts. Brake was elated with the efforts of his crew adding, “Personally, I’m very proud to win the Boss Rooster which was been raced as a straight four for the first time. It’s cool to win the title. With the young boy (Samuel Jones) in the boat aged 18 and first year out of school, it is a great achievement.”

Teaming up with the Spoors siblings (Lucy and Phoebe), Grace Prendergast and Emma Dyke (Southern RPC) added the women’s premier coxless four title to the women’s premier pairs crown they won so emphatically the previous day. Delivering another masterful show of their rowing prowess, Southern retained their title from last year to win by a length-and-a-half in 6:25.67 from Central RPC silver medallists (which included Ruby Tew – a World Championship bronze medallist in the eight). Auckland RPC completed the podium places in 6:46.28. The race was particularly sweet for Phoebe Spoors, who raced with older sister, Lucy, for the first ever time and also earned her first Red Coat. “We came out of the start better than we hoped and it was pretty special to win my first Red Coat with Lucy in the crew,” explains Phoebe, the younger sibling by three years.

In the women’s eight, Central RPC struck back to regain the title they last won in 2016. A team including the Gowler siblings, Kerri and Jackie, Ruby Tew and Zoe McBride were always likely to be formidable opposition, and so it proved defeating the Southern RPC which contained world pairs champion Grace Prendergast along with Emma Dyke by more than eight-and-a-half seconds in 6:17.89. Auckland RPC completed the podium in 6:32.10.

Two-time World lightweight single sculls world champion Zoe McBride racked up a routine fourth successive Michels Cup win from her fellow Central RPC athlete Jackie Kiddle. McBride eased to victory in 7:29.04 – 7.22secs clear of Kiddle whom she won the World lightweight double sculls silver with in Sarasota last year. Courtney Rennie (Waikato RPC) clinched bronze in 7:43.62. “I’m really happy,” explained McBride. “I love nationals, it is a really good chance to race for your club and although I’ve got quite a big programme, it is nice to spread yourself over a few boats.”

Defending premier lightweight double sculls champions Harrison Somerville and Jordan Glasson (Central RPC) were relieved of their title by Chris Stockley and Zak Everitt. The Auckland RPC duo simply had far too much in the tank for Somerville and Glasson today, winning by an 8.60sec margin in a time of 6:30.84. It was a noteworthy regatta for Stockley who also struck gold in the men’s U20 double sculls, alongside Murphy Waters, and in the U22 quadruple sculls.

Outside of the premier division, the regatta served up a whole host of exhilarating finals and stunning performances. Leading the way was gifted teenage sculler Veronica Wall who banked a total medal haul of three golds and two silver medals in an outstanding display of her potential. Wall, who yesterday secured an U19 double gold and U20 double sculls silver alongside her Ashburton Rowing Club crewmate Grace Wilson, today excelled in her three single sculls finals. Despite the staggering time Wall was pipped for gold by 0.48 from Luka Ellery (Waikato RPC) but returned to the water to cruise to comfortable wins in both the women’s senior single sculls in 8:31.75 and women’s U20 single in 8:12.22.

“I’m very happy and rapt with a world’s best time,” says Wall. “I didn’t have that time in mind, I just wanted to row the best I could. I’m feeling pretty exhausted, but now I can relax a little.”

Jacob Flanagan went one place better than yesterday’s performance in the men’s club single sculls final to strike gold for the Dunstan Arm Rowing Club alongside Greg McLoughlin in the men’s club double sculls medal race. The South Island combination proved superior to Anthony Slaney and Kynan Reelick (Waikato Rowing Club) to strike gold by a clear margin of 4.08secs in a time of 6:39.02.

Brittany Allen and Moira MacDonald concluded a perfect regatta with gold medals in the women’s club pairs and women’s club double sculls to add to the quads sculls title they accrued on day one. The Invercargill Rowing Club dominated their two finals today winning the pairs by a victory margin of more than 12 seconds from Auckland Rowing Club. Then in the pre-penultimate final of the regatta the duo produced once more to take the women’s club double sculls crown in a time in 7:53.97 – to finish more than five-and-a-half seconds quicker than nearest pursuers Avon.

Rufus Tilt and Matt Handford also enjoyed a medal-laden regatta, securing their third title of the championships in the men’s club pair. The duo scorched to victory from their Waikato Rowing Club teammates Sam Cook and Cameron Mailer by a margin of more than six-and-a-half seconds, in a time of 6:57.76. Tilt and Handford also claimed top spot in the men’s senior eight and men’s club quad yesterday.

The powerful Waikato Rowing Club enjoyed success elsewhere and among their highlights was taking out the men’s club eight in a time of 6:16.37 from a spirited Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, who finished 1.67secs adrift in silver. Avon Rowing Club also muscled their way onto the dais in bronze in 6:20.69.

Cambridge Rowing Club enjoyed an impressive first finals days and Briana Perry and Brooke Kilmister continued that trend with success in the senior women’s pairs and women’s U19 coxed four. The duo, who both featured in yesterday’s triumphant senior women’s eight crew, cruised to success in the pair with a winning time of 7:22.96 from Waikato ROWING CLUB (7:27.68) and then in the latter event by more than four seconds from Nelson.

Luke Watts was another triple gold medal winner, adding the men’s senior single sculls and senior quad sculls crown to the double sculls title to complete a hugely successful regatta for the Aramoho Whanganui rower. Watts, who says has taken on a more aggressive attitude to his racing this summer, completed an emphatic win in the single sculls in 7:03.96 – a victory margin of 7.19secs from silver medallist Harrison Joseph (Avon Rowing Club). Due recognition should also be given to bronze Simon Smith (7:13.65). The 42 year old Dunstan Arm Club rower matched his achievement of 21 years earlier in taking bronze in this event. Smith retired for the first time in 1997 before taking a 14-year break from the sport, only to be lured back through masters rowing. Watts later featured in the winner senior quad sculls crew for Aramoho Whanganui, who defeated Nelson Rowing club by 3.2secs in 6:28.66.

The men’s U22 coxless fours final served up candidate of race of the day. In an electrifying final, Auckland RPC shaded an epic tussle from RPC Southern by just 0.19 in a time of 6:33.01 – a final made all the more magical by the excitable commentary at Lake Karapiro of Ireland’s World Lightweight pairs champion Mark O’Donovan.

PHOTOS FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. HIGH RESOLUTION VERSIONS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST. MANDATORY CREDIT: STEVE MCARTHUR/ROWING NZ.