By Rupert Guinness at the Sydney International Regatta Centre 

Marcus Della Marta and David Bartholot are Australian Rowing Team (ART) Double Scull crewmates. But put them against each other in a Single Scull race and the competition between them is as fierce as when they take on their opposition in the Double Scull boat. 

That was clear at the Australian Rowing Championships (ARC) at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith on Wednesday when they raced in the Open Men’s Single Scull semi-finals. 

Della Marta (SUBC) and Bartholot (SUBC) drew the same semi-final from which the first four qualified for Thursday’s final. This time, Della Marta got the upper hand and won. 

Asked if the mood changes between the two when they race in the Single Scull, Della Marta said: “I’ve got so much respect for Dave from racing this season, and that doesn’t change.  

“Now we’re together [as a Double Scull] I want to prove I’m good enough to row with him. 

“To do that I need to row well in the Single. It’s always been good fun racing him, a challenge, but the Single is a bit different to other boat classes. It’s on the line every time you race.” 

On Wednesday, Della Marta won the first semi-final in 7 minutes 01.85 seconds, fending off a fast-finishing Bartholot, the NSW Single Scull Champion, by 2.11s.  

Third at 6.63s was the defending Australian Champion, Caleb Antill (ANU-ACT), who is in the ‘Australia A’ sculling squad, followed by Jackson Free (Griffith Uni-Surfers Paradise) in fourth at 9.80s. 

The second semi-final was won by Campbell Watts (SUBC), also a member of the ‘Australia A’ sculling squad. Watts won in 7:02.23. Second place was Hamish Harding (ANU-ACT) at 2.19s, followed by Joel Cain (MUBC) at 4.27s and James Meads (Banks) at 5.29s. 

Della Marta’s plan was to attack the race early. “I backed myself in that first 500m,” Della Marta said. “I got out well and tried to hold everyone off in that middle and third 500. Dave came back at the end, but I was able just hold on, which I was really, really happy with.” 

Della Marta, 23, and Bartholot, 28, will also race in the Open Double Scull final on Friday. The final is an important event for every entry with the national title up for grabs, but the race is also an important opportunity for them to hone their combination in a race before the final Olympic Qualifying Regatta at Lucerne in May.  

Australia has not yet qualified the Double Scull for the Paris Olympics – that task is now theirs’ after being selected in the boat. 

Della Marta said the Double Scull is making progress since being named at the selection trials. They won their heat on Tuesday to make the final but believe they can do far better. 

“We came together really well, really quick. It’s about building those little things,” he said. 

“Yesterday probably wasn’t our best performance, but that’s not a bad thing at this time. We’ve got a few things to fix, and we’ll go out there and put out a good result on Friday.” 

Della Marta is not only driven by his Olympic dream, but also the dream of his elder crewmate. Bartholot has represented Australia in three World Rowing Championships – in 2019 and 2022 in the Double Scull and in 2023 in the Quad Scull; but an Olympics still eludes him. 

“I really want to get David there,” said Della Marta. “I really want to do it for him – and for myself. But for that to happen we have to tick that box ‘FQR’ [final qualifying regatta]. 

“I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain out of this experience. I’m young, but there’s no point thinking about the next [Olympic] cycle. You never know what’s going to happen.  

“I’ve got one shot to make an Olympics and this is the shot. Not many people can say they’ve got a shot. I’m looking forward to it.” 

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