By Rupert Guinness at the Sydney International Regatta Centre 


Tara Rigney showcased her world-class talent before a home crowd by winning a third Australian Rowing Championship in the Open Women’s Single Scull final on Thursday. 


Rigney (SUBC), 24 and the 2022 and 2023 World Championship Single Scull Bronze Medallist, claimed at an emphatic win at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith. 


Day Four of the Australian Championships saw a feast of finals from more than 100 races. 


Rigney’s win was a highlight and also saw her awarded the Kim Brennan Cup, named after the Australian 2016 Olympic Games Single Scull champion who is one of her major inspirations. 


“I’m absolutely stoked,” said Rigney, a 2021 Tokyo Olympian who has been selected as Australia’s Single Sculler for the 2024 season. 


“Getting a trophy with Kim Brennan’s name on it is really inspiring. It was really nice to see a different field out there, awesome to see some new names that I haven’t raced before.” 


In cool winds that shifted from tail to cross head, Rigney won the final to in 7 minutes 34.72s. In second place was Tokyo 2021 Olympic Quad scull Bronze Medallist and 2024 ART member Ria Thompson (Uni Qld) at 13.64s, with Catherine Khan (ANU) third at 22.22s. 


Rigney led the race from start to finish as expected. But despite her commanding lead she never let off and powered every stroke until she crossed the finish. 


“There’s no point going out and not racing the full thing,” Rigney said. “And you owe it to your competitors, to everyone to give it all you have got one hundred per cent of the time.” 


Rigney was pleased with her execution of her race plan that set her up for her commanding win.  


“I really wanted to have a really solid middle ‘K’. That’s something I’ve been working on with my coach [Ellen Randell],” she said.  


“I was happy with the start. My plan was just to remain composed when other boats were around and to work through the middle ‘K’.” 


Open Men’s Single Scull 


David Bartholot (SUBC), 28, overturned his loss to Australian Double Scull partner Marcus Della Marta (SUBC) in Wednesday’s semi-final the best way possible – by winning the final. 


Bartholot, the NSW Champion, won in 6:58.46, beating Della Marta by 2.38s. In third was Campbell Watts (SUBC) at 3.01s to make it a Sydney University clean sweep. Defending Australian Champion Caleb Antill (ANU-ACT) finished fourth at 6.56s. 


Bartholot’s race was excellently executed, with him pushing through as planned from third place at 500m to take the lead from the fast-starting Della Marta after 1500m. 


“I was really happy to be able to get the win today,” Bartholot said. “In the semi I was really trying to get through. I was trying to save a bit for today. In the past I’ve worn myself out too early in the regatta so, I was trying to time it to have my best Single Scull race today.”  


Bartholot did find his “best” when it mattered, in a race that unfolded as he had planned.  


“Marcus is really fast out from the start. I knew I could probably ‘walk’ past him through the middle. 


“So, I was really just trying to not let Marcus get too far ahead of me; and trying to make a move through the middle of the race, which is what happened.” 


Open Men’s Coxless Pair 


Simon Keenan and Patty Holt raced brilliantly to show why they have been selected by Rowing Australia as the Australian Coxless Pair for the ART’s international campaign. 


Keenan (MUBC) and Holt (UTS-Haberfield) led all the way to win in 6:30.08s and 7.09s ahead of second placed Jackson Kench (SUBC) and Rohan Lavery (MUBC), who are the ART men’s reserves, and 14.61s clear of Charlie Batrouney and Hamish Wynn-Pope (MUBC) in third. 


How did Keenan and Holt duo clearly handle the expectation in them as the Australian pair?  


“We went out, and just want to be really process oriented. We’ve been doing ‘Ks’ [kilometres] down the river in training. You can’t go out and just think ‘we’re going to blast out’. You have to nail the process and keep going back to it. We did pretty well today.” 


Keenan said the final provided them the stepping stone they needed.  


“It was the race we wanted to win and the race we needed to win to set our campaign off to the right tone,” Keenan said.  


“There was no push over pairs in that event. Australian pair rowing is always pretty strong. We never got to have it easy out there. And they didn’t give it to us today.” 


In other finals on Thursday: 


PR3 Men’s Single Scull Jed Altschwager, of the Australian World Champion Pr3 Mixed Double scull crew with Nikki Ayers, won the Pr3 Men’s Single Scull to show his Paralympic Games preparation is on track. 


Altschwager (Torrens) won in 7:44.90. In second was Seth Swinney (Mercantile) at 4.40s, followed at 9.33s by Mac Russell (Uni of Qld), who beat him at the NSW Championships. 


“It feels amazing. I had a race at NSW States [and lost] to Mac. I didn’t have the best start and came second. So, to get it done today is incredible … It’s awesome,” Altschwager said. 


PR3 Women’s Single Scull Nikki Ayers mirrored her PR3 Mixed Double Scull partner, Jed Altschwager, on performance with her own winning performance in the PR3 Women’s Single Scull. 


Ayers (Capital Lakes) led from start to finish to win in 8:18.15, beating second placed Lisa Greissl (Lake Macquarie) by 16.80 and Bronte Marshall (Community), in third, by 45.85s. 


“It shows the hard work and the determination that I’ve had over the last six or seven years in this journey is really paying off,” Ayers said, adding that her and Altschwager’s win augured well for their Double Scull campaign that is steered towards the Paris Paralympics. 


“We both wanted to come out here to win and essentially prove that is why we are the PR3 Australian Double Scull, current world record holders and world champions,” she said. 


“It shows we are strong in our category, doing well and we’re keen to keep doing better.” 


Open Women’s Coxless Pair Jessica Morrison (Mercantile) and Georgia Patten (WARC), both ART members, won in 7:09.02. Finishing second was Paige Barr (Mercantile) and Bronwyn Cox (UWABC) at 2.73s, while Katrina Werry (Mercantile) and Lucy Stephen (MUBC) finished third at 6.28s.  


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