By Rupert Guinness at the Sydney International Regatta Centre


The most feted day of Australian rowing outside of an Olympic Games or World Championships arrives this weekend with the annual Interstate Championships.


No sooner will the Australian Rowing Championships end on Sunday just after midday, attention of the Australian rowing community will turn from Club interests to State rivalry.


The Interstate Rowing Championships are the one day of the rowing year when athletes and supporters can shed their inhibition and tap deep into ties with their respective States.


It is a fanfare of State versus State rivalry dating back to more than a Century. It is the platform from which the winning crews earn interstate bragging rights for the next year.

For the losers, defeat – no matter how narrow – commits them to 12 months of torment.


For those competing, the intensity of the Interstate Championships is as close to an Olympic Games or World Championship race that they can experience in Australia.


The blue riband events of the day are the King’s and Queen’s Cup events for interstate dominance in Men’s and Women’s Coxed Eights competition.


The men’s coxed Eights race has been held since 1878, but the King’s Cup was first raced for in 1921, the same year that the first interstate women’s race was held, but then for Fours.


The women’s race did not become an Eight oared event until 1999 when the Queen’s Cup – the Queen Elizabeth II Trophy – was also introduced.


However, the intensity of the Eights resonates throughout every boat class, and into the crowds of thousands of rowing supporters who line the banks to cheer their States on.


Most relaxed are arguably Rowing Australia selectors and coaches who love to see athletes released from the shackles of national duties and feed off their State loyalties for a day.


The Australian Rowing Championships are not a selection regatta. But the big difference between the ARC and Interstate Championships is that crews are not made up mostly of national selections resulting from trials. They are bound by pure connections to their States.


“Absolutely,” said Australian Head Women’s Coach John Keogh who also coaches the Women’s Coxed Eight.


“It’s a fantastic event and showcase of State versus State in Australia,” Keogh added.


“Why wouldn’t you want the athletes to be part of it … with the history of King’s Cup, Queen’s Cup and all events. It’s an important part of our rowing calendar.


“I love it. I love the interstate rivalry, having rowed in it myself.”


Keogh is not concerned about any interstate banter overspilling into his squad’s preparations once they reassemble on Monday.


“No, not really,” Keogh said, with a laugh. “Sometimes there’s a bit of banter going on whish is all healthy. I just think that’s all part of it which is okay.”


Mark Prater, coach of the Australian Men’s Coxed Eight, enjoys watching his rowers blend into State crews that include non-ART rowers for one race a year.


“It’s interesting,” Prater said. “People come from outside the NTC [National Training Centre] to row those boats. How they gels is often the difference between a crew that wins or not.”


Like Keogh, Prater does not fear any interstate rivalry will carry into his Eight’s preparation. “It’s a race with a winner and a loser, then they’ll move on to bigger fish to fry,” he said.



Races this weekend include:


Saturday: Australian Rowing Championship finals

Open Lightweight Women’s Quad Scull

Open Lightweight Men’s Quad Scull

Club Women’s Coxless Four

Club Men’s Coxless Four

Open Lightweight Men’s Coxless Four

Club Women’s Double Scull

Club Men’s Double Scull

Open Women’s Quad Scull

Open Men’s Coxed Eight

Open Women’s Coxed Eight

Open Men’s Quad Scull

Open Women’s Quad Scull

Pr3 Coxed Four

School events

Club Sprint races


Sunday: Interstate Championship Regatta

Interstate Women’s Pr3 Single Scull

Interstate Men’s Pr3 Single Scull

Interstate Women’s Single Scull

Interstate Men’s Single Scull

Interstate Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Scull

Interstate Lightweight Men’s Coxless Four

Interstate Women’s Youth Eight

Interstate Men’s Youth Eight

Interstate Women’s Eight

Interstate Men’s Eight


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