By Rupert Guinness at the Sydney International Regatta Centre 

Victoria earned major bragging rights at the Interstate Rowing Championships on Sunday by winning two of the most prestigious and sought-after crowns in the sport in Australia. 

At the Sydney International Regatta Centre (SIRC) in Penrith, Victoria won both the King’s Cup and Queen Elizabeth II Cup for the respective Men’s and Women’s Interstate Coxed Eight titles. 

NSW was awarded the John Coates AC Cup as the winning State on overall points from all events in the Interstate Rowing Championships, following the Australian Rowing Championships. NSW won with 60 points, followed by Victoria (56) and Queensland (45). 


But the smiles on the faces of the winning Victorian Men’s and Women’s Eights showed how much their wins meant. It was the first time Victoria had won both races since 2021 when the Interstate Rowing Championships were held at Lake Barrington in Tasmania. 





The events brought to an end a fabulous week of racing at SIRC, highlighted also by the Australian Rowing Championships that finished shortly before Sunday’s interstate races. 

Rowing Australia Chief Executive Sarah Cook said the week was a “fantastic celebration” of the sport at the 2000 Olympic venue. Fittingly, the return to SIRC after five years also fell on the same year as the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, which are the ultimate goal for many who raced here. 

“It’s been really special to come back here in the Olympic and Paralympic year,” Cook said. “To have the opportunity to be at this fantastic legacy venue to see our Olympians and Paralympians who are preparing for Paris has been extraordinary. So, it’s just been a fantastic celebration.” 

Interstate Men’s Eight – the King’s Cup 

Racing in lane two and in perfectly flat conditions, Victoria took the lead from the start and led throughout the 2000m distance. The crew won in 5 minutes 33.26 seconds, beating the defending and fancied champions NSW by 2.75s. In third was South Australia at 9.73. 


In the Victorian boat was Ben Canham (bow), Tim Masters, Austin Reinehr, Rohan Lavery, Fergus Hamilton, Simon Keenan, Jack Robertson, Angus Widdicombe (stroke) and Josh Rook (cox).  

It was a special win for them all, but especially so for Canham who as ‘Bow’ wore the white ‘Big V’ and was first across the line. The last time he raced in the bow seat was 2021. 

The moment was not missed by Canham, a member of the Australian Men’s Coxed Eight. “I think I may have found my calling. I should keep it going for the rest of this year,” he said. 

Canham said the Victorian crew had it sights on victory ever since losing to NSW last year when the Insterstate Rowing Championships were held in Perth. 

“We knew coming into it that we had something special,” Canham said. “We have been building since last year when we didn’t quite nail it on the day.  

“You only get one chance (a year) to do it and if you make a mistake, that’s it. There is a lot of energy and emotion put into this one particular race. We knew at the start of this week that we would be onto it.” 

Canham said the win was one of his best. “It’s up there. One of my previous most memorable was in 2021 at Lake Barrington when we won. This is right up there with it.” 

Interstate Women’s Eight – the Queen Elizabeth II Cup 

Unlike the Men’s event, Victoria had to mount a stern comeback to surpass early leaders NSW. 

Victoria rose to the challenge superbly, passing the fast-starting NSW who were gallant in their challenge after 1500m.Victorian quickly took a length’s lead and then charged away to an emphatic win in 6:12.88. NSW were second at 6.64s, followed by Queensland at 10.28s. 

The win reinforced Victoria’s domination in the event. It has lost just once (2019) in nine years.  

Sunday’s crew was Katrina Werry (bow), Eliza Gaffney, Jean Mitchell, Amanda Bateman, Laura Foley, Lucy Stephan OAM, Jessica Morrison OAM, Paige Barr (stroke) and cox Hayley Verbunt. 

For Stephan, a Tokyo 2021 Olympic Gold medallist in the Four, it was her 11th in the event – a record – with seven from 2012 to 2018 as well as in 2021, 2022, 2023 and now 2024. Her stellar resumé also includes two World Rowing Championships Gold Medals in the Women’s Four (2019-2017,) a World Silver (2018) and Bronze (2013) in the same boat. 



“A good race is never an easy race,” Stephan said of Victoria’s answer to NSW’s fast start.  

Stephan can’t compare her 11 wins in the race that she has competed in 12 times. “Every one is special,” she said. “There are ones you remember – your first, the ones you really had to work and row through when you get jumped at the start. This one is a bit of that today.” 

In other Interstate Championship Regatta events: 


Interstate Women’s PR3 Single Scull  

Nikki Ayers added another victory to her week, representing the ACT and winning in 8:35.40s. In second place was Lisa Greissl of NSW at 14.75s, followed by Susannah Lutz of Victoria in third at 23.62. Kayley Mitchell of Queensland was fourth at 1:13.84s. 

Interstate Men’s PR3 Single Scull  


Jed Altschwager, Ayers’ crewmate in the World Champion Mixed PR3 Double Scull, emulated her performance with a strong win for South Australia. Altschwager won in 7:48.88s, beating Mac Russell of Queensland by 5.74s and Stuart John of the ACT by 10.99s. 


Interstate Women’s Single Scull – the Nell Slatter Trophy 


Dual World Championship Single Scull Bronze medallist Tara Rigney produced another trademark dominant performance to win for NSW for the third year in a row. Rigney, who won Gold in the Open Women’s Single Scull and Quad Scull events at the Australian Rowing Championships, won the interstate championship in7:39.92s. Second was Ria Thompson for Queensland at 9.78s, followed by Cara Grzeskowiak of the ACT at 13.69s. 

Interstate Men’s Single Scull – the President’s Cup 


Alex Hill OAM showcased his versatility with a victory for South Australia. The 2021 Tokyo Olympic champion in the Men’s Coxless Four, in which he has been selected for the 2024 season, won this year’s interstate Single Scull title in 6:59.61s in a brilliant display of power.  

Hill beat NSW’s Marcus Della Marta, second at 3.84s, and ACT’s Caleb Antill, third at 5.13s. 

Interstate Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Scull – the Victoria Cup 


This was a commanding victory for NSW by the crew of Neve Tierney, Giorgia Miansarow and Laura and Gracie Sypher. NSW won in 6:47.74s, beating Tasmania by 4.50s and Victoria by 15.38s. 

Interstate Lightweight Men’s Coxless Four – the Penrith Cup 


Tasmania claimed victory in an impressive time of 6:14.99s. The crew of Angus Paynter, Oscar Birtwistle, Laurie Dean and Alec Paterson had to fend off a brave challenge over the last 500m by Victoria, who were second at 1.00s with Western Australia third at 8:02s. 

Interstate Women’s Youth Eight – the Bicentennial Cup 


It was good fortune for Queensland, who bolted away from the start to win by two thirds of a length in 6:34.83s. The crew of Edie Russell, Astrid Thomas, Georgia Montague, Sophie Malcolm, Eliza Bridgefoot, Ruby Dollar, Alice Ready, Tylah Hutton and cox Priscilla Russell fended off a brave Victoria who finished second at 2.42s, followed by NSW at 5.25s. 

Interstate Men’s Youth Eight – the Noel F Wilkinson Trophy 


NSW led the next wave of talent from the state with a win that augurs well for the future. The crew of Oliver St Pierre, Nick Whalan, Oscar Beregi, Brandon Smith, Joe Lynch, Alec Hoskin, Charlie Hine, Joshua Wilson led well at 1500m, and staved off a late charge by Queensland to win in 5:52.06s. Queensland was at 1.06s. Third was Victoria at 1.54s. 

Australian Rowing Championships 


The Interstate Rowing Championships followed the Australian Rowing Championships that saw Sydney Rowing Club win the Gold Medal Tally (11.75). Second was Sydney University Boat Club (8) followed by Melbourne University Boat Club (7). Best of the schools was Kinross Wolaroi, 6th (6), followed by The King’ School, 10th (3) and St Catherine’s, 11th (3).  

Highlight of the school races on Sunday were the Coxed Eights finals. The Schoolgirl race was won by St Catherine’s School, NSW, from Pymble Ladies’ and Melbourne Girls Grammar. The Schoolboys event saw the King’s School win over The Southport School and St Josephs.  

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