The lake was full of rowers running through their final race preparations as the sun broke over the course on Friday – Day Five – of the 2022 Australian Rowing Championships. 

The first race of the day was the PR2 Mixed Double Scull, the boat class just recently added to the Paralympic Games schedule. The University of Queensland Boat Club and Drummoyne Rowing Club combination of Mac Russell and Julia Story won the race convincingly, pushing hard out of the start to have clear water over a tight three-way race for the podium that developed behind them. Aaron Skinner of Drummoyne Rowing Club and Stephanie Walker of Nestles Rowing Club battled Bundaberg Rowing Club duo Christian Lane-Krebs and Rebecca Markwell and the ANU and Balmain Rowing Club combination of Bronte Marshall and Stuart John. Skinner and Walker put in a strong second thousand to push past the Bundaberg crew and secure the silver, while Lane-Krebs and Markwell took the bronze. 

The Open Women’s Coxless Four was a battle all the way down the 2000m course. Four crews all pushed and overlapped one another from start to finish, with Olympic Champion in this boat class Annabelle McIntyre OAM of Fremantle RC leading the entirely West Australian combination over the finish line first to win the Herald and Weekly Times trophy. The Mercantile and Sydney Rowing Club combination claimed the silver by a narrow margin from the leaders of 0.73 seconds, while we waited on a photo-finish for the final podium position between the Melbourne and Sydney University crews. Melbourne University just hung on to their lead over the fast-finishing Sydney University crew to nab the bronze.  

It was the second final in less than an hour for new Australian Team Member Genevieve Hart of Fremantle RC, joking that the gold in the Under 23 Women’s Double Scull 50 minutes prior was like a “warm up” for this race.  

“It’s a massive privilege to row with the Olympians [McIntyre and Giorgia Patten of West Australian RC]. They’re such an inspiration, so it’s amazing to learn from them. I’m really grateful to have the opportunity,” Hart said. 

McIntyre said the combination, with fourth rower Jacqui Swick of Swan River RC – also new on the Australian Rowing Team – were a scratch combination that just worked. 

“All four of us were really diligent in just accepting whatever we needed to do to get the boat to work and to get the boat going as fast as possible” McIntyre said. On the implications for the Queen’s Cup race on Sunday, McIntyre looks hopeful for the WA group to perform. “Like any crew racing that day, we want to go out and win. It’s a journey, so if it’s not this year it’s next year.”  

The Open Men’s Coxless Four was won by the Sydney University BC and Sydney RC combination of Alex Purnell OAM, Spencer Turrin OAM, Jack Hargreaves OAM and Jack O’Brien. The crew, named as the crew that will contest the World Cups later this year, were grateful for the opportunity to race the new combination as O’Brien is the only change from the crew that won the Gold Medal at Tokyo 2020 last year.  

The Open Men’s Double Scull was won by lightweight combination Hamish Harding of ANU Boat Club and Red Matthews from Mercantile RC, the two named as the Australian Lightweight Double Scull a few weeks ago. On whether they were intimidated by racing in the typically faster boat class, Harding said, “If we want to be competitive on the international stage, we have to be beating these big guys, so I suppose there’s a bit of pressure from that.  

“It’s just another opportunity to rehearse what we want to do over two kilometres. It’s good for us to have this opportunity to race fast as we don’t have a whole lot of racing experience under our belt.” 

The Open Lightweight Men’s Coxed Eight is always an exciting race, and this year did not disappoint. This year the Buckingham Trophy was won by the Barwon Composite crew, who led the field the whole way down the course. The Toowong Composite crew took the Silver Medal, while it was a tight battle for the Bronze. The Tasmania University Composite crew held third position throughout the first half of the race before the UTS Haberfield/University of Queensland composite pushed into the podium position as the crews approached the 1500m mark, eventually holding on to win the Bronze Medal.  

Anneka Reardon and Sophie Jerapetritis of ANU took out the title of the Open Lightweight Women’s Double Scull in a thriller, overtaking race leaders Huon Rowing Club’s Eve Mure and Georgia Nesbitt in the closing stages of the race to clinch the gold. Jerapetritis said it helped that the two had such a good bond, it made rowing the boat together easy. “We were pretty excited coming into the race today. We’ve had some good races together, but we wanted to put our best one out today. It’s great to finish on a high note for the season.” Reardon will go on to race the Open Women’s Lightweight Double on the world circuit later this year. 

One of the more dramatic races of the day was the Under 23 Men’s Coxless Four. While the crew of Fox, Miscamble, Smith and Achermann from Melbourne University BC led from start to finish, the podium positions saw a battle the whole way through the race. The KAND/Mosman composite crew led the Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC) crew through the 500m mark, but SUBC worked to pull them back through the middle thousand and threatened to overtake race leaders Melbourne University in the final 500m. The speed and pressure in the Sydney University crew proved too much in the closing stages of the race, as a crew member lost control of an oar and crabbed a mere few strokes before the line, checking the run of their boat. The KAND composite crew pounced and rowed through to steal the Silver, while the boat run of the Sydney Uni boat allowed them to still cross the line for the bronze.  

Pine Rivers Rowing Club’s Ella Smith and Jaeve Proberts won the Under 19 Women’s Double Scull for the second year in a row. This follows their win in the Under 19 Coxless Pair yesterday. Proberts said she was excited to get the win in the double as it has been their main focus, and they hope to be selected in the Junior Australian Team for the boat class. The duo is aiming for a trifecta of Gold Medals, as they compete in their Quad final tomorrow alongside Talisa Knoke-Driver of Sydney Rowing Club and Zoe Bond of Canberra Grammar, who won Silver in the Double Scull. Elena Moran and Imogen Lang of the Canberra/ANU composite took the Bronze.   

It was a sister-act for the winners of the Under 21 Women’s Double Scull, with Jessica and Sophie Malcolm from the Centenary Rowing Club winning the hotly contested race. Sydney Rowing Club’s Liesel Page and Laura Sypher claimed the Silver Medal, as Griffith University and the Brisbane & GPS Rowing Club composite of Hannah Kenway and Danica Free, daughter of Olympic Champion Duncan Free who also coached the crew, crossed the line ahead of Sydney University Boat Club’s Sophia Wightman and Madeline Vagg to claim the Bronze. 

St Catherine’s School Victoria looked to be the fastest moving Schoolgirl Eight on the water this afternoon; the School’s Coxed Quad and Eight heats were raced again due to a data issue late yesterday. Melbourne Grammar School showed their strength in tough conditions, posting a time of six minutes and eight seconds to secure the fastest lane for the A final that will be run on Sunday morning.