Sally Kehoe claims the female equivalent

Day Four of the 2016 Sydney International Rowing Regatta (SIRR) saw the first medals of the event awarded. With plenty of A-Finals up first thing, there was lots of tight racing in front of excited crowd in sunny Penrith.

Cameron Girdlestone of Sydney University BC, who was recently named in Australia’s Men’s Quadruple Scull, was crowned Male Single Scull Champion of Australia after leading a tight field of competitors that included some of Australia’s top male scullers.

Girdlestone crossed the line in a time of 6.52.02, with Sydney Rowing Club’s Chris Morgan in second, closely followed by Girdlestone’s SUBC team-mate, Nicholas Purnell. Girdlestone won by a boat length after leading by a margin of only one second in the first half of the race.

Girdlestone said post-race: “It was a high quality field, which just shows the depth that we’ve got here in men’s sculling at the moment. You could have thrown a blanket over the field at the 500 and the 1000. For me, I just had to stay cool, calm, and collected, and do the damage in the second half.”

Girdlestone, alongside Karsten Forsterling, James McRae, and Alexander ‘Sasha’ Belonogoff, who make up Australia’s Men’s Quad Scull, said about the transition from training in the quad scull to racing in the single scull for this regatta: “We’ve gone from the fastest boat to the slowest boat in sculling, so it has been an interesting change, and they’re very different boats. It was a bit of a building regatta, with the heat and the semi, and then putting it all together in the final, and it was nice to be able to do that today.”

In the female equivalent event, the Open Women’s Single Scull, some first-class sculling was on display. Queenslander Sally Kehoe surged ahead of fellow Australian Rowing team-mate, and Queenslander, Madeleine Edmunds to win in a time of 7:32:54, while Tasmanian Kerry Hore snapped up third place.

Kehoe said about her race: “I’m pretty happy with my personal race, I certainly had to work through every round this time. I really feel that I’m rowing the single the way I’d like the double to start progressing as well. It’s really great to see girls like Maddie Edmunds coming up into the medal positions now. This will be my last year at Nationals, so it is good to see young girls like Maddie giving Kez [Kerry Hore] and I a bit of grief.”

As races continued, Cormac Kennedy-Leverett from Tweed Heads took out the Thomas Keller Trophy, winning the U19 Men’s Single Scull A Final in 7:17:02. In the U19 Women’s Single Scull, Harriet Hudson from Sydney led for the entire race to win the A Final in a time of 7:57:75.

The single sculling continued, with Australian Rowing Team member and Mosman RC representative, Genevieve Horton winning the U23 A Final. Horton led right from the start, and pushed out her lead to win by a margin of six seconds, she was followed by Cara Grzeskowiak and Rowena Meredith.

In the men’s equivalent, the race favourites Luke Letcher and Tom Schramko battled down the course, the defending champion Letcher was favourite to retain his title but Schramko had other plans in mind. Shramko, representing Mosman RC, led in the first half of the race, with Black Mountain’s Letcher closing the margin to bring the difference back to within less than a second with 500 metres to go. Schramko wound the rating up in the last 250m to push ahead and win by a boat length over his U23 Australian Rowing Team crewmate while following Letcher over the line to take third was ANU’s Caleb Antill.

The Open Women’s Pair saw Victorian duo Lucy Stephan and Charlotte Sutherland win with clear water followed by Alexandra Hagan and Molly Goodman in second. Stephan and Sutherland, rowed in Australia’s Women’s Pair in 2014 and here they showed their strength by leading this race from start to finish.

In the Open Men’s Coxeless Pair it was Alex Hill and Joshua Booth who claimed gold. The pair who are currently training Canberra in Australia’s Men’s Sweep squad were a scratch crew after some illness hit each of their planned crews.

Booth said about the race: “It’s good to have secured a win with Hilly [Alex Hill] especially as we only decided to row together last night after both our crew mates were ruled out. There were some really competitive and strong pairs out there so it’s good to have won today.”

The U21 Women’s Lightweight Single Scull produced some close finishes. Caitlin Bloomfield led for the first 500m, but was passed by Madeleine Williams with 1000m to go. Williams claimed first, with Bloomfield in second, and Verayna Zilm received third, with less than half a second between her and Bloomfield.

In the men’s event, the field was also competitive. Team Hong Kong’s Chi Fung Chan won after being in the middle of the field 500m into the race. Patrick Boere, who led going into the 500m, claimed second, and Matthew Byrne was third.

Huon’s Georgia Nesbitt achieved a win in the Open Lightweight Women’s Single. Queensland’s young Amy James, who had led off from the start, ended up in second, while Nesbitt’s Huon team-mate Ella Flecker took the third. Claiming gold in the men’s event was James Wilson from Mercantile RC. He was followed closely by Jaruwat Saensuk from Team Thailand, and Sydney University’s Jack Hanley was the bronze medal winner.

The racing continued with the Final of the TA Women’s Single Scull where Kathryn Ross won in a time of 4:35:20. In the men’s event it was Gavin Bellis who took the win with 4:26:00. Ross and Bellis will represent the Australian Rowing Team in the TA Mixed Double at World Rowing Cup 3 and the three-time World Champions further highlighted their prowess on the water with their wins today.

The afternoon saw heats of many of the school events. Of particular interest was the Schoolgirl and Schoolboy Coxed Fours. The girl’s event saw Loreto-Marryatville, Loreto Kirribilli and St Margaret’s win heats to move straight to the semi-finals. The first heat of the boy’s event was a close race, with St Augustine’s and Ballarat High holding off St Patrick’s to move straight to the Final. Joining them in the Final with top two placings in the second heat was Melbourne High and Newington College.

With photo finishes, and close racing, Day Four provided exciting viewing. Racing begins at 8am tomorrow with plenty of medals up for grabs.