Day five of the 2016 Sydney International Rowing Regatta (SIRR 16) brought more nail-biting finals, with one of the highlights coming in the form of Capital Lake’s Cara Grzeskowiak and Sydney University’s Fiona Ewing. The duo claimed gold in the U23 Women’s Double Scull A-Final, with Grzeskowiak describing the race as “brilliant”, and that Ewing and her had had to be strong through the middle of the final to claim the win.

ACT local, Grzeskowiak said: “In the middle kilometre it felt good and we had good rhythm. We were slightly behind in the beginning, but we rowed through to take the win, which we’re really happy about.”

Tom Schramko and Luke Letcher put in a repeat performance of their gold-medal-winning race in 2015, to score victory once again in the U23 Open Men’s Double Scull. Schramko and Letcher, who featured in the U23 Australian Rowing Team in 2015 in the same boat class, led from the start in order to win by length over the Mosman-composite crew of Alex Purnell and Robert Black who were second.

Schramko said about the race: “We were just looking to find our rhythm, we locked in early, and once we found it, we were able to execute the win.”

Letcher said that the race bodes well for them, and is a sign of the effort they’ve put into the double scull: “We’ve been training pretty hard, and the race was a good representation of the work we’ve been doing, and to have it pay off today was really awesome.”

In the Open Women’s Double Scull finals it was Sydney University’s Sally Kehoe and Mosman’s Genevieve Horton who took first over Georgia Nesbitt from Huon and Hannah Every-Hall from Canberra. Ella Fletcher from Huon and Sarah Pound from UTS, rounded of the trio to take the bronze today. Kehoe and Horton led for the entire race, and pushed out their lead to win by a length.

The Open Men’s Double Scull Championship was taken out by Chris Morgan from Sydney RC and David Watts from Swan River, who will represent the Australian Rowing Team in this event later this year. They led Huon’s Wilson Mure and Buckingham Rowing Club’s Max McQueeny, who were closely followed by Jordan Smith from Melbourne University and Ryan Barraclough from Mosman.

Morgan said about this event: “These races really give us a chance to settle before the big event in six months. We’ve got some good international racing coming up, and those are going to be a test for us. Today was a chance to put down a good performance.”

In the Open Men’s Four Final it was tight racing between the Sydney-composite crew of Alexander Lloyd, Josh Booth, Josh Dunkley-Smith and Spencer Turrin, and the Adelaide-composite crew of Alex Hill, Angus Moore, Joshua Hicks, and Scott Laidler. With 500 metres to go there was just one second between these crews, with the Sydney-composite crew pushing ahead in the final leg of the race to take the win.

Booth said about the race: “The atmosphere at the start line was pretty nervous, with a lot of strong Fours in the field. We got a small margin out of the start, and just tried to build on that through the race. At the 500 metres there were really just two Fours left in the race. We were lucky to get it together and then lead to the finish.”

In the Open Women’s Four Lucy Stephan, from Melbourne University, joined Charlotte Sutherland, Sophie Sutherland and Fiona Albert from Mercantile RC to take home the Championship. The four women wore green ribbons in their race to honour the late Sarah Tait of the Australian Rowing Team who also rowed for a large part of her career out of Mercantile RC.

The rain set in before lunch but this didn’t slow the races, with international crews of the regatta well represented in the Open Women’s Lightweight Double Scull Final. Guo Ru Liang and Xiao Yu Yuan from Guangdong Province led Toowong’s Amy James and Laura Dunn from UTS who took home silver. Team Hong Kong’s Ka Man Lee and Yuen Yin Lee achieved the bronze.

In the Open Men’s Lightweight Double Scull Final, Perry Ward from Swan River and James Wilson from Mercantile led from the start to win in clear water back to Team Hong Kong’s Chiu Mang Tang and Hin Chun Chiu. Team Thailand were only 0.4 of a second off the pace, with Ihram Ihram and Tanzil Hadid receiving the bronze.

In the LTA Mixed Coxed Four finals, the Australian Rowing Team members; Kathleen Murdoch from Nepean, Jeremy McGrath from Balmain, Davinia Lefroy and Brock Ingram, both from Western Australia Rowing Club and coxswain Josephine Burnand from Mosman took out the gold medal. Achieving second was Kevin du Toit from UTS, Kevin Wall from Western Australia Rowing Club, Sara Waitzer from Tasmania Rowing Club, Matilda Slater-Phillips from Balmain and coxswain Renae Domaschenz from the Australian National University.

Murdoch said the race was a confidence booster going into the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta Crew in April: “I think we’re much stronger this year, and we’re going in (to the qualifying regatta) much better prepared, and I’m feeling really positive about this crew.”

Erik Horrie from Sydney Rowing Club rowed strongly to get gold in the AS Men’s Single Scull, with Tristan Higham awarded the silver medal. Horrie will represent Australia in the same event on the international circuit this year, starting at World Rowing Cup 3 in Poznan, Poland. Cathleen Lisle of Balmain RC won the gold medal in the women’s equivalent final.

The repechage of the Schoolboy Eights provided some tight racing. First to cross the line and book themselves a place in Sunday’s A-Final was St Joseph’s Sydney, followed by St Peter’s and then Brisbane Boys, however there was one more place up for grabs. Scotch Adelaide and Scotch Oakburn tussled for the last position right down to the line, with Adelaide making it just 0.2 of a second before Scotch Oakburn to book the final spot for Sunday.

With the start of the sprint racing tomorrow, as well as many finals in underage events, day six of racing at SIRR 16 is shaping up to be an entertaining one.