Day six of the Sydney International Rowing Regatta (SIRR 16) saw the first ever sprints held as part of the National Championships. Spectators revelled in the fast-paced and exciting 500 metre sprint events, with many of the crews finishing within seconds of each other, producing some interesting viewing and nail-biting action at the Sydney International Regatta Centre.

The Open Men’s Eight winning crew from Sydney charged down the course in a time of 1:15:00, the fastest of all the sprints events of the day. The crew of Josh Hicks, Edward White, Alexander Lloyd, Spencer Turrin, Simon Keenan, Nathan Bowden, Chris Morgan, Angus Moore and coxswain Kendall Brodie led with clear water back to the crew from Leichhardt.

Moore said about the sprint: “We were pretty excited to be a part of this new format of racing. There was club pride on the line. The race started well, and it was great to win the first one of its kind at the regatta. It’s exciting racing, especially with the tail wind today.”

Simon Lane, coach of one of the medallist crews in the School division of the sprints series said: “I think it is a fantastic concept. The racing is tight, and fast. My crew at St Peter’s Girls were lucky enough to place second.”

Earlier in the day, the Final of the LTA Mixed Double Scull saw Kathleen Murdoch from Nepean and Kevin du Toit from UTS combine to take the gold medal. Their double led from the start, and pushed out the lead to win in a time of 3:37:54 over Alistair Chong and Sara Waitzer from Tasmania University Boat Club, who claimed second.

The U17 Women’s Coxed Four featured some close racing, with the top three boats all finishing with less than two seconds between each other. Gold went to the Queensland crew of Ella Mentzines, Ellie Club, Sophie Houston, Gabrielle Agnew, and coxswain Emily Brunner. There was a battle for silver and bronze, with crews close through the final 250m of the race, with the University of Queensland composite crew holding on to their narrow lead to be second, and Somerville House third.

The U17 Men’s Coxed Four saw The Southport School win with a comfortable lead. The crew of Cormac Kennedy-Leverett, Tyler Wright, Wil Browning, Harry Cox and coxswain Oscar Churchill led from the start to take the win with clear water back to Kinross Wolaroi in second, and another crew from The Southport School in third.

In the U19 Women’s Coxed Eight it was the University of Queensland composite crew who surged ahead to have a comfortable win over Loreto Kirribilli and Kinross Wolaroi who were second and third respectively. Lily Alton from the crew said: “It all came together when we needed it to. We stepped it up when the other crews started to go with us, and pushing off them was what motivated us.”

The U19 Men’s Coxed Eight was also a hotly contested event, the composite crew from Brisbane Grammar led from the start to win in a time of 6:02:35. The crew led Toowong who came second, and Prince Alfred College who came third.

Thomas Jeffries, from the Nudgee crew, said: “We were fast from the start. It was pretty difficult, I remember getting 500m into the race and thinking we had a long way to go.”

In the Open Lightweight Women’s Coxless Quad Scull it was the composite crew from Guandong Province and Team Hong Kong who took the gold, winning in a time of 6:43:88 followed by a Melbourne University composite crew who crossed the line at 6:45:51.

The Men’s equivalent saw Tim McDonnell (Toowong), Bram Chapman, (University of Queensland), Blaine Heseltine (University of Queensland) and Jack Price (Toowong) lead by less than a second to the Swan River composite crew who were second, and followed by the crew from UTS were third.

Price said about the win: “We got out of the start cleanly. It was a competitive field. It was hard into the last 250m, but I was enjoying the movement of the boat and lifting into the end.”

In the U23 Men’s Quad Scull Tom Schramko stroked the winning crew to make it a trifecta of sculling events; Schramko had already taken out the U23 Men’s Single Scull and U23 Men’s Double Scull titles. The crew also included Luke Letcher (Black Mountain), Robert Black (Mosman), and Samuel Marsh (Swan River) who won with clear water back to the Black Mountain composite crew who achieved second.

The Open Women’s Quad Scull provided first-class racing, with last minute changes to the crew seeing Commercial’s Maddie Edmunds, Melbourne University’s Kim Brennan, Sydney University’s Sally Kehoe, and Brisbane GPS Rowing’s Jess Hall win with clear water back to the UTS composite crew and Bucks composite crew in second and third respectively. The win for Kehoe was a sculling trifecta thanks to her wins in the Open Women’s Single Scull and the Open Women’s Double Scull.

Hall said: “It was exciting for us to row the quad today. We were lucky to have Kim (Brennan) and Sal (Kehoe) fill in for us. I think it was exciting for them to see what we’re trying to work on in the quad going into this international season and we were really happy with the outcome.”

The Open Men’s Quad Scull provided great racing, with less than a second between the winning crew of David Watts (Swan River), Wilson Mure (Huon), Max McQueeney (Bucks) and Chris Morgan (Sydney) and the second place crew of Cameron Girdlestone (Sydney University), James McRae (Murray Bridge), Nicholas Purnell (Sydney University) and Alex Hill (Adelaide). Spectators cheering grew louder as the crews entered the final leg of the race, with the top two quads pushing each other all the way to the end of the race, with Watts’ taking the win by just 0.38 of a second.

Watts commented on the last 250m of his crew’s winning race: “The last 250 was a bit of a blur. It was a really good effort from both crews. We had a pretty good race, and I’m just really stoked to have been a part of it.”

In the Open Men’s Coxed Four there was more first-class racing up for viewing, with the Sydney crew winning with clear water back to the Adelaide composite crew. The crew, made up of James Chapman, Nathan Bowden, Simon Keenan, Edward White and coxswain Kendall Brodie won in a time of 6:32:28, back to Adelaide’s 6:43:28.

Brodie commented on the race: “The plan was to have a strong 500m and establish a lead, and that is what the boys did. We could lengthen out a bit in the race, so it was good to have that power in the first 500m to go from.”

Tomorrow is the final day of the regatta with the finals of the Open Schools and Club Championships and the pinnacle event, the Interstate King’s and Queen’s Cups Regatta.