Rupert Guinness at Champion Lakes Regatta Centre 

Sarah Hawe’s decision to take a year off after the 2021 TokyoOlympic Games is paying off if her victory with Georgie Rowe in their Women’s Coxless Pair heat at the Australian Rowing Championships on Tuesday is any indication. 

After victory at the Champion Lakes Regatta Centre at Armadale, Hawe, a member of the Australian Olympic Women’s Coxed Eight that placed fifth at Tokyo, said her time out helped her to develop “a more holistic view [of] rowing and full time training”. 

The Melbourne-born rower said the break also allowed her to come back to elite rowing with “a renewed focus, to not sweat the little stuff and focus on the big picture, to try and make whatever boat I get in go as fast as it possibly can”. 

The return by Hawe (Sydney Rowing Club) has motivated Rowe (UTS Haberfield) this week in Perth after their naming in the Australian Rowing Team (ART) before the national regatta that concludes on Sunday with the Interstate Championships. 

Hawe has been selected in the ART for the Women’s Coxless Four, while Rowe has been named in the Coxed Eight squad. 

“We had our trials last week and coming off that it is pretty hard to keep motivation up,” Rowe said. 

“But when you are here with your mates…. to have people like her (Hawe) come back to the National Training Centre is so awesome because she is an excellent rower and a really nice friend.” 

Despite a fast start putting them in the box seat to lead all the way, Rowe and Hawe still had to fight hard for their victory that saw them directly qualify for the A-Final. 

They won in 7:30.42 seconds, yet by only 0.93s from the fast finishing duo of Molly Goodman (Adelaide) and Jessica Morrison OAM (Mercantile) and by 22.87s over Giorgia Patten (WARC) and Bronwyn Cox (UWABC). 

In heat one, Lucy Stephan OAM (Melbourne University) and Katrina Werry (Mercantile) won in 7:37.38s, which was 4.27s clear over Jean Mitchell (Melbourne University) and Eliza Gaffney (Melbourne University) 6.39s ahead of Eleanor Price (Sydney University) and Jaime Ford (Sydney University). 

PLAY OF THE DAY: Josh Hicks, an Australian Rowing Team member, for putting his hand up for holding duties at the start line. While welcomed by a cold and stiff wind, he was all smiles when he was captured in ‘action’. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “They are playing cat and mouse really and now she is pouncing” – Regatta commentator Lizzie Chapman calling the finale of Repechage 2 of the Women’s Under 17s Single Scull and the duel between Danielle Watt (Brisbane-GPS) and Mackenzie Kopke-Veldhius (Wendouree-Ballarat) who sparked a courageous last gasp chase in the final 500m.

“Going through that last 500m we definitely still had to work for it,” Rowe said. “Jesse and Molly did a great job at coming back.  

“I was looking around and around for the finish line. It was really nice to cross it first and avoid going to the repechage.” 

Earlier on Day Two of the regatta, the race schedule featured repechages. The course presented tough headwind conditions for those crews, especially at the start line. 

In Paralympic events, the campaign of Jed Altschwager (Torrens) got off to a flying start with wins in heats of the PR3 Mixed Double Scull with Nicky Ayers (Capital Lakes) in a time of 8:25.20s and in the PR3 Single Scull in 8:28.00s. 

For Altschwager, news of the PR3 Mixed Double being made a Paralympic event re-ignited a flame he thought was out. 

“I was so pumped … I had basically racked it and had the year off and was coaching,” Altschwager said. “When the mixed double got named as a Paralympic class boat it suited the Pair really well and the fire was lit again. We got back into it.”