The 2017 edition of the Aon Sydney International Rowing Regatta saw the Olympic and National Training Centre (NTC) athletes perform superbly on day one of the  competition.

In what is hopefully a sign of results to come throughout the week, the day started in fantastic fashion with some competitive heats of the Open Men’s Single Scull (OM1x) and Under 23 Women’s Single Scull (U23W1x).

These heats featured a number of athletes who have previously represented Australia, and who currently train at one of Rowing Australia’s two NTCs, or at their respective State Institute or Academy of Sport.

Rio Olympic silver medallist Cameron Girdlestone began his title defence of the Open Men’s Single Scull in fine form, recording the quickest time of the heats with a sharp 7 mins 12 secs.

“It was a good start to the Nationals program (for myself). It’s always good to get the first one out, to put what you’ve been doing in practice out there on the track,” said the Sydney-sider.

The Rio Olympian added he was excited to be back at Nationals and seeing so many competitors around the venue.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to come back and be around the rowing community because it is a great representation of our sport. There are Under 16s, 17s, 18s, 19s, plus schoolboys and schoolgirls here, along with the elite athletes; it’s a great showcase of what we can do as a nation and puts Australian rowing on the world map,” added Girdlestone.

In the U23 Women’s Single Sculls, Ria Thompson from the Melbourne RC/VIS recorded the quickest time with 8:02 in what was the third heat of the boat class.

Furthermore, Harriet Hudson of Sydney RC/NSWIS made a successful step up from Under 19s, finishing only one second behind Thompson on overall times. Hudson most recently represent Australia at the Underage World Championships in 2016 in the Junior Women’s Single Scull.

In possibly the most competitive heat of the boat class, Hancock Prospecting Women’s NTC athlete, Rowena Meredith, edged out fellow HPWNTC athlete Caitlin Cronin in the first heat of the U23W1x. Both of these athletes have recently been named in the women’s sculling group set to head to World Rowing Cups 2 and 3 later this year.

As the day heated up, so did the competition with the attention turning to the Under 19 and Under 17 small boat races, which featured many schoolboy and schoolgirl rowers.

The conditions remained in perfect order as the young athletes battled it out in the single sculls, pairs and double sculls, with quality races and good times recorded across the board.

Post the lunchbreak, the remaining races, which consisted of men’s and women’s double sculls, were greeted by a tailwind.

Competitor Sky Froebel from Melbourne RC/VIS teamed up with Taylor McCarthy-Smith from Brisbane/GPS to record one of the biggest winning margins of today’s racing, with an outstanding 23-second margin of victory in their heat of the Under 19 Women’s Double. The girls cruised to a convincing win, in a time of 7 mins 27 secs, and are looking in fine form for their upcoming semi-final.

Also featuring in the second session of racing were competitors who raced and won in their respective age categories in the single sculls earlier in the day and now lined up to take on the Double Sculls

Henry Youl from Tamar RC and Caleb Antill from ANU/RBNTC, who finished first and second respectively in their heats of the U23 Men’s Single Sculls this morning, combined for a solid win in the Under 23 Men’s Double Scull in a time of 6 mins 40 secs.

This race also included Sam Marsh and Hugo Langsford who both won their single sculls heats and then combined to take on the doubles. Despite strong performances in the singles, the duo finished third in their heat and will now face a repechage in order to qualify for the semi-finals.

Day one of racing wrapped up with the first international competitors of the competition taking to the water. Yuk Man Chan and San Tung Lam from Team Hong Kong finished second in the first heat of the Under 23 Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls and will now progress direct to the A-Finals which take place on Friday morning.