After much planning and anticipation, racing for Day-1 of the 2022 Australian Rowing Championships (ARC) began at 8am Monday at Victoria’s Lake Nagambie (28.03.2022).

The last fortnight saw many athletes, coaches, and event organisers conduct major changes to their respective training, travel, and organisational plans, due to the recent flood affecting NSW and Southeast Queensland.   

As usual, the Day 1 spotlight was on the small boats – Single Sculls and Coxless Pairs for both men and women – with many of the athletes competing in the respective boat classes are vying for national team selection. 

In the Women’s Under-19 Coxless Pair, Pine Rivers (Qld) Jaeve Proberts and Ella Smith had a convincing win in their Heat in a time of 7:59.49 and will compete in the A-Final on Friday.  Proberts and Smith represented Australia in the Women’s Under-19 Double in 2021.  Both girls said post-race, “We had a good race.  It was comfortable and controlled and the conditions were super flat.” 

Wilderness School’s (SA) Georgina Birchall and Z. Hoadley won the second heat in a slightly slower time (8.01.88).

The Women’s Under-21 Single Scull also displayed some great racing with Sydney University winning Heat’s 1 and 3 – Grace Turner and Madeline Vagg respectively.  Heat 2 was won by Olivia Georgilopoulus from Griffith University Surfers Paradise. 

The fastest time was set by 2021 Canberra Rising Star Nominee Vagg. 

 “I always get a little nervous before a race, but I like to channel that as a positive.  I was very happy with how I paced the race today,” Vagg said.   

The Women’s Open Single is always the talk of the regatta and this year’s event saw Olympians Rowena Meredith, Annabelle McIntyre OAM, Tara Rigney, Sarah Hawe, and Singapore’s Joan Poh compete over two heats.  SUBC’s (Sydney University Boat Club) Meredith and Hawe were comfortable winners in Heat 1 and 2 respectively.

Meredith shared post-race, “It is a bit different down here in Nagambie. We are lucky that we came here in 2021 with the national team to do some simulation work for the international season.  It is good to be familiar, but it is still very different having nationals down here, but it’s also awesome to see that everyone relocated to compete.”

After her race, Tara Rigney commented that all her pre-race excitement disappeared once her heat began.  Rigney said, “It was great to blow out those pre-race cobwebs, and the flat conditions were a joy to race in, although that might change later this week.  I am happy to be here, and I can’t wait to race more this week,” she said.  

The Men’s Single Scull also did not disappoint, as Tokyo 2020 Olympian – Caleb Antill proved that he will be the man to beat as he posted the event’s fastest time (7:10:09) in Heat 2.  Tasmania’s Joseph Wilson won Heat 1, whilst Tokyo 2020 Olympic Coxless Four Gold Medallist Jack Hargreaves OAM was showing his sculling prowess by winning Heat 3.

Hargreaves said post-race, “I love sculling.  I always compete in the Single at every National Championships.  It is good to take a break from sweep, and sculling really sharpens your technique and improves you as an oarsman.”

Deputy High-Performance Director, Jaime Fernadez summed today’s performances in a very positive manner.  Fernandez said, “We’re at the National Championships so that’s exciting, especially with all the challenges over the last few weeks.  Today we saw the heats of the small boats – the pairs, the singles from the Under-17’s, right through to the Under-19’s, Under 21’s and Under-23’s.   What we have seen is obviously that there is a little bit of jockeying, as athletes make sure that they secure their position into the next round, without having to overextend themselves.”

Earlier in the day, Rowing Australia CEO Ian Robson was full of praise for the community and its enduring attitude to hosting the regatta.  

“We’re thrilled and delighted we’re going to be able to offer the Australian Rowing Community the event they want, the Australian Rowing Championships. We know there has been a bit of turbulence with travel arrangements, accommodation arrangements and logistics. But racing started this morning and that’s fantastic.  

“There was no doubt at all, we wanted to stage the regatta and that was the first thought, the only thought that drove us to explore the options that were available to us at short notice.  

“I’d like to express extraordinary thanks to the Rowing Australia team and everyone behind the scenes, including Rowing Victoria CEO Ian Jickell and his team and Julie Salomon and her team at the Shire of Strathbogie. From the moment we had the first conversation with Julie and her team, it was all about ‘can do’ ‘want to do’ ‘how can we help?’.  

“If the community in and around Strathbogie Shire Council didn’t have the mindset to want to make this happen, we wouldn’t be here. 

“The regional clubs and the regional venues such as Nagambie Lakes are such a compelling part of the heartbeat of our sport,” Robson said.   

Day-2 of racing starts Tuesday (29.03.2022) at 8am. 

The 2022 Australian Rowing Championships is hosted by Rowing Australia and proudly supported by Rowing Victoria, the Victorian State Government, Strathbogie Shire Council and Greater Shepparton City Council.