Medals galore for young rowers

Marlborough’s college rowers far exceeded expectations at the Aon Maadi Cup regatta which ended at Lake Karapiro on Saturday.

Crews from Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges, plus Queen Charlotte College, picked up a series of podium finishes at one of the nation’s major student sporting occasions. Across six days of racing, over 2600 competitors from 123 schools competed in the biggest event in the regatta’s history.

The Queen Charlotte College duo of Charlotte Lightfoot and Jamie Cunningham are delighted with their gold medal in the under-17 coxless pair. Photo Karmyn Ingram.

Seven MGC crews reached A finals, a superb achievement for a small team. Two combinations came away with medals. The under-17 pair of Maggie Lane and Paige Materoa picked up a silver medal while the under-16 coxed four of Molly Glover, Emma Flanagan, Holly Feltham, Daisy Vavasour and cox Lara Bacchus finished third, claiming a bronze medal.

Three of the other crews to reach A finals finished fifth. They were the under-18 pair of Meg Flanagan and Lexi Timpson, the under-18 coxed four of Meg and Emma Flanagan, Liv Theodore, Molly Glover and Lara Bacchus, plus the under-18 novice four of Grace Straker, Liv Mathews, Ella Barnes, Hazel Glover and Li Na Chapman. The under-18 novice eight finished sixth while the under-18 eight was another crew to finish fifth in the medal decider.

Paige Materoa and Maggie Lane with their silver medals. Photo Karmyn Ingram Photography

The last time an MGC under-18 pair reached the final was in 2009 when future NZ reps Tash Williams and Georgia Hammond picked up silver. The previous occasion an under-18 coxed four reached the final was in 2012, the same year a MGC U18 eight made the final.

Five MBC crews reached medal deciders, coming away with one gold and a silver.

The gold medal came in from under-17 coxed quad, the victorious crew comprising Leon Poswillo, Rhys Salvador, Dylan Burton, James Fitzgerald and cox Walter Wickham.

Dylan Burton and Fred Vavasour combined superbly to claim silver in the hotly-contested under-18 pair.

James Fitzgerald finished fourth and narrowly out of the medals in the well-populated under-17 single, the under-17 pair of Hugh Straker and Mason Henderson ended up fifth in the under-17 pair while Fred Vavasour also finished fifth in the under-18 single, again among a large field.

There was also gold medal glory for the QCC duo of Jamie Cunningham and Charlotte Lightfoot who took out the under-17 coxless pair title, shading the MGC duo. This was the first gold medal for Queen Charlotte College since 2013. The duo also contested the final of the under-17 double, placing sixth.

Several of the Marlborough contingent have been earmarked for higher honours.

Fred Vavasour has been selected as an U19 trialist while James Fitzgerald, Leon Poswillo, Rhys Salvador and Dylan Burton have also been selected for the North vs South U18 Trials at Lake Ruataniwha. Coxswain Walter Wickham has been chosen to attend the U18 Trials as well.

From MGC, Meg Flanagan was selected as an U19 trialist for 2021 while Lexi Timpson and Emma Flanagan will attend the North vs South U18 trials.

Sean O’Neill, MBC head coach, said his charges “exceeded all expectations really”.

“We had 20 girls who rowed A finals and we got girls in the A finals of the big sweep events, the under-18 pair, four and eight, so that was quite an achievement.

“We were just stoked across the board. It shouldn’t be underestimated how hard it is to make A finals at this event.”

Sean said it was great to have two Marlborough-based crews contesting the finish of the under-17 pair, especially as they were friends who had trained together.

MBC head coach John Robinson was very happy with his team’s efforts. “For the size of our team we went really well. We thought we could medal in the two boats that we did and a couple of the other crews came very close.”

He praised the gold medal-winning quad for their composure towards the end of their race. “They led all the way and the water, especially the last 500, was a side-chop which made for difficult conditions, but they never lost their cool, pushed hard and never made any mistakes.”.

Her also had praise for the under-16 group who did not medal but showed huge potential, performing strongly in B finals and promising plenty of promise for the future.