Day two of the 2024 Aon Maadi Regatta showcased 127 races, concluding the heats and moving into the repechages for the first 26 events on the program.

 

It was a massive day for those involved, particularly the race officials. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all the volunteers at the regatta; their dedication and hard work are indispensable to the running of this event.

The day kicked off with another serene morning at Lake Ruataniwha, ideal conditions for the boys novice U18 4+, the sixth event of the morning. Three heats featuring first-year rowers unfolded, with the top two from each heat advancing directly to the A final. Heat three saw Otago Boys secure the fastest time, finishing four seconds ahead of the second-place Hamilton Boys crew. In heat two, St. Thomas of Canterbury narrowly edged out the winners of heat one from Whanganui High School on time. The members of the Whanganui High crew, consisting of Cristian Kiriona, Achilles Paikea, Kynan Brewer, Jordan Hallett, and coxswain Morgan Wood, not only claimed the novice four title at the North Island Championships but also contributed points towards Whanganui High School's overall success, leading them to share the prestigious points trophy, the Derbyshire Shield. This remarkable achievement makes Whanganui High only the seventh school to win this coveted trophy in its decades-long history, a testament to the perseverance and skill of these "kids from the swamp." Be sure to keep an eye on all their crews racing this week.

OBHS U18 Novice coxed four

Otago Boys U18 4+ won heat 3 and secured the fastest time for this event. Photo: Sharron Bennett PHOTOGRAPHY

With the water slightly more lively, the girls U17 2- event commenced. In heat one, three crews battled fiercely to the finish, with only Mt Albert Grammar and St. Hildas Collegiate securing direct advancement to the next round. Heat two witnessed Rangi Ruru's crew claiming victory with a commanding lead over Waikato Diocesan. However, it was the duo from Craighead Diocesan who posted the fastest time across the heats, surpassing their competitors by 7 seconds. Lilly Grant and Emily Caird, under the guidance of coaches Dean Milne and Vicky Taggart, demonstrated an exceptionally confident rhythm, establishing an early lead and maintaining it to the finish line over the Nelson College For Girls crew. While heat times provide a good indication of the fastest crews heading into the finals, they do not guarantee success in the upcoming rounds. Every crew lining up in a final has a chance of claiming victory.

St Hildas U172-NR

St. Hildas Collegiate Girls U17 2- racing in heat one. Photo: Sharron Bennett Photography 

The girls U18 4x+ event showcases the diversity of schools, with 31 different schools represented, all able to field their four fastest scullers. The event comprised five heats, with the first two crews progressing to the semi-final, the last being eliminated, and the rest heading to repechages. With a growing emphasis on celebrating sculling as much as sweeping this week, it is remarkable to witness a plethora of exceptional scullers competing in all the sculling events. It was particularly exciting to see the distinctive stern-coxed Ashburton College quad, reminiscent of its 2018 victory when current crew member Sophie Gibson's older sister, Mollie Gibson, was part of that winning crew. This year's Ashburton crew posted the fastest time in the heats, setting the stage for an exciting semi-final on Thursday.

Ashburton U18 4X+

Ashburton Girls U18 4x+posted the fastest time in the heats. Photo: Sharron Bennett Photography

As the conditions settled, the third to last event on the heats program, the boys U16 1x, unfolded, featuring the youngest competitors in the single sculls field. The requirement to finish in the top five in each heat to progress to the next round resulted in intense competition for those coveted fifth place spots. In heat one, Ben Thompson (OBHS) managed to hold off Roger Pascoe (GLDW) by one and a half seconds to secure fifth place. Heat two saw Taylan Still (OTUM) clinch the fifth spot. Local sculler Luka Mains-Upson (TWIZ) took the win in the following heat, also securing the fastest time of the heats. Heat four witnessed the closest finish for fifth, with less than half a second in it. William Light (JMCG) secured this final progression spot, advancing to the repechage. The final heat featured a clear-cut finish for the top five crews, all progressing smoothly across the line.

Ben Thompson1

Ben Thompson from Otago Boys High School racing in heat one of the boys U16 1x. Photo: Sharron Bennett Photography

The last heats of the day were the girls and boys U18 8+ events. In the girls' category, only one crew from each heat progressed directly to the final. Waikato Diocesan displayed a confident rhythm, securing the heat one victory with a time of 6:54.21 closely followed by Christchurch Girls High School and Whanganui Collegiate. Heat two saw a fierce battle, with the St. Margarets crew making a strong push in the closing stages but falling just short of overtaking Rangi Ruru, who claimed the victory with a time of 6:49.64. St. Margarets followed closely behind with a time of 6:50.54.

Waikato Dio GU18 8+

Waikato Dio Girls U18 8+ racing in heat one. Photo: Picture Show Ltd 

In the boys' eights, crews needed to finish in the top two across three heats to advance directly to the final. Heat one witnessed St. Andrews pulling away from Auckland Grammar in the last 500m, securing a four-seat lead with a time of 6:07.29. Grammar held off Westlake Boys to take second place. Heat two saw Hamilton Boys establish a clear lead by the 1000m mark, while Christchurch Boys High and Mt. Albert Grammar were neck and neck just behind. Hamilton Boys claimed the victory with a time of 6:01.95. In a remarkable comeback, Mt. Albert Grammar surged in the last 250m, beating Christchurch Boys by 0.01 seconds and securing a spot in the final. The third heat had clear-cut top two finishers, with St. Peters Auckland taking the win in 6:06.05, followed by St. Bedes, who also progressed through to the final, lengths clear of the rest of the field.

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St. Andrews racing in the heat one of the boys U18 8+ Photo: Sharron Bennett Photography

As the afternoon progressed into the repechage races, the intensity on the track heightened as many rowers faced their final opportunity to advance to further rounds. To quote legendary New Zealand rower Rob Waddell, "Rowing is a sport that in itself has suffering, but it's what makes the moments of success that much better." For all the crews whose journey ends here today, hopefully, you can appreciate the value that competition adds to your life and find the success in your performance.

When it comes to tight repechage races, few can match the intensity of the boys U16 4x+ repechage one, where Gisborne Boys High School and Nelson College finished in a dead heat with a time of exactly 7:13.56. With a spot in the semi-final at stake, officials will consult the rule book to determine the next steps for both crews. In other closely contested repechages this afternoon, Hamilton Girls secured a spot in the U17 4+ B final by a mere 0.55 seconds over Westlake Girls. Whangarei Girls High's U18 2x triumphed in a thrilling sprint, clinching the last quarter-final spot by just 0.04 seconds ahead of Rotorua Lakes. Westlake Boys secured a place in the A final of the boys U17 8+ by a narrow 0.91-second margin over Christ College’s second crew. The Wakatipu High girls U15 4+ claimed a B final position over the Tauranga Girls crew by 0.57 seconds. In the boys U17 2x, St. Peters School progressed to the semi-final only 0.87 seconds ahead of Macleans College. Blink and you’ll miss these results.

Nelson BU16 4X Repechage

Nelson College Boys U16 4x+ racing in repechage one. Photo: Picture Show Ltd 

A number of the repechages this afternoon featured our youngest and largest number of rowers across the country - the under 15 and under 16 age groups. Around 1,500 of the rowers entered are either under 15 or under 16, making up approximately 70 percent of the total competitors entered this week.

One of these events, the girls U16 1x, presents a unique dynamic among its entrants, with several schools across the country operating mainly as part of a club squad and only separating into their school teams at the season's end. Tauranga Rowing Club has two U16 1x rowers, Amy Everitt from Mt. Maunganui College and Hazel Church from ACG Tauranga, who have rowed together all season under the club's umbrella. Amy won her heat yesterday, and Hazel placed fifth in the repechage today. Coach Steve Finlayson comments, “They love and hate it. They love training against each other, challenging one another, which makes sessions more meaningful. They hate it because their crewmates are now trying to beat them.” Rotorua Rowing Club operates in a similar way with their schools. Lucy Gaston from John Paul College progressed from the heats straight to the semi-final yesterday, while Ella-May McIlroy from Rotorua Lakes High School raced in today's repechage placing eighth. These two rowers raced the club eight together at the North Island Club Championships for the Rotorua Rowing Club. Coach Alastair Riddle noted, “The nicest thing is they're one family. They stay together and cheer each other on, regardless of the school.”

Hazel Church 5 (ACG Tauranga)

Hazel Church from ACG Tauranga racing in the girls U16 1x racing in the repechage. Photo: Picture Show Ltd 

For the rest of the results of today's racing see the results tab on rowit.nz and follow along on the livestream proudly sponsored by Milford - rowinghub.co.nz/livestream

Plus, follow Aon Maadi Regatta on Facebook and/or Instagram for all the colour from the regatta.

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Anna Delong

Anna De Long's first Maadi was at Lake Ruataniwha in 2008 she was a U19 NZ Team coach in 2023 and will be again in 2024. Anna is also the Women's Lead Coach at Waikato Rowing Club.