River racing leaves Aussies on top in Under 21s.


The Aussies crossed the Tasman for the Pacific Regatta and nailed it on the Waikato River on day one of the Under-21s test against the Kiwis.

Australia won both the Women’s and Men’s Eights over 5km at Lake Karapiro in the first hit out of the three-day regatta.

They were convincing wins on a dead-flat course where the local legs ran out of sting.

The Women’s Eights were first away and were hard to separate for the first half of the race up to the pylons. The Kiwis were hoping the red and green guide buoys at the weed wire were going to be a gateway to a fast finish.

“We had a plan to kind of attack the weed wires strong,” says New Zealand cox Bella Murray. “We kind of did a whole crew reset and just tried to knuckle down on those legs to push us through.”

But it’s a tough road back when the crew ahead is just out of earshot.

“We definitely could feel the fatigue come in that last 2k to go,” says stroke Orla Fitzgerald. “We did keep that rate up there, I just think the legs kind of lost it a little bit.”

Australia finished in 17min 16.98sec, the Kiwis in 17:34.08.


Under 21 NZ Women's eight during the 5km race at the U21 Pacific Regatta on Lake Karapiro. Photo: Picture Show Ltd.

The margin was smaller in the Men’s Eight, Australia home in 15:51.01, the Kiwis in 16:01.85.

“I think we put our best performance on the track,” says stroke Fred Vavasour. “I guess we've removed the unknown of where the Australians are, where they're fast, where they maybe aren't so fast.”

So they’re planning to do more than hang in there over the next two days where the distances get shorter but the intensity will stay exactly the same.


The U21 men's eight fighting it out in the 5KM race at the U21 Pacific Regatta at Lake Karapiro. Photo: Picture Show Ltd. 

If Oscar Ruston can hang in there, he’ll deserve a medal. He arrived back from the World U23 Rowing Championships on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours later he was in two seat of the Men’s Eight, and he’ll be back on the water tomorrow.

OR: “I'm feeling pretty good.”

AH: “Oh yeah?”

OR: “Got a bit of a 5k race to get it out of the system.”

AH: “Are you up for a 2K tomorrow?”

OR: “S**t yeah, always.”

Nearly 50 hours in the air, skirting the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, and the Tasman to drag race the Aussies on the Waikato River.

Everyone’s up for it alright.


Oscar Ruston in 2 seat (second from left) in the U21 Men's eight on day 1 of the U21 Pacific Regatta. Photo: Picture Show Ltd.


Andy Hay

Andy Hay is a freelance producer, writer and rowing coach. He was cox of the world champion New Zealand eight of 1982 and '83. He is NZ Olympian #446.