The weather was spectacular as the first day of finals began at the 2024 Aon Maadi Regatta with only the A and B finals of the remaining 52 events to take the track. 26 of these were on show today.

There was a palpable sense of excitement in the air as the first finals of the day approached. Congratulations to all rowers who lined up in finals today and special mention to the 40 different schools taking home a medal today and the 19 schools who are now taking home at least one national title

Racing began with the boys U17 1x B-final, won by Carter Baxter from St. Thomas Of Canterbury. In the A-final Ben Allan from Timaru Boys High School quickly took the lead in lane four, gaining a length by the 750m mark. Behind him, five crews battled for second and third place. Jake Newton from Whanganui High made a bold move, pulling alongside Ben at the 1000m mark. The two scullers raced bowball to bowball for 250m until Jake surged ahead, taking a half-length lead with 500m to go. In a fierce battle for bronze, Macleans College and Otago Boys fought neck and neck down the course. With 250m left, the leading crews pushed hard, and Ben increased his stroke rate. Ben, the 2023 U16 1x winner, held off the pack, crossing the line just ahead of second place getter Jake from Whanganui High. Nathan Strachan from Macleans secured third place. Timaru Boys won the brand new reverse carbon rigger single scull made by Laszlo boats, in partnership with Aon, the regatta's principal sponsors.

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Ben Allan racing in the U17 boys 1x. Photo: Picture Show Ltd.

In the boys U18 2- B-final, Nelson College and St. Bedes secured the final two top-ten badges. The A-final started cleanly, Mt. Albert Grammar's number one crew took an early lead of almost a length by the 500m mark. Hamilton Boys' pair, in second place, settled just behind, aiming to catch up. They overtook Mt. Albert, gaining a length by halfway. Christchurch Boys battled Timaru Boys for third. With 750m to go, the Timaru Boys crew, Blake Parker and Payo O'Sullivan, pushed against the Mt. Albert crew of Max Jarvie and Luke Sanders. The Mt. Albert crew responded, increasing their speed. Dylan McConnell and Zach Brownlee from Hamilton Boys displayed a dominant performance, winning in 6:59.70. Mt. Albert Grammar’s number one crew took second, with Timaru Boys securing third.

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Wellington Girls' Ella Barr and Emma Bagrie racing in the girls U18 2x. Photo: Picture Show Ltd 

The girls U18 2x B-final saw Whanganui High and St. Andrews College claim top-ten badges. In the A-final, crews from Lake Karapiro's St. Peters and Cambridge High made strong starts. As the race progressed, Ashburton High and Wellington Girls moved ahead. The contrasting styles were evident, with Wellington Girls' upright technique contrasting with Ashburton's aggressive body swings. Wellington Girls' Ella Barr and Emma Bagrie won by clear water in 7:40.59. Sienna Skilling and Sophie Gibson from Ashburton College took silver in a time of 7:48.20, and Tegan O'Dwyer and Lauren Wood from Cambridge High School, claimed bronze in 7:53.21.

As the crowd grew on the banks, the boys U18 4x+ hit the track. Christchurch Boys High and St. Peters School took the top two spots in the B-final earning their top-ten badges. In the A-final, outside lane crews started strong, but the St. Peters College crew, coached by Sam Jackson and Harry Williams, surged ahead as the field settled into race pace, quickly establishing a full boat length lead. By the 1000m mark, the field remained closely packed, except for lane one, which fell behind early. Wakatipu High sat in second with a battle for bronze unfolding between three other crews. The fight for bronze intensified with 500m to go, as Whanganui Collegiate and St. Andrews pushed to catch Wakatipu. In a thrilling finish, the Whanganui Collegiate crew secured bronze by a mere second, edging out St. Andrews. Wakatipu High claimed silver and St. Peters College from Auckland emerged victorious. This victory adds to St. Peters’ impressive record, having medaled three times in the past four years in this event.

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St. Peters College after winning the Boys U18 4x+ A Final. Photo: Sharron Bennett Photography

The girls U18 2- faced a slight tailwind as the lake began to chop up. In the B-final, Kings College and Ashburton College secured ninth and tenth place overall, earning their top-ten badges. In the A-final, three crews quickly took the lead, with Lily Curnow and Olivia Tattersfield from Mt. Albert just ahead of Rangi Ruru and Waikato Diocesan. Rangi Ruru, last year's champions in this event with Lucy Vance's sister in that crew, challenged fiercely, closing the gap to within a bow ball of the lead. The lead changed hands until Rangi Ruru broke through with half a canvas. Mt. Albert responded by increasing their rating, but couldn't regain the lead. Meanwhile, the St. Margarets crew of Lilah Stallard and Phoebe Wilson rowed through Waikato Diocesan who experienced some steering difficulties, aiming to also overtake Mt. Albert. St. Margarets secured the bronze, Mt. Albert took silver, and Alice Ferguson and Lucy Vance from Rangi Ruru claimed gold, making that a back-to-back title for their school.

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Alice Ferguson and Lucy Vance from Rangi Ruru after their win in the U18 2- Final. Photo: Sharron Bennett Photography.

St. Pauls Collegiate took the lead in the girls U16 8+ race, showing their intent to win right from the start. St. Andrews, coxed by Robbie Miller, were the first to respond, with Rangi Ruru close behind. Rangi Ruru gradually pulled ahead, reaching a three-seat lead over St. Andrews. Waikato Diocesan, hungry for a podium finish after coming fourth last year, surged alongside St. Pauls and continued to gain momentum. Suddenly, three crews were together going for the line, with the Waikato Diocesan crew making a decisive move. Spectators eagerly awaited the photo finish, and cheers erupted as the St. Andrews crew, coached by Marion Hardwick and Kendal Everest, crossed the line first in a time of 6:59.31. Rangi Ruru secured second place with a time of 6:59.46, a mere 0.15 seconds behind. Waikato Diocesan, with the fastest sprint in the last 500m, claimed the bronze in 7:00.18. It was the closest race of the day, with only 0.87 seconds separating all three crews at the finish line!

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U16 8+ A Final. Photo: Picture Show Ltd

In the boys novice U18 8+, much like their crew in the U17 8+ earlier in the day, St. Bedes found themselves locked in a thrilling two-horse race to the finish line. The Otago Boys eight exploded out of lane six, setting a blistering pace that initially left the St. Bedes crew trailing. However, the St. Bedes boys were not to be outdone. They showed remarkable aggression and fluidity, swiftly navigating their way through the field and closing the gap with Otago. In a great finish, St. Bedes clinched the victory by just over 1.5 seconds ahead of Otago Boys High School. Sacred Heart also put on a strong performance, slicing in front of Hamilton Boys High on the line by a mere 0.53 seconds to claim third place.

The girls U17 1x was a highly anticipated event following the boys' race, which saw Timaru Boys claim the brand new Laszlo/Aon single scull. The girls took to the track to determine the matching female winner. Angalla Carney from Iona College bravely led the charge, with Olivia Tattersfield from Mt. Albert Grammar, who had already competed in a tough U18 2- race earlier, close behind. Niamh Odocherty from Dunstan High made a move from lane one and was sitting in third, seizing the opportunity to compete in the final after just qualifying into the outside lane. With 500m to go, Olivia pushed to a half-length lead, setting the stage for a thrilling finish. It was neck and neck, with both scullers pushing their ratings up. In a final effort, Angalla unfortunately took a dirty stroke in the last 10m. Olivia Tattersfield from Mt. Albert Grammar was victorious, securing the win and the new boat for her school. Angalla Carney from Iona College took silver, while earlier U16 1x winner, Amy Everitt from Mt. Maunganui College, claimed the bronze.

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Olivia Tattersfield from Mt. Albert Grammar after winning the Girls U17 1x Picture: Picture Show Ltd. 

The final races of the day were the boys and girls U18 4+’s. In the B-final of the boys four the winner was Whanganui Collegiate and second place went to Mt. Albert Grammar number two crew. In the A-final Hamilton Boys High won comfortably in a time of 6:32.43 backing up a win in the U18 2- earlier today. St. Andrews cliched the silver over Mt. Albert Grammar who claimed the bronze.

In the B-final of the girls four Christchurch Girls High took the win with the Waikato Diocesan number two crew coming second. In the last race of the day, the A-final Waikato Diocesan joined the dominance of the Hamilton schools in this event taking the win in a time of 7:17.58. Rangi Ruru took silver and Marlborough Girls claimed the bronze.

The schools sitting on top of the points table for the Star Trophy (for overall champion rowing secondary school) after day one of finals are: 1st - Hamilton Boys High on 20, 2nd (equal) - Whanganui High, St. Bedes College and St. Andrews on 13.

Congratulations also goes to all other medalists today:

GU17 4+: 1st - St. Margarets College, 2nd - Whanganui Collegiate, 3rd - Craighead Diocesan

BU15 2x: 1st - St. Peters School, 2nd - Dunstan High, 3rd - Whanganui High

GU15 4x+: 1st - Samuel Marsden Collegiate, 2nd - Whanganui High, 3rd - Wakatipu High

BU16 4x+: 1st - St. Pauls Collegiate, 2nd - Wakatipu High, 3rd - Marlborough Boys High

GU16 1x: 1st - Mt. Maunganui College, 2nd - Kings College, 3rd - Ashburton College

BNU18 2x: 1st - Wanganui Collegiate, 2nd - Whanganui High, 3rd - Mt. Aspiring College

GNU18 8+: 1st - St. Margarets College, 2nd -  Christchurch Girls High, 3rd - Rangi Ruru Girls

BU17 8+: 1st - St. Bedes College, 2nd - Christs College, 3rd - St. Peters College

GU17 4x+: 1st - Cashmere High, 2nd - St. Peters School, 3rd - Twizel Area School

BU15 8x+: 1st - Hamilton Boys High, 2nd - St. Kentigern College, 3rd - Christs College

GU15 4+: 1st - Cambridge High, 2nd - Gisborne Girls High, 3rd - Samuel Marsden Collegiate

BU16 4+: 1st - St. Andrews College, 2nd - Kings College, 3rd - St. Thomas Of Canterbury

GNU18 2x: 1st - Villa Maria College, 2nd - Wanganui Collegiate, 3rd - Twizel Area School

BU17 2x: 1st - Wakatipu High, 2nd - Whanganui High, 3rd - Whakatane High

GU15 8x+: 1st - Cashmere High, 2nd - St. Peters School, 3rd - Baradene College

BU15 8+: 1st - Hamilton Boys High, 2nd - St. Bedes College, 3rd - Westlake Boys High

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 De Long

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.