U21 Australian Rowing Team wrap up decisive victory over New Zealand Trans-Tasman Regatta

The U21 Australian Rowing Team at the 2017 Trans-Tasman Regatta held on Lake Karapiro, New Zealand. Copyright photo © Steve McArthur / Rowing Australia

The U21 Australian Rowing Team have retained the Rusty Robertson Trophy after a decisive victory in the second leg of the Trans-Tasman Regatta. The 2017 regatta saw Australia win by 309 points to New Zealand’s 255.

The yearly event sees Australia and New Zealand’s U21 teams battle it out for the prestigious Rusty Robertson Trophy. Robertson, a New Zealander, coached both New Zealand (from 1967-76) and Australia (1979-84) in a prolific career. Robertson’s career saw him achieve many notable results with his crews, including overseeing two New Zealand crews to Olympic gold medals (1968 Men’s Four and 1972 Men’s Eight) as well as Australian crews to multiple World Championships as well as Australia’s Men’s Quadruple Scull to an Olympic silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Australia’s performance at this year’s Trans-Tasman Regatta saw the team not only win the first leg of the regatta, held in Penrith, earlier this year, but also winning the second-leg by the end of the opening day of the regatta on Lake Karapiro.

“The Trans-Tasman Regatta is an opportunity for our pathways athletes who are making the transition between the Junior and Under 23 Australian Rowing Teams to further develop their racing skills and keep them engaged with the sport while they’re in between age groups for racing,” said Deputy Performance Director Jaime Fernandez.

“It’s fantastic for our U21 team to have retained the trophy and credit must go not only to the great athletes but also to Head Coach, Jason Lane, Team Mananger, Naomi Wagstaff and their team of coaches David Gely, Joe Tamigi, Brigette Carlile and Ned Draydon. We would also like to thank Rowing New Zealand for their ongoing support of the event and continuing the Trans-Tasman rivalry!”

In delightful conditions, with a slight breeze, Australia took on New Zealand in a variety of singles, doubles, fours, quads and eights racing, which saw Australia win nine out of the 15 finals over the three-day regatta in New Zealand.

The Australian U21 Rowing Team captains, Lily Alton and Alex Clarke, had the honour of being presented with the Rusty Robertson Trophy by World’s Best Time holder in the Men’s Single Scull, New Zealand’s Robbie Manson. Clarke said of his experience in the team this year: “The whole U21 campaign is an excellent opportunity for underage athletes to not only develop skills as individuals, but to also realise the benefits and rewards that the Australian Rowing Team can provide.”

Strong performances came from Australia across the whole regatta with the opening two days seeing a number of victories for the team in green and gold. The U21 Women’s Quadruple Scull of Romola Davenport, Portia Bennett, Siena Zamin and Lily Alton won their final some 9.71 seconds ahead of New Zealand. Meanwhile, their male counterparts of Chase Deitner, Patrick Boere, Charlie Wheatley and Devlin Walsh claimed victory over the New Zealanders in their final by 6.96 seconds.

Zamin and Alton took first and second in the U21 Women’s Single, while Wheatley claimed first in the U21 Men’s Single Scull. While Bennett and Davenport picked up gold in the Lightweight Women’s Double Scull; in the male equivalent there was also gold medals for Boere and Deitner.

In the Lightweight Singles, Celia Cowan finished second in the women’s class, while Mitch Reinhard took the win over his New Zealand counterpart.

In the sweep rowing, the U21 Men’s Four of Kane Grant, Jack Deans, Alex Clarke and Ben Canham won their final in 6 mins 20 seconds, 7.48 seconds ahead of New Zealand. Gabi Morris and Giorgia Patten won the Women’s Pair and were followed over the line by Grace Reid and Lara Wainwright.

The final day of racing saw the two Eights take the water. The morning’s heats saw Australia’s Men’s Eight win their heat, while the Women’s Eight finished second. In the finals that followed, New Zealand snapped up victory in both finals, but the late wins made little difference to the overall result of the regatta, with Australia wrapping up the event with a resounding victory over their New Zealand counterparts.