New South Wales and Victoria have defended their King’s Cup and Queen’s Cup titles on a thrilling final day of the 2018 Aon Sydney International Rowing Regatta.

It was a tight start to the King’s Cup with nothing splitting New South Wales and Victoria in the first 500 metres of the race. The Victorian crew were on the hunt for a win, but it was New South Wales that opened up nearly a boat length’s lead by the halfway point. The crew, which featured seven Australian Rowing Team members, proved too strong and powered away to win in a time of five minutes 33 seconds, resulting in Victoria claiming silver for the second straight year. Western Australia rounded out the medals to claim bronze.

New South Wales’ Robert Black, recently selected into Australia’s Men’s Eight for the World Rowing Cups, said that although the race didn’t start smoothly, the team knew what they had to do.

“We caught a crab in the first minute but managed to recover and settle ourselves back into it. We knew the Victorians were going to be strong, but we managed to hold it out to the finish line and I feel absolutely over the moon,” said Black after being presented the King’s Cup by His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), the Governor of New South Wales.

Victoria claimed a spectacular 14th win in a row in the Queen’s Cup after another dominant performance on the water. They had a strong start to the race, establishing the lead early, with New South Wales and Queensland left to battle for the remaining medals. The Victorians, who featured five members of the current Australian Rowing Team, held a lead of two boat lengths to record a comfortable win, in a time of six minutes 33 seconds. New South Wales followed six seconds behind to claim silver with Queensland claiming bronze. Winning Victorian, Rosemary Popa, reflected on her State’s dominance in the Cup.

“It’s a really special feeling, to do it 14 years in a row, it’s no easy feat. Our coach, Simon Gadsden said we’re passing the baton on, generation to generation of Victorians. It’s a really strong, deep field in Victoria and we’re just doing our part.”

Victoria and their 14th Queen’s Cup (Copyright RA/Delly Carr)

The Interstate Women’s and Men’s Single Scull were exciting spectacles, with close races to the finish line. Madeleine Edmunds (Queensland) won the Nell Slatter Cup for a second year, which was an unsurprising victory for the newly named Australian Rowing Team Women’s Single Sculler. South Australian Olympia Aldersey challenged Edmunds throughout the race, but could never quite catch the National Champion.

Edmunds said that she enjoyed the challenge Aldersey presented, “We’ve been racing each other for a long time, since we were juniors, so we’re pretty used to it. The results have swapped back and forth for a long time so it’s always good to win.”

Alexander Hill recorded an impressive win in his first President’s Cup for South Australia. The 25-year-old, who was also crowned National Champion in the single scull earlier this week, was the clear leader throughout, even with a late challenge from West Australian David Watts in the final 250 metres, while 2017 President’s Cup winner Cameron Girdlestone won bronze for New South Wales.

It was an enjoyable race for Hill, who had never considered representing South Australia in the event before, “I still like the Four, that’s still my priority, but it’s good fun to come out here. If you’d asked me last year if I’d come out and row the single, I would have run away pretty quickly but I got a few tips from Spencer Turrin, who won the Nationals in the single last year.”

It was the defending champions who claimed victory in the Interstate Women’s and Men’s Youth Eight, with Victoria and New South Wales demonstrating their strong rowing pathways. Victoria retained the Bicentennial Cup for another year in the Women’s event, eight seconds ahead of silver medallists Queensland.

Meanwhile, New South Wales powered away in the final 500 metres of the Men’s Youth Eight to win their third straight Noel F. Wilkinson Cup, trumping Queensland (silver) and Victoria (bronze).

The Interstate Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Scull continued New South Wales’ impressive state rowing, winning the Victoria Cup, and somewhat unexpectedly winning the Penrith Cup for the Interstate Lightweight Men’s Four for the first time in 20 years. The New South Welshmen breezed over the finish line nine seconds ahead of silver medallists Queensland, while the ACT claimed bronze.

In the Interstate Men and Women’s PR3 Single Scull, it was the 2017 defending champions that proved to be too strong. Mac Russell took home the gold medal for Queensland while Kathleen Murdoch claimed victory for New South Wales.

There was plenty of excitement in the Schoolgirl’s and Schoolboy’s finals on the last day of racing. In the Schoolgirl’s Single Scull, defending champion Nicela Martincic from St Scholastica College secured back-to-back victories. Mitchell Reinhard from Unley High School claimed gold in the Schoolboy’s Single Scull, becoming the only South Australian to win a school’s medal.

The last two school’s races of the championships provided more excitement, as the Schoolgirl’s and Schoolboy’s Eight finals took place. In the Schoolgirl’s event, Pymble Ladies’ College claimed the Sydney Cup. The NSW Schoolgirl Head of the River winners pushed past St Catherine’s School (Victoria) who lead for most of the race. MLC Kew finished 0.07 seconds behind St Catherine’s to claim the bronze medal.

In the Schoolboy’s Eight, Shore School defeated the defending champions, Scotch College (Victoria). Scotch, fresh off the plane this morning after winning yesterday’s APS Head of the River, finished second, while St Joseph’s Nudgee College won bronze.

The National Championship ended with the presentation of Club, State and School champions. New South Wales won the Rowing Australia Cup after claiming the most points in the Interstate events. Sydney University Boat Club was the most successful club of the regatta, and was awarded Club Points Score. Stuartholme School and Shore School were awarded the inaugural Schoolgirl’s and Schoolboy’s Points Score trophies.