Students put their stamp on a sixth straight Kings Cup

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Home waters proved a happy hunting ground for Sydney University rowers competing at the Australian Championships, the King’s and Queen’s Cup Interstate Regatta and the opening round of the Samsung World Cup, all held at the Sydney International Regatta Centre last week. 

The highlight of the seven day meet was the New South Wales Open men’s eight – containing six Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC) representatives – who continued their dominance of Australia’s premier rowing event, the King’s Cup, with yet another win over arch rivals Victoria.

SUBC athletes Fergus Pragnell, Matt Ryan, Nick Purnell, Francis Hegerty, Sam Loch and Toby Lister (coxswain) were joined by 2012 bronze medallist Dan Noonan, fellow Olympian James Chapman and first time King’s Cup rower Spencer Turrin.

The star studded crew – coached by SUBC’s Director of Rowing Mark Prater, and Nick Garratt from the Mosman Rowing Club – claimed NSW’s longest continuous winning streak ever, taking gold for the sixth straight time by the skin of their teeth, after Victoria came within three-quarters of a second of stealing their thunder.

The victory, in a time of 5mins 37.37s, was the “light blues” 34th victory in the famous men’s interstate race, which has been running since 1920. NSW took command early and looked to have the race sewn up at the halfway (1000m) mark, but they could not shake the Victorian crew who put on a ferociously determined challenge to close the gap to only 0.7 of a second.
SUBC rowers Loch, Pragnell and Ryan, had particular cause for celebration having rowed in all six victorious crews – thereby emphasising their legendary status amongst NSW rowing.  

Sydney University Olympian Sam Loch rated this victory as one of the best of his amazing career, saying: “It was a very competitive race, we went out well and felt comfortable, but it was a race towards the line. It is different to the Olympics but it is the same emotional feeling and doing it with your great mates, sharing the same passion is fantastic. We all bonded really well.”

Not to be outdone by their more experienced team mates, the NSW Youth men’s eight – containing eight SUBC members – won the event for the second year running.  

Jon Rundle, Peter Koster, Jack Hargreaves, Nick Wheatley, Alex Purnell, Harry Foxton, Ben Scott, Frank Gourlas comfortably defeated their nearest rivals, South Australia, by 3.81 seconds.

Sasha Belonogoff, competing in the Open men’s single scull (silver); Ed de Carvalho in the Open men’s lightweight coxless four (bronze); and Mariann Doumanis and Jo Wood in the Open women’s lightweight quadruple scull (bronze), also won medals at the Regatta.

Sydney University’s success was certainly not restricted to the King’s and Queen’s Cup Interstate Regatta, as SUBC and the Sydney University Women’s Rowing Club (SUWRC) combined to bring home a haul of seven gold, six silver and three bronze medals at the annual Australian Open Rowing Championships, the best result achieved by the University since 2010.

Among the Sydney University rowers to come home with gold medals were Nick Purnell in the Open men’s quad; Hamish Playfair and Peter Koster in the Under 23 men’s double scull; Jon Rundle, Kit Cunningham-Reid, Tom Sacre, Hamish Playfair, Tom Bowditch, Peter Koster, Tom McClintock, Ben Scott and Will Raven (coxswain) in the Under 23 men’s eight; Alex Purnell and Nick Minch in the Under 19 men’s quad; Sasha Belonogoff in the Open men’s single scull; India Evans and Candice Williams in the Under 21 women’s pair; and Jo Wood in the Open lightweight women’s quad.

Silver medals were won by Harry Foxton and Hugh Miller in the Under 23 men’s quad; Nick Wheatley and Tom Sacre in the Under 23 men’s pair; Ed de Carvalho in the Open lightweight men’s single scull; Fergus Pragnell in the Open men’s double scull; Holly Lawrence and Marianna Doumanis in the under 23 lightweight women’s double scull; and Holly Lawrence, Marianna Doumanis and Emma Thomas in the Under 23 lightweight women’s quad scull.

Jack Hargreaves and Kit Cunningham-Reid in the Under 23 men’s pair; Peta Blundell, Rebecca Humphris, Nicole Petrin and Emma Wilson in the Under 21 women’s quad; and Emma Thomas in the Under 21 lightweight women’s single scull, all won bronze medals.

Sydney University’s Australian representatives also achieved some outstanding results at the 2013 first World Cup of Rowing, as seven rowers came away with medals.

SUBC Club Captain Ed de Carvalho, representing Australia in the lightweight double scull with James Wilson of Mercantile won silver; Alexander Belonogoff and Ryan Edwards won bronze in the men’s double scull; while Jack Hargreaves, Nicholas Wheatley, Tom Sacre and Christopher Cunningham-Reid took home bronze as part of the Australian men’s eight crew.

Sydney University’s premier rowers will now turn their focus to the National Selection Trials for the senior and under 23 Australian Teams, which also takes place at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith from April 22 – May 3.

Younger members of SUBC and SUWRC will take a short break before they begin preparing for the National under 21 team selection in July, while Sydney University’s college rowers have five weeks to get ready for Intercol Racing.