Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC) members made their presence felt at the recent 2022 World Rowing Cup III regatta at Lucerne, Switzerland.
Of the 13 SUBC members in the big Australian squad, 11 came home with medals, including two gold and eight silvers.
The Women’s Eight final saw Australia win gold in 06:06.51, with Canada (06:08.09) narrowly taking silver from Romania (06:08.19). SUBC was represented at both ends of the boat with bow Eleanor Price and coxswain Talia Barnet-Hepples. Other crew included Bronwyn Cox, Paige Barr, Jacqueline Swick, Ella Bramwell, Giorgia Patten, Georgina Rowe and Emma Fessey.
The Aussies had finished third behind Romania and Canada in the Test Race (Preliminary) to earn a berth in the final.
SUBC’s Tara Rigney claimed silver in the Women’s Single Sculls rowing from lane five. Germany’s Alexander Foester won the event in 07:27.50 from Rigney (07:28.94) and Sweden’s Jeanine Gmelin (07:29.63). SUBC’s Georgia Gleeson and Lucy Coleman were edged out in their heats and missed places in the final.
William O’Shannessy and Jackson Kench also claimed silver in the Men’s Eight in 05:29.30, behind Great Britain (05:25.09), with Germany taking bronze in 05:30.43. Other crew in the Aussie boat included bow Patrick Holt, Henry Youl, Benjamin Canham, Angus Widdicombe, Sam Hardy, Ronan Lavery and coxswain Kendall Brodie.
SUBC’s Alexander Purnell, Jack Hargreaves and Joseph O’Brien teamed with Spencer Turrin to take silver in the Men’s Four in 05:53.34, with Great Britain winning the gold in 05:51.14 and Romania claiming the bronze in 05:53.44.
And SUBC’s David Bartholot teamed with Caleb Antill to claim silver in the Men’s Double Sculls in 06:08.10, with Croatia winning the gold in 06:07.19 and Spain taking bronze in 06:08.56.
Rowing Australia performance director Paul Thompson said it was a very competitive regatta for the Australians, considering the illness and injury that had made so many changes during the lead-up.
“The eights had fantastic rows, especially the women getting gold,” he said. “It was a great result for both crews. And Tara (Rigney) was absolutely fabulous, outstanding. The Men’s Four obviously wanted a little more – you have two sorts of silver medals here. From now until the World Championships, for all crews, it’s about converting them to gold.”
Speaking for her teammates in the gold medal Women’s Eight Olympian, Giorgia Patten said they had conviction from the starting green light through to the line.
“We came out and executed a really good start which has been a strength of ours, so our main focus was to nail the race rhythm from the 750m to the 1500m, which we know we are capable of. It’s exactly what we did and allowed us to move up through the field and hold off Canada and Romania.”
The Men’s Four of O’Brien, Hargreaves, Turrin and Purnell led the way in the showdown of the highly competitive boat class. While the Aussies led through the 1500m mark, the old rivals from Britain found another gear to take the gold.
“We got out reasonably well,” Purnell said, “but probably didn’t find the sweetest rhythm that we needed – it was effective but inefficient. We just had nowhere to go at the end and were just hanging on in the last 100m. I think we did well to hang on to second. The GB crew rowed a really good race, so well done to them.”
Olympian Tara Rigney showed her class by securing silver in the Women’s Single Scull. “I was just trying to take what I learned from the quad and implement it here in the scull,” Rigney said.
“There’s a lot more that I know I can do technically to make the scull go faster, I think it comes down to having more time in the boat – it was hard to jump in after being in the quad, but I got the job done. We’ll see if we can make it happen for World Champs.”
The Australians warmed up for the Lucerne regatta by competing at the Henley-on-Thames Royal Regatta in England, where they won the Stewards’ Challenge Cup, the Double Sculls Challenge Cup, the Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup and the Prince Phillip Challenge Trophy.
SUBC’s Alex Purnell, Jack Hargreaves and Jack O’Brien teamed with Spencer Turrin to win the Stewards’ Challenge Cup for the Men’s Four in the tightest of finishes from British crew.
Hargreaves said that not racing before the final made it difficult for them. “I’d say we were probably a bit lost on the course; we haven’t raced here much, so we were a bit, ‘where are we?’. But a win’s a win – we were happy to get across the line first.”
The Princess Grace Challenge Cup for the Women’s Quad was a hard-fought race between the Australian combination of Olympic Bronze medallists, Rowena Meredith and Harriet Hudson, who were joined by fellow Olympian Tara Rigney and new-comer Kate Rowan. They went down by a length to a Chinese four.
SUBC’s David Bartholot put in a strong performance in the Diamond Sculls, being beaten by German Sculler and 2019 World Champion Olli Zeidler by two lengths overall – the most challenged the German has been for the whole regatta.
The 2022 World Championship regatta will be held in Racice, Czech Republic, from 18-25 September, and going on the results from the Henley-on-Thames and Lucerne regattas, SUBC should be well represented in Australian boats.