The NSW Rowing Association State Championships conducted last weekend at Penrith saw a large contingent of Sydney University athletes perform outstandingly well and Sydney University retain its current strong position as a leading development club in NSW. Leaving aside School races and U16 and U17 events which by their nature are not available to university clubs there were 35 Championship events in U19, U21, U23 and Elite. Sydney University?s team took out ten championships, eight silver medals and seven bronze medals.
Highlights included wins by the Women?s Eight in the Elite Eight Championship. The No 1 Sydney Uni crew trailed St George at the halfway mark but applied pressure in the second half of the race to row past their opponents to a three second victory. The Men?s U21 Eight outclassed a hot finals field including the leading school crews. The university crew led easily by five seconds at the three quarter way point and were able to ease down to a strong and comfortable victory.
Other wins included Zita van de Walle in the Elite Women?s Lightweight Single Scull and then another victory as Zita teamed with Libby Phelps to take out the title in the Elite Women?s Lightweight Double Scull.
The conditions for both days were hot and muggy with the thermometer at the Regatta Centre reaching 42 degrees on Sunday afternoon. It was a credit to the coaches of both teams that the athletes handled these conditions without serious problems although some entries had to be scratched to lessen the strain on athletes with multiple race entries. The records of NSWRA showed this was the warmest Championships since 1973.
One of the highlights of the regatta, and considered by most rowers as ?the race of the regatta? came in the Elite Men?s Four. UTS and Sydney ( Bourke, Gordon, Valli, Ryan and Williams) swapped the lead early in the race with UTS eventually gaining a length lead with 600 metres of the course left. The Sydney Uni crew finished strongly with UTS responding to the challenge. As the line neared Sydney was gaining with each stroke and failed by only 0.13 second to catch UTS before the finish.
Andrew Wilson broke through into selection consideration in U23?s with a strong second in the U23 Champion scull and now has a chance to press for a spot in the 2004 U23 Australian team.
For the Men?s Club the medal haul was one down on 2003 from 13 to 12 medals but golds increased from 4 to 6.
Following the U21 Eights race the State selectors announced the 2004 NSW Youth Eight squad with six representatives from SUBC included in the final squad. In 2003 NSW Youth Eight mainly composed of SUBC athletes won the Interstate Youth Eight. The team is expected to have a good chance to repeat this performance in 2004.