A win in the Elite Men?s Pair by Mat Ryan capped off a successful first day for Sydney University at the 2006 NSW State Rowing Championships. Starting the day Liz Kell was eliminated in the fastest heat of the Women?s Elite Sculls but showed she is back on the pace after a long injury lay-off. Dan Noonan of SUBC progressed to the final of the Men?s Elite Scull while Nick Hudson was eliminated. Dan put forward his best sculling performance in the final to finish second to long time Australian rep Peter Hardcastle.
The premier Youth events, the Men?s and Women?s U21 Eights were the last races of the first morning. In the Women?s event the composite crew featuring 5 SUWRC members combining with Mosman, UTS and Leichhardt took and early lead over the UQ composite crew and moved further away for most of the race winning easily by over 10 seconds. The SUBC U12 Eight was defending its 2005 title against a composite crew from UQ/Toowong, Scotch College of Melbourne, Sydney Rowing Club and local schools. SUBC moved out steadily letting the school crews make the early pace as they settled into their race rhythm. Stroked by Andrew Heffer, the crew moved to the lead as the end of the first 500 approached, took out a 2.5 second lead in the second 500 and held that all the way to a solid win over UQ with Kings School?s third showing they will be hard to beat in the 2006 Head of the River.
SUBC has dominated U23 sweep events at State and National Championships in recent times and this continued later in the day with a dominant win by the established B pair if Chris Clyne and Pat Wilson in the U23 Men?s Pair with our youth pair of Terence Alfred and Ed Boyce finishing fourth.
On the Women?s side there were terrific performances by Renee Kirby, who pushed through in the third 500 to take the lead from Emma MCarthy of Bundaberg and win by seconds while in the Women?s Elite Lightweight sculls Elsa O?Hanlon with a strong middle 1000 meters pushed herself from 6th place to claim the bronze medal for third. Congratulations to the girls and their coaches AB and Terry O?Hanlon. Will Chambers took out the silver medal in the final of U23 single scull in his fourth race of the day- early he had won the U21 Eights title
The Men?s Elite Lightweight Pair provided the major disappointment of the day when the favoured SUBC team of Zuk and Wilmott failed to make the start on time. For two such experienced athletes without any preceding races this was inexcusable and will jeopardize their selection positions for the Sate team.
When the Sydney Uni rowing program first took on heavyweights in the current era in 2000 we knew it would take some years before our rowers would graduate to the elite ranks. In 2005 Mat Ryan became SUBC?s first selection in the Senior A team at National level since 1980. This year, 2006 saw a number of our rowers move well into the Senior A ranks.
The strength of SUBC was on show in the Men?s Elite Coxless Four and Pair. In the Fours the composite crew of Mat Ryan, Francis Hegerty (SUBC) and James Chapman and Stefan Sczcurowski won comfortably from another composite four of Ian Allsop and Fergus Pragnell (SUBC) with Dave Matthews (UTS) and Dave Galley (UQ) and the SUBC U23 four in third.
The final race of the day was the Men?s Elite Pair. In 2005 this had been a highlight of the Championships with Ryan (SUBC and Dave Chapman (UTS) very narrow winners over Ryan and James Chapman. In the 2006 race it was the new combination of Fergus Pragnell (SUBC) and Dave Matthews (UTS) who challenged strongly and went to a narrow early head. By the 1500 metre mark they still held a lead of 1.5 seconds but in difficult tail conditions they lost their course direction in the final 200-300 metres and could not withstand a powerful finish by Ryan and Chapman. The two boats went across the line seemingly together with Ryan and Chapman getting the nod after a long study of the photo by the judges by only 2/100?s of a second. Coming down the outside lane the new combination of Ian Allsop (SUBC) and Dave Galley (UQ) stole third ahead of Hegerty and Sczcurowski. Congratulations to Mat and Chappo, well deserved, superb challenge from Fergus and Dave Matthews with creditable performances by our other representatives.
Our four SUBC athletes from the first four crews in the Elite pair will combine with Dan Noonan, Will Chambers, Chris Clyne plus Canadian Athen?s Olympic silver medallist, Tom Herschmiller, to defend our NSW Elite Men?s Eights title . In 2005 SUBC broke a 30 year drought to win this event and with this fine crew we have a golden opportunity to make it two in a row. The crew will be steered by elite cox and coach Marty Rabjohns with expected opposition from UTS and Queensland,