The Trans Tasman Rowing Test took place on the South Island of New Zealand between the 3rd and 12th of July. Sydney University won the right to select the Women’s VIII for the Trans Tasman after winning the 2009 Australian University Games. Melbourne University supplied a Lightweight men’s four and lightweight women’s quad, and Adelaide University provided the heavyweight men’s eight. A squad of nine rowers was selected from university students in New South Wales who were currently training. Sarah Sackville, Ashleigh Peppernell, Sabina White, Grace Falkenmire, Grace Michell, Jo Wood and Beatrix Sheldrick all from Sydney University were selected, along with Laura Honson from the University of New South Wales and Jess Salmon from University of Technology, Sydney. Genevieve Fick a new member of Sydney University and fromer Loreto Kirribilli 1st VIII cox was chosen to cox the VIII for the tour.
The crew arrived in New Zealand and was greeted with some very cold weather. The squad travelled to Queenstown where the first two 2000 meter races would be held. Once the squad arrived at the picturesque Lake Hayes much time was spent setting up the new KIRS boat and once on the water the girls had to adjust to rowing in a less forgiving but fast boat.
On the 6th of July the crew raced for the first time and were unlucky to come second by 1.27seconds. The next day the crew did some good work on the water and were then able to put the racing behind them with some Skydiving, Four Wheel Driving and Jet boating activities. The 8th of July was the next race. The Australian girls proved superior out of the start and held a half a length lead until the 1000m mark. However the kiwis were able to move away and ended up winning by a boat length. The Squad enjoyed some sightseeing in Queenstown but there was an underlying feeling that they were not going to be happy until they were able to beat the New Zealand Women’s VIII.
The next day we travelled to Dunedin to prepare for the 5000 meter race on the harbor. Conditions were rough for training but the crew were able to make some good changes to their rowing. The final race took place early the following day. Stroke seat Ash Peppernell won the coin toss and chose the inside lane which set a very positive tone for the crew. The Australian Women’s VIII looked very confident in their warm up. Both crews got away to a good start and at the 2000 meter mark were still even. Over the final 3000m of the race effective steering from Gen Fick and long powerful rowing from the crew lead to a 26 second win over the Kiwis. This was a perfect way to end the tour.
I must thank James Harding the Tour Manager who did a fine Job whether it be driving the mini bus, managing all sorts of logistics, pitching the boat or providing technical feedback to the crew. I would also like to thank the squad who were a pleasure to coach during the 10 week campaign.
Will Townsend Trans Tasman Women’s VIII Coach