The men’s elite pair at the State Championships is usually a closely fought affair. In 2006 SUBC’s Fergus Pragnell along with Dave Matthews looked to have secured the title over Matt Ryan and James Chapman only to falter nearl the line and lose by two one hundredths of a second. This year the same combination of Ryan and Chapman was in lane one with Pragnell and new partner Laurich in lane 9. Ryan and Chapman were quickly out of he blocks and established a handy lead of half a second from Francis Hegerty and Sam Loch at the 500m. On the opposite side Laurich and Pragnell were slower during the second 500, possibly due to some residual speedboat wash coming into their wide lane. At the 1000 metre mark they were nearly 3 seconds down on the leaders in third place.
The third five hundred saw them pick up two seconds on the leaders. Add another second in the final 500 metres and the two leading crews went to the line on each side of the course within a few feet of each other with Pragnell and Laurich getting the result by 0.14 seconds ( around 9 cms !).
Fergus, a SU Sport Scholarship holder since 2003 was Sydney Uni Blue of the Year in 2004 after winning a Gold Medal at World U23’s in the Coxd Four. Fergus was again in the U23 team in 2005 (in the eight) and in 2006 (again in the four) he won a silver medal. In late 2006 Fergus was invited to the AIS on a rowing scholarship and since then has been training with the men’s heavyweight squad under Head Coach , Brian Richardson.