With conditions ideal at the International Regatta Centre the first finals of the 2005 Nationals kicked off Tuesday morning with a number of Sydney Uni athletes competing. Highlight of the morning was the Men’s Open Pair won by Sam Conrad and Hardy Cubash of UQ. For SUBC the performance of the composite pair of Matt Ryan (SUBC) and James Chapman (UTS) was terrific. After being out of the boat for three weeks with a hamstring injury to James the composite crew led for a large part of the race to be headed just 300 metres from home. Sam, the son of 1970’s alumnus of SUBC Tim Conrad and grandson of our hugely successful former coach and 56 Olympic pair rower, Maurie Grace moved on from the disappointment of missing the 2004 Olympics to go to the top rank of the Open pair. No doubt Sam is on track for 2008 Beijing and in winning the National Open Pair title followed in the footsteps of his father (1975 Champion) and grandfather (1956 Champion). Matt Ryan achieved the best result at Open level since Sydney Uni men’s heavyweight program re-started in 2000.
Soon after our “babies” ( in this case very large ones) Ian Allsop and Fergus Pragnell romped home in the U23 Pair winning comfortably with a 94% prognostic and only about 5 seconds slower than the winning Open time. In the U23 Singles Finals several years of total dedication by Andrew Wilson paid off as he rowed into thrid place in the A final and put himself firmly in the running for a representative berth in the U23 team. In the B final Damon Hietbrink had an excellent 2nd to rank 8th in a strong field of 26 scullers in this event.
Other excellent results were gained by Elsa O’Hanlon in the Women’s U23 Lightweight Single – 2nd in A Final, and Brooke Pratley 1st in the B Final in a very strong field of 25 in Open Women’s Single Scull.
More finals will be held Friday with promising heat wins by Renee Kirby (Women’s U19 Single) and wins by Andrew Wilson and Damon Hietbrink in composite crews in the heats of the U23 Double Scull.