With our main squad at Penrith in final taper for the National Selection Regatta starting Monday SUBC had still entered for the Gold Cup but had to fall back on an unusual mix of youth and semi-retired experience to pull off a slightly unexpected win in the 2005 race. With Alfred, Gatti, Townsend, Boyce and cox Lister (all school leavers and winners in the U21 Champion Eight of NSW) Coach Marty Rabjohns threw in veteran lightweight club secretary Stu Old (who trains for fun) along with 2003 U23 Aussie Eight bow pair Tim Williams and Michael Valli and former lightweight ( now Vice Presidential look-a-like) Ben Vining to make up SUBC’s effort to fly the flag at the Gold Cup.
This race is still considered a career highlight by those lucky enough to win and luck and good management both played a part in this year’s win. The course is “home” to the home of rowing and SUBC in various periods of its history has considered that it has some innate expectation to win at home – the current era is such a period.
The heats were eventful. First the St Ignatius eight hit the second pile of the straight losing and oar and sending their six man overboard. Then the Old Ignatians commemorative crew was swamped a little by the unmpire’s wash ( so it was claimed) although many in the crowd (including this writer) thought that the average crew weight (which seemed on naked observation to be appraoching the 110-120 kilo mark) combined with an ageing boat designed for a 90 kilo crew was a major factor. The sinking provided some amusement (being in sight of the crowd) as the bow ploughed underwater with the stern rising like that of the Titanic (in the movie at least) before succumbing to the waves.
Sydney Uni crew won their heat comfortably but without impressing too much. In the semi Uni eased down to come second to Sydney Grammar but many of the spectators felt that the combination looked tired and this writer was concerned that the older semi-retired “gang of four” would fold in the final – their third race of the day.
Our crew drew the outside Riverview side lane in the final. We considered this an advantage with a staggered start and a good “look” on the remaining crews. In addittion, under coach Rabjohns instructions the crew stayed as close to the northern bank as possible and out of the direct influence of the outgoing tide for at least the first half of the race.
Also helping uni was the fact that this scratch combination was getting better together with each row and in contrast to the heats and semi’s the uni crew looked sharp, strong and combining beautifully. After a prolonged outside run down the straight Uni turned at the pile with a clear lead of two lengths and increased their tempo as they approached the line to win by 7.8 seconds from Kings School.
The 2005 win added to our 2nd in 2004 and win in 2003. The crew came ashore at the beach to be presented with their trophy and the historic Gold Cup.
Congratulations to Head Coach Marty Rabjohns and “Super” Assistant Coach Ed Yorston who had charge of this crew. Also well done to the boys and, on a day of some weird steering, special congratulations to Toby Lister who steered the perfect course and followed the coaching staff tactics exactly.
The Gold Cup completed a “golden” week in SUBC history that started with our record haul at the NSW Championships. Now it’s time to wish our entire team from both the men’s and women’s squads all the best for the 2005 National Championships.