Girl Power – Tough racing in challenging conditions at Victorian State Championships

With a team of 46 including rowers, coxes and coaches descending on Lake Wendouree the Richmond tigers were represented strongly in both numbers and presence at last weekends Victorian State Championships. With a final tally of 7 medals (3 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze) RRC had a very successful days racing and here’s a few of the highlights.
The female C8+ was represented with two crews from Richmond, both a C and D crew. Ballarat was living up to its reputation, with strong winds and an overcast, cold morning, leaving the girls shivering as they prepared to get on the water. Regardless of the temperature, everyone involved went into the straight final with fire in their bellies. After almost ten minutes of the crews getting blown around at the start line, officials and coxes alike, were getting frustrated and bossy, bringing the tension to boiling point before the race had even begun. When the crews were finally close to being in line, the starter took the chance, and the race was on. With boats all over the place and the need for the rudder on from the start, the C crew didn’t quite get the speed out of the blocks they’d hoped for. Initially rating in the 40s, they held onto their rivals, Latrobe, only for the first 200. From then, Latrobe had no competition and the battle was on for second place. The C crew maintained their speed and held their form as best they could in the rough water. They finished with silver, followed very closely by Melbourne Rowing Club and Y Rowing. Meanwhile, the RRC D crew (the only D grade crew in the race) fought hard finishing close behind and treating it as a practice race for their priority event to come that afternoon.


Also facing the tough morning conditions was the C4X+ who battled against club and school girl crews in their heat to make the final. Once again in the race for medals our neighbours at Latrobe came away with the gold while the Richmond crew had to settle for the unenviable position of fourth just missing out on a medal but very pleased with their efforts.
Well, it’s been a long time in coming, but Carolyn Manning has finally added a non-masters single scull state championship to her long list of rowing achievements winning the D single scull.  She also stormed home in a photo finish to be edged out of silver medal by less than 0.6 of a second in the masters single, almost causing an upset against a former Australian representative.
Racing in “light” winds on Lake Wendouree at Ballarat, Carolyn won the FD1X against a large field of girls half her age, in tough conditions.  Wendouree is a shallow lake, and its famous cross head winds whip up a savage chop which greeted Carolyn several weeks ago when she won the D single at the Wendouree-Ballarat regatta. At the start line of the Wendouree-Ballarat a few weeks ago, Carolyn was madly bailing out water which had filled her scull after water poured over the sides of the boat as a result of the 30 km winds.  The regatta was abandoned not long afterwards. The lake claimed victims at both regattas – a sculler rolled her boat just before the start of Carolyn’s heats at the States and the previous regatta.
Jodie Naisbitt also bravely took on the challenge of Lake Wendouree for her first ever race in a single entering the FD1X and thoroughly enjoying herself.
The afternoon brought calmer conditions and more bling for RRC. The two crews in the Female D Grade Coxed Four learnt three very valuable lessons,  1 – Anything can happen in rowing, 2 – Whatever happens, don’t give up, and 3 – A loud cheer squad can make all the difference in the last 100 metres!
The advice from the bank before the final was ‘go out hard at the start.’ If only Caroline’s crew hadn’t misheard – they thought they said ‘take out the competition at the start’.  Unfortunately that happened to be Vanessa’s crew! Both boats recovered quickly though and were soon off and racing again. Hours of training paid off and Caroline, Virginie, Liz and Thalia (with Karin as cox) were able to pull back the time lost and in the closing stages of the race, were able to claim bronze in their first State Champs (and first year of rowing).  Vanessa, Elaine, Sarah and Jemma finished with a very respectable time and a big thanks to Anthea for coxing despite the crutches! The cheering and smiles from the bank definitely helped the crews across the line, and took the edge off the disappointment over the start – thanks for the support Tigers!
With three Richmond doubles in action across the afternoon there were some quick turn arounds with boats as both C and D divisions had heats and finals. On top of the C2X Michelle Joy also had the C1X heats and final too but not one to shirk away from a challenge even after the scare of almost missing the final while she stood on the bank waiting for her boat to come back in she powered home to take a bronze in the C1X (and you guessed it Latrobe took the gold).
After qualifying fastest for the CX2 final (by a whole 0.03 secs) the Richmond duo of Michelle Joy and Karen Doggett lined up for the start literally surrounded by not one but three Latrobe doubles. In one of the closest races of the day the battle for medals was fierce right up to the last stroke with the Richmond double coming from 4th position at the half way point to surge home in a powerful finish to take the gold! There was definitely some satisfaction at finally coming out on top in our friendly rivalry with Latrobe.
The Richmond D8+ crew stormed home to seal the deal with a gold medal, having held off a strong attempt from Melbourne in the middle half of the race. Following a clear water win in the preliminary earlier in the afternoon, the tigers dug deep to ensure an answer to whatever extra the Melbourne and Wendouree – Ballarat crews brought into the final. Despite a slightly scrappy start Derek Begg encouraged the girls to stay in the boat and coxed the crew to respond to every surge the Melbourne team made, in the end the resolve of the Tigers prevailed and the guts led to glory.
Contributions from Sophie Robinson, Thalia Marshall, Catherine Hardy, Tom Appleby, Karen Doggett
… and if you thought we’d forgotten the men think again.
The Silent Heroes
Congratulations RRC for a fantastic State Champs.  7 medals, congratulations Ladies!!  Yep, that’s right the Men’s Crew didn’t win any.  That’s a fact, BUT what most of you don’t know was that our key role as true gentlemen is to secretly make the Women’s Crews look good.
This had been on the go for weeks and it’s now time to let you all in on some of the sophisticated execution and planning involved.
We had two crews to coordinate here.  Mikey G and Dave M executed Dave’s foot stretcher failure perfectly during the race. Well done fellas, couldn’t have done it better myself.  Michael C and I purposely didn’t train at all together, plus used a boat we’d never rowed either, genius.  Results……..0 medals.  Good start!
MD4+ with Ben S, Pete S, Matt E and PJ
This plan was complicated and had to hide it from PJ, sorry mate.  Firstly we got RV to post a race day schedule that didn’t show the preliminary event and only PJ would see.  Hence he didn’t rock up for the race at 8:56am.  Barry almost spoilt the plan by subbing but Ben, Pete and Matt did well sticking to the game plan.
Result…… medal and a bonus of making Barry row when he didn’t want to ; )
Another difficult one with 2 crews to manage.  Firstly Charlie “The Animal” Burke had an “injury” which meant he had to pull out from his crew.  This was crucial to the plan as if he rowed the other competitors didn’t stand a chance.  Unawares of our plans the coaches subbed in Dennis B as a replacement, little did they know.  Dennis, Mikey, Dave and Michael then perfected the art of “looking like you’re rowing hard whilst still letting the others beat you”…..child’s play.  Sorry fellas, I know it wasn’t easy.
Took a different but ingenious angle with the second crew of Ben, PJ, Pete and myself.  Hid the riggers for the DEMN in the club house then substituted a strange unknown set that wouldn’t fit then acted confused when trying to rig the boat.  Once again Barry almost foiled the plan by making us row the Dudgeon.  Wasn’t enough mate!
Results…….0 medals, still on track.  Sorry to our coxes Lindsey and Bec, couldn’t risk letting you in on the plan.
Ben and Matt were to smash it out in the monster trucking event.  2 part plan here.  Part A, also hid the riggers at the club.  Somehow Barry once again almost spoilt things by finding another boat for them.  Part B, I crushed Ben’s enthusiasm for the race by telling him last week that the country goliaths such as Rutherglen normally win, which they did actually.  Sorry again Ben.
The fellas had another brilliant idea to minimise their effort by convincing the other crews to skip the preliminary final and go straight to a first and final.
Result…… medal.  Sorry to Karin this time for keeping you out of the loop. Although in all seriously well done guys for racing the tub pair!!!!
Final race of the day, pressure’s on now.  Didn’t want to stuff things up by winning a medal.  To make things worse Dennis was starting to crack and actually wanting to race!  Time to pull out the big guns.
Firstly I pretended that I’d forgotten the race time and was wandering around aimlessly until Dennis found me.  Thought I’d still nailed it though as when we got to start area there were no crews around.  Alas the regatta was running behind, bugger.  Quick start, go.  Had to improvise now, then it hit me literally.  Cramps, first in my hands then arms then legs!  Awesome, couldn’t have planned this better.  Sorry Dennis, maybe next time (ssshhh, he still thinks the pressure of rowing with him was too great).
Result………..0 medals for the day, success fellas!!!!!!
Well, it wasn’t easy but we did it. Well done Men’s Crew, another successful State Champs for RRC!  You ladies did ok with your part too I guess ; )
Now for the serious part – Massive thanks to our coaches Linsdey and Rachael for their time and effort coaching plus purely putting up with us.  Also to everyone involved in making States such a big success including all the coaches, Barry, Pete, coxes, rowers, RV and supporters.
Till next time….
By one of the Faceless RRC Men
Ps. Sunday confirmed the important things too, like bacon & egg rolls and coffee are awesome after your first race plus junk food is always a winner on the way home.