Saltwater Challenge 2019

Richmond were out in force for the first regatta of the season, the 2019 Saltwater Challenge, with 34 rowers and coxswains involved across ten crews. The weather was against us, with cold temperatures, periods of rain and strong winds, but we still had an enjoyable day on the Maribyrnong.
The first event for Richmond was the Male Master’s quad, in which we had two crews: Jon, John Michael and Dennis, coxed by Derek, and Richie, Steve, Alex and Kim, coxed by Keith. Both crews performed strongly in a highly competitive field of 20 boats. The first of these crews was also the fastest Richmond boat of the day, with an impressive time of 17:10.

The Female D grade quad was the next event, with three Richmond crews ensuring that Dario was kept very busy as he attempted to follow all three boats on his bike. Dieuwke, Gypsy, Kirsty and Ally with cox Rosie were first out, followed by Sarah, Shern, Amy and Susanna with cox Anthea and finally Imogen, Lilian, Pauline and myself, coxed by Wendy. For many of us it was the first time competing in the Salty and it was my first race ever, so nerves were high in the marshalling area – not helped by the long wait in the cold. Once we were off, however, we warmed up quickly and the 4500m race flew by. We were happy with our placings of 4th, 9th and 5th respectively out of 12 boats and look forward to putting our training to the test at the next race!

At the conclusion of these races, many had to row back up to the start with minimal break while those of us not rowing or coxing again sought warmth and shelter from the elements inside the Essendon rowing club, a perfect place to watch the finish. The first Richmond crew in the final bracket of the day was the Male C grade quad of Keith, John, Red and Dennis, coxed by Derek, closely followed by the Mixed Master’s quad of Diana, Charlie, Michael and Anthea with cox Wendy.

Many of the women from the D grade competed again in the master’s event (Shern, Sarah, Ally and Amy with cox Kathy) and C grade quad (Kirsty, Rosie, Gypsy and Dieuwke with cox Lilian), performing valiantly at the end of a big day with 18km of rowing! Finally, the Male D grade quad of Lachlan, Amir, Duyao and Alex, coxed by Imogen, rounded out the competition with another strong performance.

While unfortunately there were no medals for Richmond, there were many excellent performances and it was a fun day, especially in hindsight after a hot shower! Many thanks to all of the coaches, coxes and supporters and everyone who worked behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the day.
Pippa Trevella

Saltwater Challenge 2018

After a great weekend in Nagambie for our annual RRC camp, on Saturday we tried to put the good work into practice at the Saltwater Challenge in Essendon. We weren’t able to attend this event last year, so it was great to get back to this gorgeous part of Melbourne and go for a little paddle on the Maribyrnong. Even the weather gods were on our side, with glorious sunshine throughout the day!
The first crew competing for Richmond were Michelle, Karen, Kate and Zoe, in the Female Masters Coxed Quad event. They were coxed by none other than Derek, who was 1st Runner-up for the 2018 RV Coxswain of the Year award earlier this year. Despite being held up by other crews on some of the course bends, they still managed an impressive 3rd place and were looking very strong on their finish sprint.

The same crew raced again in the B Grade Coxed Quad event and somehow managed to better their previous time, clocking in at 18.58s for the 4,500m course. Rowing over 18km in one day, with half of it at full tilt must have been absolutely exhausting, well done ladies!
The next rowers out were Charlotte, Lucia, Dana and myself, expertly coxed by Stef. Throughout the race she provided a huge amount of motivation and gave us all the right pointers to keep it together and stay composed. She even managed to overtake a crew just in the nick of time before the big bend!

For the four of us rowing, this was the first time doing Salty and we really enjoyed the experience. Charlotte did a fantastic job in her first race in Stroke position and maintained a steady and easy to follow pace throughout. Needless to say, we were surprised and delighted to see that we came 5th out of 14 in the D Grade Coxed Quad event!

After a very brief interlude, Richmond was back on water again. Stef and I switched coxing duties and joined Jodie, Shern and Lou for the final race of the day, the Women’s C Grade coxed Quad. It was very busy at the start line again, with all boats in the C bracket going upriver at the same time to wait for the start, but eventually our turn came up and we were off. Despite Lou still fighting off a virus, the whole crew performed really well and maintained a perfectly balanced boat throughout the race. Their strength and consistency meant we could hold off some of the boats who were trying to overtake us, and achieved a very good race time.

All in all it was a lovely day and made even better by the supporters who came out to encourage us. Big shout out to Allan for helping with boats, oars, and hanging on to 5 wallets while we were on water! Thanks also to Amy and Shane for the photos and videos, to LaTrobe Uni RC for towing the trailer, and to everyone shouting encouragement from the footbridge!
Hopefully we can do this event again next year
Ally Dejaegher

A regatta first timer’s point of view

This year’s Saltwater Challenge hosted by the Essendon Rowing Club was a big one for me. While I’ve been rowing on an off since I was 17, I’d never yet had the chance to participate in a regatta.

Scheduled for the very start of spring, the annual Saltwater Challenge is a quad skulls race conducted in a time trial format and spans a gruelling 4.5km starting upstream at the Tea Gardens Reserve near Canning Street Avondale Heights down to the Club.

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to row on, with sun glistening off the stunning Maribynong River. As we arrived in time for the third bracket of the day, rowers and spectators alike were dotted along the riverbank, calling out in support of their teams.

Joining my teammates at the Richmond Rowing Club marquee, we made quick work of the rigging – and I could feel a nervous-but-excited rush settle over me. By the time we made it through the race briefing, put the boat in the water, and settled in for the pre-race row upstream, I was really keen to get started. But being one of the first boats to leave the Club, and one of the last boats to start our time trial, I was to be kept waiting just a bit longer!

Coxed by Karen, our crew consisted of Rob at bow, myself at two, Ray at three, and Ben at stoke. While we were initially supposed to row in the Masters category, me being 25 meant that we’d all be rowing in D Grade. In preparation, our race plan was simple – to keep to a modest rating of 24, but once we set off, we exceeded this goal for most of the race.

While the water was beautiful and still, the course had a few tricky bends, and we really felt the value of having an experience cox lead the way. While I knew it would be different, I wasn’t truly prepared for the difference between rowing training, and rowing in a regatta. When you are pushing to your limits with every stroke, it’s both exhilarating and exhausting in a whole new way. Especially as we rounded the corner for the last stretch, I could feel my muscles screaming out in protest… but on we went.

As we crossed the finish line, the horn brought with it a rush of relief and the realisation that I’d done it: I’d rowed my first regatta… eight years after I first picked up an oar.

Now, back to the Club for a beer.

Thanks to everyone who helped out and contributed to make the day a success.

By Devindhe Ratnaayake