Rowers bring home their share of precious metal  

The victorious Blenheim RC club pair of Fred Vavasour and Dylan Burton share the podium with coach John Robinson. Photo: Supplied. 

Marlborough-based clubs picked up 16 medals of differing colours when the 2021 national rowing champs concluded at Lake Ruataniwha on Saturday.

With changes necessary thanks to a Covid-induced lockdown from Monday to Wednesday, the programme was abbreviated and formats altered to condense five days of proposed racing into just three days.

This made for a busy schedule for most of the rowers, who stepped up admirably and made the most of tranquil conditions on all three days.

All finals were contested on Saturday, racing concluding with the women’s and men’s premier events in a new draft format.

Central Rowing Performance Centre crews came away with a host of medals, head coach Marion Horwell especially happy with the efforts of the younger brigade.

She made special mention of the women’s under-22 double crew of Mollie Nicol and Phoebe Collier who placed fourth in a very competitive field.

“[Mollie] had an outstanding regatta … the young ones really stepped up, many of them are straight out of school,” said Marion.

Collier went on to pick up her first red coat as a member of the victorious mixed women’s premier four, while Sarah Wootton also earned her first red coat, winning a premier title in the women’s quad.

Kobe Miller was another to have an energy-sapping final day, coming very close to bronze in the men’s U22 single final, won by Central clubmate Luke Brady, placing second in the U22 double, alongside Brady, then earning his first red coat as stroke of the victorious mixed premier men’s quad.

“That was his third race on the day,” said Marion, “he just put everything on the line.”

Brady, Miller, Wootton and Jamie Hindle-Daniels have all earned national trials.

Marion said racing at the premier level was tight, with the standard particularly high.

Of particular note among the more experienced rowers was the effort of Chris Harris to pick up a couple of premier bronze medals, while Georgia Nugent-O’Leary and Ruby Tew looked really strong in the women’s premier double, qualifying for the Olympic quad.

Marion also praised the way her charges handled the challenge of the Covid delay and inability to get on to the water until race day.

“It gave everyone the perspective of this is just one of those things that is normal in rowing … just one of those challenges that you have to learn to deal with. It definitely brought the group together.

“I think if we had had two days of finals instead of one, things may have been different … but it was certainly a learning curve for such a young group.”

The Blenheim Rowing Club also enjoyed plenty of success, their nine-strong group of MBC students picking up two gold medals and a bronze in intermediate and club events.

The crew of Fred Vavasour, Sam Feltham, Rhys Salvador, Dylan Burton, James Fitzgerald, Leon Poswillo, Flynn Mercer, Buster Jennings and coxswain Walter Wickham won the men’s intermediate eight, while Burton and Vavasour led all the way to take gold in the men’s club pair.

With their ultimate sights set on the forthcoming Maadi Cup regatta in March, their coach John Robinson suggests they are on track.

“They took it up a different level from the South Island champs. We only had a small contingent and they did a lot of racing, their endurance came through well.

“The whole group stood up and did what we asked for. It is hard to single anyone out.

“We now have a six-week training block so I’m sure we can go to another level again.”

Picton crews grabbed a brace of silver medals, to the men’s senior eight and the men’s club quad, while featuring in eight A finals.

Club spokesman Keiran Gaudin said the eights race was one of the toughest he had been involved in, the Picton crew being shaded by 3.5 seconds.

“We thought we would be there or thereabouts and just got run down after leading from the start,” he said.

“We were pretty happy with how we went … obviously you got there to win gold but the other crews were just faster on the day.”

Wairau club rowers also made several A finals, bagging two bronzes.


Results of Marlborough-based clubs on finals day:

Central RPC

Men’s premier single (Chris Harris) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

(Tom Murray) 5th in A final

Women’s premier single (Jackie Kiddle) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

(Zoe McBride) 7th in A final

(Ruby Tew) 6th in A final

(Sarah Wootton) 8th in A final

Men’s U22 single (Luke Brady) 1st in A final – GOLD

(Kobe Miller) 4th in A final

Men’s premier pair (Tom Murray, Phillip Wilson) 4th in A final

Women’s premier pair (Kerri Gowler, Ella Greenslade) 2nd in A final – SILVER

(Jackie Gowler, Beth Ross) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

Men’s U22 double (Miller, Brady) 2nd in A final – SILVER

(Arie Magasiva, Oliver Fahey) 5th in A final

Women’s U22 double (Mollie Nicol, Phoebe Collier) 4th in A final

Men’s premier double (Chris Harris, Phillip Wilson) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

Women’s premier double (Georgia Nugent-O’Leary, Ruby Tew) 2nd in A final – SILVER

(Zoe McBride, Jackie Kiddle) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

(Sarah Wootton, Alice Fahey) 5th in A final

Women’s senior single (Mollie Nichol) 8th in A final



Men’s intermediate eight (Fred Vavasour, Sam Feltham, Dylan Burton, Rhys Salvador, James Fitzgerald, Leon Poswillo, Flynn Mercer, Buster Jennings, Walter Wickham) 1st in A final – GOLD

Men’s intermediate double (Salvador, Fitzgerald) 5th in A final

Men’s intermediate coxed four (Vavasour, Feltham, Burton, Salvador, Wickham) 4th in A final

Men’s intermediate quad (Salvador, Fitzgerald, Feltham, Poswillo, Wickham) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

Men’s club pair (Vavasour, Burton) 1st in A final – GOLD



Men’s club double (Keiran Gaudin, Hayden Gaudin) 6th in A final

Men’s senior four (Mark Patterson, Will Johnston, Ryan Gaudin, Shae Gaudin) 7th in A final

Women’s intermediate double (Charlotte Lightfoot, Jamie Cunningham) 7th in A final

Men’s senior eight (Keiran Gaudin, Greg McLaughlin, Mark Patterson, Ryan Gaudin, Simon Smith, Will Johnston, Hayden Gaudin, Shae Gaudin, Cameron Leydon) 2nd in A final – SILVER

Men’s club quad (Keiran Gaudin, Hayden Gaudin, Angus Coull, Thomas Ryan) 2nd in A final – SILVER

Men’s senior pair (Ryan Gaudin, Will Johnston) 4th in A final

Men’s intermediate single (Matthais Alexander) 6th in A final

Men’s senior single (Mark Patterson) 5th in A final



Women’s intermediate single (Bridgitte O’Leary) 7th in A final

Men’s club single (Lawrence Birch) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

Women’s club double (O’Leary, Stormont) 6th in A final

Men’s senior single (Docherty) 3rd in A final – BRONZE

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