Not just titles at stake

There is more than just titles at stake for some competitors at this weekend's South Island Rowing Championships at Lake Ruataniwha in Twizel.

The event doubles as a New Zealand selection regatta, a chance for those striving to be international oarsman to stake their claims, particularly those from the Central Region Performance Centre based at Wairau, in front of the national selectors.

While some have already qualified for trials through ergometer tests, others haven't, and for three rowers in particular it will be an opportunity to prove the New Zealand selectors wrong.

Olympian Sean O'Neill and former New Zealand reps triple world champion Duncan Grant and Ian Seymour were not in the national summer training squad but still have goals of wearing the silver fern again.

Seymour and O'Neill will team up in a pair.

Central RPC coach Mark Stallard took a full complement of rowers to Twizel midweek and said his focus this weekend was very much on getting as many of his charges as he could a trial.

Tufi Sele and Joe Trappitt were others after elite selection, as were former Blenheim Club rowers now with Central, Corey McCaffrey, Tom Murray, Ryan Wilson and Brook Robertson chasing places in national under-21 and under-23 squads. Picton's Mitchell Mackenzie-Mol was another in that category.

Blenheim coach Bill Campbell was also heading south all guns blazing with 38 rowers and coxswain, his target being hard racing leading up to the national secondary schools Maadi Cup regatta at Lake Karapiro in March.

Shaun MacDonald was a welcome addition to the Blenheim ranks, having enrolled at Marlborough Boys' College from Tawa College in Wellington.

While Campbell lost last year's Springbok four-winning crew to the Central RPC, he was pleased with the way his new under-19 four candidates were progressing and this weekend was a chance for those oarsman to press their claims. He was equally enthused about his group of under-15 and novice rowers.

"They've done the work through January. Training twice a day and building a good base. They've all got about four events each this weekend. It comes down to results now as to what happens. If they perform this weekend they will go the Nationals [at Twizel from February 12-16]."

Blenheim will also field several women's novice crews for the first time in many years at this regatta.

It was a very important regatta for Marlborough Girls' College crews rowing under Wairau's banner, especially given they will not be attending the club nationals.

Coach Dave Williamson said, "We are taking a full squad south this weekend, 45 rowers and coxswains. It's the serious part of the buildup to the Maadi Cup for us."

Williamson was targeting the prestigious under-19 coxed four Dawn Cup title at Maadi and was confident that the crew of Portia Barcello, Nadya Hyson, TJ Power, Jessica Donald and coxswain Ingrid Binstead-Pickering were on track to give that a serious nudge.

Picton coach Dave Bugler has all his regulars competing, including the Gaudin brothers Ryan and Keiran in the club double. Mckenzie-Mol will be contesting the open single scull event and the others - Kaine Marsh, Caitlin Harvey and Alan Harvey - all rowing singles in their respective grades. There will also be a combined Picton/Wairau eight.

Racing starts tomorrow morning, with finals on Sunday.

The Marlborough Express