Ducray, Johnston stun favourites for NZ title
Waimea College rowers Sean Ducray and Sam Johnston have won a national Maadi Cup title and with it a chance to make the New Zealand squad.
A whole season of toil was defined for many of New Zealand rowing's future athletes, as medals and national trials were up for grabs on the first of two finals days at the Maadi Cup national secondary schools regatta on Lake Ruataniwha yesterday.
The winners of the Nelson Mail Junior Sports Team of the Year at the last two Nelson Sports Awards ceremonies continued their climb through the rowing ranks, taking out the boys under-18 pair final. And, they are in line for another medal with a final in the double scull due to be raced today.
In the A final, Napier Boys' High School led through the first half, Waimea and Mt Albert Grammar School were up there with them and pushing for the second and third spots.
Waimea gained on Napier through the third quarter of the race and pushed ahead with 500m to go. Waimea's pair of Ducray and Johnston took gold in 7min 05.03sec with a convincing nine seconds' clear water lead on Edwin Laver and Liam Kitchin from Napier Boys' High School.
The Christchurch Boys' High School crew of Tom Clyma and Angus Coull challenged in the last few hundred metres and managed to pick up the bronze ahead of Mt Albert Grammar, who faded in the final quarter of the race to place fourth.
It was such a tight race for the silver and bronze medals that a photo finish was required to determine the second and third placings. The first and second placed crews in this event also gain an automatic trial for the New Zealand junior team.
Nelson rowing coach John Robinson said the Waimea pair were simply driven to succeed.
"They have shown right through the year that they were certainly up in the class, they rowed very well," said Robinson.
"I knew they had the ability to win this final but you never know what is going to come out from the opposition.
"Napier Boys were the North Island champions and people expected them to win very easily. But our boys put a lot of pressure on them and took them out of their comfort zone, and in the end they won quite easily.
"By winning it, this has given them an automatic junior trial in a couple of weeks.
In other A final results involving Nelson schools, Nelson College's Joe Brady came sixth overall in the under-17 single.
In the under-15 double sculls final Nelson College's Perry Smith and Jack Castle also earned sixth.
There was a seventh place for Nelson College's under-18 eight which involved Smith and Castle along with Callum Wilkie, Cielo Boswijk, William Taylor, Devon Davis, Jono Mills, Hamish Topp and cox Patric Lorandi.
The last day of the event will see 24 finals raced today.
The highlights will include the boys and girls under-18 eights.
Major medal chances for Nelson will see Ducray and Johnston line up with Nelson College's Brady and Olly Stephens in the double scull under-18 final, while the under-15 double scull champions, Nelson College for Girls' Sasha Callum and Tessa Smith, will look to step up and take out the under-16 doubles title this year.
- The Nelson Mail