Timaru teens power up for Maadi Cup
Several Timaru crews will be strong medal contenders at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Rowing Championships at Lake Ruataniwha next week.
Known as the Maadi Cup, the regatta has attracted 1600 rowers from 118 schools, which will make up the 1300 crews racing in 48 events over six days.
Topping the list will be Timaru Boys' High School's (TBHS) identical twins, Cameron and Russell Crampton, in the under-18 double.
The brothers took gold in the under-17 double last year and were second in the under-18 double.
They will line up as favourites but the North Island schools are sure to provide hot competition across all boats.
Roncalli's under-15 double, Libby Davenport (stroke) and Kate Shaw, will also be targeting a podium finish.
The South Island Secondary School titleholders are a gutsy unit who have been the dominant Roncalli crew throughout the season and remain unbeaten. However, they will also be tested by the North Island's best.
Craighead Diocesan School's best chances of gold will come in the form of their under-17 double and quad.
The double comprises Emma Dyke and Erica Taylor, and they will join Paige Cook, Bridget Murdoch and cox Zoe Dobbs in the quad. Craighead finished third overall in the sculling events last year. This year, they will also have the Levin Jubilee Trophy for the top girls' school at the regatta.
For the first time in a decade, they will have two eights, including in the under-18s.
Craighead are serious about their chances in their big boat campaign and have hired an eight off Southland's Waihopai Rowing Club for the regatta.
Coach Dean Milne said the old boat was more than eight years old and technology had changed.
"We've had it [the new boat] three weeks and there has been an improvement but we haven't seen our toughest competition yet," he said, referring to the North Island schools.
In the boys' under-16 single, Roncalli's Luke Cody and TBHS's James Walker are contenders, with their times comparing favourably with their North Island opposition. The TBHS lightweight double, with novice Hooper Kelly-Smith and Walker, 15, have been racing well and could surprise.
Likewise, Roncalli's under-18 coxed quad of Shaw, Caitlin Rowland, Heather Livesey, Amy Blackler and cox Sophie Chambers are South Island Secondary School gold medallists and a determined crew.
Timaru Girls' High School will send a small, mainly inexperienced squad to the championships, so are not likely to feature.
The regatta opens with the heats on Monday and Tuesday. Repechages will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Semifinals, where needed, will be raced on Thursday, with the 48 finals spread over Friday and Saturday.
The grand finale will be the boys' under-18 eight, the Maadi Cup, with thousands of spectators expected to line the course.
Last year's champions Auckland Grammar edged out surprise package Christ's College, with Westlake Boys' High School third and the fancied Hamilton Boys' High School well out of the mix.
The big North Island rowing schools will again be at the forefront of the prestigious race, while Craighead will face the likes of Waikato Diocesan, Rangi Ruru and Christchurch Girls' High School in the girls' under-18 eight.
Australian schools St Joseph's Nudgee College, from Brisbane, and Ruyton Girls' School, from Melbourne, have also entered.
- © Fairfax NZ News