Roncalli pair impressive
Craighead Diocesan School had a strong opening day at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Rowing Championships on Lake Ruataniwha, qualifying four crews straight through to A finals.
Timaru Boys' High School also qualified their novice under-18 pair straight through, while Roncalli's under-15 girls' double were the most impressive victors, beating the next-best qualifiers by more than 10 seconds.
Several other Timaru school crews also won but, because of the regatta format, progressed only to semifinals.
Roncalli, Craighead and Timaru Boys' High were in that position while also qualifying for repechages that start today, after the conclusion of the last of the heats.
Timaru Girls' High School also qualified two crews through to the repechages.
Conditions were perfect but a few rowers in singles didn't quite get it right and ended up as swimmers, causing the only dramas for the day.
Roncalli's Luke Cody was first on the water, finishing third in his heat of the under-17 single to progress through to the semifinal.
Two Roncalli under-15 doubles, Tim Coughlan and Justin Dovestone as well as Jonathon Rush and Caleb Stephenson, finished third in their heats to also go through to the repechages.
In the under-15 girls, Roncalli's coxed quad of Brooke Wilkins, Kendra May, Kate Shaw, Libby Davenport, with cox Sophie Chambers, finished second in their heat but only the winner went directly to the A final, so they also face a repechage.
It was a similar case for Heather Livesey and Caitlin Rowland in the under-18 double when they finished second to Wellington Girls' College.
Timaru Boys' under-16 coxed quad of Isaiah Nelson-White, Andrew Crampton, Michael Metherell, James Walker, with cox Jack Elliotte, also face a repechage after finishing second to St Peter's College.
In the coxed four, Braden Scott went in for Walker and they finished third to get a chance to also race again.
Timaru Girls' under-16 single-sculler, Sarah Creed, finished fifth in her heat to go through to the repechage, while Roncalli's Amy Blackler finished fourth to also go through.
Timaru Boys' under-18 novice pair of Braden Scott and Ben Dewsberry missed out, but Hooper Kelly-Smith and Edward Armstrong sculled well to win their heat for direct entry to the A final. They were also the fastest of the four heats so are definite medal contenders.
Craighead's under-17 coxed quad of Bridget Murdoch, Paige Cook, Emma Dyke, Erica Taylor and cox Zoe Dobbs were also in good form, winning their heat by an impressive 13 seconds to go straight through to the A final.
They were only a second slower than Southland Girls' High School, who also won impressively, so, barring any upsets, they should be the two crews fighting it out for the gold medal.
The Timaru Girls' crew of Tayla Peter, Paige Thornley, Emma Weith, Creed and cox Hannah Day finished sixth, missing the repechage by one place.
In race 52 of the day, Kelly-Smith and Walker were back on the water with the Crampton twins, Russell and Cameron, in the under-18 coxed quad. They finished third in their heat, just 2sec behind winners St Peter's, so face a repechage.
Craighead's under-16 eight of Kate Hurst, Emma Harrison, Sarah Dyke, Renee Olley, Harriet Sutton, Alice Murdoch, Surrey Collett, Paige Cook and cox Pietta Marshall also impressive, winning their heat for direct entry to the A final.
They were also the second-fastest qualifiers from the three heats, which would have impressed coach Dean Milne.
In the under-17 single, both Rowland (Roncalli) and Weith (Timaru Girls') finished third in their respective heats to qualify for the semifinals from the 48 starters.
Craighead's Olley and Harrison made it two wins for the day when they took out their novice under-18 double to progress to the semifinal, while Anna-Clare Bright and Sarah Dyke finished second in their heat to join them.
The next two boats straight through to A finals were also Craighead's, with their under-18 coxed four of Laura Gibson, Emma Dyke, Renee Derwin, Erica Taylor and Dobbs winning their heat comfortably.
Their under-16 coxed quad of Harriet Sutton, Alice Murdoch, Surrey Collett, Paige Cook and cox Pietta Marshall also won their heat to go straight through.
In the under-16 boys' double, Dovestone and Cody (Roncalli) won their heat to go through to the semifinal, while Nelson-White and Metherell (Timaru Boys') squeaked through as well with a fourth in their heat, with Scott and Dewsberry facing a repechage to qualify.
Roncalli's Heather Livesey worked hard with a good rating to win her under-18 single heat and was fourth-fastest qualifier from 43 boats into the semifinals.
Timaru Boys' Crampton twins managed to draw the same heat as each other in the under-18 single but it didn't matter, with Cameron winning and Russell finishing second, both qualifying for the semis.
In the under-15 double, Roncalli's Kate Shaw and Libby Davenport blitzed their heat to go straight through to the A final.
They were 10sec clear of the next-best crew across the four heats and are hot favourites for gold on that performance.
Craighead's Sarah Dyke and Harrison qualified for the repechage by finishing fourth in their heat, while Roncalli's Kendra May and Brooke Wilkin missed out.
Last on the water for the Timaru schools was Roncalli's under-15 coxed quad of Hamilton, Coughlan, Stephenson, Dovestone and cox Jacob Calvert, and they finished second so will also face a repechage.
- The Timaru Herald