Golden reward for ace eight
Craighead Diocesan School rowing coach Dean Milne has said all this week that "anything can happen on finals day".
How right he was, as his Timaru women's club eight struck gold in dramatic fashion on the first day of finals at the national rowing championships on Lake Ruataniwha yesterday.
A fast-finishing Timaru crew of Emma Dyke, Erica Taylor, Paige Cooke, Harriet Sutton, Alice Murdoch, Emma Weith, Renee Olley, Surrey Collett and cox Zoe Dobbs were laying down one last challenge to race leaders North Shore with 150 metres to go when the northerners caught a crab which saw them drift out of the medals.
Whether Timaru had a chance of catching them without the error depended on what boat you were cheering for.
However, Milne was justifiably jubilant. He said qualifying as the fastest from their heat made the difference for his crew.
"That's why you never go out there in the heats and play fun and games because you never know what is going to happen," Milne said.
"We got moved into the best lane because we were the fastest qualifier. These crews who muck around in the heats, thinking they are going to save themselves (energy), they pay the price.
"It was a fantastic effort. That Avon crew (third) - we haven't been within fourth lengths of them all season."
Waihopai, with former Roncalli rower Heather Livesey in the boat, finished second.
Milne said winning a national title in a big boat made it extra special.
"There is something about winning an eight. You can win as many doubles and fours as you like but to win an eight, it lifts your spirits."
Taylor's first act after coming off the water was to shake the hand of her long-time coach and say well done, to which Milne replied: "What do you mean? You are the ones who did it."
There was no trip to the podium for the Timaru men's novice coxed quadruple sculls crew of Liam Cooper, Craig Quested, Sam Dick, Sam Thomson and cox Jack Elliotte, who finished a gallant fourth.
Their time of 7min 5.02sec was 8sec off Avon's bronze medal time but 11sec quicker than their qualifying repechage time.
Coach Brian Smith said he was proud of the effort from his crew in their first national regatta.
"To finish fourth in the whole of New Zealand is still a fantastic effort. To be a coach and stand on the podium with them would have been great but it wasn't to be."
His best hope of a medal is likely to be James Walker in the men's club single after he won his semifinal yesterday.
- The Timaru Herald