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Top performances at RMB VLC National Sprints Regatta

By Brad Morgan , in Water Sports | Featured Water Sports | News , at 2024-01-31 Tags: , , ,

The 116th RMB VLC National Sprints Regatta drew over 1 000 boats to the Victoria Lake Rowing Club at Germiston Lake on the weekend, with the event producing thrilling racing, some record-breaking performances, and many reasons to be optimistic about the future of South African rowing.

The competition, which drew entrants from across the country, included all ages, from school to masters’ competitors, aged in their seventies and eighties.

Among the participants were the RMB National Squad, South Africa’s senior Olympic rowing team, who turned out for their clubs. The National Sprints Regatta formed part of their preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The RMB VLC Sprints features a unique format, integrating various age groups and divisions, which allows for school age competitors, from u16 and up, to compete against their rowing idols in the A, B and C divisions.

In the younger age groups, u14 and u15, for both boys and girls, the competition remains confined to peer-on-peer racing.

St Mary’s Waverley‘s Manila Price excelled by powering her way into the women’s single scull final.

There were some outstanding performances from St Stithians College‘s boys, who captured the men’s A coxed fours title, while also taking second place in the men’s B eight.

Meanwhile, St Benedict’s College lifted the overall trophy after accumulating the most points in the event, while St Dunstan’s College shone by earning first and second places in the men’s B division, despite taking on senior opposition.

St Benedict's added another winning chapter to their story of rowing excellence.
St Benedict’s added another winning chapter to their story of rowing excellence.

There was also success for the local Germiston High School, who performed well in the age group racing, ahead of the South African Schools Championships in March.

Among the prominent athletes in action were Katherine Williams and Holly Crews in the women’s double sculls, Paige Badenhorst and Courtney Westley, and University Games’ medallists Chloe Cresswell and Nadia Gaspari.

In the men’s pairs category, Christopher Baxter and James Mitchell, John Smith and Henry Torr, and Adriaan Venter and Luc Daffarn provided thrilling contests.

Christopher Baxter and John Smith, in the men’s pair, and Courtney Westley, in the women’s single scull, have already qualified for the Olympic Games.

It was, however, Katherine Williams, a member of the RMB National Squad, who took the women’s single scull victory and set a new course record in the process.

Afterwards, an ecstatic Williams said: “I was able to stick to my race plan, without having to make too many adjustments and look forward to the big sprint. The potential to see some bigger boats going to World Champs is super exciting, so I’m very excited for the future.”

Paige Badenhorst, who finished second, commented: “The standard was good, very high. Such close racing! It was epic right onto the line.” Badenhorst said the regatta was an important step in the build-up to the Olympics, adding: “It’s all about practice and races in the bank.”

Third-place finisher and Olympic qualifier Courtney Westley highlighted the participation of juniors in the race: “I think it was great to have juniors in the race, as well. It’s really cool to have them coming in and pushing the u23s and the seniors to go even faster.”

Competition in the girls' events was tight, with St Mary's Waverley, one of established powers of schools' rowing, in the thick of the action.
Competition in the girls’ events was tight, with St Mary’s Waverley, one of established powers of schools’ rowing, in the thick of the action.

In the men’s pairs, James Mitchell and Chris Baxter powered their way to victory in a new course record time. Mitchell said: “We stuck to our guns, our race plan, committed hard to it, and believed through the middle. It’s fantastic to have broken the course record. Chuffed with that.”

“It’s always going to be tight racing when it comes to the national squad, and there is great competition between the pairs. It’s good to come out on top,” Baxter said.

Henry Torr, who finished second in the men’s pairs with John Smith, reflected: “We had a good day out. Every race gets closer to May, every race gets closer to the Olympics, and it’s really important to make them all count.”

Grant Dodds, RMB National Squad Technical Performance Manager, declared himself happy with the National Sprints Regatta: “The event was a great success and a vital part of preparing for the Olympics and moving the sport forward.

“We thank our dedicated sponsors RMB for recognising the potential of our South African rowers and making events like these possible year after year.”

Lucy Lightfoot, the Head of Brand at RMB, gave her stamp of approval, saying: “This incredible event gives front-row seats to the amazing diversity and talent we have in rowing in South Africa.

“It’s particularly impressive to see the levels of excellence our female competitors are reaching.

“We are proud of our athletes and proud to be associated with this exciting sport. It’s exciting to see South Africans having the opportunity to compete against some of the best athletes in the world.”

error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.