Maadi Cup row­ers make school his­tory books

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By JU­LIAN RAETHEL

A fran­tic week of row­ing ended in mixed suc­cess for Auck­land’s crews at the Maadi Cup re­gatta in Cam­bridge.

New Zealand’s pre­mier school com­pe­ti­tion brought both tri­umph and dis­ap­point­ment for the 122 schools that en­tered the six­day event from March 23 to 28.

Af­ter only six sea­sons back on the wa­ter, Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School achieved its first medal in more than 50 years in the boys’ un­der-18 cox­less pairs.

Jonathan Win­ter and Fer­gus McSwiney grabbed sil­ver for the school, break­ing the 53-year drought and earn­ing the duo a spot in the na­tional tri­als.

‘‘Th­ese two have worked re­ally hard and have been pro­fes­sional in their ap­proach,’’ MAGS direc­tor of row­ing Will Mal­ing says.

‘‘It was about show­ing re­spect to the Mt Al­bert com­mu­nity while we were down there.

‘‘A lot of em­pha­sis was on de­vel­op­ing char­ac­ter.’’

It was the per­fect way to hon­our the mem­ory of for­mer head coach Kerry Ashby, who was in charge of the crews more than 40 years ago. Ashby died on March 3.

All the crews at the re­gatta per­formed a trib­ute race for Ashby and Sir Don Row­lands, New Zealand’s row­ing leg­end who died on March 18.

MAGS’ un­der-17 girls’ eight crew earned their place in the record books by be­com­ing the first fe­male eight crew from the school to make the A fi­nal.

Also mak­ing his­tory was Ep­som Girls Gram­mar, whose un­der-18 eight crew won sil­ver to be­come the first in their cat­e­gory to make the podium for the school.

In­cred­i­bly, the crew started in lane eight and were up against strong com­pe­ti­tion in the fi­nal, beat­ing a determined Waikato Dioce­san crew but nar­rowly miss­ing out on a gold medal to Christchurch’s St Mar­garets’ Col­lege.

Ep­som’s cap­tain Annabel Childs says their run to the fi­nal was less than ideal.

‘‘We didn’t race well in the warm-ups, so we weren’t too hyped and went into the day calm with noth­ing to lose.

‘‘We rowed it more like a train­ing run.

‘‘When we fin­ished we didn’t ac­tu­ally know we had medalled – ev­ery­one was in shock,’’ the 17-year-old says.

Glen­dowie Col­lege was the top Auck­land school and sev­enth best in New Zealand, af­ter the row­ing squad won two gold medals, one sil­ver and one bronze.

The MAGS un­der-17 girls’ eight be­came the first in the school’s his­tory to reach the fi­nal.

West­ern Springs Col­lege un­der-16 boys crew com­pete in the W6 500m bowl semi­fi­nal.

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