"It was pretty emotional. The First XV and pipe band met us at the airport on Sunday to perform a haka and yesterday at Assembly the entire school did the haka. It's pretty special to win Maadi for the first time in our 100th year." Ben Taylor acclaims of St. Andrew's College’s (STAC) rowing success.
The likelihood of such a spectacular outcome appeared unlikely until only recently Taylor admits.
"Last year we made the final which was our goal, but the quality of the North Island boats was a big wake up call. We started this season a bit ropey, but winning the South Island champs and finishing second to Hawke's Bay at club Nationals was a huge step forward for us," he says.
A month before the regatta St. Andrew's was training 11 times a week. The morning sessions on the Avon River where all the leading Christchurch contenders, including defending champions Christ's College, assembled were particularly beneficial.
"We would start at 7:30am and miss the first two periods of school. Generally we would concentrate on our own things, but there was a bit of rivalry and we had a good relationship with the Christchurch Boys' crew." Taylor reveals.
Taylor is the stroke of the boat, determining the timing of the paddlers and communicating regularly with the coxswain. St. Andrew's plan was clear and well rehearsed before the race and the weather conditions proved favourable at Lake Karapiro.
"There was a little head wind which would favour the heavier crews of which we were one. Our strategy was to try and get a good start and win each 500 metres. We managed to win the first 500 which was the best possible start." Taylor explains.
Predictably Christ's rallied and St. Andrew's fell a canvas behind with 600-metres to go. With 300-metres left it was time to make a move. Taylor captures the climax.
"We had no choice but to up the stroke rating to full speed. It was a really close race. Only five seconds separated the first five boats. We edged Christ's College and Hamilton Boys' in third."
In addition to winning the Maadi Cup, Ben was stroke on the Under-18 coxless fours winning boat. For the first time in 34 years St. Andrew's won the prestigious Springbok Shield and Ben emulated his father Andrew Taylor in winning that prize.
"That was a real special win for us because we have been together our whole time at school. Dad is the reason I got into rowing so to do something he did is awesome." Taylor says.
In winter Taylor plays rugby and was a lock in the St. Andrew's First XV last year. His place in the 2017 team will be determined by his performance in the New Zealand Junior rowing trials. Rugby is another sport that has given Taylor a significant national trophy. He was involved in the St. Andrew's Development XV which won the Moascar Cup off Scots College by 20-10 in 2015.
"We found out about a month before the match we could be playing for the Moascar Cup. None of us really knew what it was until an Old Boy visited the school and explained its significance. We got pretty excited after that." Taylor recalls.
St. Andrew's managed to retain the Cup for two defences in 2016 before relinquishing it against Timaru Boys' High School in an ultimately disappointing season. Taylor is hopeful for brighter things.
"We've got all the forwards returning plus some good backs. Last year we lacked a bit of experience so I think we will be stronger." Taylor concludes.
A huge congratulations to the boys and girls selected to attend the junior trial. Has been a huge week at Maadi and this is a great step for so many young aspiring Olympic Rowers.
Clora Quinlan-Thompson, Columba College
Gabrielle Hannen, Nelson College for Girls
Grace Watson, St Paul's Collegiate
Grace Wilson, Ashburton College/ Ashburton Rowing Club
Grace Holland, Tauranga Girls College
Grace Loveridge, Christchurch Girls' High School
Isla Blake, Hamilton Rowing Club/ Waikato RPC
Kate Haines, Diocesan School for Girls
Kate Littlejohn, St Pauls Collegiate
Laura Feinson, St Oran's Lower Hutt
Laura Pinnell, Christchurch Girls' High School
Madeline Parker, Huanui College
Mahalia Shand, Nelson College for Girls
Olivia Hughes, St Margarets College
Penny Young, Villa Maria College/ Ashburton Rowing Club
Rebeka Frood, Tauranga Girls College
Rosie Ireland, Diocesan School for Girls
Sophia Meldrum, Baradene College
Sydney Johnson, St Peter's School Cambridge
Veronica Wall, Ashburton College/ Ashburton Rowing Club
Ben Taylor, St Andrews College
Bradley Leydon, John McGlashan College
Cole Brann, Saint Kentigern College
Daniel Ward, Wellington Rowing Club/Central RPC
Daniel Williamson, Kings College
Elliott Jenkins, Whakatane High School
Ethan Blight, St Kentigern College
Fergus Ritchie, Lindisfarne College
Finn Jenkins,Whakatane High School
Gus Olifiers, Trident High School
Jacob Jones, Westlake Boys High School
James Hall, Kings College
Joshua Wade, Christs College
Liam Zinzley, Sacred Heart College Auckland
Luca Kirwan, Sacred Heart College Auckland
Luke Brady, Nelson College
Manawa Mclaughlin, New Plymouth Boys High School
Mark Taylor, Oamaru Rowing Club/Southern RPC
Matt MacDonald, Auckland Grammar Rowing Club/Auckland RPC
Mitchell White, St Andrews College
Regan Bernasconi, Pukekohe High School
Sam Monkley, Cambridge Rowing Club/Waikato RPC
Samuel Jones, Westlake Boys High School
Thomas Russel, St Andrews College
Thomas Woelders, Christchurch Boys High School
Zackary Rumble, St Andrews College
On a day when the sport paid tribute to former Olympic champion and large-than-life rowing personality Dudley Storey, the crews did not disappoint on a thrilling final day of action at the 2017 Aon Maadi Cup on Lake Karapiro.
St Andrews College made history in a rip-roaring battle for the 2017 Maadi Cup by clinching their maiden victory in the iconic race.
Yesterday their "awesome foursome" crushed the opposition to land the Springbok Shield and with all five triumphant crew members returning to bolster the eights the "Scotsmen of the South" delivered in the marquee event.
St Andrews held a third-of-a-length lead at 1000m but leading into the final quarter Christ’s College had inched ahead and the defending champions appeared poised for victory.
Yet somehow they responded to haul themselves past Christ's College to pulled off an historic 0.98 second victory from Christ's - the 11-time former champions - who on this occasion had to settle for silver.
Bronze went to Hamilton Boys High - the winners of the Star Trophy as most successful overall school in the regatta - in 6:04.41. Today, however, was all about St Andrews and their momentous success.
St Andrews coach Dale Maher was elated at their success and added of the winning crew: "We have a stern four (who won yesterday';s Springbok Shield) who are so strong and passionate and dare I say it, mongrels. Seven of them have been together since they were 15, they have a real bond and would do anything for each other. As a coach, all I need to do is gel them together.
"I started to falter a little bit at 1500m because with you can never underestimate a Christ's crew. This is huge (for the school). It is the first time we've had an extremely competitive eight and the first time we've won Maadi. I don't think the boys have quite realised yet what they have done."
Surprisingly St Andrews were only a "third priority boat" as recently as January behind the four and the pair but after the crew "pulled out a blinder" at the South Island Secondary Schools Championships this changed the school's thinking.
Diocesan School for Girls mounted a perfectly timed successful defence of the Levin Jubilee Cup with a performance forged in sheer class. The Auckland-based school trailed St Margarets by a canvas at the 1500m mark but a searing late push for the line delivered a momentous victory by a margin of exactly three seconds in a time of 6:55.09.
In a spellbinding final, early leaders St Paul's Collegiate - winners of yesterday's Dawn Cup - held on in lane eight by a brave bronze in 6.58.81. Yet today was once more all about Diocesan School for Girls who 12 months ago claimed their maiden Levin Jubilee Cup.
Triumphant Diocesan School for Girls head coach Rachel Williams was elated with the successful defence.
"I was excited for the girls because they just nailed that race. When we let them go in the boat park they were in the best head space I'd seen them all season and I knew they had it in the last 500m.
"Winning today was just as good (as last year). In 2016 we went the season undefeated, but this time we've only won three times - at North Islands, in the heats and today because all summer we've been struggling to find the right combination. I would say winning this year is equally as good it is just we have taken two different paths for the same result."
Stupendous sculler Veronica Wall completed the "awesome foursome" today with victory in the under-18 single sculls and quadruple sculls earning her a magnificent four gold medal haul.
The Ashburton College student who at the 2016 edition of the Maadi Cup also banked four gold medals once more served notice of a superstar potential. After yesterday claiming wins in the under-18 double sculls and under-17 single sculls. She opened her quest today with an utterly dominant display in the under-18 single sculls final as she stopped the clock in an impressive 7:50.28. In the race for the minor medals, Sydney Johnson of St Peters School claimed silver in 8:02.35 with Ruby Leverington third in 8:06.84.
Later Wall showed her versatility in the quad sculls final to stroke the crew, which also contained Olivia Gibson, Grace Wilson, Mollie Gibson and cox Emma Jansen, to the gold medal. Taking the initiative in the second quarter the race victory then became a mere formality as Ashburton College crossed the line first in 7:10.26. Behind, Tauranga Girls College (7;14.67) earned silver with Nelson College for Girls out in lane eight picking up bronze in 7:16.62.
An elated Wall said of her efforts this week: "It's awesome, there was definitely added pressure from last year. I’ve been around at Maadi for four years and it was definitely good to come here and finish it off. I've had some really good experiences at Maadi."
Kings College capped a medal-laden regatta with gold in the under-17 quad sculls - the day after the same crew triumphed in the under-18 equivalent.
In one of the most predictable results of the week the Kings quintet - complete with bucket hats - of James Hall, Daniel Williamson, Sam Cummins, Matt Caro and cox Alex Sutcliffe proved far too strong to claim a comfortable win in 6:43.44.
Behind, Shirley Boys High produced a highly creditable performance to claim silver in 6:46.92 while in a desperate scrap for bronze a late surge by Cambridge High School left Roncalli College a heartbroken fourth – the crews separated by just 0.15.
It was a particularly sweet regatta for Hall and Williamson, who also landed gold in the under-18 pairs and under-18 quads, to both secure triple gold plus a bronze in the coxed four.
The President's Scull, awarded to the top sculling school, went to St Peter’s School in Cambridge, while Hamilton Boys High took out both the Executive Cup for the top sweep oar school as well as the Star Trophy.
A full wrap of the final day's highlights is available at www.maadi.co.nz
Full results can be viewed at www.rowit.co.nz
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