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They’ll be coming from far and wide this weekend to Lake Karapiro to prepare for the start of the 2017 AON Maadi Cup, one of the most popular and prestigious secondary schools events in the calendar.
It’s just a 10 minute drive from classroom to water’s edge for St Peter’s School rowers, who have high hopes of doing well in their own backyard.
St Peter’s will be sending a 57-strong team. They are coming off a strong performance at the recent North Island Secondary Schools regatta, also on Lake Karapiro, where they were tied with Hamilton Boys’ High School for the overall champion school. Both schools finished on 63 points, with St Peter’s winning eight gold, six silver and five bronze medals.
Year 11 single sculler Jason Nel was one of St Peter’s gold medallists at the North Islands, surprising himself and winning the U16 Single Sculls.
“I just wanted to prove to myself that I could compete with my other St Peter’s teammates, but I ended up going hard and winning,” he told College Sport Media.
The conditions were also extremely difficult at the North Islands, with strong winds and choppy water making for tough going and they were grateful to just get on the water and race.
Jason’s expectations have been raised for the Maadi Cup. “My goal is to take out Maadi single, which will be hard as there’s a big South Island guy coming up – Jack McLaughlan from John McGlashan College, he won the single at the South Island Championships by quite a margin.”
Plus rowers from closer to home to try and beat again. “Seth Hope from Cambridge High School came second at North Islands and also a duo from Kings College who finished third and fourth were strong.”
“I can feel the pressure, but that wants me to train harder for it.”
All going to plan, Jason will be racing in a heat, a quarter-final, semi-final and final in each of the single and quad boat races he’s entered in next week.
The St Peter’s boys’ crews will all be staying together throughout the regatta. “We are staying with one of the day students at St Peter’s who is hosting the entire boys’ squad so we can be together for the week.”
This will be Jason’s third Maadi Cup. In the first in 2015 he was U14 competing in the U15 age-group and the second last year saw him win the B Final of the U15 Double and U15 Quad, competing for his former school, John Paul College in Rotorua, after winning silver in the Double and bronze in the Quad at North Islands.
Jason also said another St Peter’s crew to look out for is the U16 girls Double, Becky Leigh and Clare Milne, who are expected to go well.
Of note, last year Jason also broke the 5000m world record on the rowing machine for his age group. “I set that in October but I have lost that now, but I had it for a few months! It was broken about three weeks ago by an American guy, but it was still cool to hold it for a bit.”
Jason has moved to St Peter’s this year from John Paul College, to row, play football and for academic opportunities. He has been playing football since he was four and has been rowing since year 8.
“For me it’s football during the winter and rowing during the summer.”
St Peter’s College’s goal is to be among the top three teams overall, after winning the Star Trophy in 2016 as the overall champion school. They’re hoping to hang on to the Presidents Scull for the top sculling school but that will be a tight battle with Ashburton College and Kings College.
The 2017 Maadi Cup starts on Lake Karapiro next Monday.