It was a make or break day of semi-final racing at the 2017 Aon Maadi Cup at Lake Karapiro today.
Following the last three days of heats, repechages and quarter-finals, 49 events were raced over the day consisting of C and D finals, and semi-finals to decide A and B final starters.
With such high stakes on the line it was a spectacular day of racing as crews needed a top four finish for their chance to race for a medal.
Early rain cleared and light winds made for ideal rowing conditions.
Elliot Jenkins of Whakatane High School looks poised to be a strong medal contender in the boys' under-18 single sculls, clocking the fastest semi-final time with 7:46.02, a boat length clear of his closest rival.
Jenkins has also teamed up with brother Finn for the boys' under-18 double sculls. The family duo also set the fastest semi-final time, winning in convincing fashion.
Clare Milne and Rebecca Leigh of St Peter's School dominated their under-16 double sculls semi-final in a time of 8:07.91, with over nine seconds to spare before Imogen Stythe and Jessica McIntosh of Glendowie College crossed the line. Dunstan High School's Erin Calder and Shayla Alexander narrowly outsprinted Alison Mills and Shauna Glassie-Ryan of Hamilton Girls' High School with both crews also securing their chance for a medal.
Harry Newbury-Lee and Heath Shepherd of Macleans College were locked in a tussle with Wellington College's Ricky Kiddle and Adam Smith in the semi-final of the boys' under-17 double sculls. The two boats were well ahead of the pack with Macleans College finishing just over 0.5 second ahead of their Wellington College counterparts. Roncalli College and St John's College also made the cut for the A final, some six and 10 seconds behind Macleans respectively.
St Paul's Collegiate made an impressive move in the girls' under-18 novice coxed four. The Hamiltonians powered away from the pack with less than 500 metres to go and held off a chase from Diocesan School for Girls and Christchurch Girls' High School with the top three finishing within 0.3 seconds of each other. Craighead Diocesan School followed for fourth to snatch an A final berth. They will be joined by Rangi-Ruru girls' school, Waikato Diocesan School, St Peter's School and Marian College who secured their places in the second semi-final.
Just over one second separated first to third in the second semi-final of the boys' under-18 double sculls, indicating Saturday's race for medals will be one to watch.
Cambridge High School timed a perfect move in the semi-final of the boys' under-17 coxed quad sculls, rowing through a tightly packed field to snag victory by a bowball ahead of Glendowie College, Macleans College and St Kentigern College who all crossed the line within a second of each other.
For other rowers today was the end of their Aon Maadi Cup regatta as they contested C or D finals.
Tomorrow marks the start of finals racing, with medals up for grabs across 26 events including the boys' and girls' under-18 coxed four - the Springbok Shield and Dawn Cup, two of the most coveted and hotly contested prizes in secondary school rowing.
Racing can be viewed live at www.maadi.co.nz and live results, schedule and entries can be found at www.rowit.co.nz.
The final line ups for the Maadi Cup and Levin Jubilee Cup were decided today at the 2017 Aon Maadi Cup.
After revelling in yesterday's sunshine Lake Karapiro was drenched in heavy rain throughout the day, but with mercifully light winds allowing for racing to go ahead as planned.
The day included the repechages to finalise the last two berths in both the boys' and girls' under-18 coxed eight, the Maadi Cup and the Levin Jubilee Cup. There were also 36 other events featuring repechages, quarter-finals and E and F finals.
With the last chance to snare a berth in the A final on the line there was some frantic racing in the girls' under-18 coxed eight repechages.
Wanganui Collegiate School put in an outstanding performance, leading for the first 1500 metres before Rangi Ruru School for Girls' number one crew, the South Island Secondary Schools Champions, made their move. The South Islanders rowed through Wanganui Collegiate School with 100 metres to go, crossing the line less than a boat length ahead of the North Islanders.
St Paul's Collegiate made easy work of the second repechage to earn their place in the A final which will be raced on Saturday afternoon.
In the boys' under-18 coxed eight the winners of the two repechages would book the final two places up for grabs in the race for the Maadi Cup.
Sacred Heart College's number one crew, who narrowly missed out on a straight progression from the heats channelled their frustration into their repechage, powering across the line four boat lengths ahead of Wanganui Collegiate in second place.
Auckland Grammar also moved through to the final, fighting off a strong challenge from Shirley Boys' High School and narrowly taking the win.
Racing was tight in the quarter-final of the boys' under-16 single scull with and less than 0.2 seconds between winner Luke Shannon of King';s College and Luke Clinton of Bethlehem College in the first quarter-final and just 0.16 seconds separating Cambridge High School's Seth Hope and Jack McLaughlan from John McGlashan College who took first and second respectively in quarter-final two. The first four from each of the four quarter finals will contest the semi-finals, while the others will contest C or D finals.
St Peter's School and Dunstan High School went head to head in the quarter-final of the girl's under-15 coxed quad with a photo finish required to separate the two. The official times showed St Peter's taking the win in 7:45.42, and Dunstan High School second in 7:45.52. They will move through to the semi-final along with Westlake Girls' High School one and two, Baradene College, Villa Maria College, Dunstan High School two and Craighead Diocesan School.
Tomorrow's racing will see semi-finals start as well as some C and D finals. Racing can be viewed live via the webcast at www.maadi.co.nz
Full results, start lists and schedule available at rowit.co.nz.
Day two of the 2017 Aon Maadi Cup at Lake Karapiro saw all remaining heats concluded and the line ups for quarter, semi and some A finals determined.
Despite a full day of racing yesterday the regatta's size of over 2100 athletes and 52 events meant there were a number of heats left to race this morning before the repechages could get underway.
Athletes and spectators were treated to hot and sunny conditions, a welcome change after yesterday's changeable weather and torrential downpours. Racing was again completed without interruption.
The challenge was laid down early in the girls' under-18 coxed eight heats with 2016 winners Diocesan School for Girls asserting their dominance yet again with a win ahead of Wakatipu High School. They will be joined in the A final by St Peter's School, St Margaret's College, Christchurch Girls' High School and Columba College, with the final two places yet to be decided. 11 crews will face the repechage including fifteen-time winners Rangi Ruru Girls' School along with previous winners Westlake Girls' High School and Wanganui Collegiate School.
The battle for the Maadi Cup also got underway in spectacular fashion with some thrilling racing in the heats for the boys' under-18 coxed eight. The pressure was on with crews needing a top-two finish to progress straight to the A final.
After a blistering row down the course Hamilton Boys' High, Saint Kentigern College and Sacred Heart College (Auckland) were all locked bowball to bowball in the final 250 metres of the first heat. A powerful finishing charge from Hamilton Boys' High School proved too strong for their competitors with Saint Kentigern College close behind in second place forcing Sacred Heart College and the remaining crews into a repechage.
Christ's College's number two crew and Westlake Boys' High School also secured their place in the A final by going one-two in the second heat and will be joined by Saint Andrew's College and Christchurch Boys' High School from heat number three. The last two A final berths will be decided by repechage tomorrow.
The final line up for the Dawn Cup, the girls' under-18 coxed four, was also confirmed.
Rangi Ruru Girls' School will join the mix for the A final after comfortably winning their repechage as well as with Waikato Diocesan School who loped to victory with almost ten seconds to spare on closest rival St Margaret's College.
The field for the largest event of the regatta, the boys' under-16 single sculls, was narrowed down over the course of eight heats. The top three from each heat move through to the A final, while the last place getter in each heat is eliminated and the rest must now face a repechage to decide their fate.
The regatta caters for various age groups and boat classes, as well as both senior rowers and novices who have been rowing for less than one season.
The Rangi Ruru Girls' School crew of Francesca Gallaway, Alice Graham, Lauren Stapylton-Smith, Hannah MacFarlane and Sophie Nelson (cox) clocked the fastest time in the girls' under 18 novice coxed four heats by eight seconds, and were over 20 seconds clear of their closest rival in their heat. The crew will progress straight to the semi-final along with Craighead Diocesan School and Christchurch Girls' High School. The remaining crews will contest a repechage.
Other racing during the day included repechages for races held yesterday.The regatta continues tomorrow with repechages, quarter and semi-finals.
Full results, schedule of racing and entries can be found at www.rowit.co.nz.
Christ’s College is seeking a successful defence of the AON Maadi Cup for the first time since 1999, when the regatta gets underway at Lake Karapiro near Hamilton next week.
Monty Batchelor is captain of the coxed eight crew. He is convinced Christ’s second place finish at the recent South Island Championships doesn’t represent a dip in form.
“It was a bit disappointing because South Islands are a big deal, but we treat a lot of the pre-regattas like training runs. We weren’t in the boat we will use at Maadi and have made some adjustments to our crew since.” Batchelor insists.
St Andrew’s College won the South Island Championships coxed eight gold to second placed Christ’s by over six seconds, with Christchurch Boy’s High School in third.
Christ’s only have two returning members, but an even split among Year 13s and younger members.
“It’s coming together really well. The younger boys are learning quickly. We go up to Maadi on Friday and will have a few training sessions before settling into our work.” Batchelor enthuses.
Rowing runs deep for Batchelor. His father and grandfather rowed at Christ’s while Monty was involved in last year’s Maadi triumph. What’s the difference between a Maadi race and a normal race?
“I try and treat Maadi like a normal race, but you do get nervous because of the crowd and the hype. I was lucky to have a few experienced boys around me last year who helped ease my anxiety. This year one of my jobs will be to make it easier for the younger boys.”
A change of water will be a challenge as well. The regatta returns to Lake Karapiro after being staged at lake Ruataniwha in Twizel.
“I have rowed at Karapiro before and the big difference is the temperature is warmer and there is a bigger current which makes the course slightly slower, aside from that there isn’t really a lot of difference,” Batchelor explains.
Batchelor will be in a different position this year, driving the boat from the middle crew in the sixth seat. He expects the race will be wide open.
“St. Andrew’s will fancy themselves after South Islands. Westlake won in the North Island and Hamilton Boys’ and St. Kent’s are looking strong.” Batchelor concludes.
Christ’s also won silver in the U18 coxed quad and bronze in the U16 coxed four and U16 coxed eight races at the recent South Island regatta.
In total, over 2,161 rowers plus 131 reserves from 127 schools will be competing on Lake Karapiro from Monday 27 March to Saturday 2 April.
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.
There were several strong performances in girls boats at Lake Ruataniwha last weekend at the SISS rowing championships, which suggests many will feature at the AON Maadi Cup in in the North Island at the end of this month.
Christchurch’s Rangi Ruru Girls’ School had a particularly pleasing regatta, winning eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals, and was the top girls’ school in Twizel.
In cool conditions, the U18 girls coxed eight event was particularly exciting, with Just over a second all that separated gold from bronze. Rangi Ruru Girls’ School won with a time of 6:51.08, with Christchurch Girls’ High School just a bowball behind in 6:51.52, and St Margaret’s College taking bronze with 7:00.93.
Rangi Ruru’s Director of Rowing, Mark Cotham said was enthused in the build up to Maadi but said there’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge and the girls will continue training hard over the next couple of weeks.
“This is a helpful check-up for us all as we look ahead to Maadi but it is business as usual until then,” said Cotham.
Rangi Ruru Girls’ School was the second placed school overall in the SISS championships, with St Andrew’s College placing first – but being co-ed, STAC entered both girl’s and boy’s races.
For more results visit: www.rowit.co.nz
Rangi Ruru Girls’ School Results:
Girls U18 coxed eight
A Sproat, I Evans, M Knight, I Carter, S McCartin, J Bell, A Summerfield, J Barclay + A Williams
A Final: placed 1st (6:51.08)
Girls U17 coxed four
I Evans, S McCartin, I Carter, A Sproat + A Williams
A Final: placed 1st (7:35.78)
Girls U16 coxed eight
A Sproat, A Calder, M Knight, C Reid, I Bell, E Stephens, A Deans, S Summerfield + H Royds
A Final: placed 1st (7:13.62)
Girls U17 coxed eight
A Sproat, I Evans, M Knight, I Carter, S McCartin, J Bell, K Boyd, A McCulloch + A Williams
A Final: placed 1st (7:06.08)
Girls U16 coxed four
M Knight, E Stephens, I Bell, A Calder + H Royds
A Final: placed 1st (7:39.64)
Girls U15 coxed eight
F Gallaway, S Vance, L Stapylton-Smith, A Calder, C Gray, S Summerfield, M Hayman, L King + S Nelson
A Final: placed 1st (7:05.25)
Girls U15 coxed four
F Gallaway, S Vance, M Hayman, L King + S Pye
A Final: placed 2nd (8:03.15)
Girls U18 novice coxed eight
M West, H Manning, R Jones, L Howden, C Taylor, A Rae, N Kilpatrick, O Noonan + D Rutter
A Final: placed 3rd (7:26.10)
Girls U16 coxed quad sculls
A Deans, C Reid, E Stephens, I Bell + H Royds
A Final: placed 3rd (7:55.59)
It took Ben Jury a long time to embrace rowing. Strongly encouraged by his parents to take up the sport, Jury languished in novice races for a while until he found sanity from the camaraderie the sport provides.
“The greatest enjoyment in rowing is the team aspect, the brotherhood you build as a crew. My rowing mates are my best mates and always will be.” Jury enthuses.
Dury earned a place in a Westlake A crew of four at the under-16 level and his results rapidly improved. He won two bronze medals at Maddi regattas and was a member of the Westlake coxed eight that won a silver medal at the 2016 North Island Secondary Schools Championships.
Hopes were high for a strong showing at Maadi Cup, but Westlake faded to fifth.
“It was really disappointing. We got caught up in the hype last year and focused too much on the outcome rather than the process. We have learned to concentrate on our own boat and do the things we have been working on rather than get caught up in what others are doing.” Jury reflects.
This single-minded focus reaped rewards at the North Island Secondary Schools championships over the weekend. For the first time since 2012, Westlake was crowned coxed eight champions.
“The weather changed throughout the day, but fortunately settled down before our race as it had been pretty crazy. We came out cautiously and fell behind. We were further behind than what we wanted to be after a kilometre, but we didn’t panic. We started winding up with 750-meters to go and managed to pull ahead and just win. It was a great race because we kept our cool,” Jury says.
Jury occupies the seventh seat in the Westlake boat behind the stroke. The translator for the bow side of the boat, seven takes Stroke’s rhythm and acts as the man to follow for the blades behind his. If he does not back-up the stroke’s commitment or follow any change in pace, it is certain that none of the rest of the crew will.
Familiarity with Lake Karapiro, the course where Maadi Cup will be staged, will help with this process.
“Karapiro is pretty much a home course for us. We have raced there many times before and understand how the wind works and the challenges the course presents.” Jury believes.
“There haven’t been massive changes in the boat. We have three of the crew back from last year as well as the same coaches. We are training ten times a week for about 25 hours. There is a huge effort going in. We are feeling good.” Jury continues.
Jury expects Westlake’s toughest competition to come from perennial powerhouse Hamilton Boys’ High School, defending champions Christ’s College, St. Kentigern’s College as well as a vastly improved Sacred Heart College.
“Crews always find another level at the Maadi Cup. The next few weeks will be entirely focused on getting better for Maadi. We can’t wait,” Jury concludes.
New Zealand’s top secondary school rowers went head to head this weekend at the Aon North Island Championships at Lake Karapiro and the Meridian South Island Championships at Lake Ruataniwha, Twizel.
The regattas marked the final challenge before the prestigious Aon Maadi Cup, taking place from 27 thMarch – 1 April at Lake Karapiro.
A weekend of challenging weather didn’t put off over 1800 young athletes from testing themselves on the waters of Lake Karapiro for the Aon North Island Secondary Schools Championships.
Despite persistent drizzle the final day of racing in the three day regatta went ahead as scheduled thanks to remarkably calm water.
Spectators were treated to plenty of spectacular racing with crews looking to assert their dominance ahead of the Aon Maadi Cup.
All eyes were on the under-18 boys and girls coxed eights, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
The boys under-18 coxed eight was the final event of the day and also one of the most spectacular. Previous Maadi Cup winners Hamilton Boys’ High School made a bold move by putting their nose forward early in the race, but were caught by Westlake Boys’ High School and Sacred Heart College (Auckland). With only 100 metres remaining the three boats were lined up but a superior sprint from Westlake scored them the gold, while Hamilton had to settle for silver and Sacred Heart snatched bronze.
Diocesan School for Girls were a favourite pick for the girls event having won the Levin Jubilee Cup at last year’s Aon Maadi Cup and they backed it up with a superb victory three seconds clear of closest rivals Epsom Girls’ Grammar and St Paul’s Collegiate School.
Numerous events required photo finishes, such was the level of competition.
An eye-blink 0.1 seconds was all that separated gold medal winning Hamilton Boys’ High School and silver medallists Auckland Grammar (1) in the boys’ novice coxed eight event.
Meanwhile local rower Jason Nel claimed the crown in the largest event of the regatta, the boy’s under-16 single sculls. The St Peter’s School rower crossed the line with a clear water lead over fellow local Seth Hope of Cambridge High School and Thomas Hall of King’s College.
Rowers in the south also faced a damp day of racing combined with decidedly autumnal air temperatures of around nine degrees at the Meridian South Island Secondary School Championships on Twizel’s Lake Ruataniwha.
Just over one second was all that separated gold from bronze in the girls under-18 coxed eight event. Gold went to Rangi Ruru Girls’ School with a time of 6:51.08, with Christchurch Girls’ High School just a bowball behind in 6:51.52, and St Margaret’s College taking bronze with 7:00.93.
St Andrew’s College looked unmatchable in the boy’s under-18 coxed eight, powering to gold over six seconds clear of defending Maadi Cup winners Christ’s College (1) in silver, and Christchurch Boy’s High School in third.
Ella Fry and Kate Cochrane of Southland Girls’ High School took out the gold medal in the largest event of the regatta, the girl’s under 16 double sculls. The duo romped to finish over six seconds ahead of silver medallists Peta McKay and Greer Porter of Mt Aspiring College, and bronze medallists Mollie Gibson and Emma Stagg of Ashburton College.
Schools will now finalise their entries for the Aon Maadi Cup taking place in just over two weeks’ time.
Full results from the weekend’s regattas can be found online at rowit.co.nz
Lily Marshall barely had time to say her goodbyes to her fellow New Zealand Secondary Schools netball triallists in Auckland recently, before she was winging her way back home to Christchurch and then on to Twizel for the start of the Maadi Cup rowing regatta.
“An hour after the last whistle had blown from the netball trials I was on a plane back to the South Island and straight to the Maadi Cup and I was racing the next day,” Lily explained to College Sport Media.
At the NZSS rowing championships on Lake Ruataniwha Lily was competing in one of the two St Margaret’s College U18s Fours boats and in the defending champion Levin Jubilee Cup U18 Girls Eights boat.
She then received the news she had been hoping for. “I found out on Monday night that I had been selected in the NZSS netball team. I was racing, then got back to our accommodation and received the call to say I was in the team.”
Year 13 student and St Margaret’s Sports Captain Lily had been an unsuccessful NZSS triallist last year, so the 1.80m specialist defender, was naturally rapt to make the side this year.
Elsewhere, New Zealand Schools coach Julie Seymour – who also co-coaches her school team - has described her mobility and busy approach as key attributes to her game. “I’ve always had my height, but now there’s some really good shooters out there so I guess I’ve had to learn to have speed and agility to match,” said Lily.
Like fellow NSS defender Courtney Elliott, whom College Sport Media featured last week, Lily started life at the other end of the court. “When I first came to St Margaret’s I was a shooter, before switching to defence where I’ve mostly played since.”
Last year St Margaret’s finished ninth at the 16-team NZSS Netball Championships in Ashburton, after finishing second the year before. “It was still really good, a little bit disappointing, but at the same time it was a new and slightly younger team, so it was still really cool to make it to nationals. We still won the South Island Championships and that was really awesome.”
Lily is also in the new Mainland side in the new Beko Netball League series. She missed their first game this past weekend (lost 43-53 to Waikato-Bay of Plenty) as she was in camp with the NZSS side, but hopes to make her debut soon. “I’m the youngest in this Mainland team, so even just being there is so awesome for my development.”
Last week she was also selected in the Netball New Zealand Pathway to Podium squad for 2016-17.
She started playing when she was young. “I have played quite a lot of summer sports, but have always stuck with netball as my main winter sport.” Other sports she has played include athletics, volleyball, water polo, touch and rowing.
On the water, Lily’s St Margaret’s Eights rowing crew was pipped in a thrilling Girls U18 Levin Jubilee Cup final by first time winners Diocesan School for Girls. “It was really close – us, Sacred Heart [Hamilton] and Auckland Dio were neck and neck. It was such a tough race.”
Diocesan held off St Margaret’s to win by 0.95 seconds to win in a time of 6:46.63, with Sacred Heart six seconds back in third.
“I think it was a little bit disappointing for us to come second, when we won last year, but looking back on it now it was definitely a very tight race and we’re still really proud to have medalled in it.”
Lily also competed in her school’s U18 Four’s second boat that finished inside the top 10, with the first boat winning bronze.
The school’s U17s Eights won gold, whilst the U18 Pair of Star Davidon and Izzy Goddard won silver, the U15 Eights won silver and both the U15 Fours and U15 Octuples also won bronzes.
St Margaret’s rowers Star Davidson, Izzy Goddar, Jorjsa MacRae and Millie Borren also received invitations for New Zealand trials.
Outside of sport, Lily hopes to go to university next year but for now she is leaving her options open.
“I don’t think I will experience another day like it. The reaction of the boys in Twizel and the messages of support from family and friends have been overwhelming,” exclaimed Angus Gray of Christ’s College following his schools’ Maadi Cup success last weekend.
The head prefect was in the bow seat of the boat. His role is to provide calls to the crew and ensure stability.
Christ’s established control of the Maadi Cup Boys under-18 final at halfway, holding a half-length lead from Hamilton Boys’ High School. Christ’s pulled further ahead over the last 1000m to win the final by three seconds. For the first time in four years Hamilton Boys’ had to settle for a silver medal.
The ability to control emotions and make sound judgements is something Gray has learned a lot about in the past year.
May 28, 2015 was a dark day for Christ’s. The First XV was humiliated by a record 80-0 in the annual traditional rugby fixture against Christchurch Boys’ High School. The game was broadcast on national television and Gray was playing first-five.
“I was so nervous before that game. I knew it was a big deal, but when I got on the field I just froze, we all did. We should have competed more. We didn’t man-up and it was very hard going back to school the next day. We were embarrassed.”
Overcoming embarrassment and disappointment was a key for focus for Gray when he attended the Crusaders Knights rugby camp.
“A sports physiologist came along and he spent some time talking about how to channel excitement into performance. Everybody gets excited about big games, but the key is to not get carried away or nervous. I found it very helpful,” Gray admits.
Last year Christ’s finished second in the Maadi Cup and Gray says an overly aggressive start was a factor. That problem unearthed itself at the 2016 South Island Rowing Championships in the under-18 coxed fours too. Christ’s finished an extremely disappointing third place. Gray reflects on the result.
“We didn’t row well at all. We went out too hard and had no speed at the end. We knew we were better than what we preformed. We tried to put the result behind us quickly.”
Every year before Maadi Cup Christ’s College’s rowing team descend to Twizel for a week to train. This proved to be highly beneficial to the fours crew of Cameron Smith, Oscar Acland, Rowan Taylor, coxswain Paddy Hon and Gray.
Christ’s improved their time from the South Island championships by 19 seconds at the Maadi meet and won the Springbok Shield in 6:38.49.
“It was an awesome result. I knew we could do a lot better than South Island’s, but to win was bit of a surprise. We peaked at the right time, enjoyed ourselves and left everything out on the course,” Gray says.
Christ’s had three members of their eight’s crew return from 2015. Gray was more confident about winning the Maadi Cup and his crew delivered. Gray explains the advantages of training at the venue in which the regatta was held.
“In Twizel the temperature is cooler so the water feels a bit heavier. By contrast Lake Karapiro is warmer and requires a slightly lighter stroke. This all sounds a bit weird, but the feeling is just different and having the extra time on the course really helped establish what kind of rating and race we had to perform to win.”
Gray hopes the lessons of careful preparation and a more relaxed approach translate to the rugby season. Christ’s have new coaches in former All Black captain Reuben Thorne and Canterbury first-five Cameron McIntyre.
“We have been doing a lot work on strength and conditioning. We were a bit weak in that area last year. We have some new patterns and the boys are quietly confident about an improved showing.”
Christ’s beat Waitaki Boys’ High School, 62-14 in their first pre-season game.
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