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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