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Rowers reap rewards

By Mark Etheridge

Our rowers returned some respectful performances from the World Cup regatta in Munich, Germany, just reward for some hard winter’s training.

The four Olympic class crews were in Germany for the first of two international World Cup meetings, the second of which is in Lucerne, Switzerland. Slotted in between is a training camp in Greece.

The team featured a real blend of youth and experience, ranging from Olympic veterans Ramon di Clemente and Shaun Keeling to the new women’s pairing of Lee-Anne Persse and Hayley Arthur.

It was Persse and Arthur’s first international race and they managed to make the C final.

Said national coach, Roger Barrow, on tour with the crews: “They were fourth in their first heat, just beating Bulgaria. The rep in the afternoon didn’t go well, with steering problems putting hem well off the pace from the beginning. This result saw them going into the C final.’

It went a whole lot better in the final. “A much better race,” says Barrow. “They put their bow in from the middle stages. In the last 100 metres, Ukraine came back at them but then Lee-Anne and Hayley went again and won the race from Ukraine, Bulgaria, China and Germany. With all the multiple country entries in the event, SA ended up with a ranking of eighth, good racing for the girls in their first regatta.”

It wasn’t that good for Di Clemente and Keeling in the pairs. A bad start saw the boat stopping and once they got moving they had a massive four lengths to make up on the field and this pretty much set the tone for their regatta. “They ended up going through all the rounds being second in the heat, semi-final and then sixth in the final. Not a good result for the pair but their final ranking was fifth.”

Our sole men’s skull representative was Peter Lambert. He had a good heat, moving through to the quarter-final where he placed fifth which put him directly the D Final. He needed a third spot if he was to qualify for the semi-final. He came up trumps in the D Final, crossing the line first in spite of a fast finish from Mexico on the line. His final ranking was 16th.

The other crew in action were the men’s lightweight fours of Matthew Brittain, James Thompson, Lawrence Ndlovu and Andrew Polasek. They had a good heat, placing second. In the semi-final, they were fourth off the start and pushed hard in the middle stages to move up to third.

But Britain, Czech Republic and Austria then kept their half-length lead and saw SA placing fourth and going into the B-Final. In that race a slow start by SA saw them never quite keeping pace and they once again ended fourth to earn themselves a final ranking of fourth.

“We’re now at our training camp in Greece,” says Barrow. “It’s going well and we’re all training very hard.”