Harrison Baldwin shone brightly in a galaxy of stars as St Luke’s Anglican was again the dominant Bundaberg school at the 2021 Central Queensland Schools Regatta at Bucca on the weekend.
Around 300 secondary students from Strathpine in the South to Townsville in the North competed in a total of 119 events over the two days, and Cathedral School Townsville was the most successful school with 15 gold, eight silver and four bronze, with Rockhampton Grammar second with 10 gold, 10 silver, and six bronze, and St Patrick’s Townsville third with four gold, one silver and three bronze.
St Luke’s came in fourth with three gold, five silver and five bronze, while Ignatius Park College Townsville and Genesis Christian School Bray Park had three and two gold medallist's respectively, and Bundaberg North State High (BNSH) rowers picked up one gold and two bronze.
Bundaberg State High and Shalom College representatives snared one bronze each.
Harrison Baldwin, Zachary Freeman and Saxon Blair produced a famous St Luke’s trifecta in the Schoolboys Year 10 Single, while Harrison and Saxon also teamed for gold in the Year 10 Double, with Zachary and Jacob Wangmann in fourth position.
Asia Heaps and Sienna Clark partnered for St Luke’s other gold, in the Schoolgirls Year 10 Double.
Saxon, Zachary, and Jacob also joined forces with Thomas Chadwick and Megan O’Connor (cox) to take silver in the Year 10 Four (Coxed), and those four rowers added bronze in the Year 10 Quad (Coxed) with Megan O’Connor the cox.
Asia and Sienna also grabbed silver in the Year 10 Single and bronze in the Year 11 Single respectively, and savoured team bronze with Wilhemina MacLennan, Jorja Mortimer and Megan O’Connor (cox) in the Year 10 Quad (Coxed).
Megan was again cox with the crew of Jorja, Ella Cayley, Alexina Milbank and Ruby-Rose Nguyen which secured silver in the Year 9 Quad (Coxed), while Harri O’Connor powered to bronze in the Year 8 Single.
St Luke’s seniors Tobias Reynolds, Aiden Davidson, Sam Klotz and Dayne Mortimer, competed strongly throughout in the tough Open division, and they were rewarded with silver with Charlie Ellem as cox in the Quad (Coxed), while their remaining medals were won by Jaydan Kelly with silver in the Schoolgirls Year 8 Single, and Corey Stevens and Oliver Meehan with bronze in the Year 9 Double.
Sarah Wake stood tall for NBSH, beating Jaydan for Schoolgirls Year 8 Single success, with Gin Gin’s Breeanah Dale a close fourth in that event, and racking up dual bronze with Piper Rochford in the Schoolgirls Year 9 Double and Pairs.
Logan Caville came to the fore for BSH with bronze in the Year 9 Single, while Sophie Evans and Jada Critchlow clinched bronze for Shalom in the Year 8 Double.
Reilly Williams emerged as a star of the future with victory over Riley Godwin in the blue riband Schoolboys Single on Sunday after powering to the Doubles’ title with Zachary Skipp on Saturday.
But Rockhampton Grammar dominated the Schoolgirls Open category, including with Laura Sypher flexing her muscle in the Single.
Mateship on the water at school rowing championships
Bundaberg Rowing Club secretary Melissa Chapman the annual regatta was a highlight for many student rowers who travelled from around Queensland to push themselves to the limit.
“We had the highest number of participants of any Central Queensland competition then what we've had for a long time – that exceeded our expectations,” Melissa said.
“We thought we would have a good response and I guess with covid cancelling events last year, it contributed to more coming this year.
“The event, apart from the rain which didn’t stop us racing but didn’t provide ideal conditions, was great.”
Speaking with other rowing clubs Melissa said she believed the second factor to having the highest number of participants this year was because school rowing programs were increasing in size.
“Rowing programs in schools are getting bigger, there are more kids rowing now than a few years ago so the interest is definitely increasing,” she said.
Bundaberg North State High School student Kaitlyn Rochford and her sister Piper Rochford took up rowing through her school in 2018, and she said participating in events like Central Queensland School Rowing Championships was what she enjoyed most.
“Each year I look forward to the regatta, it's my favourite part of rowing,” Kaitlyn said.
“It gives you a chance to see your times, reflect and improve.”
Kaitlyn said her whole family enjoyed the regatta and camped onsite in their caravan for the two-day event.
“It’s all quite fun, I love being out on the water,” she said.
“You build friendships with all the other competitors; there’s rowers from Gin Gin, Bundy, St Luke’s and Shalom here.”