SA Schools Rowing
School Rowing Season Culminates with World Class Performances
The RMB South African Schools Rowing Championships, organised by the South African Schools Rowing Union (a RowSA affiliate member), brought an end to the 2018/2019 school rowing season when it took place between Friday 1 March and Sunday 3 March. This year the regatta was fortunate enough to be sponsored by Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) whose generous support of Rowing South Africa enabled the regatta to grow in size, stature and ensure that athletes and spectators enjoyed Africa’s largest rowing competition.
The regatta was privileged to once again host athletes from all over the country, made up of over 40 schools, as well as a number of South African junior clubs and clubs from Zimbabwe. In total the regatta attracted over 1300 athletes competing in 1100 boats across 171 races! Once again the various sculls events had the most entries, even after schools were limited to only entering their top 5 scullers. In the girls U14, U15, U16 and U19 age groups had 33, 26, 38 and 50 entries respectively with their male counter parts entering 60, 63, 64 and 78 entries respectively. Additionally the boys U14 and U15 4x+ saw 41 and 44 entries respectively, which resulted in heads races being used to determine which crews went through to the semi-finals – a type of race which was previous reserved for the sculls races due to their number of entries – which shows the depth of rowers coming from the younger age groups.
This year saw exceptional racing across every age group, with multiple races having crews finishing within 0.5 seconds of one another and photo finishes being used to work out the various victors. The closest race of the weekend came from the girls premier event, the U19 coxed quad, which saw St Andrews Girls-Watson take their last 500m up a gear and finish 0.01 seconds behind the reigning champions St Mary’s-McKay.
It was Parktown-Barrell who lifted the crowd off their feet on Day 1 of the regatta when they faced off against returning silver medallists, St Benedict’s-Wolfaardt, in the U19 coxless pair. The race came down to the last 200m with Parktown significantly increasing their rate, however, it was St Benedict’s who held on to claim gold and win the race by 0.44 seconds.
The final race of the regatta was the boys U19 1st 8+ which saw St Benedict’s claim an emphatic win and become the first boy’s school since St John’s in 2013 to win back-to-back titles in this event, 16 years after they last did this in 2003.
In the overall points table this year saw St Mary’s and St Andrew’s Girls continue their battle for first and second, both have alternated between the positions each year since 2013, however, it was St Mary’s who came out on top with 403 points, St Andrews Girls in second with 391 points and St Stithian’s finished in third with 209 points. On the boys side, St Benedict’s extended their consecutive streak at the top of the points table to 26 years with 408 points, with St Johns claiming second place with 255 points and St Albans claiming third place for the first time since 2014 with 229 points.
The end of the regatta also brought with it the announcement of the U16 SASRU squat that is scheduled to tour the UK in the coming months. Make sure to look out fundraising initiatives as well as news and photos from their tour!