DEFENDING champion Ballarat Grammar is out for back-to-back victories, for both boys and girls crews, at Sunday’s Head of the Lake regatta.
What may be a challenge to Grammar crews, apart from the cox, is the fact that all have never rowed senior firsts’ division in Head of the Lake.
Mark Haberfield, boys’ cox, said that factor wouldn’t hold Grammar back.
“The crew has bonded together well, they came together really early in the season and have continuously progressed,” Haberfield said.
“You don’t want to underestimate the other crews. It’s an even field.”
Arthur Armstrong said all schools had the same training restrictions, so as far as the race was concerned, everyone was in the same boat – literally and figuratively.
Clara Toohey, the only girls’ crew member who was in the firsts last year, said she couldn’t compare the first crew from last year to this year. “Everyone is just so different, but training has been going well so hopefully the crew will do as well as last year.”
“Everyone wants to win, but it’s just whoever wins on the day,” Armstrong said.
Jess Whiteside said the girls really became a crew at the start of this year, after they rowed their first regatta together. “We just really meshed well and gelled together,” she said.
“We’re just moving together; all five or six of us (including our coach) are working in unison, and we’re on the same page.”
Maddie Meek said on race day the crew had as much chance at winning as anybody else. “We’ve trained hard but so has everybody else,” Meek said.
Marley Downey said all schools were looking good and the only thing that mattered was what happens on race day. “You only get one chance to make it work.”
The girls’ crew coach, Bill Gribble, has instilled in the group their motive when they’re on the water: “Make every stroke an honest stroke,” he tells them.
Whiteside said everyone had done all they could. “We’ve put in 110 per cent, and we’ll put that in on the day and hope for the best results,” Whiteside said.
Rowing director Luke Pougnault said for all of the Grammar crews, the focus had been on putting the right processes in place so that results could take care of themselves.
“All the crews have trained well and prepared well, now we just have to keep everyone healthy,” Pougnault said.
Meek said the best moment of boat race was entering the spit and seeing a sea of gold supporting them.
“Seeing your spit crew there gives you the push to fight harder, as you have the whole school and community there, cheering for you, and it pushes you across the line,” Downey said.