The Ballarat High School boys will enter this year’s Head of the Lake “primed” and full of confidence.
Officially, the boys finished last in 2017, but in the original race it put in an impressive third placing and Rowing Director Rob Simmonds admits his crew were mentally drained come the re-row.
But this season has been a promising one and has the boys aiming high.
Ballarat High School finished second to St Patrick’s College at the Wendouree Ballarat Regatta in early February – its last race before Head of the Lake – but the boys have been working hard since and Simmonds believes it will be in the mix come race day.
"I think we're primed,” Simmonds said.
"I'm very happy with how they've gone about it and we're confident we're in the right space.”
For the boys, it has been a lot of work on their technique.
Not blessed with raw power, it has been a matter of improving its boat speed via the technical elements as it looks to win its first Head of the Lake since 2009.
"With the boys, it's been quite technical.
“The standard is just so high, we don't have a big crew, there's one big guy and the rest are really light, so we know that we have to be really clean and quite technical with how we go about it.
"We're really happy with how it's all gone.
"They've had some of the best training camps we've had.”
Simmonds acknowledged St Patrick’s College would take some catching, but stressed anything was possible on the day.
The pleasing aspect was his group had done everything it could to ensure it will give a good account of itself on the day.
Stroke seat Noah Mullane echoed Simmonds’ thoughts, saying the technical side of things had been a big focus while he was pleased with its lead-up form.
“We’ve worked on technique, we’ve changed our stroke a bit – hopefully that pays off,” Mullane told The Courier.
“I was pretty happy with the time (at Wendouree Ballarat Regatta), we rowed a pretty hard race...second to St Pat’s, they’re always going to be the big competition.”
There is little external expectation on the Ballarat High School girls, but from within, it is rowing for respect.
The girls finished last in 2017 and have not won the Head of the Lake since 1991 – where both the girls and boys triumphed.
But the girls’ training has been all about beating personal bests and putting their best foot forward every time they get in a boat.
Rowing Director Rob Simmonds said the girls were tracking to where he had hoped come this stage of its preparation. He said it was important for the girls to train hard and prove to themselves that they are capable of matching it with fellow schools.
This year’s girls’ Head of the Lake is looming as an even field, Simmonds said it was time for the girls to come out of the traditionally successful boys’ shadow.
"It will be great if they can get some respect for girls’ rowing, because the boys have always been quite successful, they're in the top two regularly,” Simmonds said.
“They’re exactly on target to where we wanted.
"With the girls there's less pressure, in the sense that no one's expecting them to do anything because we haven't won since 1991. If you lose this year, what's 27 years compared to 28 years.
"It's quite simple. It's just challenge after challenge after challenge. Just for them to realize that they are good enough. Technically they're rowing well, but it's about beating those PBs. Every time we touch a boat or do an erg (ergometer), we're going to try and better ourselves every time and then hopefully the results will take care of themselves after that.”
Simmonds said there is no expectation on the final result for his whole shed, but the crews had certainly met the training standards.
"I'm not sure if we have expectations on what the result is, we have expectations on how they go about their training and how they go about preparing - we think results will take care of themselves.
"We've had a really big push for, lets not focus on the end goal, lets focus on our steps that we need to get there and if we do tick all those boxes, when we do get to that last step, we'll get the win.”
See what the crews had to say here.