It’s never a walk in the park at Maadi

It was very much a case of the familiar and the new when the fours races were decided at the Aon Maadi Cup on Lake Ruataniwha today.

Mount Albert Grammar has a proud Maadi Cup record but has never won the boys U18 coxed four trophy the Springbok Shield. Until today.

It is the 18th name on the list of winners of the trophy which began in 1965, raced on Oriental Bay in Wellington, and won by Hamilton Boys High whose 16 titles is easily the record.

The trophy is made of segments of all the woods of South Africa and replicates a shield in South Africa called the Kiwi Shield.

The girls’ equivalent event, the Dawn Trophy, went to Rangi Ruru for the 15th time but not without first withstanding a serious challenge from their serial Christchurch rivals, St Margaret’s College.

It would be nice for Mount Albert’s coach Alice Denyer to be able to describe in detail how her crew followed their plans to a tee.

‘’But I was sat in a ute with my head in my hands,’’ she laughed. ‘’But from what I’ve been told that’s exactly how we’d planned it.’’

Denyer reckoned she was always confident, despite events last year.

‘’We came fourth after doing really well in the heats so the whole season has been about not coming ‘poorth’ ever again,’’ she quipped.

‘’It was geared around how we can be in the strongest position possible. We pretty much did exactly as we trained to do.’’

Earlier in the day, MAGs duo Nick Bryan and stroke Cam McGillivray had prevailed in the U18 pair, winning by about three seconds from Otago Boys High with Christchurch Boys’ High third. That set a tone for the school’s collective effort today.

Stroke seat crewman Theo Brown, just after helping his crewmates hiff cox Kaelin Reinsfield-Bree into the lake, said the plan had always been to make a quick start then stay in front – ‘’and thankfully it played out like that’’.

‘’We expected everyone to be coming at us, nothing held back, and we just tried to give it everything.’’

Rangi’s prize the Dawn Cup is so named because at an early Maadi regatta someone got their timing wrong, and darkness had descended before the last two races had been completed.

So, the girls returned to race at the start of the next morning, and a fitting title was given to the trophy.

Rangi Ruru are very familiar with it.

There have been 17 winners of the trophy, for which competition began in 1980. But no school is close to Rangi Ruru’s title tally.

But it took a mighty effort to get their hands on it late today. St Margaret’s hung on and simply wouldn’t fade away. The winning margin was .78s, Rangi clocking 7min 22.23s. Epsom Girls Grammar took third.

‘’It’s never a walk in the park at Maadi. You’ve always got to have your best game on the day, and we knew that from the get-go,’’ senior coach Logan Keys said.

With St Margaret’s simply not going away, Keys pointed to the camaraderie of his crew.

‘’We’ve had a couple of situations in the fours and other boats. Those battles pay dividends in these situations.’’

He pointed out most of the girls in the two boats are friends.

‘’And it’s always nice to have the top of the dais come from Christchurch as well.

‘’But at the end of the day it’s all about competition and when the race is like that, they all have a bit of fun and get a learning experience from it.’’

As for chasing the Levin Jubilee Cup for U18 eights in the penultimate event of the regatta tomorrow, there won’t be getting ahead of themselves.

‘’The big thing is nothing changes on big days. It’s about putting your best foot forward on finals day.’’

Cox Sienna Shanessey described the race as a ‘’dogfight’’.

‘’It was tight the whole time but there was a moment when we said ‘nah, we’re not letting them take it’’.

‘’You’ve just got to say ‘back yourself girls, you’ve done all the work, done everything you can to get here. Stay composed because the legs will get you through’.’’

On a day loaded with quality, gripping racing, St Bede’s under 17 eight prevailed with a really good performance. They held off Hamilton Boys’ High by two seconds.

This is the crew which won the U16 eight last year and now their sights are set on next year’s Maadi Cup.

‘’We’ve always had high hopes on the eight and it’s always been our goal to win (an eights title) each year,’’ said stroke Josh Hamer.

‘’We’ve had a good season, I reckon,’’ he added allowing for the odd Covid hiccup.

Why? ‘’Determination. We’ve got a lot of determined people who don’t like losing so we put that towards our next race. ‘’

And how about Queenstown’s Wakatipu High School.

They were fast out of the blocks this morning and had nailed four titles inside the first nine finals.

One was the U17 coxed quad and Phoebe Cavanagh in the bow seat was slightly gobsmacked at the achievement.

‘’It’s been the best – gold on gold on gold,’’ she said.

As well as you could have hoped for? ‘’Better. We had planned on medalling, which was a bit of a stretch at the start, but gold is just incredible.’’

The fact no girls had previously won a gold for the school at Maadi added an extra shine to the performance.