The festive break is well and truly over for the Shepparton Rowing Club, with the first regatta of the new year to be contested this weekend.
The Murray Rowing Association Rutherglen Regatta has attracted more than 500 rowers and almost 1000 entries for the 800m racing on Saturday and 500m events on Sunday, with Shepparton once again sending a strong contingent comprising 30 entries.
With March’s Rowing Victoria State Championship Regatta fast-approaching, this weekend’s action will give Shepparton’s hopes a chance to assess exactly how much work needs to be done in preparation for the season’s marquee event.
Maoinin Dooley-Heath and Lydia Todd will combine in the women’s D-grade double scull — a race they claimed state silver medals in last year — and must contend with a fierce field of 24 crews for a chance at victory.
Tom Dooley-Heath will take on the men’s division in the same event with Toby Crichton, while also searching for his first single scull victory in the under-17 category.
They are looking to start quickly and gap the rest of the field early in their race and will go a long way towards doing so if they can match the impressive 41 strokes per minute rate that they have been achieving at training recently.
Coach John Darbyshire will debut his new D-grade women’s coxed quad scull crew — Nancy Cassetta, Samantha McInnes, Jessica Eldred, Isabella Bennett and Maya Dooley-Heath (cox) — against a huge field of 95 other rowers, while Maya will also take the cox seat in the men’s D-grade quad scull crew of Michael Eldred, Cameron Boal, Jack Puise and James Darbyshire.
Puise will also look to convert his recent indoor rowing national championship into open water success when he competes in the under-15 single scull event against six other rising stars of the sport.
Tom Schier, Shepparton’s leading rower with four triumphs already this season, will only race in the shorter events on Sunday, where he is one of a dozen scullers entered in the men’s C-grade single scull.