Shepparton’s rowers rose to the occasion on the weekend with a strong showing at the Wendouree Ballarat Regatta.
At Lake Wendouree, six Shepparton Rowing Club members qualified for finals with Jack Puise leading the way.
Puise never had it easy, but did enough late in his under-15 single scull final to break away and take the gold medal.
After a slow start he tore away from the rest of the field with Essendon’s Ares Sikavitsas, who took an early lead.
The pair put serious distance between themselves and the rest of the field, with Puise’s longer bladework and lower stroke rate giving him an advantage as he passed Sikavitsas with 250m to race.
It turned into a two-horse race, but Puise had enough left in the tank to win by nearly four seconds, with the pair putting more than 30 seconds on the rest of the field.
Meanwhile, Lydia Todd and Maoinin Dooley-Heath enjoyed their debut in C-grade, qualifying for the double sculls final with a second-place finish in heats.
An hour later they rowed the final and again delivered, improving their heat time by 11 seconds to finish second to Barwon in the six-crew final.
The pair then went head-to-head in the C-grade single scull heats, where Dooley-Heath upstaged Todd to finish third with her partner right behind in fourth, but both missed the finals.
Sophie Reinehr and Isabella Bennett teamed with the duo and coxswain Jessica Eldred for the C-grade quad sculls final, taking third place behind Melbourne University and Barwon.
Toby Crichton and Tom Dooley-Heath were not at their best in the single sculls, with Crichton fifth in the D-grade final.
They teamed up in the D-grade double scull and made a promising start, leading the field at the halfway mark.
But fitness became a factor as the Melbourne Argonauts team drew level and pushed the Shepparton duo to a four-second loss.
Cameron Boal and Michael Eldred also qualified for the final and finished fourth, 28 seconds behind the winners.
Closing out the day was John Darbyshire’s D-grade quad sculls crew of Boal, Puise and Eldred, who took third in the final.
The club’s attention quickly turns to the next regatta at Nagambie Lakes this Sunday.
Nick Waller, Tom Schier and James Worsfold will return to racing in what will be the biggest regatta of the season.