Rowers in top form for titles

STATE titles, club bragging rights and even international prospects will all be on the line at Lake Barrington this weekend.

The international rowing venue is hosting the Tasmanian championships and some intense competition is predicted across all boat sizes from singles through to the traditional fierce rivalry of Sunday's open eights.

Tasmanian Institute of Sport rowing coaches Brett Crow and Anthony Edwards were this week travelling back from Sydney where their charges performed impressively at the New South Wales titles, and were confident of that form continuing on the other side of Bass Strait.

"Everyone in Tasmania that rows will be there," Crow said. "It will be two full days of top-class competition."

Asked where the state was placed on the national scene, Crow modestly replied: "Above average."

"We are looking at increasing our numbers in national crews this year especially with the number of under-23s we've got coming through."

Edwards said returning Olympians Tom Gibson, Kerry Hore and Sam Beltz were continuing their progress while the prospect of an all-Tasmanian crew in his old lightweight four boat remained a distinct possibility.

Beltz, of Lindisfarne, and Tamar's Ali Foot won the lightweight pair at the NSW titles but being unable to row together this weekend should open the door for second-placed adopted Queenslanders Nick Silcox and Darryn Purcell.

Gibson, of Huon, came fourth in the lightweight singles in Sydney while Tamar's Blair Tunevitsch will also be in contention for the national squad despite having four weeks out with an abdominal injury.

The women's lightweight races should be hotly-contested after the singles in Sydney saw Ella Flecker win from her Huon clubmate Georgia Nesbitt with Tamar's Annabel Gibson fifth, Alex Hayes (Huon) eighth and Queensland-based former Tamar rower Carly Cottam ninth.

Also in Sydney, Hore finished fourth in the elite singles final, Huon clubmate Sarah Hawe was fourth in the B-final, former Tasmanians Kate Hornsey and George Ellis finished sixth and eighth respectively in their heavyweight pairs while Tamar's Ciona Wilson and Maegan Thompson were third in the B-final.

Tamar's Oliver Cook produced one of the results of the regatta by winning the under-23 men's lightweight single, while the heavyweight single final saw Buckingham's Max McQueeney and Sam Volker finish second and third and Huon's Wilson Mure and Erik Rowan fifth and seventh.

Edwards said the strong under- 23 performances should make that division's singles particularly interesting at Barrington although most focus would fall on the open eights.

"Last year produced one of the best races in 20 years with four clubs hitting the line together and this year's promises to be another close battle," he said. "It will be one of the most prestigious races of the weekend."

North Esk just edged last year's race but can expect plenty of competition from Tamar, Tas Uni and a Huon-Bucks composite on Sunday.

Tasmania's rowing calendar will also see the Launceston and Henley regatta on the Tamar on March 15-16, before Lake Barrington hosts the Head of the River on April 5, the schools regatta on April 12-13 and the masters regatta on April 26-27.

The national championships are being held in Sydney on March 22-30.

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