Nationals!

An extreme weather warning – gale force winds and 250 mm (10 inches) of rain – was issued on Wednesday, perfectly timed to coincide with Australia’s biggest masters racing event of the year, the 2016 Australian Masters Rowing Championships, held at Kawana, here on the Sunshine Coast, a 60-km drive south for me.

I feel so sorry for all the rowers who travelled huge distances to the Sunshine Coast – from as far afield as Tamar, Tasmania, and even Bunbury, WA (a 46-hour drive according to Google). Regatta weather is always pot luck.

Nevertheless, the first 2 days of racing  (Wednesday – Thursday) went without a hitch, in weather that flip-flopped from bucketing rain to eerie calm, with some spectacular cloud formations.

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Thankfully the WME1X was scheduled for 10 am Thursday so, once that was out of the way (5th of 7 in my heat – only 2 progressed through), my anxiety levels plummeted and I could begin to enjoy myself.

Nothing to do with the Wallabies training session next door. I was purely looking for stretching tips (nice pigeon-toe stretch there).

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Another thing here that is scorching – the times.

The competition is intense. I see 56-year-old women who look like 40-year-olds. Ripped. 

I overhear snatches of post-race analysis as 60-somethings who barely have both legs out of the boat pore over the results: “There was only 0.02 of a second in it.” “Yeah, but they had a 52-year-old in the boat.” “Yeah, but if we had been in Heat 3 we would’ve…”. “Yeah, but if we hadn’t missed the start…” Calculating, rationalising, justifying. I am guilty of it myself but I accept when I am beaten fair and square. 

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What is truly wonderful is seeing the old masters still getting out there and showing us how it’s done. One guy was 88!. That gives me another 32 years to get the hang of it.

I believe the Mosman crew who won the Men’s Masters Champion Club 8+  had an average age of 70!

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The brunt of the severe weather was due to hit today, Saturday and, while this morning’s events were cancelled, the program is back up and running now for the remainder of Saturday afternoon. Sunday looks rowable too. Let’s hope everyone hasn’t scratched and gone home.

We have done all the work. It’s time to race.

My photos of Day 1 are available on Flickr. Just click on this photo:
2016 Australian Masters Rowing Championships
Day 2 photos coming soon.

See all results.

Creative Commons License
Rowing photos by Mary O’Callaghan are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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