The South African rowing team returned from their first international regatta of the season with a boat-load of medals after a successful weekend in Italy.
National rowing coach Roger Barrow used the Memorial Paolo d’Aloja International Regatta in Piediluco largely to experiment with different combinations.
“It was a pretty good weekend, so I am really happy with all the results. I think for such a young team and for many athletes on their first senior tour, we did pretty well,” Barrow said after the regatta.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls
World champion Kirsten McCann and Nicole van Wyk raced to victory in their first outing as a women’s double sculls combination, beating the Italian crew of Valentina Rodino and Federica Cesarini by two seconds.
Women’s Double Sculls
Barrow entered McCann and Van Wyk in the heavyweight double sculls class as well, and they came up against strong opposition in the form of the Lithuanian crew which consisted of Olympic bronze medallist Milda Valčiukaitė and two-time world Under-23 champion Ieva Adomavičiūtė.
The Lithuanians edged the South Africans by two-and-a-half seconds with McCann and Van Wyk bagging the silver medal.
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls
Nikita Prinsloo, who is fighting for a seat in the lightweight double sculls boat, finished third in Saturday’s A-final in a time of 8:12:64.
She finished five seconds behind former world junior champion Clara Guerra.
Prinsloo failed to make it into the A-final on Sunday but managed to win her B-final in 8:07:72.
Charles Brittain and James Mitchell finished second in Saturday’s A-final, nearly five seconds behind the Romanian boat, clocking 6:39.96.
Luc Daffarn and Leo Davis had to be content with fourth place in the race, three seconds adrift.
South Africa went on to claim a gold-silver double in Sunday’s A-final, with Olympic gold medallist John Smith and Sandro Torrente narrowly beating Brittain and Mitchell.
Just 0.05 separated the two South African boats with Smith and Torrente posting a time of 6:34:77.
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls
Nic Oberholzer and Vaughn Botes had a tough time in the boat against top-class opposition including seasoned Italian campaigners Steffano Oppo and Pietro Willy Ruta.
They finished fourth in the A-final on Saturday in 6:41:59 with the Italians winning the race in 6:33:97.
Botes and Oberholzer again made it into an A-final on Sunday where they finished in fifth place.
Men’s Double Sculls
Brad Betts and KG Sotsaka dominated their B-final in 7:04:97, well ahead of their nearest rivals, with the second-placed Israeli crew finishing 46 seconds behind the South Africans.
Sotsaka and Betts again missed out on the A-final but managed another win in the B-race on Sunday.
The quartet of Smith, Kyle Schoonbee, David Hunt and Torrente won their A-final race by less than a second ahead of the Italian crew.
They went through the halfway point with a 35-second advantage, with the Italians surging over the second 1 000 metres to give the South Africans a fight towards the end.
Changing up the men’s four boat, Schoonbee and Hunt were joined by Dafarn and Davis for Sunday’s racing.
The new crew finished third in the A-final, clocking 6:16:79, four seconds behind the victorious Italians.
South Africa fielded its first men’s eight boat at an international regatta since the 1992 Olympic Games for a bit of fun.
Brittain, Mitchell, Daffarn, Davis, Schoonbee, Hunt, Smith, Torrente, and Alessandro Calder all got into the boat, finishing in fifth place in 5:49:64, 10 seconds behind the Romanian crew in first place.