Records fall at Australian Indoor Rowing Championships
In a unique format for indoor rowing racing, the inaugural Australian Indoor Rowing Championships (AIRC) were held across Australia over the month of November. This offered competitors the chance to take part in a National Indoor Championship without leaving their hometown.
The event successfully offered a mix of serious and fun competitions for rowers from all types of backgrounds and age groups. UTS Rowing Club in Sydney kicked-off the month’s racing while Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, concluded the month with a successful event run by Rio Paralympian Kate Murdoch.
Organised by Rowing Australia, the event was hosted at 24 different venues across Australia with a total of 509 individual participants competing in 838 races, including many from non-rowing backgrounds. Events were held in rowing clubs, schools as well as gyms and a variety of distances were offered to men’s and women’s open and lightweight participants, who were able to enter 2000, 1000 and 500m and one-minute “rip” events as well as a fun 2000m four-person relay for mixed and non-mixed teams. Age category races catered for those from 12 to over 80 years old, including para-rowers. A total of 144 gold medals were awarded to winners in both individual and relay events.
“We structured the event this way to allow as many competitors to race as possible and it was great to see events held in all the States we row in,” Rowing Australia’s National Community Development and Education Officer Ron Batt said.
The championship saw 14 Australian indoor rowing records broken, across multiple age ranges.
See all record breakers here.
Tasmania’s Sam Volkert took home the title in the Open Men’s (19-29 year-old age category) 2000m event. Volkert, who was part of Australia’s under-23 men’s eight in 2011, won in a time of 5:53.6. The current Australian men’s national team training squad took on the 500m challenge and dominated the top 40. Angus Widdicombe of Melbourne’s Mercantile Rowing Club, who was a member of this year’s Australian under-23 men’s eight, won the open men’s 500m title in 1:16.5 and beat Simon Keenan, silver medallist in the eight at the 2014 World Rowing Under 23 Championships, by 0.3 secs.
Surfboat rower Georgie Rowe won the open women’s category in 6:38.7. The 24-year old also won the 500m and finished off her racing by clocking 324m in the one-minute category – a 1:32.6 split. Rowe says she will try flat-water rowing next.
Michael McNamara from Nagambie Rowing Club in rural Victoria broke an Australian indoor rowing record to win gold in the lightweight men’s 19-29 category over 500m, clocking a time 1.23.9.
World Record holder in the 80-89 age group and women’s lightweight category Tibby Kemp, 84, was one of the oldest competitors and raced in the 1000m event finishing a couple of seconds off her World Record (4:59.3) in 05:06.3.
In the para-rowing categories, Colette Lancaster-Lockwood won three gold medals, while former Australian rowing team member and 2002 World Champion, Ben Felten took home a silver medal in the 1000m LTA men’s category.
Rural Shoalhaven Rowing Club in New South Wales and Manning River Rowing Club attracted some of the biggest entry numbers. Also a number of gyms successfully participated in the event with Rockhampton’s Vector Health Gym breaking two national records and Inspire Health Sports Gym in Brisbane welcoming over 30 entrants.
“It is fantastic to see so many records broken and to have had so many competitors involved in our inaugural competition,” said Batt. “There were events right across the country with great support in some of the rural locations and especially some of the schools showed what you can do with this style of event.”
While champions were crowned and personal best times set, the event also pulled together to raise money and awareness for the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation (RCD) with $2 of every entry fee going to the charity. The charity was created in memory of Robert Dawes, who was a passionate youth rower and died from a brain tumour in April 2013. Australian Rowing three-time Olympic Champion James Tomkins is one of the RCD Ambassadors.
Find all results on the Rowing Australia website here.