South African Schools Junior Rowing Championships 2015

Peninsula Girls’ Rowing Club was first established by Springfield Convent in 1997/98 as Springfield Rowing. It later became a rowing club open to girls from other schools who were interested in joining the sport. This year we were fortunate enough to compete at the South African Schools Championships.

SA Champs took place in Pretoria, from 6 – 8 March. We arrived at Cape Town International Airport straight after school on Thursday, 5 March, in our proud Peninsula Girls’ Rowing Club (PGRC) uniform, eager for tour to start. The 17 of us (including our two coaches) flew to Johannesburg and drove to our accommodation situated in Pretoria, arriving around 9 o’clock that night.

Each day had a boat category allocated to it, Friday was for sculls races (one-man boat), Saturday was for doubles races (two-man boat) and the last day, Sunday, was for quad races (four-man boat, plus a cox). The regatta took place on the Roodeplaatdam in Pretoria, this is where all the rowing schools and clubs came together to compete in Champs.

I competed in a doubles race and a quad race, both of which were 2km long races. For Saturday’s race my doubling partner and I rowed up to the start line and lined up with our seven competitors (including two crews from PGRC). Our throats burnt all the way down the course, making the race much tougher, as the air in Pretoria is much drier than in Cape Town. We passed the Western Cape Development double which had stuck with us for the first 600m and started to catch their second double, keeping third place. We diced and held them until the last 100m where they pushed for second place, placing us third and our 1st double crew first. We had a good race and were proud that we would be taking a medal home.

The next day was the quads races. There were only three crews in this race (including our 1st quad crew) and a Western Cape Development crew. We raced our 2km with everything we had, emptying our tanks for the last race of Champs. We placed second, about three boat lengths away from the 1st quad and 200m ahead of the other crew.

PGRC received a lot of attention due to all our rowers going home with medals, and we have been selected for the Top Junior Club in South Africa. We were all very proud of our club achievements.

Straight after prize giving, we left for the airport and only arrived home at 11o’clock that night.

All in all, I had a fantastic last season with one of the best clubs in South Africa. Taking part in a sport such as rowing is highly time consuming but rewards you with a lifestyle rather than just a mere hobby. Rowing changes you in many ways, any rower would agree, and I definitely look forward to rowing in varsity where I will continue with this inspiring sport.

Emily van der Berg
Grade 12
Rower for Peninsula Girls’ Rowing Club