Dimboola Regatta and Head of the Wimmera

With regatta season gathering momentum Richmond Rowing Club saw themselves heading out to Dimboola for a Saturday of sprint racing followed by a Sunday of head races. Most made the 3.5 hour journey on Friday evening, rooms had been booked in Horsham for the majority and a few of us chose to brave camping near by in Dimboola. The campers had dinner in the Dimboola pub and I have to say it was the most ‘English Pub’ I have been to in Australia which was a great start to the weekend! We survived a night under canvas with the wildlife (kangaroos and emus a plenty and no, there weren’t any monkeys, they were kookaburras but plenty of other interesting noises.)

Anyway – Saturday morning was time for the 132nd Dimboola regatta. And we were ready! A few of us walked up the river to see the start and check the course. 3 lanes, not buoyed but well marked with a couple of bends (probably insignificant to anyone not steering), 750m.

The Female Masters 4x+ started the day by example winning their race, well done to the ladies of Richmond for getting the first medal of the day Christine Sullivan, Diana Vernon, Susanna Mullner, Anthea Amos, Cox: Aline Dejaegher. We hoped it was a sign of things to come. Unfortunately the Male Masters 4x+, Denis Henry, Philip Munson, Guy Ayres, Leigh Sullivan, Cox: Christine Sullivan didn’t follow the lead coming second in their race to Powerhouse.

Next up were the Mens Open 4+ with a crew of Jon Roberts, John Carey, Dennis Beck, Michael Gehling, Cox: Michael Calvert the boys didn’t quite manage to bring it home coming second to Melbourne RC in their final.

Shern Timmins was next up for the girls in the Masters 1x placing third.

The following round was the C Grade Male 1x and Dario Sportelli and Keith Wong were representing Richmond in 2 different draws. They both came through their heats first qualifying for the final and finished both their finals off in style (or did the final finish Keith off…) with a gold medal each. Well done boys!

The Female D Grade girls 1x were next with Lillian Van Oosterhout and Kirsty Fergie in 2 different heats. Both girls came through first in their heats to face each other in the final. It was a fun race for the girls managing to get a Richmond 1,2 with Kirsty just coming in front of Lilian.

Ally Dejaegher and Susanna Mullner were in the masters 2x placing third followed by Amy Catlin and Lily Innes-Irons coming third in their first race in a 2-.

Richard Verheyen, Steven Sheppard, Michael Calvert, Tim Evans, Cox: John Carey of the Male D Grade 4+ came down the course in third place in their heat followed by Denis Henry, Philip Munson, Leigh Sullivan, Guy Ayres, Cox: Christine Sullivan Male Masters 4+ also finishing third.

Male Open 4x+ Jon Roberts, Michael Calvert, John Carey, Michael Gehling, Cox: Aline Dejaegher finished third in their heat. It was now time for the Mixed 8+ to take to the river consisting of Christine Sullivan, Diana Vernon, Denis Henry, Philip Munson, Guy Ayres, Leigh Sullivan, Susanna Mullner, Anthea Amos, Cox: Imogen Smith. Finishing 2nd in the straight final but missing out on the win.

Keith and Dario were back in a boat together hoping to mirror their C Grade 1x success however the energy spent in the earlier 1x races took its toll and they came in second place.

Ally and Kirsty took to the river again for their D Grade 2x. Having won their heat they managed to narrowly push past Horsham City in the final later in the day to claim the win and another medal. Unfortunately they didn’t get out of the heat in the C Grade 2x, coming a respectable second.

The winning streak continued with the Female D Grade 4+ Shern Timmins, Amy Catlin, Lily Innes-Irons, Lilian Van Oosterhout, plus cox Keith Wong seeing off their competition to win another gold medal – well done girls!

With races coming in thick and fast boats continued to get on and off the water,

Richard Verheyen, Steven Sheppard, Dennis Beck, Tim Evans, Cox: Shern Timmins represented in the D Grade 4x+ managing a second place in their heat.

This was followed by Mike Gehling and Dario Sportelli back in a single for the Open. In different draws Mike came second in his heat followed by Dario coming first in his heat he then powered through to win the final.

The afternoon of racing was drawing to a close with Keith Wong, Michael Calvert, Jon Roberts, John Carey, Cox: Christine Sullivan in the Male C grade 4x+ coming second in their heat followed by Shern Timmins, Lilian Van Oosterhout, Lily Innes-Irons, Susanna Mullner, Cox: Denis Henry in the Female D Grade 4x+ winning their heat but being pipped to the medals in the final.

The masters mixed 4x+ were up for the penultimate race of the day (exc finals) with Christine Sullivan, Guy Ayres, Leigh Sullivan, Diana Vernon, Cox: Denis Henry Despite their handicap they came through strongly to take the win, seeing off E grade crews Wentworth and Warrnambool and another medal was theirs.

Finally was the mixed 4x+ Anthea Amos, Amy Catlin, Richard Verheyen, Dennis Beck, Cox: Aline Dejaegher who finished off the day coming third in their heat.

Overall it was a great day for Richmond with too many athletes to count taking part in 24 events.

Whilst people weren’t racing there was an awesome cheer squad at the tent with really good viewing. When we weren’t on the water it was equally fun watching other crews battle it out on the water and obviously prepare our vocal chords for when a Richmond boat was passing.

After the conclusion of the day the happy campers went back to the campsite for some fire cooked food (I tried a new Aussie delicacy of bananas stuffed with chocolate cooked on the fire in foil – YUM) and the other Richmond-ers headed back to the motel for some more civilised thai food.

And then it was Sunday and we were ready for the Head of the Wimmera. A 6.2km course finishing in the same place as the regatta. Special thanks to the coxes, some of whom I am sure would have preferred to row but enabled other crews to do so, it is always appreciated.

The Richmond crews were:

Male Open 4x+

Jon Roberts, John Carey, Dario Sportelli, Michael Gehling, Cox: Ka Ki Wong, Coach: Derek Begg

Female D Grade 4x+

Shern Timmins, Lilian Van Oosterhout, Kirsty Fergie, Aline Dejaegher, Cox: Dennis Beck, Coach: Dario Sportelli

 Mixed 4x+

Richard Verheyen, Steven Sheppard, Amy Catlin, Lily Innes-Irons, Cox: Michael Calvert, Coaches: Dario Sportelli, Ainsley Raggatt

Mixed Masters 8+

Christine Sullivan, Diana Vernon, Philip Munson, Tim Evens, Guy Ayres, Leigh Sullivan, Susanna Mullner, Anthea Amos, plus Denis Henry.

The row up the river was a great warm up however I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking, ‘I’m going to have to come back down here at race pace!’ With a couple of tricky bends on unfamiliar rivers the coxes all did a great job.

Congratulations to the Female D Grade 4x+ and Mixed Masters 8+ crews who both rounded off the weekend coming first in their categories and bringing back more bling.

With boats packed and the trailer loaded we then made a weary journey back to Melbourne, and for many a winning feeling inside!

A big thank you to Barry and Anthea for towing the trailer. Steve Sheppard for BRO’ing and to Shern for organising the accommodation and dinners. Not forgetting the coaches who constantly do a dedicated, fantastic job as well as all of those who work hard behind the scenes to make regattas happen. We all greatly appreciate it.

Kirsty Fergie