Master rowers keen on popular Grafton course
By TONY WHITE
THEY'RE coming from Townsville, Taree and Toowong, the Sunshine Coast, Surfers Paradise, Mosman, Murwillumbah, Sydney, the Shoalhaven and beyond. All to compete in the NSW Masters Rowing Championships in Grafton this weekend.
More than 1000 rowers, officials and families are expected to converge on Jacaranda City aiming for gold medals, strong competition, camaraderie and a taste of country hospitality at its best.
Former world, Australian and NSW champions will take part in the two-day regatta that showcases the best elder male and female rowing talent.
Grafton Rowing Club (GRC) earned the right to host the 2006 NSW Masters Championships after successfully staging the titles in 2002, winning the prestigious Best Regatta in NSW award from Rowing NSW.
More than 800 medals will be awarded from 130 races involving rowers from 35 clubs (NSW 26, Qld nine) with 2100 boat seats, including finals.
Racing begins at 8am on Saturday and Sunday.
"I've been doing this many years and I think this will be one of the best regattas we'll ever see," GRC president Greg Thompson said. "In terms of numbers it ranks up there with the Head Of The River ? Grafton Rowing Club regatta in December but without the support of the community, sponsors and our committee it wouldn't be possible."
GRC will have upwards of 20 members taking part and Maclean around a dozen.
"There are plenty of medal chances among them," Thompson said.
Rowing veterans, household names like Dick Ridell (Port Macquarie), Allan Sypkens (North Shore) and Alan Turner (Sydney) are sure to be among the medallists.
Thompson said GRC women's C-grade Over-40s, Lyndall Burchell, Carol Brady, Brenda Schaeffer, Valda Doman and Rosemary Graves, who will compete in single, double scull, pairs, fours, mixed and eights, rated as strong medal contenders. Graves rowed with Thompson in Murwillumbah last weekend to win the Northern Rivers double scull. Brady, Burchell, Graves and Brenda Ryan won the women's four at the same regatta.
GRC's ultra-fit Rick McLennan and Geoff Edgar, Grafton's 'awesome foursome', Thompson, Tony Gallagher, John Brien and Andrew Kelly, and Dennis Dark, Ian Parker, Michael Collins, Warren Ford, Peter Alford and Maclean icons Harold and Hazel Kratz also bear watching. Major sponsors for the regatta are Clarence Valley Council, Mighty River Automotive, Radio 2GF, Thompson's Tile Power, Bananacoast Community Credit Union and The Daily Examiner.