The Stuartholme School has broken a 20-year rowing drought, winning the Brisbane Schoolgirls Rowing Association 1st VIII Head of the River pennant at Wyaralong Dam on Saturday.
They beat Somerville House by a margin of 1.83 seconds, with St Margarets in third, another 3.53 seconds back.
While the school’s rowing crews have been in the mix over the last four years, its 1st VIII has not been on the top three podium since 2002.
The success was the culmination of a very strong rowing presence for the school in 2018, resulting in Stuartholme also winning the percentage cup on the day and coming second in the aggregate cup.
“It’s pretty exciting – we probably haven’t taken it all in yet, to be honest,” school rowing director, Matt Marden said.
“The year 8 girls also won their year level and the year 9s and 10s were third and fourth respectively.
“The 1st VIII were pretty determined kids – their ambition was to go top three.
“We just helped them train hard and stay focused.”
The 1st VIII crew consisted of bow seat and captain of boats, Elke Marriott, Quilpie’s Sophia Tully, Belle Townsend, Phoebe Robinson, Genevieve James, Lucy Hope, Sophie Marriott, Emma Tucker and cox, Grace Gaston, from Hay, NSW.
At the beginning of August, Phoebe successfully competed in the Czech Republic as a member of the Australian girls crew that came fifth in the world junior rowing championships.
She was second in the Head of the River year 12 single scull final on Saturday, while crewmate Lucy Hope came second in the year 11 single scull final.
Matt said the crew rowed as a VII at their second regatta, where they came second last but as a full crew, were undefeated.
He paid tribute to boat reserve, Lily Chapman, who filled in for the first three regattas of the BSRA season.
“Everyone’s pretty stoked about these results,” he said.
“It’s a contribution from everyone. It’s not just about a win for the 1st VIII this year – they’ve come through a lot of boats and crew and coaches over the years.
“This win shows the significant effort put in by everyone over the last five years.”
The school currently has 115 rowers and Matt said he was bent on showing the younger girls what could be achieved.
“I love the sport – it teaches extreme resilience and you learn so much about yourself,” he said.
Using Saturday’s win as an example, he said it was about never giving in.
“You can’t see a lot until the last couple of hundred metres,” he said. “My heart was in my mouth but the girls managed to pull away in the last 100 metres.”