The Friends School take out the Australian Schools Teams Racing Nationals
by Oliver Burnell
The Friends Blue team have fought off colds and heartbreak throughout the regatta to become Tasmania's second Australian Schools Teams Racing Champions in as many years, after Hutchins' success last year.
The team consisted of:
Silas Hamilton, Morgan Davies, Hugo Hamilton, Ethan Galbraith, Finn Buchanan, Issi Declerk, Jasmin Galbraith, Rohan Langford (Coach), Amelia Catt and Lindy Gannon (Managers)
Flu and Colds struck the Friends School camp throughout the week in Goolwa, South Australia, but there was no stopping the Friends teams at the 2016 Australian Schools Teams Racing Championship hosted by the Goolwa Aquatic Club.
Friends Blue did it the hard way, finishing 5th after 336 races ended the Suisse League Rounds, and top 8 went into a finals series. Along with Friends Blue, other Tasmanian teams to qualify for finals were Hutchins Gold, who qualified for the finals in 1st place, and Friends White qualified 3rd.
GYC/SVC and Hutchins Magenta finished equal in 8th with South Australia's Westminster School, with Westminister progressing on countback.
Fahan finished the rounds in 13th place (1st girls team) setting up an exciting School-Girls Final with 14th placed St Joeseph's Girls from Port Lincoln, South Australia.
The wind for the finals series was very light and tricky, with races often taking up to 15-20 minutes.
QUARTER FINALS: Both Friends School teams progress, while the reigning champions and ladder leaders are eliminated.
Hutchins Gold faced Westminster, a rematch from last years quarter final series that Hutchins won 2-1. Westminster managed to turn the tables on Hutchins this year to reverse the scoreline and progress to the semi-finals with a 2-1 win.
Friends White and Friends Blue progressed to the semi-finals with 2-0 victories over John XXIII College (WA) and St Joeseph's (SA) respectively.
SEMI - FINALS: Pressure, class, joy and heart break for Friends, as a resail resulted in the elimination of 'Young Guns' Friends White.
Friends Blue raced Westminster (SA) and Friends White raced Christ Church (WA) in a best of 3 race semi-final, with the winners progressing through to the final.
Both teams were pushed and pressured, but held strong to take both semi-finals with 2-0 victories.
The joy of having both Friends teams in the final was clear for the whole Friends camp, with coach Rohan Langford in tears of pride and happiness.
With this joy and happiness, came equal heart break as the Organising Authority broke the news that they had instructed the wrong teams of which race they were meant to be in, and after a long 30 minutes announced the semi-finals would be re-raced in the following combinations;
Westminster verse Christ Church.
Friends White verse Friends Blue.
Westminster progressed to the final, while the Friends teams were locked on 1-1 with a final deciding race being the difference between the two teams.
Friends Blue proved the villains as they eliminated their training partners.
Finals: Character, relief and finally success for Friends after 3 hours of finals, as a young Fahan team let the pressure get to them as they fail to consolidate on very strong races.
Fahan took out the first race of their best of 3 race final with St Joesephs Girls (SA), and were in very strong combinations in both of the final two races but failed to capitalize in the light winds and were outsailed in both final upwind legs to be defeated in a very close and intense final.
The open final was cut to best of 3 races due to the wind, with Friends Blue and Wesminster trading blows early to be tied 1-1 and needed a deciding race to determine the champion.
The Friends Blue team took out the deciding race, almost four hours after the finals had begun.
It took alot of character to dig deep, after being eliminated in semi-finals at the last two nationals and a very long final series. A finals series which involved eliminating their school-mates, training partners and even a brother immediatly after celebrating progressing through to the final with them.
This win is the first National Championship for The Friends School, after finishing 3rd and 4th last year.
The Finals Placings of Tasmanian Schools:
1st Friends Blue - National Champions
4th Friends White
8th Hutchins Gold
9th Guilford Young College/St Virgils College
10th Hutchins Magenta
13th Fahan (Runner-up Girls)
Congratulations to all competitors, especially Friends and St Joesephs Girls on their success.