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Shepparton rows up a storm

Shepparton Rowing Club has returned to the Victorian Rowing Championships after more than half a century to claim a memorable victory in the men's D-class coxed quad sculls.

DAMEN FRANCIS March 4, 2014 4:05am

Mithma Ekanayake, Jackson Reynoldson, Tim Tielen, David Tom and Thomas Harper won the men’s D-class quad sculls at the Victorian Rowing Championships, Shepparton Rowing Club’s first state title in more than 50 years.

Shepparton Rowing Club ended a more than 50-year absence from the Victorian Rowing Championships in sensational fashion, with a famous victory in the men’s D-class coxed quad sculls at Lake Wendouree, Ballarat on Sunday.

Led by stroke Jackson Reynoldson, the team of Tim Tielen, David Tom, Thomas Harper and cox Mithma Ekanayake stunned the more experienced field to win the 1km final in four minutes and one second, 3sec ahead of Essendon in second place.

Tom and Harper have been rowing less than two years, while Reynoldson and Tielen took up the sport last year.

It was only the team’s third race together.

‘‘We went into the race wanting to give our all and we made the final and just gave it a crack and came out with the goods,’’ Reynoldson said.

‘‘We were neck and neck with the Rutherglen team for about 500m, then we kicked it up another notch and we were all in the zone and in time and slowly pulled away from them.’’

The event was staged in difficult conditions, making Ekanayake’s job steering the boat even more important.

Reynoldson paid tribute to rowing club president and coach David Schier for his effort and contribution in obtaining a regulation fours boat for the club, which was crucial in the team’s success.

The boat was bought second-hand from North Shore Rowing Club in Sydney and Schier said it had already proved a major asset for the club.

‘‘I’ll certainly let (North Shore) know how it went, (but) if they knew we would win a championship with it they probably would have put the price up a bit,’’ Schier said.

Schier, who is a former Rowing Australia chief executive, said the result was ‘‘beyond any expectation’’ and the win was met with plenty of recognition from rival clubs.

‘‘There are some people that have been in that class for three years and to come out and go bang in your first hit-out effectively is right up there,’’ he said.

‘‘A lot of people were congratulating us from other clubs. They know the challenge and we had a lot of good will afterwards. It was a very popular win.’’

Earlier in the program, Tielen and Reynoldson finished fifth out of 18 crews in the D-grade double sculls.

Schier praised the young fours team, but rued the country club curse, with all four 18-year-olds moving to Melbourne for university next year.

‘‘It knocks you around, but all country clubs suffer that. I’m so happy for them they got a championship before they left us and went into the big wide world,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ll start all over again, but that’s the way it is. We’ve got some good junior women’s crews, so it will be good for them, they’ll be able to see if they shoot high they can achieve as well.’’

The team is tipped to finish its season at a regatta on the Maribyrnong River in three weeks, which could be its last race together for the club.

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