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TGS rowers a few lengths ahead

Flagstaff Team

The pride of TGS rowing… U18 coxed quad-sculls Auckland school champions (from left) Imogen Butcher, Daisy Butcher, Sydelle Langis (cox), Annabelle Knowles and Skye Lang.

Takapuna Grammar School (TGS) Rowing Club’s Under 16 girls coxed quadruple-sculls crew jumped two age categories to win the Under 18 Auckland Secondary School Championships this month.

Rowers Daisy and Imogen Butcher, Annabelle Knowles, Skye Lang and coxswain Sydelle Langis have been unbeaten since they began rowing together two years ago.

Pushing off the pontoons next to the older girls they raced against in the championships at the Head of the Harbour regatta at Lake Pupuke was “really nerve wracking”, Skye told the Flagstaff.

“They were about a third taller than all of us and had these massive arms and thighs.” She said the crew tried to race just as they normally would, despite the age gap. “Our coaches told us to go out there and give it our best shot,” said Daisy.

On the water… the TGS team going for gold at the Head of the Harbour regatta

“After the first few strokes of the race, we realised that we were in front. This surprised us, but we decided not to get our hopes up as we still had 900 metres to row.”

Three-quarters of the way through the race, Sydelle decided on an early sprint to the finish. “We managed to finish in first place, which we were all stoked about,” Daisy said.

“We were absolutely ecstatic,” Skye said.

Coached by Katie Halliday and Jessica Hamlin, overseen by the club’s head coach Mike Tolhurst, the crew has been dominant on the water since their first season rowing together, competing in coxed-quadruple sculls and as two double-scull crews.

Daisy and Imogen also won the Under 16 double-sculls championship at Pupuke, while Annabelle and Skye won the Division 2 race. The regatta on 13 February was attended by 26 schools, 876 competitors, 100 coaches and 2000 spectators from across Auckland.

Last year, the crew went unbeaten in all regattas, including the North Island Club Championships, the North Island Secondary Schools Championships, and as a relay squad in the New Zealand Indoor Rowing Championships.

They also won silver in the Women’s Intermediate Coxed Quadruple Sculls at the New Zealand Rowing Championships. They were named school crew of the year at the Auckland Rowing Association annual awards.

The girls were disappointed not being able to contest any national titles, with the 2020 Maadi Cup in March cancelled due to Covid-19. For the current season which started later last year they have won gold at five major regattas and at the North Island Club Championships held in January.

Their goal is to win the national Under 16 titles in both the quadruple and double sculls. At the Head of Harbour regatta, TGS won 13 events and was fourth school overall, behind Westlake Boys High School and Auckland Grammar School, who tied for first place, and Diocesan School for Girls in third.

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