Otago University dominates regatta

Otago University enjoyed a successful weekend at the national university championships.

Competing with a 99-strong team, the biggest it has ever taken to the event, the club came home from Lake Hood with 39 medals, 17 of which were gold.

It added four more at the long eights on Saturday on the Waimakariri River.

The long eights involved the crews rowing a 3219m course and Otago claimed first and second in both the men's and women's races.

It was something coach Glen Sinclair said the club had not done before and it had been especially pleasing.

The men held on to the Hebberly Shield for the second consecutive year and the women won the Tamaki Cup for a record 11th straight year.

``The women's eight, we know there's a fair bit of talent in there,'' Sinclair said.

``But the men's eight were probably underdogs.

``They've done the work over the last six or seven weeks and they rowed really well.''

The winning men's crew was largely a new group and included five first-years, which bodes well for the future.

Simon Early was the only returning crew member, while Sam Wilkins and Corey Lewis had come up from last year's second crew.

Sinclair said the women's crew was ``blessed with talent''.

He made mention of Emma Weith, from Christchurch, and first-year student Ella Simanu, from Auckland, whom he called a fantastic athlete.

The rowers yesterday completed trials for the New Zealand university eight crews and Sinclair hoped Otago athletes would make up half the selections.

The novice women's group was Otago's other standout, winning all of its events.

Its crews also raced up a grade in the tournament section and won those events, as well.

The team has a busy winter ahead.

It has invitations to race in China in June and July, as well as the prospect of a visit from the eight of Russia's St Petersburg State University.


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