WITH overcast skies and the threat of rain in the air, the schools boat race finals took place on the Kowie River last Saturday with hundreds of spectators lining the river banks to support their favourite school teams.
The Halyards Hotel played host to this year’s event, and the crowds piled into the hotel to enjoy the hospitality manager Freddie du Preez had to offer.
The Schools Boat
Race is considered one of the toughest events on South African schools’ rowing calendar
The battle for the Junior Men’s Trophy was fierce with 16 schools competing for the coveted award. Likewise, the Junior Woman’s teams were equally competitive with just 10 teams, making the Friday and Saturday hea
ts and finals a titanic battle for the honour of winning this prestigious event.
With an incoming tide, but very little head wind and the sun hidden behind a thick layer of grey clouds, conditions on the water were ideal as the teams took their boats down the river to the race start. The river itself has accumulated a lot of sand and silt, and certain corners were difficult for the coxes to negotiate, but there were no major incidents as has been seen at previous events.
In a repeat of last year, the women’s final was between two Johannesburg schools, St Mary’s and St Andrew’s School for girls, who faced off for the title. The race was no walk over, but St Mary’s had the upper hand from the start and slowly pulled
away from their competition until, at the flag, St Mary’s won by four boat lengths.
This was St Mary’s third consecutive win and the school’s fourth final in as many years.
In the men’s final, with sweat pouring down their faces from the strain, King Edward VII School (KES) managed to gain the upper hand in what turned out to be a very strenuous race against St Andrew’s College, with KES making the line just ahead of their opponents.
The spectators at the hotel were well catered to, but some had a few suggestions for next year’s event. One group suggested that the organisers set up a craft market at the races so that visitors could shop for souvenirs between races. Another group asked that a big screen (similar to those at other sporting events) be set up at the Halyards so the races could be followed from start to finish.
Still, the spectators said they enjoyed the races and would be back again for next year’s event.
In order of finishes, the Junior Men’s teams were: King Edward VII School, St Andrew’s College, Bishops, St Alban’s College, St John’s College, St Benedict’s High School, SACS, Rondebosch Boys’ High School, St Stithians College, Jeppe Boys’ High School, Parktown Boys’ High School, Selborne College, Grey High School, St Dunstan’s College, Germiston High School and, finally Nemato Rowing Club.
The Junior Women’s teams, also in order of finishes were: St Mary’s School, St Andrew’s School for Girls, Holy Rosary, St Stithians College, Somerset College, Chisipite Senior School from Zimbabwe, Clarendon High School, PGRC, Germiston High School and the Buffalo Rowing Club.