Questions about whether the Shepparton Rowing Club could sustain its new level of excellence after a breakout season, which netted the club two state titles and national representation, were emphatically answered on Saturday.
The club boated crews and scullers in 27 events (all 480m in length) at the Bendigo Sprint Regatta on Lake Weeroona to begin its new campaign, claiming five gold medals and equalling last year’s performance at the same meet.
Tom Schier was the main catalyst behind the outstanding result, snaring three wins from five events — the most dominant of which in a classification he had never previously competed in.
Lining up in the C-grade single scull for the first time, Schier stormed through his heat with a 4.82sec gap to his nearest rival before again showing why he was named the club’s most outstanding oarsman last season with a gap of 2.73sec to the rest of the field in the final.
Not content with just individual success, Schier then helped hand new club member Toby Crichton his first victory in the men’s D-grade coxed four, with Tom Dooley-Heath, James Worsfold and James Darbyshire (coxswain) all pitching in for a 0.63sec triumph over Ballarat City.
Schier would then have to wait until nearly the end of the day for his third win, this time in the mixed quad scull.
Lydia Todd, Sophie Reinehr, Crichton and Schier, with coxswain Nancy Cassetta, were more than two seconds faster than Barwon and well clear of Wentworth in the final.
Earlier in the day Todd and Reinehr had tasted success of their own.
Todd impressed in her D-grade single scull heat before charging so far ahead in the final that she was able to ease up on the oars late in the contest and still claim gold by 3.28sec.
Reinehr, who chased national glory last season, was never troubled in her under-17 single scull event, winning the heat by 8.48sec before securing a similar margin in the decider.
Up-and-coming sculler Isabella Bennett also competed in the under-17 single scull, winning her heat before placing a respectable fourth behind her teammate in the final, while Michael Eldred won his heat of the D-grade single scull by almost 10sec before coming fourth in the final, with Dooley-Heath coming second.
There was no rest for rowers on Sunday after a successful day on the water, with seven club members participating in a higher performance camp at Crusoe Reservoir.