Another year, another regatta but theoretically the same result. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say the John Waugh Rock the Boat Regatta at Roodeplatdam has become the Kirsten McCann and Nicole van Wyk “show”.
In 2016 Van Wyk was the overall winner. McCann, South Africa’s first female world rowing champion, won last year. The past Saturday the two Tuks/ HPC-rowers teamed up in a lightweight double sculls boat to win again continuing their dominance at the regatta.
The Tuks/HPC men’s crew of John Smith, David Hunt, Kyle Schoombee and Sandro Torrente was second overall.
The John Waugh Rock the Boat is a concept that was brought to life by James Thompson and Matthew Brittain, Olympic gold medal winners at the 2012 Games in London.
In layman’s terms, the formula to work out who wins overall is based on working out a percentage that compares the winning time of each crew to the world record of their respective race-category.
According to this McCann and Van Wyk scored 96.39% on Saturday with the men’s fours crew getting 94.06%.
It widely expected that McCann and Van Wyk will team up to try and qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as they are South Africa’s to top female rowers at the moment.
Apart from winning a gold medal at last year’s World Championships McCann also won a bronze medal partnering Ursula Grobler in a lightweight women’s double sculls. Van Wyk won a bronze medal in the lightweight single sculls at last year’s World Under-23 Championships. In 2016 she won a silver medal.
The big unanswered question in local rowing circles is when McCann and Van Wyk are going to team up. It is debatable whether they will do so this year as the Olympic qualification is still a year off. It means that Roger Barrow who is managing the South African RMB Rowing Program from Tuks/HPC might allow McCann to defend her lightweight single sculls world title this year.
Barrow will probably only make his final decision after the rowers have competed in the first international regatta in April.
The real benefit of postponing McCann and Van Wyk becoming one crew is that rowing individually will help them to grow still stronger and faster.
McCann is on record describing her rivalry with Van Wyk as one of the best things to happen.
“When Nicole went on to win a silver medal at the Under-23 World Championship I got excited because I knew there is going to be an intense rivalry in the lightweight women’s division.
“It is probably beneficial to both of us. We are always busy pushing each other to the go that bitter harder, whether it is on the ergo, in the gymnasium or on the water.
“I know our rivalry is going to help us to become better and faster rowers. Nicole has some strongpoints as a rower I lack and vice versa so we really feed off each other’s competiveness. The ultimate for us is to combine as lightweight women’s crew and to hopefully get the opportunity to represent South Africa at the next Olympic Games.”
South African women's rowing is starting to become a real force. Last year was the first time that the local rowers medalled at each of the three World Championships. Megan Hancock won a silver medal at the World Junior Championships.