Named after former BRC life member, John Bennett Sharp, the JB Sharp Memorial Regatta Series is now in its 92nd year and is a fantastic Balmain Rowing Club creation designed to introduce novice and junior rowers to racing in a fun and informal winter series setting. Five regattas make up the series hosted in turn by Glebe, UTS/Haberfield, Drummoyne, Balmain and Leichhardt.
On 24th July BRC proudly hosted the fourth Regatta. It was fantastic to see the club rally behind its competitors, putting on a great regatta and ensuring the club's colours were on full display. Well done to all those who raced in very cold and blustery conditions. Congratulations also to Emma Forsdick who did a fantastic job co-ordinating the event, her first Balmain regatta in her new role as Vice Captain.
A huge thank you to our generous volunteers who helped to make the day run smoothly. Teamwork is what helps make a great Club, so a big shout out to Scott Bickford, Peter Allsopp, James Waldersee, Kim Bailey, Brian Guthrie, Ann Pham, Tor Yates, Anthea Waldersee, Helena Kilbridge, Marta Bako, Niki Reed, Beverley Malone, June Henning, Katrina MacGregor, Anne Craig, Jacinta Vincent, Chris Morgan, David Longhurst, Warren Hargreaves, Dave Virtue, Janine Lippi, Aimee Clarke, Joe Grech, Terry Maher, Liam James, Barbara Ramjan, Tim Wainman and Greg Smith.
Impressive JB Sharp Series from the Novice Men and Para Squad by Liam James This year with so many new rowers in the men's squad coming out of the recent learn to row course, combined with the para squad, BRC had a fantastic JB Sharp series.
The series began with wins in the Men's Novice and Men's under 16 single sculls by Marco Cirjak at the Glebe Regatta. It was also wonderful to see father-son duo Garth and Scott Bickford compete in their first race in the novice single sculls at the Glebe Regatta. Kevin Wall, Jenson Vincent, and Eoghan Kilbridge also compete strongly in the handicap sculls for the Walker and Hall Chalice.
The UTS regatta saw some very competitive racing with Marco again winning the Under 16 scull, while para-combination Jeremy McGrath and Kevin Wall easily won the first ever para 2x race in the history of the JB Sharp series. Eoghan Kilbridge faced a stronger handicap scull field, just missing out on points, while the bigger boats had a good day, with a 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the intermediate four, and novice and intermediate double.
The Drummoyne regatta saw Balmain continue its push with para rowing, providing an exciting race between the respective BRC crews, with Kevin Wall and Alex Bentley taking out the event, edging out the mother-daughter combination of Ruby and Meg Sutherland. The para 2x in the JB Sharp series is an 'inclusive event', meaning it allows a mix of para rowers and non-para rowers to take part in the same crew.
Scott Bickford produced a commanding performance in the Men's novice 1x to easily win out of the novice category, while new rower Sergey Kostin made his mark felt in the middle of the pack for his first race in a scull. Not to be outdone, Eoghan Kilbridge absolutely flew down the course to win his division of the handicap single scull, in the fastest absolute time of the day, beating rivals Conrad Bond, Oscar Fawkes and Peter Waldersee.
At Balmain's own regatta, the weather gave the competitors a taste of what will surely become known as 'Rio Conditions' with strong winds and rough water the order of the day. Nevertheless, and with the squad growing in experience, the boys had a great race in the intermediate double, before 3 para doubles cleared the field with Alex Bentley and Kevin Wall once again winning ahead of Riley Mumberson and Nikolai Olding, who managed to get ahead of Meg and Ruby Sutherland in third place.
Sergey Kostin wasted no time in winning his second ever sculling event in the men's novice sculls, while young Garth Bickford picked up an impressive third place. Both scullers then backed up with Marco Cirjak and Riley Mumberson to take out the Men's Novice Quad also, while the open scullers obtained a respectable 'middle of the field' 5th from 8 crews in a very competitive men's open quad event.
At the final regatta of the series, young Marco came third in the most competitive under 16 scull race of the season to Sydney Rowing Club's Tim Trent, while Kevin Wall again took out the para double, this time partnering with Riley Mumberson.
Garth Bickford just missed out on a medal in the novice scull, coming second to Newcastle University's new rower Cameron Drury (almost 10 years his senior), while Eoghan Kilbridge, facing a daunting 40 second handicap, raced valiantly but just could not overcome the three scullers ahead of him, each of whom tied for overall first place for the series (and had to compete in a 'row-off' tie break). In Balmain's final race of the series, our novice quad came 3rd, narrowly losing to Sydney Rowing Club by only 0.4 of a second.
Overall, it was a very impressive performance from a comparatively small squad, most of whom had not raced for more than 2 seasons, and BRC should be extremely proud that we won the inaugural para shield, came second in the Sid Sharp Tray and Kevyn Webb OAM Trophy, for our novice and under 16 men's scullers. Marco Cirjak also was awarded the 'beginner of the series' medallion for his powerful performance in winning both the very first novice single scull race, and his dominance in the under 16 scull events. Special mention should also go to Eoghan Kilbridge, whose performance in the Handicap Sculls over the course of the regatta was incredibly pleasing to see, and who only missed out on winning the season by 15 seconds off a handicap of over 40.