Vanuatu qualified for their first International A final in Rowing as three young Ni-Vanuatu rowers took to the line in the first of the three part World Cup series in Sydney from 28th to 30th March 2014.

Luigi Teilemb beat Singapore’s Nadzrie Hamzah in the repechage to qualify for the six-lane A final, having been beaten by him twice in the previous week at the Australian National Rowing Championships, in which the Vanuatu team also competed. A brave row combined with some technical and tactical changes saw Luigi attack and pull away from his opponent in the third 500, just after the half way mark of 2000m race. 

Stephanie Ephraim became Vanuatu’s first female competitor at an official FISA (Federation Internationale des Societés d’Aviron) international event when she took to the line in the Lightweight Women’s Single Scull.  Having also raced in the Australian National Championships as an Under 21 Lightweight Single Sculler, Schoolgirl Sculler and in the Under 23 lightweight double, the World Cup ended a week of accumulating valuable experience at the highest level of competition.  In her final race, the B final, Stephanie recorded her fastest time over the 2000m distance to finish 12th in the category.  After just under two years of gradually building up her training load, this young athlete shows promise with her courageous and disciplined approach to training and racing and made an impression around the course with her tidy and well drilled technique.

Luigi also teamed up with Joshua Matariki to race in the Lightweight Men’s Double scull.  The category requires the athletes to weigh in at 70.0kg two hours before their race.  These two rowers needed to be precise and measured about their intake of food and water to ensure that they were hydrated and had sufficient energy stores for the physically intense racing that they would take part in sometime 3 times throughout each day. 
The boys demonstrated a powerful first 500m, but despite a courageous effort were unable to hold pace with the very experienced field from countries across Asia and Europe through the middle of the race, finishing 9th in the category.

The attendance of the team at this competition allowed them to observe the training and racing of the world’s very best athletes, as well as meeting and making connections with rowers from around Australia and the world.  Luigi and Joshua combined with Western Australians Charlie Ravine and Tom Horton to race the Open Men’s Lightweight Quad Scull, while Stephanie trained and raced with Cassidy Young in the Under 23 Lightweight Women’s Double Scull, giving them exposure to experienced and confident athletes in a racing situation. Many compliments were received by coach Roland Warren on the tenacity and rowing technique of the athletes. 

The experience gained from this competition will inspire the training of these three rowers who, after a week off, will recommence their heavy schedule of 10 sessions per week in preparation for the World Championships in August and eventually, for an attempt at qualification for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

Their next competition, however, will be on home turf in the inaugaral ‘Masters in Paradise’ regatta on Sunday June the 8th, on Erakor Lagoon.  This event will see athletes arrive from New Zealand and Australia to race, and will offer a chance to local residents to see Port Vila Rowing Club’s Senior and Junior teams in action.


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