Tasmania 2023

The beginning of the year is always an exciting time for many students – the return to school, catching up with friends, and getting back into a routine. However, for the senior rowing team at Aquinas College, the start of the year meant a trip to Tasmania for a rowing tour like no other.

The tour took place over two weeks, with the first five days spent in Hobart. With the boys rowing out of The Hutchins School shed, they were treated to some of the best views of the Derwent River and surrounding hills. The first two days were used to get a feel for the river and some of the unique challenges that come with rowing in a new environment, such as negotiating the large cruise ships and active port in the centre of Hobart.

In addition to on-water training, the team was able to explore their surroundings by hiking Mount Wellington through the extraordinary Lost Field, where they enjoyed spectacular views of Hobart and the region. The group also took part in laser skirmish and visited the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). These activities offered a chance to bond and create memories outside of their shared passion for rowing.

The on-water rowing training increased throughout the week, with additional ergo sessions at the University of Tasmania and running sessions in Sandy Bay adding to the training load. A rest from training over the weekend was well earned as the boys departed Hobart for the next leg of the tour.

The next two nights were spent on the east coast of Tasmania where the boys visited the Port Arthur Historic Site and explored the fascinating history of the region. They also enjoyed a thrilling jet boat ride around the Tasman Peninsula, which gave them a new perspective of Tasmania's rugged coastline. A lunch break at Fortescue Bay saw the boys take the challenge of plunging into the icy cold waters of South-East Tasmania for a very refreshing swim.

One of the highlights of their trip was a trek on the Freycinet Peninsula. The six-hour hike provided an awe-inspiring view of the beach and cerulean waters of Wineglass Bay. The boys descended into Wineglass Bay before trekking across to the remote Hazards Beach.

After all the excursion had to offer, the team travelled to Lake Barrington International Regatta Centre for their last week of training. As one of Australia's premier rowing facilities, Lake Barrington offered the ideal location for the team to prepare for the upcoming season. The team had been looking forward to the opportunity to train in such a well-equipped facility. The International Regatta Centre was the boys base for next five days as the focus of the tour changed to preparing for the weekends racing.

The conditions on Lake Barrington for training were perfect, with calm waters and stunning weather surrounded by the amazing forests of North-West Tasmania. The boys were able to train hard and focus on the finer details of their technique and preparation for the regatta.

During their last few days in Tasmania, the team participated in a regatta against other schools and clubs from the area. It was a fitting way to end the trip, testing their newfound skills and experiences from the previous weeks. The team was able to put into practice all that they had learned and develop into a well-oiled machine, with all boats performing to their best abilities.

Despite the challenging conditions of racing against unfamiliar crews and some extreme weather conditions on the last day, the boys did exceptionally well. Their hard work and dedication paid off as they won multiple races.

The team bonded and strengthened their connection during the trip, affirming the College's longstanding tradition of developing top-tier rowers. For many, the tour was one of the highlights of their time at Aquinas College, providing memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.

The tour to Tasmania was also an opportunity for the boys to connect with the wider rowing community in Australia, as they met new competitors and potential future teammates. The exposure and experience gained from racing against other schools and clubs will undoubtedly aid them later on in their individual careers.

As the boys departed from Tasmania for their return to Perth, they were left with newfound skills, memories, and experiences that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. As First Eight coach, Steve Saunders, reflected on the success of the tour, he spoke of the pride in the team's hard work and the joy of watching them mature and excel both on and off the water.

The tour to Tasmania was more than just a rowing trip, it was a testament to the power of shared experiences and dedicating oneself to a common goal. Every member of the team came out of the tour with a greater understanding of their teammates, the sport, and themselves. The trip will no doubt inspire the Aquinas senior rowing team in years to come, serving as a benchmark to aim for. For the younger rowers, the next tour is planned for January of 2025.

By Nick Collins
Director of Rowing