17 September 2018

South Africa: Tuks Crews Make Clean Sweep At USSA Boat Race

Three crews, three gold medals - that pretty much sums up the dominance of the UP-Tuks rowers on the Kowie River in Port Alfred during the USSA Boat Race at the weekend.

For Tuks coach Mpumi Geza, it was mission accomplished. However, he could not help but be slightly upset about the behaviour of the University of Rhodes crew during the men's A final.

There was plenty at stake in the men's race. UP-Tuks were out to equal the Rhodes victory of 10 consecutive wins. So a humdinger was expected. Unfortunately, that was not how things played out.

Within the first 100m, the Rhodes crew crashed into the UP-Tuks boat which led to the teams turning around for a restart.

Geza thinks Rhodes were deliberate in what they did. 'We expected that Rhodes would come up with something to try and unravel our game plan, but we did not expect them in being so calculating doing so. And to be doing it so early on. What happened was very unsportsmanlike.'

The second time around, the UP-Tuks crew made every stroke count right from the start. They immediately took the lead and kept on increasing it right up to the finish, ending up beating Rhodes by well over 100 metres.

David Porter (UP-Tuks coxswain) said he got the idea that the Rhodes crew weren't serious about winning.

'We were there to race to the best of our abilities while it seemed as if Rhodes was playing everything off as a joke. They certainly were not giving us any respect.'

The UP-Tuks women's A side defended their title in convincing fashion. It's the first time they've managed to achieve back-to-back victories during the USSA Boat Race Regatta.

The women's B final was, without a doubt, the race of the day. Geza described it as a thrilling pound-for-pound battle between the crews of UP-Tuks and UCT. Porter, who also coxed the UP-Tuks B crew, ensured a victory with his tactical brilliance.

'We knew it was going to be a close race, especially since UCT were three seconds faster in the heats. At first, the plan was to try and get ahead as quickly as possible, but that did not work. We had to do something drastic.

'When we got to "Shipwreck", I decided to take a line straight across which forced the UCT cox to swing out wide. That led to us winning.'

However, Porter refuses to take the credit for the victory. 'It was a true team effort. The girls rowed brilliantly, never relenting.'

Geza, who has been coaching the UP-Tuks crews since 2014, ascribed their success to lessons learned from past races and making fewer mistakes.

'I'm really chuffed with how every rower executed their respective game plans and backed the training they have done.

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