Five boys from St Augustine’s College have been selected to row for Australia at the World Junior Rowing Championships in July.

The crew of Brandon Smith, Oliver St Pierre, Joe Lynch, Josh Wilson and 13-year-old cox Ryder Taylor will contest the U/19 Junior Men’s Coxed Four event in Varese, Italy from 27-31 July.

That they’ve come this far is an achievement in itself.

It was back in April when the quintet won the U/19 men’s Coxed Four race over 2000m in the Australian Rowing Championships at Nagambie in Victoria.

It was a result that shocked the rowing fraternity given they did it without the new boats, large coaching teams and sheds full of equipment common at elite GPS schools – two of whom, The Kings School and St Joseph’s, they beat in the final. 

Overall St Augustine’s won three gold, three silver and two bronze medals to be named Best Performing School at the National regatta.

There are only 40 boys in the rowing program at St Augustine’s who get by with second-hand boats and old oars, whiling borrowing equipment from other schools and clubs.

Training is up to eight sessions per week, the boys rising at 4:30am and rowing before school. In the afternoon they will train until the sun goes down. They coxed fours team have been doing this for two years.

The St Augustine’s U/19s men’s coxed four (the cox’s head is just visible on the left) rowing Sydney Harbour. Pic: David Maclean.

With Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, getting time together has been difficult. Yet coach Judith Ungemach set up Zoom meetings and other online assets for students and parents to report on kilometres completed, weights lifted, efforts repeated.

Throw in that the boys in Year 12 are studying for their HSC while their youngest team member, Taylor, is 13 years old, and it’s clear there have been challenges.

There continue to be. While Rowing Australia will fund part of the trip, each crew member must pay their way.

And the community is rallying. Several local businesses have donated raffle prizes to raise funds to get the boys on the plane. To help you may purchase a ticket here and be in the running for the following prizes.

1st Prize – Win a BMW for the weekend  – kindly donated by Col Crawford Motors

2nd Prize – 2 nights accommodation at The Oberoi Beach Resort, Bali and 2 nights accommodation at The Oberoi Beach Resort, Lombok – kindly donated by The Oberoi Beach Resorts, Indonesia.

3rd Prize – A voucher to Pilu at Freshwater for $250

4th Prize – a $100 voucher to Budgy Smuggler

5th Prize- a $100 voucher to Budgy Smuggler

6th Prize – a $100 voucher to Budgy Smuggler

For more information get in touch with Michelle Taylor-Zuber (Ryder’s mum) [email protected]; 0435 788 463.