contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

Riverside Dr
Perth, WA

0407 002 481


More than sport

Filtering by Tag: racing

The boys are back in town

Peta Rule

over heads headerBy DEAN NEAL(edited for clarity, apostrophes and at some points translation from "Deano" to English by PBR)

The Leschenault inlet: Famous in the rowing community for its tight, three-lane dog-leg almost-1000m course, razor-sharp rocks, exquisite side-wash and shallow sections.

This was, over the weekend of August 16 and 17, for the most part a happy hunting ground for the Westies crew that turned up and turned on.

It was the strongest results from a WARC men’s squad for quite some time… by which we mean years. Let’s face it… in recent seasons, it's easy to generalise that the Westies women have brought home the bacon(!) at various pennant regattas compared to the blokes.

(We are excluding seniors here, as frankly – they deliver for the club and repeatedly so. One of the great testaments of our club is the opportunity for us mere rowing ‘mortals’ to row with the very best rowers in our club. Wakeford, Butz, Sam.)

Not only do they enjoy rowing ‘with’ us, but also the likes of Amy Walters, Janelle Austin and Darryl Salisbury were happy to strap into the Coxswain seats at Bunbury, last weekend.

That sort of guidance and experience in the stern of our boat/s should never be taken lightly…

Maybe it’s this sort of in-boat access that is now beginning to deliver the ‘bacon’ of almost Janelle Austin’s sized bacon-blissed proportions!


Whilst the ladies once again had a very strong showing at Bunbury Saturday, it was a day where the WARC Men from development, intermediates and upwards probably – to steal a line from the Bunbury Rowing Club motto – began to as a collective, ‘pull their weight’.

No doubt the influx of fresh man-flesh from all corners of the compass, into the club rank-and-file for this season has not hurt, either.

Tim Budge waltzed into Westies with a desire to sharpen up his fitness and the minute he stepped onto the erg for the first time in years and cranked 1:50 splits without even trying, you knew he was going to be a great addition to our club – and not just as a gun rower. Tim is a top bloke with the Westies mojo and camaraderie firmly etched-into his psyche.

Since then, Tim has slotted into some Senior boat combinations and that included a strong win the ‘A’ Four at Bunbury… that has now instantly seen his ROMS score reflect more accurately his talents with an oar.

Matt Cronin is a quietly spoken rower who has ventured to the left-coast (like many) for work reasons. On the weekend Matt showed his experience and slide control to strike some great wins, results and a cool temperament to boot.

The fact he enjoyed his row to a fast finishing second place in the Mens D8 “Because it was a good race…a close race and the boat just got better and better the further we went,” shows us all that Matty has the Westies mantra well and truly intact.

Kevin Wall is another fresh face who will undoubtedly deserve a blog entry on his own at some stage soon. Saving drowning souls in his native Ireland last year whilst out training in his Single Scull, rowing nationally for Paralympic dreams and tons more is what Kev brings to the WARC table. What he took out of Bunbury was a strong and popular win in his D Double Scull race with Peter Klemm.

Speaking of D-Grade doubles… the word is out. Steve Harman can twirl two-oars LIKE A BOSS. His win with Jono Ashby was comfortably the best time of any of the 24 competitors across 6-races for the D-Doubles.

Whilst the men hauled it with eight glasses for the day, the six-glasses for the ladies showed they were far from slouches.

With Deanne Sammut taking ill on the morning of the regatta, it was left to some others in the women’s squad to pick up the slack…and that they did.

Suz Neal ended up rowing several races on the day, as did Kirsty Augustson, Janelle Austin, Bella Lie, Evelyn Doernberg and others.

Suz was particularly inspiring to several within Westies, where despite some deep cuts to her feet courtesy of those infamous bunno rocks early in the day – she got to business, stroking several boats – including one to victory via the D Coxed Four.

Bella was rewarded with a great win in the E Grade Four and the development girls this year continue to impress with strong race results every-damn-where!

A great day was then rewarded with a great evening, where the host club Bunbury put on a great spread of food and ale in the right proportions.

Many at Westies partied until the wee hours…

… oh yes, Eaton.

“Welcome to the Eaton Hangover Head Race,” chimed the starters as a collection of crews was assembled on the start-line for a 5km-jaundiced jaunt down the Collie river.

Not only is Matt Cochran impervious to pain and lactic acidosis, the man we affectionately dub the ‘Bear’ can also win races hung-over and sleep-deprived! A similarly ‘fatigued’ Nick Wakeford accompanied Cochran to a commanding win via the Mens Coxless Pair.

Whilst elite rowers can mask such fatigue, others cannot.

Enter – Dean Neal and Jimmy O’Regan.

Neal was far from fresh and fabulous entering Eaton after a night out, however Jimmy O was reeling from a bare minimum of hours slept before stepping into rowing’s most demanding boat to row: The Coxless pair.

Not the perfect preparation – aside from the minimal seat time the combination have had.

In being fair, Neal and O’Regan were happy with their first 2k…

….but Eaton is a 5km journey.

Form faltered and then as Jimmy had to deal with a nasty blood blister developing – he decided to pull a ‘Hamish Bond’ and splash his hand mid-stroke…three times.

Now Hamish Bond (Kiwi Pair fame) could row a pair sub 1:37 split all day long, where for O’Regan – 1:37 probably denoted the volume of 1 hour and 37 minutes total sleep he had enjoyed the previous night!

Thankfully all said and done, the boys made it home – mostly intact.

The other standout row of Eaton was Janelle Austin in her trusty single.  Nel is amazing - an inspiration on and off the water at Westies, and did her reputation no harm (with no broken arm/s!) meandering down the pleasing and picturesque Collie River.

Her time of 19:46 was good enough to have her row quicker than the Women's Coxed Four, Mixed Coxed Four, Mixed Coxed Quad, Men's Double Sculls, Women's Coxed Quad and the Mixed Coxed Eight – is testament to her will to win…and beyond that, perform to the outer limits of her ample potential!

With just one more pennant regatta left before the State Masters and then the big one – the WA Championships… the traditional WARC approach of stalking through the regatta season, before striking at the Championships – is looking VERY promising.

But that’s another blog, for another day...

Rowing in slow motion

Peta Rule Dean and Trent Neal continue to impress with their remarkable camerawork. WARC is blessed to have this sort of talent both on - and off - the water.

If you can, put this video on full screen, sit back and let yourself get goose-bumps as you see the precision, power and beauty of our sport.

And also some awesome facial hair from the captain.

Feedback on this video is for burgeoning athletes, this is not just a beautiful thing to watch but also has a practical application. The smooth finish sequence of Wakeford and Matty is a joy to watch and something to aim for.

Red Nose Regatta

Peta Rule

01 red nose regatta Here is a bit of a debrief on the Red Nose Regatta.

It started with a name:


If you got through that without needing a tissue to wipe away tears of happiness/sadness and love, then forge ahead: Dean then got on 94.5 and talked up our efforts with Adrian Barich on the Dead Set Legends. Listen to it here.

And if that wasn't enough, journalist Natalie Brown from the West decided to share the love on their website and on page 13 of the newspaper as well.

In total, we raised about $400 for SIDS and Kids WA, and we hope this will grow into the future.

[gallery ids="793,794,795,796,797,798,799,800,801,802,803,804,805,806,807,808,809,810,811,812,813,814,815,816,817,818,819,820,821,822,823,824,825,826,827,828,829,830"]

Dean and Suz's story

Peta Rule

A story of love, loss, recovery... and rowing. This is Dean and Suz Neal:

Dean and Suze 1

When they're not travelling the world and posting photographs of their adventures on facebook in a very effective effort to make their mates jealous, they can be found doing this:

Dean and Suze

So when the Neals dug deep to donate to a new boat at the WA Rowing Club, there was much rejoicing.

Most of Dean and Suz's mates know they are a beautiful couple with a beautiful family who still, after almost 30 years of marriage, are very much in love. So it wasn't hard to decide to name the boat in their honour.

suz and dean name

The Trent Damon was named on June 14 at a short ceremony at the WA Rowing Club. And with permission, this is the story behind the name, as told by Dean Neal.

During mid 1993 (yep THAT long ago!) Suzanne during pregnancy developed Toxaemia/Preeclampsia and was seriously ill, as a result she landed in hospital for several weeks (you can imagine how THAT would go down with her lol)!

Due to the health risk to mum and baby, an emergency C-section was performed to deliver our first borne Damon... 9 weeks premature.

Thankfully the staff at King Edward were amazing. In a matter of a few weeks, Damon was later transferred to a regional private hospital (Kelmscott) and Suz was able to go home. A couple of weeks later after that, Damon came home too.

It was around this time I secured a career through my tertiary studies as an IT Support Office at PMH! My work was coming together, my family was at the time too!

Then on the morning of October 14, 1993 - only days after Damon had passed his medical with flying colours and was around 11 weeks old and with no warning, I woke up to go to work and kiss him on the cheek, I then discovered he had died. He was still warm to touch... it was THAT recent I had discovered him...

I was later told that Damon's premature birth had nothing to do with him dying to SIDS.

By this stage - he looked like a healthy, normal baby. That just made the rocky road, that much rockier.

In a panic, I woke Suzanne and rather than ring an ambulance, we rushed him into the car with us and drove to the Kelmscott Private Hospital that was quite close and bolted in through the front doors carrying Damon. The sight of Suze trying to deliver CPR to our baby at the time was something I will never, ever forget....horrible. Horrible.

As we arrived at the hospital, the staff were amazing in their efforts but it was ultimately efforts in vain.

It was a mortifying day to say the least. I was 23 at the time and to confront already having outlived a child was dreadful obviously. To see hospital staff crying, even the police sargent coming in to confirm death and seeing him sob uncontrollably and hugging us himself is seared in my brain, forever.

It was almost impossible to deal with. My work suffered, I couldn't even go outside without fear. Through it all, Suzanne was amazing, she let her emotions out from the start and was strong.

Then as Suzanne was pregnant again and almost to the year - October 1994 - Trent Damon Neal was born. 1997 saw our daughter Felicity born and thankfully these two are fit and strong and wonderful kids. We are very proud of them.

However, I still hadn't completely dealt with what had happened to us was partying hard, not watching what I was eating or drinking. In 1999 I noticed I had become a 125kg 'big boy' and decided I wanted to be a fit and healthy husband and Dad. I wanted to run after my kids basically - and catch them!

It was at this time Suzanne through her mate Deb Mason, decided to take up rowing at the West Australian Rowing Club (Westies) - and she suggested I come along too... knowing my new-found desire to lose weight and be healthier.

Over the next 18-months, I fell in love with the people at the West Australian Rowing Club and proceeded to lose 40kg over that period by rowing hard and erg-ing ass off!

For the first time in the longest time, I felt well in mind, body and spirit.

In 2001, I completed a Half Ironman Triathlon and rest assured that was as far removed from where I was a couple of years earlier than you could get!

Later that year, our family moved to Sydney for work reasons and we stopped rowing. However the desire to remain fit and healthy on the back of what I discovered at Westies remained. We moved around for a few years but through it all, we missed rowing. We really did. It was my favourite sport.

I have cycle-toured thousands of Ks... climbed Spanish Alps on a Mountain bike... but whenever we saw glassy, still water...anywhere... Suz and I would always remark "Man...we could row the hell out of that!"

Rowing recruits every muscle, joint, ligament and sinew. Also your soul... yes it requires commitment from even THAT during those assorted moments of lactic acid bliss.

What I discovered by rowing, was that it opened up new opportunities for Suzanne and I.

From not being able to even walk down a busy mall in 1993 due to fears and phobias brought on by the loss of Damon, to where I am directing, presenting and producing motorsport TV in front of hundreds of thousands of people is testament to what I learnt!

Then in 2012, my career saw me relocate back to Perth. As soon as we made that decision - Suz and I said straight up... "AWESOME, we can row again at Westies!"

As before, rowing at the West Australian Rowing Club is wonderful, enriching, relaxing and in some ways enlightening.

The values of togetherness, teamwork, mental strength and tenacity are always on show when you row in this environment.

The WARC Club is awesome, a wide array of personalities and people who are as 'family' to me already as anybody.

Bottom line - and Suz can speak for herself-  for me... rowing opened my eyes all those years ago to make every day count...and get busy living - for friend and family....but most of all... for yourself.

We support this Red Nose Day regatta passionately... simply because I made the mistake all those years ago in NOT seeking counsel or help.

To lose a child in this dreadful way does not mean you are a bad parent... its instinct to appropriate blame on oneself when something like this happens. But it's not your fault.

Also I want friends and family of those who lose someone to SIDS to not stand go and see these people, to hug these people, to tell them that you love them and that whilst you don't have all the answers as to why this happened, that you will always, always be there for them.

Also time does truly heal... though the scars of course, will remain as a timely reminder to live life. Simple.

We've been supporting the Red Nose Regatta for June 21 where we've invited rowers throughout Perth to buy a $2 red nose and put it on their bowball to raise awareness and funds for SIDS and Kids WA.

Check out this photo gallery of the boat naming - with thanks to Mike Smith for snapping on the day.

[gallery ids="788,778,779,780,781,782,783,784,785,786,787,777,771,770"]



Perth to Fremantle debrief

Peta Rule

sculling fleet 2 header Two eights and four single scullers from WARC belted through the ~16km from the Old Swan Brewery to the Fremantle boatclub for the annual long distance eight race this year.

TC and the cupThe race was taken out by Swan River Rowing Club for line honours and fastest men. The Swannies men's crew promptly demanded the resident cox - former Westie-ite and now captain of Team Navy TC Maguire - to wear the cup as a hat. She's not the first person to wear it as a hat. We are reliably informed there is photographic evidence of said cup being worn Viking-style by at least one WARCer (you know who you are... Michael Jones). But for your viewing pleasure, here's the pic of TC post-race.

P2F results

Over for WARC, we accrued at least 87 points for the club, or perhaps 94. There seems to be some ongoing dispute over points allocated to the minor places for the W1X - which means your trustworthy author may have in fact managed to score us 7 points, not just the measly 4 as listed to the right. Either way, this does highlight how pretty much ridiculous this whole points thing is. But whatever, we still love it Here's a few other entertaining highlights from the day:

photobomb 2

This is Jess Bowyer photobombing Nel's moment of glory. Nel was awarded the fastest women for the day - and beat Jess's previous record-winning row for the Perth to Fremantle by almost a minute. In 2012, Freo's golden girl JB cracked out a 68.47. Nels' time of 67.58 set - as far as we can tell - a new record for the distance. This pair of frenemies were of course part of the WA crew which brought home a bronze in the Victoria Cup at the Sydney International Rowing Regatta back in March.

Nick's trophyEl Capitane took out both line honours and fastest sculler, but would like to make the point that unlike everyone else, he did not cut any of the corners - not even Pt Resolution which just about every other sculler snuck around on the inside.

In the women's eight, we need to give a big shout-out to Meg Downes who is currently training for surfboat worlds but did eventually cave to immense peer pressure to jump in the boat, and to newcomer Claire Lea who also joined in the fray. Meg reports the row received an emotional uplift when a pod of dolphins started practicing acrobatics somewhere just after the halfway mark.

For the blokes, there was a rousing post-race debrief from Bill H and Mick D following what was, by all accounts, a fairly reasonable row.

For the number crunchers among you, here's some Perth to Freo stats for you:

P2F results over time


And now, some special mentions:

  • Ange Nicholson and Shaun Brady for volunteering out in the speedboats on a cold and blustery morning.
  • Gen for spending her first day as an eighteen year old with us.
  • Shaun for some great pix - thanks so much.
  • Kirsty Augustson for winning the afters party.
  • Nel for losing the afters party. #DontDrinkAndCycle
  • Jimmy for driving the trailer.
  • PK for lining up the magic bus, and Ray the driver for driving us on his day off.

Jess B and Jules for ditching Freo in the lead-up to the Derby and joining the fray at the Shag.

Everyone from around the world who put their best wishes to WARC via facebook, we miss you all and any time you're in the West, you're always welcome to return for a paddlin'.

WARC single scullers


Mettam: The sequel

Peta Rule

Sam and Nick 2 We had nine boats compete in the 2014 Mettam headrace which is actually a fair fleet, although we felt pretty outnumbered by the heaving hoards of UWA athletes parked beside us at the traditional Deep Water Point launch point on the Canning River.

This is how we fared overall, picking up 38 points for our efforts which has still got us clear of ANA but behind the SRRC and UWABC powerhouses.

WARC results

And here's all the results, as sorted and explained in a long Facebook thread by the Michael Jones: Mettam results

That said, before we even got to Canning, there was the Great Negotiation of Barrack Square. Turns out with a fully laden Wesley trailer, we've got about 10cm leeway to get around the corners of the revised Barrack Square layout. This pic has been sent off to the very accommodating Leighton Broad who are the contractors looking after the square, so they know just how close we are to taking out some of their awe-inspiring industrial orange bollard jungle.

towing 2

Lou-the-driver seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing, but then he wasn't watching $200K worth of carbon navigate through the veritable labyrinth.

rigging 3

Over at Canning, as always there weren't enough bolts. Sam promises he's buying some more washers in the next round of spare parts and big shout-out to UWA for lending us some spares so the Three Sisters could go complete with backstays.

This is the map we were all attempting to use to navigate. At least this one appears to be oriented north, although it is scaled to miles:

Mettam map

If I have a quiet day in the office, I might have a crack at redoing it. Anyway...

For those competing the two mile event, it was one of the more memorable start sequences of late - it actually took us longer to get in a numerical line of boats in start order than it did to do the race.

This was my take of the start line:

Sadly I didn't get around to turning on the GPS so I can't give you a nice line of where I went.

Another highlight was some good face-to-face rivalry between the UWA D2X- and WARC - the girls came over to chest-bump Pam in some sort of attempt at intimidation, but were then duly flogged by the girls in red. Well played.

Over in the novice boat, Shaun "Brady's ladies" Brady was in the cox seat of the Francis. Being about twice the size of each athlete in the boat, it's a good thing our hero has a teflon-coated ego. The last heckle heard from an umpire as Shaun steered the Pickle-winning quad through the Mt Henry Bridge sounded an awful lot like:

"Good thing you're making up for your weight with that line."

And that was one of the more savoury of the comments aimed at Shaun's robust stature during the day.

For debut athlete Satori, she reported Shaun kept the crew in good spirits but even his in-suppressible positivism could not take the pain of the final 500m away, and it was a tough battle into a rotten stiff wind to get across the line.

Nick and Sam belted the men's double scull to an easy win, backing up an appropriate amount of banter on the start line.

TankAnd for Janelle Austin, we have a sneaking suspicion she may have set something close to a Mettam W1X- record, however as the historical results of the race are no longer accessible, this isn't something we can substantiate. Her time would have got her third in the women's double, and second in the men's single.

At unloading, there was a Dalek. This isn't something we can explain, but here's the proof:


Guildford to Garrett

Peta Rule

G2G compilation First race of the season is over.

We picked up 50 points and are currently sitting in third place, behind Swans and UWABC. It was a comparatively huge fleet of boats from all clubs out on the Bayswater stretch of river - certainly the biggest number of competitors and boats in recent years both for WARC and, it seemed, everyone else.

This is how WARC fared:

G2G all WARC times

However, the raw times don't really do the day justice...

Things started well. Until we discovered 10 bolts were missing from the Maali and backstays were suddenly considered an optional extra.

For the record, WHEN RIGGING, DON'T TAKE THE FIRST BOLTS YOU FIND. Or we will set Sam and his cranky face on you. And no one needs that.

Then the WB8+ studiously went about setting their oar lengths.oar lengths

Buuuuut they were the wrong oars. And they all had to be reset for the MD8+.

For the MB8+, it was a big day: Gettin' to row the Big Al, weight down with three GoPros, god knows how many GPS devices and a bunch of stroke coaches.

Big AlThe Big Al had a little training outing this week, but was most recently seen at the World Cup being rowed by the WA Youth Eight (who, we might add, it would appear completely failed to wash said boat at any point during the SIRR.) At least the name is garnering the sort of attention it should after being used in connection with rowing for nigh on 80 years.

Once on the start line, things got a little kooky:

G2G at the start lineRowan photobombed his own pic and tweeted it. Someone (maybe me) had the bowcam out. This was possibly the most recorded race in WARC history.

We suspect Deano was seriously considering following the race with his drone, although how he would achieve that whilst rowing is anyone's guess.

Here is Rowan's STRAVA from the race:

G2G Strava  Perhaps more hilariously, this is Jonesy' heartrate and speed from the race. Now the lads rowed up, and turned around. That bit is obvious... but then 41 minutes into the race, something weird happens. I'm reliably informed our man Jimmy copped a Boatrace 2014 style crab which may even have resulted in damaged carbon. No one is claiming responsibility, but there's no hiding when you're rowing with a boat full of nerds.

G2G heartrate G2G speed

Since the girls are nowhere near as nerdy, I didn't want to leave them out so put together this little table, showing this race was one of the best performances out of WARC since we were gifted the Maali in 2006:

G2G girls results

I don't have much in the way of pix and stories to tell from the two D eights - they've kept their experience very close to the chest. That said, supercox Nel did mention the last 200m of the MD8+ was EPIC and Mick Duxbury lead a one-man motivational band over the last stretch of the 7km race. Nice.

So, that's it from the G2G. Next race is the Mettam and entries are due this Sunday night.