Battle for the ‘Crossed oars’ at the Beira lake - 36th Royal-Thomian Regatta on October 24

By Shanaka Jayawardana

The Royal-Thomian Regatta, which is the oldest inter-school rowing regatta in Sri Lanka, will be held on Oct 24, 2009 at the Colombo Rowing Club, on the calm waters of the Beira Lake. The placid conditions and new fiberglass racing boats, should add up to some fine, fast racing and if last year's regatta can be used as a yardstick to go by, we should see records fall at a good rate.
Royal Squad
Royal senior four practising for the big event
S.Thomas’ squad
Thomian Boat race crew practising thier starts

Thomian Crew - Dhanushka Jayanetti (Captain) – Coloursman, Eshan Goonewardana – (V-Captain) – Coloursman, Ruven Weerasinghe - Secretary - Coloursman, Sajeev De Silva - Coloursman, Amrick Varia – Meritsman, Uween Jayasinghe – Meritsmen, Peter Christy, Trehan Manatunga, Yohan Wijeratne, Shelan De Livera, Akshath Wikramanayake, Chamal Jayanetti, Sajin De Livera, Harold Jayechandran, Ramith Nanayakkara, Anuradha Nadaraja, Sandesh Bartlett, Kavan Elapata, Minaal Wickremasinghe, Dan De Silva, Milan Joseph, Zydhney Fazal, Kemil Peter, Amrith Pieris

The Thomian’s, Captained by Dhanushka Jayanetti have had an outstanding season up to now with strong performances at the National Rowing Championships earlier this year, Where they won both the senior and junior categories. Sajeev De Silva won 7 Gold medals with Ruven Weerasinghe bagging 6 Gold’s.

When asked about their approach to this year’s Regatta the captain stated “We’re coming in on a winning streak, and we’re planning on a white wash this year, 52-0 is what we’re aiming for.” with their senior coxswain Amrick Varia adding “The crew has been training for this occasion for a long time, and our junior oarsmen have come a long way so we are raring to go.”

The coach Chevantha Sirimanne was quick to back up the boys “Yes we do have the capability to make a clean sweep of it.” He said, “We have been training for the past 8 to 9 months for this. The nationals were just a taste of what is to come.”

Royal crew - Devinda Fernando (Captain) – Coloursman, Radika Weerasekera - V.Captain - Coloursman, Chirath Karunanayake - Secretary – Coloursman, Thivanka Jayatilake - Coloursman, Dhanushka Perera – Coloursman, Ashan Herath – Coloursman, Mewan Jayatilake – Coloursman, Randev Gunasena –Coloursman, Sanjiva Jayasuriya, Emash Ahamat, Ajmal Sideek, Jehan Samarasekara, Sahan Warnasuriya, Pasan Ranaweera, Saishna Fernando, Shehan Muthugala Pradeep Maddumubandara, Arith Cooray, Akila Keerthirathne, Sithija Gamage, Ishan Perera
The Royal captain Devinda Fernando said his team performance at the National Rowing Championship "was not that great. We won the Under 16 category and were placed 2nd in Under 19, but everyone knows when it comes to the Royal-Thomian it's a different story."

"The Thomian crew depends heavily on their 4 main oarsmen, who will be rowing almost all the races at the Regatta, while we have a full team who will be able to concentrate fully on their own events. As for all this talk of a clean sweep, all we can say is, bring on the challenge."

Boat Race (Royal-Thomian Boat Race Trophy) 12
Senior Coxless Pairs (Freddie Raux Trophy) 8
Senior Double Sculls 8
Senior Single Sculls (Senior Sculls Challenge Trophy) 6
Junior Coxed Fours (Eraj Wijesinghe Trophy) 8
Junior Coxless Pairs (Chula Samarasinghe Challenge Trophy) 4
Junior Double Sculls 4
Junior Single Sculls (Ajith Goonawardena Challenge Trophy) 2
Junior ‘B’ Coxed Fours (Percy Fernando Trophy) 0 Aggregate-52
Brief History

The first Boat Race between Royal College and S. Thomas' College was held in 1962, which later evolved in to the Royal-Thomian Regatta in 1966. This is the 3rd oldest sporting fixture between Royal and S. Thomas', after the Cricket and Rugby Encounters.

The 1st Boat Race in 1962 was won by Royal College making them the first holders of the Boat Race Trophy and S. Thomas' won their first Boat Race in 1964. And in 1966, the 1st Royal Thomian Regatta was held; it consisted of 6 events, Coxed Fours, Coxed Pairs, and Single Sculls in Senior and Junior categories. Between 1973 and 1979 the regatta was not held due to a dispute between the two schools. The series was revived in 1980 and continues to the present except for 2006 when the regatta was not held.

The Overall winner of the Regatta is awarded the T. Noel Fernando Memorial Trophy, with the Boat Race still remaining the most prestigious event, which has been won 21 times by the lads from Mount as opposed to their Ried Avenue counterparts who have managed only 18.

The senior Coxswain Dhanushka Perera chipped in saying, “Confidence is at a maximum in our camp, we have been training 10 months for this and we are sure that the effort that we put in is going to pay off next Saturday. We should have no problem in executing our plan."

Going in to the last week before the big event the Thomians will be looking to pull off all the stops and flush down their opponents (as the old song goes) while the Royal crew seem to be quietly confident in their own strengths. It would be wise for both crews to remember that when it comes to encounters between these two hallowed institutions of learning past records, form books and strength on paper amount to nothing. it will be those who can hold there nerve and put in the work on the water on that day that will be able to bring the coveted 'Crossed Oars' home.

No matter what the outcome will be, it will surely add up to a great day of racing and as always history will be re-written.

(Pix by Sanka Vidanagama and Ranjith Perera)

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