Sculler Thomas Cummack hopes 361-day season ends in gold

Wellington College rower Thomas Cummack is not afraid of hard work.

The Wellington College rower took just four days off after the 2014 Maadi Cup regatta and has barely missed a day’s training since.

“It’s been a 361-day season,” the 16-year-old said. “I even got up early to go for a run on Christmas day, before we opened the presents.”

Cummack won a North Island title and took the silver medal at Maadi last year, in his first season as a single sculler.

He matched the North Island win this month, in the under-17 single sculls, and will now attempt to go one place better at the Maadi regatta, which begins at Lake Karapiro on Monday.

“I have really stepped up the work this year and I think I’m getting a lot better,” Cummack said. “I want to improve on the silver.”

But he also knows that Wanaka sculler Riley Bruce, the winner of the South Island under-17 singles title this month, will be a formidable rival again.

Bruce, from Mt Aspiring College, beat Cummack in the under-16 final last year and won the under-16 title at Maadi for two successive years. He also finished fourth in the under-17 single last year and won gold in the under-16 double sculls.

“Riley is an amazing rower and will definitely be a big challenge,” Cummack said. “But I don’t think I handled my nerves very well last year.

“It was my first A final at a Maadi and I was the most nervous I’ve ever been before a race.

“You have to deal with the cameras and the crowds, especially on finals day, and I didn’t begin well.

“I’ve been working on my starts quite a bit this year. I would like to be able to keep up with Riley early and then see what I can do.

“Hopefully I will be able to handle things better with more experience.”

Cummack beat James Brott (Gisborne BHS), the bronze medallist at Maadi last year, in the North Island final and was happy with his performance. “I sat fourth to the 1km and then I moved and that’s when the fitness training paid off. Because of the water conditions in Wellington, a lot of our training is fitness based.

“But we have also had a few camps this year, which has given us more water time.”

Cummack earned two medals at the North Island regatta, combining with Lucas Toovey to take bronze in a tight finish to the under-17 double sculls, with less than a second between the first three boats.

“It was quite disappointing to get so close to gold and finish third but we have been going well,” Cummack said. “We managed to click a couple of weeks out from the North Island and I think we can improve more [for Maadi]. Lucas is really good and has a good work ethic.”

Cummack will also contest the under-18 single next week. “I would love to make the [under-18] A final and see if I can match the pack.”

Wellington College had a successful regatta at the North Island championships, the traditional Maadi rehearsal, with their crews making 13 A finals and earning two golds, a silver and two bronzes.

The under-18 lightweight coxed four of Sam Wilkins, Tristan Cotter, Harry Beasley, Fergus Murray and Liam Stevens (cox), also won gold, beating Glendowie College by three seconds, with Tauranga Boys third.

Beasley, Murray and Stevens also claimed silver when they joined Andrew Loveard and Connor Moore in the under-16 coxed quad, while Wellington College’s under-16 eight got bronze.

“We have made good progress so far but it is another step up at Maadi,” Wellington College co-coach Kerry Wilkins said.

“But you would hope that the five crews who got medals at the North Island would all be A finalists, at the very least.”

Onslow’s Hayden Robertson, who was the only Wellington rower to win gold at Maadi last year, in the under-17 single sculls, finished fifth in the under-18 single at the North Island.

“We have had less water time than last year and my form isn’t where I would like it to be, but I have been aiming to peak for Maadi,” Robertson said.