Mollie Nicol and Mila van der Wilt (QMC) in good form for Maadi

Last year Mollie Nicol and Mila van der Wilt teamed up to win a goal medal in the Under-15 double sculls at the Maadi Cup. It was the first time Queen Margaret College (QMC) had achieved a first placing at the regatta.

Ironically the ground-breaking pair were initially rivals.

“The first time I met Mila was in Year 9,” Nicol recalled.

“We raced each other in the 200-meters on athletics day and I beat her by a nose.”

Both girls were keen on rowing and attended a novice summer camp.

In initial competition the girls were partnered with other rowers, but absences led to Nicol and van der Wilt combining. They developed an instant chemistry. Their very first outing together was encouraging.

“It was in our novice season after our first summer camp, KRII 2017. We finished fourth in the girls under-18 novice double sculls A final, meaning that we just had just missed out on a medal.” Nicol reflected.

Mollie and Mila pictured with their medals shortly after their win at Maadi Cup 2018. Photo Credit: Steve McArthur at Rowing Celebration

The girls haven’t changed their roles in the boat since their debut.

“I’m seated in the stroke position,” Van der Wilt said.

“In this role I need to set the stroke rate, be the portable cox and the co-driver of the boat. I will call certain things, such as power strokes,”

“I’m in bow seat behind Mila,” Nicol explained.

“I follow her stroke rating and make sure were staying on course. I also say where we are in races so Mila knows when to call power strokes.”

The clarity of approach helped the girls win a Maadi Cup title last year. It was obvious QMC were favourites from the outset.

“Maadi was really big and exciting thing for us,” Nicol said.

“We arrived a week before the race and when we checked the times after the heats we were about ten seconds in front of the competition which put a lot of pressure on his heading into the finals.”

The girls decided to embrace the pressure by throwing down the gauntlet and front-running. South Island champions Dunstan High School and Waikato’s St Peter’s School, Cambridge couldn’t keep up.

“We decided to push from the start and got a good lead. There is some risk doing that, but we were confident and it was really exciting to win,” van der Wilt said.

The pair were nominated for the College Sport Wellington team of the year and have their sights set on a similar accolade in 2019.

A fortnight ago the girls won the Under-16 double sculls at the McLachlan Shield. The margin of victory in the Wellington championships was comfortable, despite a change in tactics.

“McLachlan was really good. We tried something different, lowering our rating and pushing harder. We found our speed increased which was great,” Nicol enthused.

The girls train ten times a week, morning and afternoon with a rare afternoon off on a Wednesday.

​The North Island Secondary Schools Championships on Lake Karapiro are held between March 8 and 10, and then the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championship regatta (the Maadi Cup) is at the same venue from March 25 to 31.

Article Courtesy of College Sport Media