Don’t Quit While Ahead – Jess Sutherland & Olivia Mazey

Story courtesy of College Sport Media

“Our coach sat us down and asked us if we wanted to row this season. There was a possibility the Maadi Cup wouldn’t happen and if that was the case it would have been everything for nothing. Rowing is such a big part of our lives though we refused to quit,” Olivia Mazey recalled of a difficult question she and Jess Sutherland faced during the rowing season.

The Year 12 students at Wellington Girls’ College are among the best pairs in the country and their drive to carry on despite the disruption of Covid has enhanced a growing reputation.

At the Maadi Cup at Lake Ruataniwha last weekend Olivia and Jessica matched their bronze medal winning performance in 2021 with a third-placed finish in the girls under-16 double sculls. Additionally, they teamed up with Zola Kemp and Nico Daly to capture silver in the under-17 coxed four, a result not long in the making.

“That was honestly surprising because we hadn’t trained until this year. When we won the North Island Championships we upped the intensity and had a really good race at Maadi. Zola and Nico were amazing. We’re really proud of the result,” Jess said.

Jess sat in the bow of the boat while Olivia was in the three-seat behind the stroke. Those roles are different from what they perform in the pair where Jess stays in the back monitoring stroke rate and staying in line while Olivia drives the boat forward.

“We first raced together at a school camp in Year 9 and it was really bad. We separated for a while but came together again last year and got a bronze at Maddi which was huge for us,” Olivia recalls.

“I got into rowing because my grandfather encouraged me to. I’m from Christchurch and rowing helped me make friends. Jessia was a swimmer when I first met her. Maurice Maxwell was our first coach. He was a great introduction to rowing.”

Cambridge High School and Cashmere High School had a slight edge over Oliva and Jessica in the under-16 double sculls but it should be noted Wellington Girls’ were one of the youngest crews in the final and trained in vastly inferior conditions.

“Whenever we are at regattas and the water’s bad the commentators reckon Wellington has a chance. We don’t spend a lot of time on the water and hate the erg but when conditions are rough and the pressure is on we dig deep,” Jesscia said.

Allegra Lennard (Onslow College) took home an outstanding gold medal in the girls U16 single sculls. The Wellington College team of James Hargreaves, Max McLachlan, Ben Riddell and Jacob Cook won a bronze medal in the under-17 coxed four. Ava Johnston and Kate Barham from Wellington East Girls’ College matched that effort in the under-18 coxless pairs oars.

Jessica and Olivia play netball together in the winter in addition to more rowing training.