Against a strong international field comprising some of the worlds most decorated single scullers Kiwis Robbie Manson and Hannah Osborne won both the mens and women’s Gold Cup races this weekend in Philadelphia.
The Gold Cup, held as part of the Head of The Schuylkill Regatta (HOSR) near Boat House Row in Philadelphia is an invitation-only, 700m, four-lane sprint race. With $37,000 US in prize money up for grabs, the event has come to attract some of the worlds most distinguished scullers since its inauguration (in its current format) in 2011. The first male and female scullers each receive a $10,000 prize, with $5,000 going to second, $2,500 to third and $1,000 to fourth.
It proved a challenging weekend for both the organisers and competitors as a violent coastal storm bought wind and rain on Friday and carried through to Saturday morning, forcing early racing to be postponed. Fortunately the wind and rain subsided for the afternoon and both the Gold Cup and much of the HOSR were ultimately able to go ahead.
Osborne, the New Zealand women’s single sculler who has finished in the B-final at the last two World Championships, was in fact a late call-up to the Gold Cup, racing in place of the currently injured Magdalena Lobnig of Austria who won Bronze in the single at Plovdiv.
With her wild-card entry, Osborne, to much surprise, was able to out-row reigning world champion Sanita Puspure from Ireland, US sculler Kara Kohler and Canadian Carling Zeeman to claim the win.
“It was an amazing opportunity… one of the girls was injured and I was next in line.” Said Osborne of her race on Saturday. “I’ve never been a part of an event where it’s been such a community focus, or even a sprint race with a reward at the end. It does help a little bit.”
In the men’s event it was current world best time holder in the single scull Robbie Manson who took the win and $10,000 prize, beating in the process the Olympic single sculls silver medallist Damir Martin of Croatia, reigning world champion Kjetil Borch of Norway and young German newcomer Oliver Zeidler.
The Gold Cup races represent the last chance these international scullers get to clash this season before returning home for winter training. The next time they are likely to race will be back in Plovdiv – venue to the 2018 World Rowing Championships last September – at World Rowing Cup I which starts May 10th 2019.