NEAR perfect summer weather heralded the start of the 2012-13 rowing season with the Grey-ZRC Regatta being held at Redhouse on the Swartkops River on Saturday.
Windless conditions and glassy waters saw the rowers from Grey High facing their local competition from Selborne, St Andrew's and ZRC, while the junior women from ZRC, Clarendon and DSG rowed for supremacy in their finals.
There were plenty of hotly contested races which kept the spectators on the edge of their seats.
East Londons' Clarendon Girls' High finished the day victorious, defending their title of overall women's champions after winning every age-group throughout the day.
The Schoombee Shield was won by St Andrew's, who took on Selborne in a 4km heads race and won convincingly.
The u-15 age-group saw a mixed bag of results, with Selborne, last season's SA junior champions, under pressure from both St Andrew's and Grey in the quads race, although they managed to pull through in the end. St Andrew's won both the u-15A and B octuples. The u-16 age-group spoils were shared between St Andrew's and Selborne, with St Andrew's winning the u-16A eights and A and B pairs, while Selborne took the honours in the A fours race in a closely contested affair.
The Open races, however, were one-way traffic, with St Andrew's picking up all the sweep oar events with wins in the first and second eights, the first and second fours, and the first, second and third pairs.
In an impressive show of teamwork, Grey took home the Cumar ZRC Schools Regatta points trophy.
In the wake of the Olympic gold medal won by the lightweight men's fours in London, it promises to be an exciting season for Eastern Cape rowers.
The battle for the fastest crews on the water continues in Knysna this weekend at the Knysna Halfway regatta.