Covid restrictions-willing, Nicholas Bonthuys will be the second Jeppe rower in a row to compete in the under-18 Junior World Rowing Championships when he travels to Plovdiv in Bulgaria from 11 to 15 August this year.
Sebastian Prince was part of the coxed four that won silver at the 2019 championships – there was no 2020 event because of Covid-19 – and Nicholas will be in the double sculls event, with Jordan Craig of St Dunstan’s as his partner. It has been confirmed that the 2021 championship will take place, but it’s uncertain whether the South African team will be allowed to travel by then.
It was a long journey for Nic to get to the point of being selected. Mr Chris Paynter, Jeppe’s open rowing coach explained that, because there were no SA Schools champs this year, the process was more complicated than usual. “Luckily Nic was in the national squad in 2020,” Mr Paynter explained. “No team was chosen in the end, but he was automatically in the picture this time around. He then performed well in the ergo trials that were held and at the senior nationals in April. From there he had to attend the squad camps, culminating in the selection regatta where he and Jordan won the double.”
Nic said that, although he has had to make sacrifices, it has been worth it. “My selection for the national squads means that rowing is pretty much an all-year activity and I had to give up other sports at school. It has taken a lot of hard work, but I have learnt to enjoy the pain. There is satisfaction in pushing yourself to the limit and coming out the other side. Once I made the decision to go for this I went all the way, and it has worked.”
His work ethic is Nic’s strong point, Mr Paynter said. “He has pushed himself hard, but he is also a good all-rounder and a charismatic leader within the school rowing club. Most importantly, he gets on well with his partner Jordan, which is good for the championships.
Nic believes Jeppe rowing has a bright future. “The expansion of the fleet has provided opportunities for more rowers to get involved and our coaches, Mr Moore and Mr Paynter work very well with the boys. I think Jeppe is going to be force in rowing in the future.”
Mr Paynter believes we are busy developing a strong system in the rowing section, and it’s paying off. “Nic’s selection, and the inclusion of a number of Jeppe rowers in the national developmental squads over the past few years shows that,” he said. “We try to be dynamic in our approach, but also to keep the best interests of the boys as our top priority.
“With the fantastic support that we get from our parents, and the financial assistance of the Boats and Blades Trust, we can only go from strength to strength.”
We are all holding thumbs that Nic will get to Bulgaria, we know he will do us proud when he’s there.