Mark Taylor did not celebrate his 21st birthday in typical fashion – but he would not have had it any other way.
The Oamaru rower marked the occasion by winning three medals, including a red coat for a premier win, at the New Zealand Rowing Championships on Lake Karapiro last weekend.
Making it sweeter was the medal-winning performances of fellow Oamaru rowers Logan Docherty and Jared Brenssell, even though they were now representing different clubs, Taylor said.
Representing the Southern Rowing Performance Centre, Taylor won the under-22 men’s double sculls, the under-22 coxless four and the premier eight, the latter earning him his first red coat.
“It’s definitely something I have had my eye on for a while,” he said.
“The premier event is traditionally so club rowers can compete with rowers at a New Zealand elite level.
“Only a handful of people manage to achieve the red coat, without actually being in the elite group.
“It’s something that gets your heart pumping a little bit.”
Sitting in front of him in the premier eight was New Zealand rowing legend Hamish Bond.
“That was both intimidating and exciting,” Taylor said.
“It was a matter of not necessarily trying to be a superstar and add to the boat, just making sure I was pulling my own weight.”
Docherty, who trains at the Oamaru Rowing Club but was representing the Waikato Rowing Club so he could row with his partner, also had a regatta to remember.
He won two yellow coats, for premier wins in the lightweight pairs and the lightweight singles, and a silver medal in the lightweight doubles.
“For him to be able to achieve such a level in a club crew is very impressive,” Taylor said.
“To do that is not only making the club proud, but he should be proud of his achievements because of how hard he has worked to get where he is.
“Waikato may have had him wearing their colours but he is always going to be an Oamaru boy at heart, I reckon.”
Rowing for the Avon Rowing Club in Christchurch, former Oamaru rower Jared Brenssell placed second in the senior men’s double and senior men’s eight and third in the senior men’s quad.
“The fact that he was on the podium of such a big club, coming from Oamaru as a bit of an outsider, was no small thing,” Taylor said.
“Looking from an outside perspective, he has actually brought that atmosphere up a bit, and made everyone smile in that club.
“He’s a powerful rower and it will be interesting to see what he can do from here.”
Taylor now begins his trial for the New Zealand under-23 team, so the 21st birthday celebrations will have to wait.