Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)
Katrina commenced her rowing career at Ballarat & Clarendon College in 2008 whilst in year 9. She moved on to win the open fours back to back in 2011 and 2012. It was an excellent start to her rowing career. Why did she take up rowing at school? Like so many of us, “not that flash at the ball sports”.
Tom Abramowski saw Kat at the State Championships and invited her down for a row at Mercs. She commuted from Ballarat for training from 2011 to the end of her year 12 year in 2012. This was a massive commitment to her chosen sport.
Kat was rewarded with a Victorian blazer in 2012 in the youth eight. Perhaps more importantly, the great partnership with Addy Dunkley Smith began that year and it continued for several more years.
In 2013, another year of youth eight rowing in which Kat was selected not only into the Victorian youth eight, but also the Australian under 21 team, where she again won with Addy.
2014 was the break through year into under 23 competition where Kat and Addy thrived. They were A finalists in the pair and four and won the eight in an all Mercantile crew. A good first season at this level.
2015 was to be a superb under 23 year for Kat and Addy finishing with a bronze medal at the World Under 23 Championships in the pair. This was after a highly successful season. Kat and Addy also raced in the successful Victorian eight which continued the unbelievable tradition of winning the Queen’s Cup.
Gold medallists at the World Championships in 2017
2016 was the break through year into the senior ranks. Whilst it was a good season, the competition in the women’s ranks at Mercs was high, let alone win at the Nationals. However Kat continued her partnership with Addy and they won the open eights and of course the Queen’s Cup.
In 2017, Kat was one of the first inductees into the National Training Centre in Penrith. Her season was stellar finishing with a World Championship win in the four. All her many other achievements that season suffered in the shadow of this great success.
In 2018 Kat was initially selected into the eight. They also had the opportunity to race at Henley Royal Regatta at which they won the Remenham Challenge Cup. However after that regatta, an injury in the four saw Kat returned to that boat. Despite the late change, the crew was able to take silver at the World Championships in a very close race.
2018 Silver Medallists – final stages of the race
All eyes are now on the selections for 2019 to see in what boat Katrina will be selected. Given the depth of good athletes, both the four and eight will be very fast crews and distinct medal prospects.
Why Mercs? Kat described herself as a shy person when she first arrived at the Club and the Club welcomed her with open arms – she was able to be herself and be accepted. She also felt safe in the warmth of the Club – it was her second home. When she returns from the National Training Centre, the Club is like an old friend, being able to pick up where you left off before going away.
Most memorable races? Obviously Kat referred to her World Championship in 2017. However she was quick to also mention the 2o16 Queen’s Cup where they were not winning until they pushed through the field in the last 500 meters. The trust within the boat to achieve a win was something she had not experienced before. The whole crew believed that they could do it and trusted in each other implicitly to achieve it.
What do you like about rowing? Her response was very interesting as she described the sport as an offensive, not a defensive, sport. It is therefore very positive, it is energising and you cannot help but be inspired by it. The gold medal is nice, but the journey is far more important. She concluded that you would hate the sport if you took it on only for the reason of winning. It is all about the people, the team aspects of the sport, the family of it. She finished by saying how grateful she was that she took on this sport at such a young age as it provided meaning and structure to her life.
Above: The boat naming of the Katrina Werry in 2018
Your correspondent finished the interview much inspired by Katrina’s words and so pleased to have the privilege to speak with her.