Rowing: Coach blasts tournament changes

A leading rowing coach has delivered a clip over the ear to Rowing New Zealand for its decision to run heats as late as Friday, to suit schools, at this year's national championships starting today at Lake Karapiro.

Aramoho-Wanganui's Ian Weenink says the decision - which allows schools to keep their students at school for much of the week - had caused alterations to the club's plans because several heats have been put forward from today until Friday, which is traditionally a finals day.

Weenink leads Aramoho, probably the country's strongest club at present, into the championships against the first avalanche of Regional Performance Centre teams - and he says the club will still win titles despite the strength of the RPCs.

But he suggests they would have won more if he had been able to place his squad better.

And he wonders about the RPC scheme, which appears to be preventing some clubs coming to the championships with full numbers after their best have been taken by the performance centres.

"Everybody's well and ready to race," Weenink said.

"But it is pretty disappointing, the entries for some of the events - I don't know whether this RPC thing is good or bad. It remains to be seen.

"But some of the fields are not as full as they should be. At the moment there's only two in the men's premier quad, so I've put a late entry in -- that sort of thing."

What has happened, says Weenink, is that the controlling body had catered for the RPCs and the schools and forgotten about the clubs.

"They've congested all the races so the clubs can't race in everything - for example the heats of the under-21 quad are right by the heats of the under-21 eight, and there are lots of races we haven't been able to enter.

"They've put them all in one day (Friday), and catered for the schools so that they can put entries in - and it's not really their regatta.

They've kept the heats on finals day for the kids so they don't have to take time off school - and put them in front of other finals.

"When you come to race a final you find you have a heat for the next day (Saturday) in just before it, when it could have been put in on the Tuesday or Wednesday. It happened last year and it makes it awkward. But we'll do what we can and place them where we can.

"We've targeted a few races, and I believe we will tip the RPCs over in a few events anyway."

Weenink says he's confident of winning the age-group races the club takes part in.

Union club coach Calvin Ferguson has 13 of his charges in the Central RPC squad and there's strong confidence of titles there.

But the remaining club members could also do well, in particular Anna Stantial.

She's in a club quad with Rachael O'Connor, Bethany Hooper and Ashley Stanford, with O'Connor in a pair and is also in the club single.

Carys Paul and Michelle McKenzie race in the senior and premier double and the senior pair, and Chris Farrell and John Lawrie will race in the club, U19 and U21 doubles.

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