Entries are open for the 2018 Billy Webb Challenge and it could literally be a chance to roll up and take a shot at the world champion on December 2.

This year's event is the 10th anniversary of the start of the Billy Webb races, which in turn commemorate the 1908 event where William 'Billy' Webb defended his world title on the Whanganui River in front of 25,000 spectators.

Looking to boost the entry numbers, the feature race will be similar to the Aramada Cup format where rowers of all divisions, from Under 16 to Masters, will compete at the same time.

"It's the only race in New Zealand that people will get the chance to race against Olympic and world champions," said spokeswoman Kat Wade.


"We're doing a big push with clubs all around the North Island."

Organisers will look to get the young stars of Whanganui's local clubs all out on the water to race an elite field that will include "Mr Billy Webb" Mahe Drysdale.

The Olympic gold medallist has entered every Billy Webb race, winning four of them, with the other winners being fellow New Zealand world champions Hamish Bond and John Storey, along with Germany's Tim Ole Naske.

Wade said they will also be approaching the other members of the New Zealand Elite Summer team to take part, however those star names won't be confirmed until after the Rowing World Championships in Bulgaria are completed this weekend.

It is hoped the likes of Whanganui exports Chris Harris, who was third in the Billy Webb last year, along with the Gowler sisters – Kerri and Jackie – might be able to take part.

The support race will be the Red Lion Community 8's race – a 500m sprint open for workplace crews and other organisations, with the winners receiving a $500 bar tab.

Coaches will be made available to train crews for 4-6 weeks, with crews to have a minimum of two women, and ideally no more than two experienced rowers.

On the Saturday night before the racing, there will be a free movie night held at Pākaitore/Moutoa Gardens with a kiwi family film to be confirmed.

There will also be spot prizes for the feature race, as well as the Elite Men's and Elite Women's trophies for the respective winners.

Visit www.billywebbchallenge.co.nz to register.