The 2017/2018 rowing season is now well under way with more and more crews appearing on a more regular basis on the Whanganui River.
There is good activity out of all the clubs, from Union Boat Club based downstream by the Waimarie to Aramoho Whanganui and Collegiate clubs based just upstream of the Railway Bridge, close to Caroline's Boatshed.
Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club will be enjoying having more company on the river as their school and senior rowers have had a strong winter programme under former head coach Pedro Fugiera. More lately it has been overseen by senior volunteer coaches Dave Dudley and Des Lock.
Wanganui Collegiate has been under way since the beginning of Term 4, with a well-drilled programme run by head coaches Tyler Scott and Rex Jones, and Union Boat Club has also been under way most of Term 4 with a new complement of novice rowers from Cullinane College, Whanganui Girls' College and even a few City College students, which hasn't happened for a number of years.
Greg Tichbon, who is associated with Te Ora Hou, is having a big influence and working well with club captain Bob Evans and a number of volunteer coaches.
Depending on age and experience these young people will be training anywhere between 5-11 sessions per week, including on water, ergometer and land-based sessions, usually between 1-2 hours in duration. It is not unusual for the rowers and their coaches to be on the water as early as 5.30am for the first session of the day prior to work or school and another session late afternoon or evening, sometimes not getting home until 8pm to sort dinner, washing and prepare to do it all again the next morning.
The racing season will start next Sunday with the Whanganui 10km race from Upokongaro to the Treadwell Gordon Building on Somme Parade starting at 10am.
I'm reliably informed this race started in 1977 to commemorate the Union Boat Club Centenary, so is just over 40 years old.
This is traditionally a coxed eight race with the fastest eight starting last and the winner being the first to cross the line. I will be betting on the Aramoho Whanganui No 1 men's eight as they appear to have a group led by Luke Watts that would form a dangerous senior men's eight at the NZ Championships.
A Head of the River race for small boats is held at the same time, generally to cater for clubs/crews who can't form eights and it is raced on a prognostic basis with the highest prognostic winning.
The following Saturday will feature a large contingent from all local clubs heading up to Waitara in Taranaki in the early hours to support Clifton Rowing Club's annual 1100m regatta, which starts at the sea mouth. I hear Aramoho is wanting to win back the shield but will have Union, Collegiate juniors and the local club to contend with first.
Whanganui's flagship regatta, the 2018 Wanganui Toyota Jury Cup, will be held on Saturday, December 1 on the Somme Parade 2000m course and is expected to have a full turnout from local clubs with a big contingent expected from Hawke's Bay and the Wellington Clubs - Porirua, Star and Wellington, all expected to make the trip to our awa for a full day's racing.
New Zealand's premier long-distance sculling race, the 5km Billy Webb Challenge featuring double Olympic and five-time world single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale, will be held the next day. I will feature that in my next column but it's the 10th anniversary and should be a real spectacle.