Finally, after two of the most disappointing months for anyone ever involved in sport, Covid-19 alert level 1 is bringing a sense of normality back to life and sport.
We've had the cancellation of the 2020 Aon Maadi Cup and selected North vs South under 18, World Junior Rowing Championship team and cancellation of every significant rowing event on the 2020 New Zealand and world rowing calendar, including the postponement to 2021 of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
There is no doubt that the cancellation of many of these events has individually affected many rowers' aspirations and desire to push forward in the sport. Rowing NZ will be well aware of the implications of this and has a big job to "sell its product" to potential New Zealand aspirant rowers, along with the challenge that families, clubs, regional associations and families will face in a reduced funding environment, including financial struggles for families, cost of equipment, insurance costs and trying to fund coaches, etc.
In saying all that, Whanganui Rowing has been meeting via Zoom throughout the period.
It was the first association in New Zealand to hold any kind of event, taking its first 2020 Blinkhorne and Carroll Winter Series 5km race viral on the Concept 2 rowing machine on May 10, with many of the normal "foolhardy" group participating, including the Rush, Evans and Neilson families and the untrained naming sponsor, Pat Carroll, putting himself through the pain.
First place went to the 2020 Billy Webb Challenge winner, the very fit and keen lightweight rower Oliver Fahey from Wellington, in a time of 17 minutes 8 seconds, with a 93.68 per cent prognostic (percentage of world best time in his category).
Second place went to "Mr Consistent", Aramoho master Richard Brock, in 18 minutes 47 seconds (90.59 per cent), with a very impressive third place to clubmate and competitive master Tash Carver in 20 minutes 33 seconds (89.79 per cent). Rounding out the top 5 were Trevor Rush (89.45 per cent) and Jennie Evans (89.22 per cent).
It was good to see a sprinkling of competitors from all our clubs, including Aramoho, Whanganui Collegiate, Union Boat Club and Clifton Rowing Club, in the 18 competitions but we are hoping for a few more this Sunday when Whanganui Rowing is the first in New Zealand to bring rowing racing back on the water, with Race 2 of the Winter Series.
Race 2 is a 5km course, starting at 9.30am on Sunday, June 14, beginning just upstream of Union, opposite the National Library Building.
Boats race upstream through the Dublin St and Railway bridges to halfway up the 2km course, turning opposite Stewart St and racing back to finish at the 2km course finish line, just before the Railway Bridge. All man-powered craft are welcome, including rowers, kayakers and waka ama.
Entries are due to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Saturday, June 13, and bring your $2/seat entry fee, and plate for a shared prizegiving at Union Boat Club after the race.
Prize money and spot prize money is on offer and the more that enter, the higher the prize money, with 50 per cent crew required at prizegiving to pick up the spot prize.
Clubs will be starting to hold their 2019/20 prizegiving ceremonies now and, although the pinnacle school event of Maadi Cup was cancelled, there were still many wonderful achievements to highlight.
Clifton Rowing Club held its prizegiving last Saturday, with the prestigious Carol Dowdle Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Sculler Award going to Tori Cox (New Plymouth Girls High School) who won two silver medals at the New Zealand Rowing Championships and silver in the girls under 18 single scull at North Island Secondary School Champs and was a 2020 NZ junior triallist (no trial held due to Covid-19).