The clubs and their rowers have been out on our Whanganui River and in the gyms to put in some hard work over the last two months, since Term 4 and the Winter Rowing programme ended.
With the historic opener to the new 2019-20 season, the Whanganui 10km races were held in perfect conditions on Sunday, while the first proper regatta of the season kicked off in Waitara – at my new coaching home of Clifton Rowing Club – on Saturday.
The Whanganui 10km race from Upokongaro downstream to the Treadwell Gordon Building, close the Union Boat Club, is traditionally for big eight boats, only in recent years has become an eights and small boat race, to ensure clubs struggling to field a full eight crew can compete.
The eights race is handicapped, with the slowest through to fastest boats, based on prognostic speed, departing Upokongaro at 10am on staggered starts – with the first crew across the finishline winning the race.
Departing first was the Whanganui Collegiate Girls Under 17-18 crew of Charlotte McKinlay, Phoebe Collier, Ruby Hawley, Jaime Maybery, Holly Lennox, Alyana du Fresne, Ngatatau Tumango and Margy Hazelhurst, with cox in Bella Stevenson-Watt.
They rowed a strong, determined race to cross the finishline in 38 minutes and 14.47 seconds, after departing Upokongaro.
Last to start but coming home was the experienced and strong Aramoho Whanganui mixed eight of Niamh Monk, Jaimee Bridger, Jonty and Guy Thomson, Luke Watts, Jack Pringle, Loftus Stanford, Levi Carroll and cox Niamh Mullany – with a time of 36m and 23s.
Third place of the six crews was a mixed Aramoho Masters and Year 13 School combination of Steph and Jacs Rush, Mikayla Manville, Zeah Brewer, Murray Stewart, Colin Wright, Tash Carver, myself and the cox Sue O'Leary, in a time of 39m 8s.
The small boat 10km race is a long slog and it's a credit to the two school boy single scullers who competed – Jordan Manville (Aramoho) and Cameron Daignault (Union) – who took between 47-48 minutes to get to the finishline and had a good 20km round row.
However the race, which was based on prognostic time, was won by the seasoned Trevor Rush and Richard Brock as the Men's G Double Scull, with 85.79 per cent from their 42m 44s time.
Second was Collegiate's Under 18 Boys Double of Leo Hanna and Blake Hogan, 84.53 per cent in 39m 14s, and third was the composite Union and Horowhenua Men's Masters E Double of Martin Bridger and Bruce Tate, 83.64 per cent and 41m and 38s.
Christmas will be here in a flash, but particularly for the rowing community with the next three weekends full of travelling and racing.
First up this Saturday, from 9am-1pm, is the Johns Trophy in Waitara, with a large contingent of crews expected from Collegiate and AWRC.
Clifton has quite large numbers this season and Union BC is looking to have a good turnout and some keen racing on this 1300m course.
The following weekend, December 7-8, the Whanganui Rowing Association is holding our key regatta – the Jury Cup.
It could be over two days if required, to ensure good racing on our natural 2000m Aramoho course, with 500 plus rowers as well as coaches, parents and supporters from Hawkes Bay to Wellington, New Plymouth and Whanganui.
They will enjoy our city and good quality racing, prior to heading to the Karapiro Xmas Regatta from December 13-15 for the first big test against the rest of the North Island rowing community.
Somewhere amongst all that, we better find time to fill our Santa Sacks - happy and safe rowing!