As reported in the Chronicle earlier this week, the Wanganui Rowing Association finally got the first of its new format 6km long distance races away to a start last Sunday.
An impressive 35 crews took part from seven clubs, including winner Kyle Malone and his mate, Connor Burns, who finished first and fourth from Star Boat Club of Wellington and Tim Russell bringing up the rear guard from West End of Auckland.
Although traditionally a rowing winter series, it has been great to see our impressive kayakers from Whanganui Multisport Club and Whanganui River Outrigger Canoe Club take part, along with Union Boat Club, Aramoho Wanganui Rowing Club and Wanganui Collegiate School Rowing Club.
Fastest time of the day went to Union's Boys under 17 quad of Kurt Browning, Xavier Mohr, Donna Thompson and Brennan Thompson in 23 minutes, 27 seconds, although they did get a hurry along at the turn from a nameless Masters Womens Quad scull.
With many local kayakers taking part in the Canoe New Zealand 10km race at Lake Wiritoa on the same day, it was up for grabs who would win the prognostic result for the locals with Union's husband and wife duo of Bob and Jennie Evans having a great race for second place and a 88.30% prognostic, followed closely by Union president Pat Carroll at 87.52%.
However, the result that really impressed me was Aramoho's under 16 girls double scull of Niamh Monk and Jaime Bridger in 5th place and 87.20%, with clubmate Levi Carroll in his under 17 single not far behind in 7th with 85.45%.
Other notable achievements came from Aramoho's Girls Under 15 quad scull of Murphy, Manville, Frecklington, Cosford and coxswain Mullany, with the whole Girls squad a real credit to coach Dave Dudley. I wasn't sure if my son Blake and three of his Collegiate mates were brave or mad trying to race a tricky coxless pair in a 6km race passing through two bridges and a turnaround buoy, but perhaps to prove me wrong Blake and Jack Pringle did a respectable 82.95 prognostic for 12th place. Friends Hamish Bielby and Leo Hanna were about 1 minute behind in 18th place.
Aramoho certainly had the best turnout with 11 crews entered and it was a bit disappointing that no Union schoolgirls entered and only one Collegiate girl, Grace Hogan having a credible first ever race in a single.
The competitive Aimee Simpson was the best of the kayakers on 84.02% and 10th place and the V6 under 19 women River Queens Team on 82.23% and 15th place.
1995 Wild water kayak teams World Champion, Aaron Cox raced with his 10 year old daughter Greta in a K2, so watch out Lisa Carrington.
Collegiate teacher, Barry Banks had his trusty Jack Russell keeping an eye on his course from the cockpit of his single scull.
This long distance prognostic format is well proven as the most accurate way to decide winners when various types of boats, with varying age groups competing. The prognostic time for each boat type is taken form the latest world or NZ record winning times for 1000 metres and then calculated for the 6km distance to give the 100% time.
Each contestant's finish time is then divided by the 100% target time to give their percentage, allowing fairly exact comparisons between boat classes.
Our races have a turning buoy for a bit of spectator appeal and variety from normal 2km races and there's no doubt that getting to and around the buoy without too much hassle has some bearing on time and performance, but thats all part of the fun.
As a comparison our New Zealand elite rowers, who are full time and train 200-250km a week, plus land sessions. And of course as they are one of the top rowing nations in the world they need prognostics up in the high 90 percents. Our new heavyweight male single sculler, Robbie Manson, who is replacing Mahe Drysdale in the single, at least for 2017, won two out of three 2km races against the rest of the team prior to departing for Europe last week with about 99% prognostic, so as winter progresses and people keep training, it would be good to see 90% prognostics topped by a few athletes.
_ PHILIPPA BAKER-HOGAN