With 2020 upon us, it is time to highlight recent achievements and reflect on the sad news of 2019.
It was an honour to attend the funeral of Peter (Mac) McGuiness who passed away last week, aged 83. Peter was a stalwart of the Union Boat Club and won three precious "Red Coats" NZ Premier Titles in the 1960s when the club was winning the Premier Men's Eight and other titles.
In 2019 we also lost John Kjestrup, a well known Whanganui Rowing identity and Michael (Mike) Benge, aged just 55 years. Mike rowed for Union and Petone Rowing Clubs and was an NZ Elite Rowing Representative in the late 1990s.
The first big hit out on Lake Karapiro for all Whanganui Clubs was on December 13-15, 2019 at the aptly-named Karapiro Christmas Regatta. With 2372 rowers/coxswains from 55 clubs/schools, including four Australian, it once again gave a great indication of early season form.
Whanganui Collegiate School topped the tables for Whanganui with 10 A Finals, two wins, three seconds and two third placings. This was without taking their junior Rowers North.
Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club also made 10 A finals, with two seconds and four third placings. Union Boat Club gained six A Finals with some very good performances by its novices.
My word limit won't allow me to note all the performances but the wins take precedence and Collegiate's Under 18 Girl's 8 of Charlotte McKinlay, Holly Lennox, Alyana du Fresne, Phoebe Collier, Jaime Maybery, Margy Hazelhurst, Ngatatau Tumango, Ruby Hawley-Wedd and Bella Stevenson-Watt (cox) had a clear win and great morale booster for their Maadi aspirations in 2020.
Blake Hogan and Leo Hanna won the Boy's Under 18 Double and were 2nd and 3rd in Under 18 Single, so it was promising for them. Collegiate also gained second in Girl's under 18 Double (McKinlay and Collier), Girl's Under 18 Coxed Quad of McKinlay, Collier, Maybery, Hawley-Wedd and Stevenson-Watt and third in Girl's Under 17 Coxed Four of Maybery, Lennox, Du Fresne, Hazelhurst and Stevenson-Watt.
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Aramoho also had a good regatta with 10 A Finals and with stalwarts Luke Watts leading the charge with second in the Senior Men's Single. Watts, brothers Guy and Jonty Thomson and Tom Monaghan also gaining second in the Men's Senior Coxless Quad and the Thomson brothers a handy third in Mens Senior Pair.
The Girls Under 16 Coxed Quad of Georgina Ross, Messina Su'a, Perrin Adam, Nikita McCarten and Sarah Thomas (cox) gained third place and with Keighley Dunn coming in for McCarten in the Coxed Four repeated that result.
The Boys under 17 Double of Jordan Manville and James Clear picked up a nice 4th in Under 17 Double but went a place better in Under 17 Coxed Quad with John Turner, Joseph Barrett and Campbell Monk (cox).
Union has a promising group of Novice Boys and Girls with women's Novice Coxed Quad of Ella Buening, Marlene Rockaway, Mira Pfannkuchen, Amelia Keenan and Shannon Hill (cox) 4th and 6th in the Novice Coxed Four. The Novice Men's Coxed Four of Toyne Perkins-Waugh, Daniel Smith, Leif Henning, Calais Edwards and Hill (cox) were 4th and 5th in Novice Coxed Quad and Perkins-Waugh and Edwards 5th in Novice Double.
The next big event for us here is the 2020 Billy Webb on the 5km out and back course from the River Market area, to be held Sunday, January 19, as part of Whanganui Vintage Weekend, with Fastest Men and Women's Single winning the prestigious trophies and $500 each and all other boat types, except Coxed 8 welcome to enter and win prize money on a Prognostic Handicap.
Entries are open now at billywebbchallenge.co.nz, and with our NZ Elite rowers unavailable in 2020 due to Olympic priorities, it is a great chance for Whanganui rowers to get their name on the trophy.