The 2018-19 Rowing season is now well under way with two regattas/races gone and the Toyota Jury Cup and 10th anniversary Billy Webb 5km singles race being held this coming Saturday and Sunday on the Whanganui River.
Starting with the Whanganui 10km Eights race, it was disappointing to see only four eights boats entered, with one being an Octaple (8 scullers) and no entry from Union Boat Club or Collegiate Boys.
Provincial clubs continue to struggle to maintain post-school age rowers, with tertiary study and jobs a key and this race is considered too long and strenuous for novice rowers.
Collegiate would have been very disappointed not to field a boy's eight, although with declining numbers of boys entering the sport from their school, especially compared with girls, it was always on the cards that an eight may be a stretch at the moment, while their new head coaches work to promote more boys taking on and sticking with this tough but good sport.
However, as predicted the Aramoho Whanganui Senior Mens Eight had a very good race, being last off the mark and storming past every other crew to win in a time of 33 minutes and 41 seconds, clearly taking line honours and beating the next fastest eight, an Aramoho/Union Boat Club Masters Composite by nearly five minutes. Collegiate Girls were second across the line but 15 seconds slower than the Masters Crew.
Aramoho's Girls Octaple was fourth and last, nearly seven minutes behind their men's eight.
The men's eight crew featured outgoing school leavers Jonty Thomson and Levi Carroll in 8 and 7 seat, setting the pace with the experience of Hugh Pawson and Tom Monaghan behind them and Cameron Lawrence, Guy Thomson, NZ representative, Nathan Luff in 2 seat and Adrian Van Bussel in the bow, with the experienced Niamh Mullany coxing.
Those brave enough to race the 10km, which involves another 10km rowed to the start and getting back to the finish, raced in a competitive small boat race, where the winner was found on prognostic times based on boat and age, against world's best time.
I had my money on a tight race between 2018 Maadi Boys Under 16 Double Champions Blake Hogan and Leo Hanna and Whanganui High School (AWRC) 2018 Girls Under 17 Quad Sculls 4th placegetters, Niamh Monk, Zeah Brewer, Jaimee Bridger and Ella Dudley, but it was the cunning Masters F Union crew of Bob Evans and Peter Neilson who won in a time of 36 minutes and 35 seconds, with a 88.61 per cent prognostic, just beating the Girls Quad on 87.04 and Boys Double back in 84.48. Towing their boat to the start appeared to be a good tactical move for the winners but they got some jib for it at the prizegiving.
A large contingent of all three local clubs made its way to Waitara in the early hours of Saturday morning for a wet, but well organised five hours of racing on their 1200m course from the sea to clubhouse.
This regatta was a good chance for clubs to give their young junior rowers and novices a taste of racing prior to bigger regattas and it was great to see most youngsters racing 2-4 races in the day.
Perhaps the closest race was in the Under 15 Boys Octaple where Aramoho got narrowly beaten on the line by Collegiate under 15 Boys. Clifton won their own regatta with 108 points, ahead of Aramoho Whanganui on 88 and then a gap back to Collegiate on 46 and Union on 41.
The Whanganui Chronicle will be featuring the Billy Webb during the week, so please try and get down to the Aramoho course on Saturday to see a full day's racing against Wellington, Hawke's Bay and some Takapuna Grammar rowers and to Settlers Wharf 10am Sunday for the 10th Anniversary Billy Webb, with the biggest race yet expected and tough racing in all categories.