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Row, row, rowing the new boat

Otumoetai College rowers Emma Averill and Rhianna Loughnan. Image: Daniel Hines.

It’s been 15 years since Otumoetai College had a new rowing boat, but this week a blessing was held to welcome one to the shed.

The waka has been named Kopurererua and was officially launched at practice, 5am on Tuesday morning.

The school received a grant from the Lions Foundation, towards the cost of purchasing two new double boats for the team.

One boat has already been purchased and the team is now actively fundraising for the balance of the funds to go towards the purchase of the second one, says Tauranga Rowing Club secretary Tracey Fellingham.

Two senior rowers from Otumoetai College, Emma Averill and Rhianna Loughnan have been rowing for four years and say the new boat gives them a better chance to do well.

Emma says rowing is a rewarding sport.

“Going to regattas and seeing everyone, and you can see New Zealand rowers because they’re always at the same regattas, and getting medals and winning races is a big bonus.”

A lot of the school boats are due for replacement. Sports Director of Otumoetai College Paul Braddock and the school offered their support to help the team in their efforts to renew the fleet. It will enable the rowers to compete competitively at a national level.

The girls say the new boat is part of a new beginning for the college as they have moved to Tauranga Rowing Club from Bay of Plenty Coast Rowing.

Rowing started in 1972 at Otumoetai College and the school rowed under the Tauranga Rowing Club.

“The school has had much success over the decades with the highlight being the men’s quad winning the Springbok Shield in 1978,” says Tracey.

“In the mid-2000s, the school had 48 rowers and our aim is to get back to the number of rowers. In 2010, the school moved rowing clubs out to Bay of Plenty Coast Rowing but last year the decision was made to head back to the Tauranga Rowing Club.

“Otumoetai College rowers for the 2019/2020 season have been part of the enormous success of the Tauranga Rowing Club crews. At the recent North Island Club Champs the club won 20 medals in various events and for Otumoetai College rowing we helped receive five medals in the Girls U16 sculls, Girls U15 quad four, Women’s Club Four and Eight, as well as Men’s Intermediate Eight.

“As Tauranga Rowing Club has grown, so has the need for new boats and we have been fortunate to receive grants for two new quads as well as the new double received from Otumoetai College,” says Tracey.

“The new boats will allow our rowers to be competitive at the national level. Rowing is an all-round fantastic sport and the clubs wants to give these hard training athletes the best opportunities they can for success.”

Coaches and crews are now training long hours in order that they have the best chance of success at the upcoming Secondary School regattas, with the highlight of the school rowing calendar being the National Secondary Schools Championships, known as the Maadi Cup, held in Twizel at the end of March.

Rhianna says her priority this season is the single sculls, and doing well at the North Island competition is a main goal for her.

Emma is also prioritising the single sculls and at her most recent regatta managed to get a bronze medal in the U16 girls singles. She says getting that medal was quite exciting.

“My main goal is probably for the school North Islands – get a medal hopefully.”

An open day for the Tauranga Rowing Club is being held this weekend on Sunday, February 23, from 8.30am to 10.30am at Memorial Park. Anyone interested is advised to email secretary@taurangarowingclub.co.nz or show up on the day.

School currently affiliated with Tauranga Rowing Club are Otumoetai College, Mount Maunganui College, Aquinas College, Tauranga Boys College, Tauranga Girls College, ACG Tauranga and Papamoa College.

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