The gold medal splash by New Zealand rowers at the London
Olympics has sparked a record entry for the Otago championships
at Lake Ruataniwha.
A record 950 rowers, forming 891 crews, will be competing at
the championships this weekend.
''Entries have come from all four South Island rowing
associations,'' Otago Rowing manager Karl Morgan said.
''Only a very small number of South Island clubs and schools
are not represented.''
There will be 950 races in the 43 events over the two days.
It will be a massive day today with 10hr 30min of rowing,
starting at 7.30am with the first of the two heats in the
women's coxed four. The last race will be the men's open
eight at 5.55pm.
Officials have given themselves a herculean task to get the
heats through on time.
''We will have a race every four minutes instead of the usual
five minutes,'' Morgan said. ''Finals will start at 7am on
The Olympic success has generated the increase in novice
rowers this season.
''There are 13 entries for the novice eight,'' Morgan said.
''We used to just have a final.''
Most rowing schools in the South Island have entered crews.
The exceptions are St Margaret's and St Bede's, of
Christchurch, which have had their own rowing camp in the
Marlborough region this week.
''The Wairau club and the Central RPC have opted to compete
in a regatta at Lake Karapiro,'' Morgan said. There are 40
entries for the girls under-16 and under-17 single sculls and
12 in the under-18 singles.
There will be a celebration dinner in Twizel tonight to
celebrate the five medals - three gold and two bronze - won
at the London Olympic Games.
None of the Olympians or members of the elite rowing squad
will be competing at Lake Ruataniwha. They will be competing
at Lake Karapiro.
The Otago championships used to be held after the Christmas
break but were brought forward two years ago because of the
decision of Rowing New Zealand to hold the national
championships in the third week of February.
A feature race will be the women's open single sculls that
will test the ability of Zoe McBride (Otago).
She won three sculling gold medals at the national
championships at Lake Karapiro and another three at the Maadi
Cup regatta at Lake Ruataniwha last season.
She will face a strong challenge from Southern RPC rowers
Lisa Owen, Kristen Froude, Olivia Loe, Tessa Young and
Johannah Kearney. Nicola Shanks could be a dark horse.