Nearing his 10th decade, Fred Strachan is as passionate as
ever about rowing. He looks back on a great year for the
sport with Alistair McMurran.
Fred Strachan (right), the former coach of Hamish Bond
(left), at the World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro,
in November 2010. Photo by Graeme Bond.
Rowing guru Fred Strachan is a perfectionist. He believes
New Zealand rowers could do better at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro
Olympics if they improve their technique.
New Zealand rowers won five medals - three gold and two
bronze - at the London Olympics. It was the sport's best
medal haul at an Olympic Games.
Strachan (89) was a national selector for 24 years and played
a key role in making New Zealand rowing respected in the
He has coached rowing for 60 years and has always been a
stickler for style. He wants his rowers to use the correct
Strachan was proud of the success at the London Olympics.
''The hard training regime got them there but I'd like to see
them row with a better technique,'' he said. Strachan
predicts it will be more difficult winning medals in Rio de
''It is important for our rowers to get up to speed with
their technique,'' he said.
He wants New Zealand Rowing to have a plan for the next four
to six years that will keep the sport at the top of the tree
domestically and in the international arena.
Strachan wants to see new blood given a chance and a bigger
New Zealand team compete at next year's world championships.
''It will be an easier year so it is an opportunity to bring
on the younger rowers and get them up to scratch, rather than
have them sit on the bench while the top rowers occupy a
limited number of boats.''
Strachan was always a strong advocate of the eight and this
policy was justified by the Olympic gold medal in Munich in
''We originally did that because of financial considerations
and the prestige,'' he said.
''We couldn't boat other crews because we didn't have any
money to do it.
''The eight is still a prestige event internationally. I'd
still like New Zealand to do well in the eight. But to do
that at the moment we would have to use the top-line rowers
and sideline the pair.''
Strachan was pleased by the results at the London Olympics
and agreed the policy of concentrating on the smaller boats
has been successful.
''High Performance Sport New Zealand count the medals. If we
had boated an eight we probably wouldn't have picked up
another two medals. Their funding directs where we go,'' he
Strachan hopes gold medallists Hamish Bond and Eric Murray
will stay together in the pair.
''They were the only two guys in sweep oar rowing that
performed. The men's eight and the lightweights failed to
qualify for the Olympics and the four was disappointing. We
have to get sweep oar rowing back on track.''
Strachan coached Bond for eight years and was in England to
see him win the gold medal.
''It was nice to see Hamish cap his career with the gold
medal, break the world record and do it so convincingly,'' he
''He's been a good performer for New Zealand.''
Strachan has coached more than 60 rowers who have gone on to
represent New Zealand at junior, intermediate, senior and
He has coached rowing at Otago Boys' High School for the past
15 years but his crews have yet to win an elite Maadi Cup
The senior boys pair has finished runner-up on three
occasions: Bond and Carl Haugh, Carl Meyer and Blair Collie,
and Grant Fahey and Dave Waddell.
He could get the elusive Maadi Cup win at Lake Karapiro next
year, with James McNichol and Jack Waddell, who won the
bronze medal this year.
• Age: 89.
• Clubs: Avon, North End.
• NZ selector: 1964-88.
• Coaching: Sixty New Zealand representatives including
Olympians Trevor Coker, Ivan Sutherland, Dave Lindstrom,
Athol Earl, Hamish Bond, Carl Meyer.