Otago University Students Association Aquatics Centre
director Glen Sinclair inspects the boats. Photo by Craig
It is a nursery for elite rowers. The Otago University
Students Association Aquatics Centre has met the expectations
of its director, Glen Sinclair.
Eight rowers who developed their skills at the centre
represented New Zealand at the London Olympics.
Hamish Bond and Nathan Cohen won gold medals and Rebecca
Scown and Peter Taylor bronze medals.
Also at the Olympics were Louise Trappitt, Louise Ayling,
Fiona Bourke and Fiona Paterson.
Three other members of Rowing New Zealand's elite squad who
did not go to the Olympics have used the facilities at the
centre. They are Lucy Strack, Fergus Fauvel and Alistair
Bond. The centre was built in 2002 to attract elite rowers to
Dunedin. More than 400 rowers have used it over the past 10
''We had good results from former Otago University rowers at
the London Olympics,'' Sinclair told the Otago Daily Times.
The rowers are in Dunedin for eight or nine months of the
year and then return to their home club or regional
performance centre for the summer months.
Add to this list rowers who have represented New Zealand at
under-23 level and been members of New Zealand University
''Every year, the bulk of the NZU squad comes from Otago
students,'' Sinclair said.
The University of Otago crews have relished the chance to
train at the aquatics centre and have made their mark at
international student regattas.
They continue to get invitations to race in world rowing
events in Russia and China. This year, the women's eight
raced in Seattle, in the United States.
''It is all about getting the international experience,''
University of Otago rowing has a big name in university
rowing circles around the world.
''New Zealand's success in recent years has helped us as
well,'' Sinclair said. Seven members of this year's New
Zealand juniors squad are coming to the University of Otago
''We want to look after those guys to the standards they
expect,'' Sinclair said. The centre depends on funding from
Rowing New Zealand to hire a professional coach for the
''It is about giving the rowers the opportunity to do the
quality hours of training while they are in Dunedin,''
Sinclair explained. The aquatics centre has been helped by
financial contributions from former students. One of the
strongest supporters is David Richwhite, who has backed the
centre for the past eight years.
''He has put a lot back into his old university and was with
us in London,'' Sinclair said. It was the first time Sinclair
had met Richwhite. Within half an hour, former University of
Otago student Nathan Cohen had won the gold medal in the
''We were doing vibes and hugging each other,'' Sinclair
''He has pledged to continue his support for rowing at Otago
Other supporters include Marcel Gray and Sir Eion Edgar and
Jan, Lady Edgar.
The aquatics centre has the only indoor rowing tank in New
''It is an amazing asset for us,'' Sinclair said.
''It helps bring beginners up to speed quickly and is used to
improve the finer details of technique with elite rowers.
''The coach can stand beside the rower and move them into the
correct position in the boat.
''Out on the speedboat on the harbour or lake, you are 10m to
''Normally, after a session on the water, we go to the tank
and explain the fine details to the rowers.''
The aquatic centre is following Rowing New Zealand's lead and
is concentrating on small boats. It has 10 pairs that can
also be used as double sculls, and a number of single sculls.
The Otago University Rowing Club concentrates on eights
leading to the New Zealand University Games.
''For the rest of the year, we concentrate on small boats,''
Sinclair said. This year, five former high school rowers from
the United States trained at the aquatics centre for five
weeks and 10 more are booked in for next year.
The rowers do resistance training at the New Zealand High
Performance Academy gymnasium.
Physiotherapist Matthew Dick, resistance trainer Mike Jacobs
and nutritionist Sara Richardson are members of its staff.
It also has links to the Otago Polytechnic Institute of Sport
Otago University Aquatics Centre Olympians
Hamish Bond, Nathan Cohen, Rebecca Scown, Peter Taylor,
Louise Trappitt, Louise Ayling, Fiona Bourke, Fiona Paterson.