The establishment of a national high-performance centre in
Dunedin is a win-win situation for the University of Otago
and Rowing New Zealand.
The deal was signed yesterday, by the vice-chancellor of the
University of Otago, Professor David Skegg, and Rowing New
Zealand chief executive Simon Peterson.
The centre, only the second in the country and the first in
the South Island, will employ a full-time coach based at the
University of Otago Rowing Club's aquatic centre for the next
"We've been planning this for two years," the chief executive
of the Otago University Rowing Club, Glen Sinclair, said.
"It has finally come to fruition."
An annual fund of $220,000 has been guaranteed for the next
four years by a partnership between the University of Otago,
benefactor David Richwhite, former club president Marcus Gray
and the Callis Trust.
The plan is to have 40 rowers based at the high-performance
centre and most will be university students.
But a few promising local rowers from other clubs, like
Michael Nisbet (North End), will be added. The 80-year-old
university rowing club opened its $1.5 million aquatic centre
in 2003, four years after its old clubrooms burnt down.
"The establishment of the centre could be the difference
between promising young rowers choosing to study at Otago or
another university," Sinclair said. Rowing New Zealand's
national high-performance centre is at Lake Karapiro.
There are also regional performance centres in Auckland,
Waikato, Blenheim and Christchurch.
Rowers attached to the high performance centre will be able
to access the expertise in the various university faculties,
such as nutrition, physiotherapy, medicine and physical
A bonus for the university departments is that the rowers
will be available as subjects for research projects at the
The partner relations officer in the vice-chancellor's
office, Kathy Young, said that the rowing initiative was a
test case to see if the principles could be extended to other
"We hope to do this with a range of sports in the future,"
"Rowing will be the pace-setter."
It is hoped to have a Chinese eight visit Dunedin in late
January or early February, to train at the centre and
competein New Zealand.
Beijing University has the top student eight crew in China.