Masters quad crew covers length of Lake Wanaka

Wanaka Masters quad rowers (from left) Jaime Hutter, Kahn Cawte, Rob Taylor and Shane Gibson are...
Wanaka Masters quad rowers (from left) Jaime Hutter, Kahn Cawte, Rob Taylor and Shane Gibson are delighted and relieved to finish their 45km row the length of Lake Wanaka on Saturday. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
A Wanaka Rowing Club masters quad is celebrating the completion of a 45km length of Lake Wanaka challenge in four hours 14 minutes on Saturday.

Jaime Hutter (stroke), Kahn Cawte, Rob Taylor and Shane Gibson were grateful to finish the job in calm conditions, after persevering with rough conditions following the 10am start from Makarora.

The row was a fundraiser for four Wanaka charities.

The tired but smiling rowers were met by an enthusiastic crowd of about 50 supporters, who had been waiting for them at the Wanaka Waters Sports Facility in Roys Bay since about 1pm.

"From Makarora, the first 18km was a bit rough. There were waves hitting the bowsprit. From Mou Waho [Island] it smoothed out. We had quite a few stops and have sore backs. The main thing is, we completed it," Gibson said.

Support boat crew members Tracey Gibson and Alistair Madill used a fishing net rigged to the end of a kayak paddle to pass electrolytes, pork sandwiches and scroggin to the men as they rowed.

Tracey Gibson said the conditions were good once the team got closer to The Neck of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

Hutter said the the highlight was being buzzed by a helicopter off Minaret Station, around the 20km mark.

Cawte said he was challenged by his first endurance row, after deciding to join the club in October last year, a few months after moving to Wanaka.

"I am a snowboarder. I underestimated how difficult it would be. My last big row was about 12km and after that, I thought I should be able to do it. It was torture," Cawte said.

He was enjoying his new sport and was not finding the cold lake an issue.

"Back in high school I was a coxswain. I used to be short and laughed at. Now I am 6 foot 4 tall," he said.

It was the first time a rowing quad had tackled the challenge, although Hutter and Gibson completed it in a double in 2017 in about 4 hours 30 minutes.

Taylor suggested the quad repeat the challenge and while the team achieved its goal of beating the double’s record, the rough conditions early in the piece reduced its ambitions for going under four hours.

Hutter said the charity fundraiser would remain open on the quad’s Givealittle page for a few more weeks. By Saturday afternoon, the quad had raised just over $2300 towards its $10,000 goal.

 - Marjorie Cook

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