Why we lost the rowing

A rowing event at Lake Karapiro in 2019 with spectators packing the shore.

The New Zealand Rowing championships were moved from Lake Karāpiro to the South Island because of the Waipā venue’s topography.

Lake Ruataniwha in Twizel is long and skinny and can accommodate competitors and spectators in the 100-person pods required under Covid-19 Red Light protection framework.

Lake Karāpiro’s Mighty River Domain can cater for 15,000 people outdoors and up to 1000 indoors but it was virtually impossible to accommodate them safely for Covid-19, said Rowing NZ’s Community and Development general manager Mark Weatherall.

All eyes were on Lake Ruataniwha over the weekend to see if the South Island Rowing championships were a success under the Covid-19 restrictions.

The championships were held on Saturday and Sunday with no spectators and 1400 competitors from 35 clubs.

South Island Rowing provided live streaming and commentary for spectators unable to attend.

It appears to have been the ideal test run for the national championships from February 14 to 18 and the Maadi Cup secondary school championships from March 28 to April 2.

Weatherall said making the decision to move the nationals to the South Island was made in consultation with both the Karāpiro and South Island rowing operational committees and their respective boards.

The scramble is now on for North Island clubs to get their rowers and boats to Twizel, he said.

Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferries is a Rowing NZ supporter and is putting additional sailings on to accommodate the extra boats.

North Island clubs could also access boats from South Island clubs.

Scenes from one of the North Island Secondary Schools rowing championships in 2019 with Kay Gregory making the announcements.


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