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University Rowing

University Rowing in New Zealand aims to provide a rowing experience which enriches a student’s pursuit of academic excellence. To achieve this we focus on participation in a sport for life, varying levels of competition and high performance opportunities.

There are currently nine university campuses within New Zealand that participate in rowing. Each university runs their own programme and these usually kick off at the start of semester one.

The most fiercely contested event on the University Rowing calendar is the Aon New Zealand University Rowing Championships held around Easter time each year, which is competitive on the water and a whole heap of fun off the water. Universities from around the country compete in varying grades from completely Novice (only about 6 weeks rowing experience) to Championship level in all sizes of boats from singles to eights. The most notable race at this regatta is the Championship Eights races which are held over a 3.2km (or 2 miles) course. The men challenge for the Hebberly Shield (which dates back to 1928) and the women for the Tamaki Cup. Novice racing is worth double points so a lot rides on how these new comers cross the finish line and so they are cheered on by their teammates to the fullest. The university with the most overall points claims the ashes trophy, a trophy donated by Otago University Rowing Club after their shed was burnt down in 1999 (inside the trophy are actual ashes from the fire).

There are also boat races between Otago and Canterbury during May, and the Battle of the Bombays is contested between Auckland and Waikato every year in August.

Throughout the year there are also many opportunities for rowers to represent New Zealand Universities. During July the Trans Tasman Test Series is held against Australia. Selected to compete are a men’s and women’s heavyweight eight, a men’s lightweight four and a women’s lightweight quad. It is a three race series (usually a 5km and 2 x 2km) hosted somewhere in Australia or New Zealand on alternative years.

There is also the opportunity to continue on the high performance pathway and represent NZ Universities on the world stage. The World University Rowing Championships are held every second year, the next regatta will be in 2020 at Zagreb in Croatia). The World University Games, known as the Universiade, also sometimes features rowing in the events programme, this is a huge event with all sports living in a village and competing in one place (similar to the Olympics). More recently rowing has featured in the 2013 and 2015 Universiade. These events are held throughout the world and generally during the second semester.

If you would like to know more about University Rowing within New Zealand please contact Tim Wilson (email: tim@rowingnz.kiwi, phone: +64 27 306 9968).