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Gisborne Rowing Club

  • 15 Feb 16

If you’re a parent of a Gisborne rower and attending your first regatta, your instructions for locating our rowers will be, ‘Just look for the old canvas tent.’

When standing with the lake at your back and a sprawl of dazzling pergolas in front of you, that advice is suddenly very welcome. An old canvas tent is very easy to spot. It sticks out like the proverbial amongst its neighbours with its faded sides and skewed wooden tent pegs. It doesn’t have a club name on it or a logo but you know it’s the one. The old canvas tent. It’s got to be Gisborne.

The Gisborne Rowing Club was first established in 1874 and today, as in past times, is largely self-sufficient, sourcing boats and financial support through the community, fundraising and occasional grants. The club’s boat shed sits on the banks of the very winding Waimata River, which unfortunately doesn’t have a single straight stretch of more than 600 metres. Rowers face difficulty in maintaining stamina and pace when they are required to turn corners often or to dodge partially submerged logs and debris.

Wairoa Rowing Club, however, with its excellent stretch of water, is an hour’s drive away and when possible, training camps are held here. This enables our rowers to use the Wairoa Rowing Club’s facilities and most importantly, to enjoy rowing on straight course.

Like many other small provincial clubs, Gisborne Rowing Club is largely dependent on the generosity of the community and our parents. The tow vehicle was donated by one set of parents, the tent by another, and a toolbox by parents who, when they joined, were amazed to discover that there were only two spanners available for de-rigging! This aside, the club has enjoyed some great successes over the years, thanks to the expertise of our volunteer coaches – local ex-rowers – all of whom have fulltime jobs but are keen to ‘give back’ to the club.

At our open day on 2 August, two new novice rowers were welcomed to the club along with our 13 returning rowers. All returning rowers have maintained their fitness level over winter, either at the local gym, tackling Kaiti Hill or recently, working out at the shed under the guidance of a parent.

An exciting addition to the club’s arsenal has been the delivery of a KIRS coxed four/quad plus four pairs of Croker sculls and four sweep oars (ex St Margaret’s). The purchase of the boat was made possible thanks to a grant from the Eastern & Central Community Trust coupled with funds raised from a quiz night, a rowathon and raffles.

Both our coaches have left temporarily for overseas travel and we are very happy to have Grace Donald join us as coach this season. We have advertised for another coach to assist her. Grace has a bachelor of sport and exercise and is an ex-Gisborne rower who previously coached at Gisborne Girls’ High School. Whilst studying, she worked at Athletes House which targets future high performance athletes. We very much look forward to our rowers benefiting from Grace’s expertise.

We will be sending a number of our rowers to Rotorua to join in with Hawke’s Bay crews for the John Howard Winter Series on 15/16 August. We think this will be very beneficial to them in gaining experience and observing how other training programmes work within a larger club.

Our rowers have a lot to be feeling confident about this season with our ‘new’ boat and our new coach. It might just be that we’ve got a winning combination here. For the time being though, we’ll hang on to the old canvas tent. So look us up. We’re a friendly bunch and we’re always very easy to find.


Story by: Fiona Mitford

Photos by: Steve McArthur of Rowing Celebration (www.rowingcelebration.com)