2018 Billy Webb Challenge
The 2018 Billy Webb Challenge saw the event's tenth anniversary with the return of crowd favourite and Olympic Gold Medalist Mahé Drysdale.
Marking his fifth victory in the event, Drysdale won the 5km challenge 19 seconds ahead of 2017 winner John Storey. Mathew Dunham who competed in the men’s lightweight double at the 2018 World Rowing Championships took third.
Event organisers were pleased to see such strong numbers of U17 and U20 athletes competing in this year’s event. Masters grades also saw impressive entries and performances, with Whanganui local Martin Bridger in the Masters 40+ crossing the line in a time of 25.46.
The ‘Billy Webb’ was introduced in 2008 to commemorate New Zealand’s first professional single sculling world champion, William Webb. William, best known as Billy – defended his World Title on the Whanganui River in 1908 before 25,000 spectators. The 5km feature race is proudly endorsed by Rowing NZ and offers the New Zealand rowing community an opportunity to row alongside New Zealand’s elite rowers.
Born in Christchurch in 1880, William Charles Webb later became the first New Zealander to win the World Title in the men’s single sculls title when he beat Australian Charles Towns on the Parramatta River in Sydney. Webb proudly represented Union Boat Club.
The Whanganui Rowing Association is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to facilitate the development and sustainability of rowing in the Whanganui region.
Photo: Rowing Celebrations