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Club of the Year Awarded to Dunstan Arm

  • 21 May 19

The 2019 New Zealand Rowing Association (NZRA) AGM was held on Saturday, 18th May in Wellington.

Rowing NZ Chairman Gerry Dwyer was proud to present Dunstam Arm Rowing Club with the 2019 Club of the Year Award.

Dunstan Arm Rowing Club prepared the citation below.

Dunstan Arm Rowing Club is a small rural club based on Lake Dunstan near Clyde in Central Otago. It caters for a wide range of rowers from school age to club and masters. The club was incorporated in 1957 and now has school rowers from many years ago returning as masters. In recent years the club has been extremely successful at regattas at all levels, resulting in further growth.

The club is managed by a committee of eight volunteers. This group oversees the clubrooms, memberships and financial management, and organises fundraising to supplement subscription income.

Dunstan Arm Rowing Club offers an introduction to rowing each season so new rowers can try the sport on a no-obligation basis, and has held corporate rowing events in the past. The club is fortunate to be in a visible location where passing motorists have a clear view of rowers out training, thus raising the profile of the sport in the area. These factors, combined with recent regatta successes, have resulted in a growth in numbers over the past few seasons.

The club is involved in running two major events during the season. It organises the long-distance race from Cromwell to Clyde, and runs the Dunstan Regatta in conjunction with Southland Rowing Association.

The clubrooms are a significant asset, providing secure storage of boats and equipment with easy access to Lake Dunstan, as well as revenue from letting the space out for functions and hosting training camps for other schools. These are becoming increasingly popular, with some schools returning regularly.

Dunstan Arm has an ongoing programme of updating rowing equipment. Subscription fees are kept as low as possible to make rowing affordable, so funding for new equipment often requires external revenue. The club has been fortunate to be the recipient of grants, sponsorship and donations and completes fundraising activities throughout the year to further supplement this.

The club treasurer is responsible for day-to-day financial management, and a local accountant is engaged to prepare annual financial returns to ensure the club is meeting all financial requirements.

Dunstan Arm has a small and dedicated group of volunteers, including committee members, coaches and the team manager. This group is supported by the wider club, including parents of school-age rowers, who contribute as needed. Over the past year an effort has been made to improve the communication with the wider club so that people are informed and engaged in events.

In recent years the club has been extremely successful at regattas. In the 2018–19 season, masters rowers achieved at local, national and international events. They won multiple gold medals and trophies at the South Island Masters, 13 gold medals at the New Zealand Masters, and six golds at the United States Masters Championships.

The club won 18 medals (9 gold, 6 silver & 3 bronze) at this year’s South Island Championships, making it the most successful club at the regatta, and at the recent Nationals Dunstan earned 6 medals (2 gold, 2 silver & 2 bronze) across senior, club and intermediate levels.

The most significant area of growth on the water in recent years has been in school-age rowing with Dunstan High School, which has around 500 students in all. In 2012 Dunstan was not even in the top 60 schools at the Aon Maadi Cup. This year at the 2019 Maadi Cup, Dunstan High School was fifth in the overall medal tally and the second-best sculling school. This is a staggering result when you consider the size and depth of the rowing programmes of many of the competing schools. The school rowing programme at Dunstan is continually striving to improve, and in recent years this has seen the introduction of a winter training programme.

Throughout the year novices and senior rowers train alongside one another, often in the same boat, enabling newer rowers to learn from those who are more experienced and allowing the senior rowers to give back to the sport they have gained so much from. This inclusive approach creates a supportive yet competitive environment that encourages rowers to push each other on to better results.

Dunstan Arm Rowing Club is a small club that is punching far above its weight. There are no paid positions within the club – everything that has been achieved has been done through the hard work of volunteers and carried by the passion of a small number of individuals.