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Sad passing of James Sheehan

  • 17 Dec 19

Rowing NZ acknowledge the sad passing of James Sheehan, who passed away on 16 December.

James joined the sport of rowing as a coxswain in the late ‘60s, eventually holding many positions in Canterbury Rowing Association, South Island Rowing and Union Rowing Club.

James became a successful administrator, presented with a Rowing NZ Service Jacket in 1989 aged 32. The award recognized his outstanding contributions to the sport, and he remains the youngest person to be honored with the award.

In the late ‘80s, James began his Rowing NZ management career as the Trans-Tasman Colts manager and later the U23 team manager. Quickly progressing to the management of elite teams, in 1990 he was an assistant manager for the World Rowing Championship team, and manager in 2002, 2003 and 2004 – in which the team competed in the Athens 2004 Olympics.

James was previously a member of the Rowing NZ board, and has officiated at New Zealand regattas since 1978 as both a starter and umpire. He identified a significant safety issue of capsized rowers in the cold waters of Lake Ruataniwha and spear headed the safety boat operation now in place in Twizel. Among his other initiatives was the use of a jet ski for quick responses.

His considerable contributions to rowing were again recognised in 2012, where he was awarded Rowing NZ Volunteer of the Year.

The community spirit that characterized James was evident in his work with many organizations, most recently as a board member of Parafed Canterbury.

James will be sadly missed by rowers, friends and whanau.

Rest in Peace, James.

A celebration of James' life will be held at the McFaddens Centre, 64 McFaddens Road, St Albans, on Monday 23 December at 1.30pm. A private cremation will follow.