Kerry Dombroski will need little introduction to Masters rowers. He’s a unit and regularly competes here and overseas.


His daughter Kate may be a little less familiar to people but that might be because she’s spent half her 40 years living overseas, most recently in Australia.

She’s at Ruataniwha with a group representing the Toowong club out of Brisbane. Kate picked up four golds at the regatta, 67-year-old Kerry won the G-M Coxless Pair with his long-time Clifton clubmate Gus Berghan.

They are quite a force of nature, the Dombroskis.

Kate came over to New Zealand to row the World Masters Games with Kerry in 2017 at Karapiro.

She remembers most of the build-up, little of the racing.

“I came over to train with dad and I was so sick that I couldn't even get in a boat. I had a chest infection and was on my back for the entire month. So mum drugged me up from the chemist and we got in the boat and we just raced. I don't even remember the race. I don't even remember finishing.  But we ended up fourth. Poor Dad had to pull me down the entire course. Poor bugger.”

This year they combined again in Clifton colours at the Australian Masters on the Olympics course in Penrith.

Kate was her normal 110 per cent self this time and they squeaked home  by 0.77 sec to win gold.

Hear Kate and Kerry describe the last 300m below:


Clifton composite 8. with Kate in 7 seat and Kerry in 5 seat. 

I met three people at the regatta this weekend who’ve started rowing clubs. Kate’s one of them.

She worked in marketing and advertising in Dubai for 13 years and in 2008 got inspired after seeing someone out on the waterfront rowing.

“Managed to get together with some friends of mine and we were like, ‘Let's start a club’. We found an Arab that could give us some land. And I started to get some funding from all our companies and started to get some boats so we could start a to learn-to-row [programme] and then make some more money. We ended up with about 300 members by the time I left right before Covid.”

That led Kate back to mum and dad’s for two years, and some more time in the boat on the Waitara River.

Some of the silt runs through Kerry’s veins. Kate?

“Oh, having been able to row 18k's around [The Palm in Dubai] and have dolphins and seeing crystal clear water and beautiful scenery and going back to a dirty, muddy river that’s tidal is not my ideal.”

So she has a plan to keep the daughter/dad rowing experience going.

“World's our oyster, eh, Dad? Maybe Henley next year? Hopefully I won't have to come over to New Zealand and grab you to put you on the flight. Someone else can do that.”

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Kerry and Kate Dombroski

Just as the wind looked like it was going to be terminal for racing, it seemed like a good time to hoof it to the tower and catch the last commentary of the day from South Island rowing legend Russell Mills.

You’ll know the voice, possibly not the face.

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He started at Alexandra Rowing Club as a 12-year-old and was a founder of Dunstan Arm RC after the Clyde Dam project swallowed up the old Alex shed.

Millsy’s called them all over the years, so let’s leave him with the final word for Masters 2023...


Andy Hay

Andy Hay is a freelance producer, writer and rowing coach. He was cox of the world champion New Zealand eight of 1982 and '83. He is NZ Olympian #446.