Avon dominate on opening day of NZ Rowing Championships


The stories from south of the Cook Strait didn’t sound great.

The Super El Nino we’ve been experiencing across the country had blown out most of the summer racing at Lake Ruataniwha.

There were three long hauls to Twizel for regattas that produced just one full day of uninterrupted racing in the last three months.

Maybe that would show on opening day of NZ Rowing Championships.

But if anything, Christchurch’s Avon club looked stronger for the experience, taking out most of the heats in the big events at Lake Karapiro.

Avon dominated the Senior and U22 events, across both women and men.

The club has nearly 80 athletes up for the week, with 91 entries.

One word comes to mind. Juggernaut.


The Avon Senior Women's Eight were just one of the club's many crews that showed their dominance on day one of the New Zealand Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro.  Photo: Picture Show Ltd.

It was a great day for Clifton Rowing Club from the Waitara River, they flooded the field in the Novice and Club sculling events, barely finishing out of the top three in any of their races.

Up on the bank the rowers from North Shore were taking full advantage of the pre-eminent location of their tent.

It’s the club’s 150th anniversary so they’re here to make a statement over the week.

Big hopes are pinned on their Boss Rooster four. Olympic gold medallist Michael Brake is back for a guest appearance to help launch North Shore’s celebrations.

Ollie Maclean and Matt Macdonald from the New Zealand Men’s Four and Sam Shotter complete the crew.

Sam’s not a guy to back away from a challenge but he is feeling the pressure, especially given Ollie and Matt’s winning row in the preliminary of the Coxless Pair in the morning and Michael’s pedigree.

Men's Prem Four

Michael Brake (2nd from right, front row) with the Boss Rooster-winning North Shore crew from 2019. He's back for another shot to help the club kick off its 150th anniversary celebrations.

“He's always got it,” says Sam. “He can always flip a switch. I think when you're an Olympic champion, you've got something in the bag that's like, you never, you never lose it.”

“I don't want to screw it up with boys that are winning in the pair because if [we] lose it's on me.”

In the short training row, they’d had Sam learned heaps. It’s going to be a learning week for everyone, with all the Summer Squad athletes rowing out of the boat park instead of Rowing New Zealand’s High-Performance building.

It’s a great opportunity for some of the world’s best rowers to connect with the young athletes who’ve been working hard to put their best race out on the water for their club.


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.