There was a Kiwi presence at last month’s Australian Rowing Championships in Sydney, with Kim Harrison and Jack Quirk helping officiate the regatta as part of a development programme for Rowing NZ officials.

 

“It was amazing – such an awesome experience,” says Kim. “The champs were held at the Penrith venue that was used for the Sydney Olympics, and it was about twice the size of our nationals – there were more than 2,000 athletes competing over the course of the week with around 24 officials as well as all the volunteers. So it was a really big event and there was such a buzz around the park.”

Based in Cambridge, Kim is a Level 3 Race Official with Rowing NZ, and helps out at most regattas held at Karapiro.

“I used to race myself at Masters level but I’m not really that competitive a person and I just enjoy being involved in the sport. I like the social side of things so helping at regattas is great. There’s quite a lot of variety in the job and the team at Karapiro is like one big family, so it’s a really nice experience.”

Kim served as Chief Umpire for the North Island Secondary Schools regatta this year, as well as at the Legions Masters regatta last year. With the hope of putting herself forward for her World Rowing officials’ licence in the future, Kim took up the chance to officiate at the Australian Rowing Championships (ARC) as part of a regular exchange with Rowing Australia.

“Each year, Rowing Australia sends a couple of officials to Maadi and the national champs, and we go to their ARC, to share ideas and help develop the pool of officials.

“For me, I’d like to go for my World Rowing umpire qualification – that’s my ultimate goal for the next few years. But going to Sydney has given me the bug to go overseas a bit more, perhaps starting with other regattas in Australia or perhaps look for other regattas further afield to see how things are run overseas.”

Kim says that while a lot of the roles she performed during the week were much the same as at New Zealand regattas, the scale of the regatta and the layout of the venue – with a training lake where crews warm up before their races – meant there were a few differences.

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Jack Quirk and Kim Harrison officiated at the Australian Rowing Championships as part of an exchange programme for New Zealand and Australian officials.

“Jack and I took lots of notes during the week about things we might take back to our regattas at Karapiro. One thing I noticed was how quiet the starting area was at Penrith, because the boatholders all have earpieces connecting them directly to the aligner. It makes for a lot calmer, more focused environment for the athletes, so we might think about whether we can do something similar here.”

“But in general, it was just great to have a chat to all these other umpires and see how they go about things. You can always learn more – there are situations in races I haven’t been in before, so you can find out how they would deal with oar clashes and those sorts of things.

“When we finished for the day, we’d all head out as a group to have some drinks and dinner after the day was finished, and there was a formal dinner hosted by Rowing Australia on one of the nights. It was all really sociable and good to build those connections with the Australian umpires.”

Kim and Jack were given the privilege of aligning and starting the interstate finals on the last day, and Kim says the highlight of the week was starting the Queen’s Cup, which is the race for the top women’s eight crews. But she also got a sneak peek at one of the leading contenders for the men’s eights at the Paris Olympics.

“I was in the umpire’s boat as the Australian men’s eight went past, and it was pretty impressive – just the noise and power.

“I reckon they’re the ones to watch at the Olympics.”

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Another long day of umpiring on the water for Jack.

Andrew Smith_(c)2018_Tabitha Arthur Photography_lr--4

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is a keen Masters rower based in Wellington. A member of Wellington Rowing Club off and on since 2000, he spends more time on the erg than the water, trying to convince himself he's still young.