Five secondary school rowers from Christchurch Boys High (Ben Harris (c), Jimmy Dawson, Kobe Hansen, Jack Bond and Matthew Dennis) along with two rowers from St Margaret’s College (Coco Flood and Olivia Hawkes) travelled to Malta from 16th to 26th April to compete in a special U18 ANZAC Rowing Regatta.

The event was organised by the Malta University Rowing Club to coincide with the island’s annual ANZAC Day memorial service at the Pieta cemetery in the capital Valletta.  This service remembers the many thousands of ANZAC wounded from Gallipoli who were evacuated from the battlefield to Malta for medical treatment in 1915.  Although best efforts were made, some still succumbed to their wounds which resulted in around 230 Australians and 70 New Zealanders being buried on the island.

The visit comprised a week of training and acclimatisation to both boats and conditions, as well as visits to several significant historical and cultural sites.  The culmination was the CBHS boys and SMC girls attending the ANZAC Day memorial service at Pieta on the morning of April 25 followed by the regatta in the afternoon.  The service was attended by a long list of dignitaries including the President of Malta, the Australian High Commissioner, the Honorary New Zealand Consul, and the Ambassador of Turkey amongst many others.  A wreath was laid to honour the fallen by representatives of the rowers of the two countries, a task performed on behalf of the New Zealand contingent by Ben Harris.  The group then attended a reception at the Australian High Commissioner’s residence before travelling on to the regatta.

The regatta itself was in the form of head-to-head coastal rowing beach sprints.  This format is a cross between traditional surf life-saving and flat-water rowing.  The sport is popular overseas and has become prominent in the thinking of Rowing NZ because of its inclusion in the upcoming Brisbane Commonwealth Games (2026) and the Los Angeles Olympics (2028).  Consequently, for the first time last year, Rowing NZ sent representatives to the World Beach Sprint Championships, and they were very pleased rowers from CBHS and SMC were competing in this regatta as their aim is to increase participation in the sport.

On the water, CBHS and SMC competed against crews from Australia and Malta (MURC).  As the only participants from this country, they not only represented their respective schools, but also New Zealand.  In total, eight events were contested at the regatta.  In an exceptional performance, the combined New Zealand schools won six of the eight events in a professional and disciplined display of high-quality rowing.  They also contested both finals of the events they did not win.

Malta Squad_CBHS Quad Racing

It is no exaggeration to say the race results are outstanding given the quality of the international opposition and the fact the squad was significantly outnumbered by both their Australian and Maltese counterparts.  Our congratulations to all.

The school is very proud to have had members of its rowing squad attend this historic and distinguished event, as well as the ANZAC Day service.  The squad of fine young men and women trained well, showed a high degree of discipline and camaraderie, and the results reflected the culture of the squad itself, as well as that of the rowing programmes of the respective schools.

This event is also notable in that it marked the end of their school rowing careers for our Y13 squad members: Jimmy Dawson, Kobe Hansen and Ben Harris.  Ben led from the front as Squad Captain for the combined NZ group, while Jimmy and Kobe carried themselves excellently as senior members of the squad throughout the week.  It’s great that they could all go out on a winning note, and we wish them well.  A special mention also to our ‘travelling reserve’ Harry Hawkes (Y10) who trained and joined all activities with the squad and contributed much to the overall success of the trip.