Tuesday 3 January 2023, Tāhunanui Beach, Nelson

Beach Sprint Champs is back in Nelson this summer! This will be the third championship event hosted by Swift Racing and Nelson Rowing Club, and it is growing year on year. All New Zealand rowers are invited to come and try this fast-growing branch of rowing.

While the high-performance aspect of beach sprints is developing as an international sport, beach sprints are also great fun for school and recreational rowers, including masters. From the Nelson event right through to World Champs, beach sprints generate fierce competition on the water with lots of laughs, fun and camaraderie on the beach. Come and be part of it!

Beach sprint rowing has been confirmed as a Commonwealth Games event in Victoria 2026, and looks likely to be approved as an Olympic event for Los Angeles in 2028 (a decision is due next year).

In the more immediate future, beach sprint rowing will feature at the Bali Beach Games in August 2023. This multi-sport event includes a whole range of disciplines from open-water swimming to beach soccer and beach volley, and is organised by the Association of National Olympic Committees. The rowing events at Bali will be men’s and women’s solos and mixed doubles.

The January event in Nelson is the Oceania Qualifier for Bali, and it's expected a few rowers from Australia and the Pacific Islands will come to race. Emma Twigg has already qualified New Zealand for the women’s solo with her placing (gold) at the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals. Two other spots for NZ are still up for competition (the men’s solo and the mixed double). Most of the races at Nelson will be in Swift coxed quads. There will be a small number of mixed doubles races and some singles events, and these small boats will be prioritised for the serious Bali contenders. That is due to simple logistics: there is limited time available for racing due to tides. Singles racing, with only two people on the water at a time, takes a lot longer than quad racing, with ten at a time on the course.

A small group of NZ athletes are not long home from the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Wales. Some of these are planning to race in Nelson, so you could be meeting them on the beach and lining up to race them in the round robin format.

It’s fast, unpredictable, there’s an element of jeopardy, and it is not over until you cross that finish line. It’s literally about running around and playing at the beach. Brook Robertson


“Beach Sprint Racing is awesome – it’s a great event to be involved in as a rower, and it’s also great fun to watch. Lucy and I loved it last year in Nelson, and again in Wales. It’s fast, unpredictable, there’s an element of jeopardy, and it is not over until you cross that finish line. It’s literally about running around and playing at the beach.”

Brook Robertson, Nelson Rowing Club member and World Beach Sprint Finals silver medallist, mixed coxed quad, 2022.

What you need to know

  • Be in Nelson on 2 January for an early start at Tāhuna on 3 January.
    Reserve day is 4 January
  • Pre-registration is essential
  • Form your own crew, or come as an individual or small group to join a blended crew • Round robin format – everyone should get at least two races
  • Boats provided; BYO sculls or hire from Nelson
  • Entry is $50 plus $20 per event (i.e. $70 to enter in quad; $90 to race quad and double)
  • Follow Swift Racing NZ or Nelson Rowing Club on Facebook to stay up to date
    Email events@nelsonrowing.co.nz