2021 Wrap-up, Otago Champs and looking ahead

The rowing community has rounded out 2021 with a hugely popular Meridian Otago Championships Regatta, the introduction of regatta live-streaming and the prospect of a very busy season yet to come. Please read on for a few notices regarding upcoming regattas, a moment of reflection from the SIR Board and the Otago Champs Regatta Report.

A few words from the Board

Words by Deputy Chairman Tim Babbage

It’s been a busy year for the team at South Island Rowing. With our most comprehensive survey of users in a number of years, see the results here. Planning for upgrades to the facility as result of the survey are well under way and we shall be providing some plans for everyone to see in the near future.

With Covid still being omnipresent in all of our lives SIR has spent a lot of time in planning how to run events and keep everyone involved safe. Special thanks must go to our Covid team Logan Keys, Alex Meates, Sophie Strachan, Peter Midgley and Karl Morgan for the huge amount of time that has gone into setting up the facility.

Big news with our staffing and some changes to way we have appointed roles. Kelvin Maker has come onboard as our Course Custodian, many of you will know Kelvin from his many years in the sport as a competitor and volunteer. Also Gina Cracroft-Wilson has taken over responsibilities for the kitchen and feeding our volunteer team. Welcome to the team to both of them.

Our thanks to not only to our large team of volunteers that make the running of Regattas a seamless process but also to all the volunteers who make our sport the special family that it is.

The Board would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and let’s have some great racing for the rest of summer.

Reminders for the season ahead:

  • Clubs and Schools wishing to undertake training camps at Lake Ruataniwha must fill out the Training Notification Form three weeks prior to the intended camp.
  • Make sure your entire team is familiar with safety notices and the traffic flow pattern for training outside regattas.
  • As per the SIR Covid-19 Protocols, while at Orange, spectators are invited to attend regattas. Spectator entry is $5 for the weekend and individuals must have a vaccine pass.
  • The road from the 500m – 1000m mark is CLOSED during regattas to allow us to control entry points to the venue, as the venue is required to take all practical steps to enforce vaccine passes. This measure is in place to ensure no one can circumvent the vaccine mandates and create large unvaccinated gatherings by watching racing outside the SIR gates. NO PARKING or access to the lake is available in this area. By not allowing anyone else other than coaches in this area we can easily direct any other members of the public or those wanting to spectate to the main SIR gate to have their vaccine pass verified and $5 entry fee collected to offset the cost of running the event.
  • Rubbish will continue to be ‘pack in, pack out’. Please take all of your rubbish with you when you leave the complex for the day.
  • Dogs will be allowed ON LEAD ONLY on a trail basis. Please pick up after your dog and ensure it is under your full control to ensure the safety of all those attending regattas.

Otago Champs Regatta Report

Words by Chief Umpire Lauren Farnden

Otago Champs was the first major regatta held under the new Covid Protection Framework which required all people on the complex to have a vaccine passport. Covid requirements for sporting events have been constantly changing and the Otago Rowing Assoc is extremely appreciative of all the work Logan Keyes, Peter Midgley and the rest of the SIR Covid committee have done behind the scenes to make sure regattas can be held for our athletes. Thanks to the volunteers from RNZ and the medical school students who manned the gates to check vaccine passes and issue wrist bands throughout the weekend.

There were record number of entries for the regatta so racing was going to be busy at four minute intervals for both days. For the first time there was live streaming of the regatta available online and multiple cameras were placed with different views of the boat park, start and race course. There were a few teething issues with sound and picture but overall it was very well received with positive comments from people watching around the country and even some NZ rowers studying overseas logged on to watch. The technical people have already got ideas to make it better so hopefully this will be an ongoing feature of Ruataniwha regattas in the future.

Saturday’s racing started well with the day staying mainly to time.  Several inexperienced crews struggled a little getting their big boats into the starting blocks but on the whole the standard of rowing was really high considering it’s so early in the season. The wind shifted in the early afternoon which meant we had to put racing on hold for a couple of hours before restarting and racing through to early evening.

To make up for lost time on Saturday we started racing early on Sunday and went through to 3pm. The weather behaved and there was some very exciting finishes in the finals. Thanks to all of the coaches and managers for making the weekend so successful for the rowers. We had a large crew of volunteers and race officials who make the regatta tick over and the ORA appreciates the long hours they spend without breaks throughout the regatta. We were lucky to have a large number of new volunteers and boat drivers for Otago Champs and it’s great to add some new blood to the volunteer roster.

On behalf of the ORA we hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year and we look forward to more successful regattas at Lake Ruataniwha.