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Regatta Report | 2022 Meridian Otago Champs

Over 1100 competitors, 70 officials and volunteers plus a large group of vocal supporters descended on Lake Ruataniwha for Otago Champs Dec 10th and 11th. For the first major regatta of the season it was great to be able to have spectators back to cheer the crews on and witness the exciting racing on the lake.

During covid SIR brought in live feeds on YouTube of the racing and commentary which has been very popular. This has been continued and thanks to Gren and the team for continuing to develop the technology to promote our sport and our amazing regatta venue locally and worldwide.

This season SIR are trialling a new boat holder roster where each club and school provides volunteers to hold the boats in the start. This is a vital job to keep 10 lanes of racing at 4 minute intervals running on time through the regattas. Thanks to those who held the boats this weekend. Since we don’t have covid restrictions we were able to bring back normal cox weighing and control commission procedures. For some of our newer rowers they haven’t done this much over the last couple of years and some of the experienced ones were a bit rusty too. There were a few delays and queues caused by cox substitutions not being done prior to a cox arriving at weigh in. Large numbers of boats were also sent back to the boat park on Saturday to get heel restraints or other issues fixed.

We got through the whole programme on Saturday. There was a brief patch of gusty winds mid-morning which made for very challenging conditions for the novice double and masters events which were on the water at the time. I was very impressed at the calm way the novices handled the conditions which were far from ideal. The wind then changed direction and the lake was largely flat for the rest of the day until the last 15 races or so. The start team made the quick decision to swap to the 1000m start and we were able to finish off those last races without having to put the regatta on hold for long periods which can be frustrating for all.

Sunday produced some very close races in ideal weather conditions. The wind came up just after the last race so couldn’t have been better planned!!! Thanks to all of the volunteers on the land and new boat drivers that put their hands up to keep our umpire and safety boats fully manned all weekend. On behalf of the ORA I wish to thank all of our sponsors. I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday period and look forward to more successful regattas for the rest of the season.

Lauren Farnden

Chief Umpire