The University of Waikato rowing team made history at the Aon University Rowing Championships on Saturday, becoming the first and only university to beat the University of Otago in 20 years of racing.
This year’s regatta saw crews from Waikato, Otago, Auckland, Canterbury, Victoria, Lincoln, Massey and AUT come together at Lake Karapiro to compete for the coveted Ashes trophy, which is awarded based on overall points.
In addition to winning the regatta overall, Waikato took out the fiercely contested Hebberly Shield for winning the men’s championship eight and the Tamaki Cup for winning the women’s eight. The Waikato team was made up of 65 rowers and four coxswains, competing in a range of novice, tournament, intermediate and championship events.
This year’s was one of the biggest teams the University of Waikato has ever had and championship rower Drikus Conradie says the large number of motivated students was a key factor in Waikato’s success.
“The difference this year came down to the number of amazing young students who took up the opportunity to join a team of wonderful coaches,” says Drikus, who won three championship medals. “We all worked together to achieve our vision of topping the points, while having a huge amount of fun. It felt great to be a part of making history.”
The highly anticipated event was the culmination of many hours hard work for the competitors. Long hours and early starts can be gruelling, but it’s all worth it, according to first-year student Lily Butler who came away with five gold medals.
“The trainings are hard and frequent; some weeks I will have up to 14 different sessions,” she says. “But I row because I love it. The feeling you get when you push your body to new limits is unlike any other.”
Rowing at Karapiro, the team felt at home on the lake and enjoyed support from the crowd in the grandstands.
“I got a rush from hearing the crowd and my team mates cheering for us,” Lily says. “The Waikato Uni team was a competitive, supportive and fun group – I felt lucky to have been a part of it.”
After a well-deserved rest, the University of Waikato rowing club will prepare for the next regatta, Battle of the Bombays, in August. The club caters for all levels of experience and training capacity. If you are interested in joining, email firstname.lastname@example.org.