Club eager to add masters ranks

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Hands-on . . . Otago Rowing Club members Annie Blakey (17, left) and Sam Winton (17) make some adjustments to their boat. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Otago Rowing Club is opening its doors in the hopes of attracting new members.

The club will host an open day on October 15.

It will have its annual meeting in the morning, name its new boats and open the club to visitors in the afternoon.

Club secretary Dave Jackson hoped the open day would attract a few new members, particularly in the masters grade.

The masters grade is for people aged 26 and over, an area the club is lacking in.

It has plenty of junior rowers, aged from 14 to 18, as Taieri College, John McGlashan College and Kavanagh College rowers are part of the club.

However, once pupils left school they tended to also leave the club, leaving a large age gap.

Jackson said that due to the structure of rowing in New Zealand, school-leavers were encouraged to join the university rowing clubs or Rowing New Zealand.

This threatened the long-term health of rowing in the country, as it would have a negative affect on local clubs and there would be no-one training young rowers for RNZ to “polish”, he said.

The club’s next substantial group of rowers was aged from 45 to 75.

“We need to to recruit to keep the club structure healthy and able to face the future.”

Surprisingly, the age distribution had worked well in the club as many of the older members coached the younger ones, he said.

The club rows year-round and has 46 boats, including three safety boats and a range of training boats.

It recently started its introductory rowing course for school pupils.

While most of the club’s rowers competed in national and local regattas, masters rowing was also a good opportunity to have a social outing.

“We come down, we have a row, we have a talk, we have a coffee.

“We want to move into the future as a club that aims to increase and maintain its membership by attracting athletes both young and old to get involved and to discover the joy of rowing on our Otago Harbour.”