The unprecedented success of Marlborough rowers this year on the international rowing stage, headlined by Picton's Joseph Sullivan winning Olympic gold, could spark an influx of people wanting to take up the sport this season.
Members of the Blenheim Rowing Club which produced world junior fours champion Tom Murray this year are certainly not letting the grass grow under their feet and have launched an initiative to attract a forgotten section of people to the sport.
While elite rowers are catered for at the Central Region High Performance Centre at Wairau, and secondary school rowers are well looked after at Blenheim, Wairau and Picton, it's the older group, school leavers and older in particular, that Blenheim wants to get involved, both male and female.
Blenheim Rowing Club coach Bill Campbell, a former New Zealand elite and age group coach, believes there may be a large group of people out there who would love to take up rowing but have never really been encouraged to unless they've been through the school system.
"It's a matter of finding out if there are people who have left school who want to row," Campbell said.
"There is a novice class at the nationals for first-year rowers.
"When I started rowing back in the 1960s there was no secondary school rowing. The opportunity is there. We are opening our doors."
Those who want to come down and give rowing a try, men and women of any age, will be given five weekends of coaching with all plant and equipment provided, and after five weeks they can decide whether they want to take it up as a sport, Campbell said. If so, training will revolve around making them competitive and preparing them for regattas.
"There are about three trips to Twizel this season, including the Nationals in February and it's good fun. We've got great water on the Wairau and you meet friends for life in this sport."
Some elite rowers didn't begin their careers seriously until they had left school, Campbell said, citing Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale as an example.
He thinks there could be a lot of untapped potential out there and says this introductory programme is an opportunity to get club standard rowers of an older age group involved.
As he said, there are not many clubs in New Zealand where you can rub shoulders with a world champion.
The five-week Learn to Row programme starts tomorrow, Sunday, from 10am at the Blenheim Rowing Club, which is situated in Jones Rd on the Lower Wairau. Follow the signs over the Grove Rd Bridge.
There are two-hour training and coaching sessions with former New Zealand coach Campbell and fellow Blenheim stalwart Mouse Taylor. Masters rowers and senior boys, including Murray and his fellow New Zealand under-20 team-mate Corey McCaffrey, will also be assisting.
The first session is free and the subsequent sessions are $10 to cover costs.
Campbell said for those keen to carry on past the five-week initial period, $40 will come off their annual subscription.
Anyone interested can either go down to the Blenheim Rowing Club on Sunday at 10am or phone Bill on 021 333 975 or club captain Geoff Beavis on 021 485 521.
- The Marlborough Express
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