HE HAS to supply his own flag, design his own uniform and make sure his (self-funded) boat is painted in national colours. But Brad Jowitt is determined not to be remembered as the world rowing championship's equivalent of Eric the Eel.
The 29-year-old Auckland architect will become Samoa's first international rower at next month's championships at Lake Karapiro.
His mum is supplying the flag, Jowitt has come up with the red and blue uniform and, asked about his official delegation, he says: "There will be myself and my coach, and I guess I will have some supporters down there, and my parents... I'm pretty much organising it on my own."
Having rowed for Auckland's famous West End club in almost every boat at the New Zealand championships, Jowitt had an easy choice for his international debut: he's in the single scull. After all, he didn't know of any other Samoan rowers.
While there appears to be a Samoan Rowing Association, Jowitt believes there are no actual rowing clubs or even rowers on the islands, conjuring an image of a blazer-wearing apparatchik in a dusty office somewhere in Apia, doing nothing.
Jowitt holds a Samoan passport through his German-Samoan mother, who emigrated to Auckland for senior school.
He first had the idea of representing Samoa for the world championships two years ago in Austria, but competing in New Zealand in 2010 is a bit easier on the pocket.
"It's obviously my first go at the world championships and clearly a big step up from rowing at the nationals," he says.
"I am treating this year as a stepping stone to next year's world championships [in Slovenia] and to qualify for the Olympics. It's going to be a big learning curve."
That said, Jowitt has come off a substantial year's training, which suggests he will not be left floundering, having captained a West End eight which went to this year's Henley Royal Regatta.
He switched into the single scull three months ago to begin preparation for the worlds under veteran coach John White, whose former proteges include world champions Juliette Haigh and Mahe Drysdale.
Drysdale and Jowitt have rowed together at the nationals and Drysdale has even loaned him some oars to train with, although Jowitt expects to have a new boat and oars from the US to race in.
Jowitt trains at 7am on the water every morning, and does weights or an ergonometer session in the evenings, leaving him with no social life and thankful for a very understanding girlfriend.
His next task is to ensure his workload is cleared before the championships begin. Jowitt says he has been "flat out on a big commercial project that's taking quite a bit of time" and will need to meet some early-October deadlines.
After that, his target is securing a place on finals day at Karapiro.
The single sculls will be by far the biggest field at the championships, with other smaller nations such as Slovenia also concentrating on the single.
- Sunday Star Times
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