Craighead accept challenge
The Craighead rowing eight is set for some early action after being invited to the Gallagher Great Race on the Waikato River.
The rowing festival, which started in 2002, is on a 3.85km upstream course through central Hamilton.
It is the first time Craighead has been invited to race, having come to the organisers attention after making the final of the under-18 eights at the Maadi Cup earlier in the year.
They are the only South Island crew competing and face Hamilton's Waikato Diocesan, Sacred Heart Girls' College and Hillcrest High School, as well as St Peter's of Cambridge.
Craighead coach Dean Milne said it will be an interesting race in more than one way.
"We would like to go up there and do really well but it is a locals race.
"Unless you have local knowledge of the river you can struggle as St Kevin's found out last year, it is not the fastest crew that wins.
"It is really a coxswains' race."
Milne said they studied the video of last year and watched the smart crews cross back and forth across the river to avoid the strongest currents.
Solo time trials take place on the Saturday afternoon and subsequent seeding for Sunday's racing, with the fastest two in the A-final.
Crew captains are also required to make their race start and finish station elections.
On race day, the schools' crews race each other in a two-boat head-to-head race based on their seeding, with the fastest two in the A final.
Milne said several senior girls in the crew that finish at the end of the year have opted out to allow the younger ones an opportunity to compete.
The school has arranged to borrow a boat from Waikato Dio for the race.
Milne is happy with all the early season preparation for the Waikato trip.
"It's been magic for us as we were on the water two months ahead of schedule, the girls have had icicles in their hair on occasions."
Traditionally the Gallagher Great Race takes place between the University of Waikato senior men's eight and an international university but this year New Zealand meets Australia with thousands expected to line the riverbanks.
The Craighead eight are Zoe Dobbs (cox), Paige Cook, Erica Taylor, Emma Dyke, Harriet Sutton, Alice Murdoch, Surrey Collett, Bridget Murdoch and Emma Harrison.
- © Fairfax NZ News