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Rhodes rowers brace for nationals

Date Released: Wed, 8 May 2013 12:00 +0200

THE Rhodes University Rowing Club is steeling itself for some stiff competition this weekend as they make final preparations for the 58th annual South African Rowing Championship Regatta.

Taking place in Pretoria on the eight-lane, two-kilometre Alan Francis rowing course on Roodeplaat dam, the regatta sees schools, open clubs and university crews competing in a wide range of events.

Rhodes will lock horns with other universities from across SA, ranging from the University of Johannesburg to rivals the University of Cape Town.

All teams will compete in heats events tomorrow (Saturday), with the best going through to the finals on Sunday.

All Open Championship, Lightweight, A-division and B-division events will row 2km, with the lower divisions (C, D, and Masters) only doing half that distance.

Although Roodeplaat promises calmer weather than Rhodes has faced in their most recent regattas, the crews have their work cut out for them.

One challenge will be acclimatising to the higher altitude - a fact that sees coastal crews operating at as much as a three-second disadvantage.

"We've had a few setbacks with injuries and illness, as well as academic pressures taking their toll on a number of individuals," said Rhodes Rowing Club President Sam Vosper.

"A tour like this is also not without expense and that [is] a factor for some people," he said. This year's senior champs is set to be the Rhodes club's biggest yet.

"This year we will be taking the biggest group that we have taken in recent memory, [with] approximately 40 athletes.

"This is also the first time that we'll have two women's novice Eight boats. The club as a whole will be participating in over 30 events which vary from Eights boats to single sculls.

"We are hoping for some good results of SA Champs to conclude the sprint season," Vosper said.

He added that the local crews have been training twice a day since early January, and that they were expecting good results at the regatta, especially in the novice division.

"We are confident that our novice contingent will bring home a number of medals, as they have developed greatly these past few months," he said. Whether the sacrifices and hard work will pay off, only the coming weekend will tell.

By Matthew de Klerk

Source: Grocott’s Mail

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