Central Otago rowers came up trumps at the recent 2019 New Zealand Rowing Association awards, where the Dunstan Arm Rowing Club was named 2019 club of the year, and Cromwell coach Maude O’Connell was named Otago Rowing Association volunteer of the year.
Club representatives said they were thrilled by the success and committed to continuing to foster Central Otago participation and excellence in rowing.
In excerpts from the rowing association citations, the Central Otago recipients are praised for their contribution to the sport.
DUNSTAN ARM ROWING CLUB
Dunstan Arm Rowing Club was incorporated in 1957 and now has school rowers from many years ago returning as masters.
In recent years the club has been extremely successful at regattas at all levels, resulting in further growth.
The club has a small and dedicated group of volunteers, including committee members, coaches and the team manager.
This group is supported by the wider club, including parents of school-age rowers, who contribute as needed.
In recent years the club has been extremely successful at regattas.
In the 2018-19 season, masters rowers achieved at local, national and international events.
They won multiple gold medals and trophies at the South Island Masters, 13 gold medals at the New Zealand Masters, and six golds at the United States Masters Championships.
The club won 18 medals (nine gold, six silver and three bronze) at this year’s South Island Championships, making it the most successful club at the regatta, and at the recent nationals Dunstan earned six medals (two gold, two silver and two bronze) across senior, club and intermediate levels.
The most significant area of growth on the water in recent years has been in school-age rowing with Dunstan High School, which has around 500 students.
In 2012 Dunstan was not even in the top 60 schools at the Aon Maadi Cup.
This year at the 2019 Maadi Cup, Dunstan High School was fifth in the overall medal tally, and the second-best sculling school.
This is a staggering result when you consider the size and depth of the rowing programmes of many of the competing schools.
The school rowing programme at Dunstan is continually striving to improve, and in recent years this has seen the introduction of a winter training programme.
Throughout the year novices and senior rowers train alongside one another, often in the same boat, enabling newer rowers to learn from those who are more experienced and allowing the senior rowers to give back to the sport they have gained so much from.
This inclusive approach creates a supportive yet competitive environment that encourages rowers to push each other on to better results.
Dunstan Arm Rowing Club is a small club that is punching far above its weight.
There are no paid positions within the club – everything that has been achieved has been done through the hard work of volunteers and carried by the passion of a small number of individuals.
For several years Maude O’Connell had a dream to start a rowing club in Cromwell, and in 2007 that dream became a reality. After canvassing a small group of parents, Cromwell College Rowing was established.
Over the next couple of years, as interest in the sport and the number of school-age rowers grew, Cromwell College Rowing became Cromwell Rowing Club Inc. – and the rest is history!
Right from the first meeting Maude has been the backbone of rowing in Cromwell. She has been coach, club captain, fundraising co-ordinator, funding officer, mentor, camp mother – no role within the growing club has not had Maude’s touch.
The club started with nothing, borrowing boats from Dunstan Rowing Club, organising temporary storage, coaching the first crew of six boys – all under her guidance and leadership.
The 2018-19 season saw club numbers rise to 25 college-age rowers from novice through to third-year rowers, and all crews had a successful season at all the South Island regattas and Aon Maadi Cup.
Last season Maude was one of the coaches for the Central Otago Winter Athlete Development Programme, a three-month programme to prepare rowers for the summer season, run under the umbrella of Otago Rowing Association.
She has also been successful with several funding grants to help establish and grow the plant and equipment that Cromwell Rowing Club is proud to own.
Along with the school-age rowers, Cromwell Rowing Club has a small but strong group of master’s rowers, and Maude is leading the way there too.
She is a strong and confident rower and has been very successful on the water herself, winning several medals at masters’ regattas.
Maude continues to coach at grassroots level, to be fully involved in club administration and development, as well as finding time to compete as a successful master’s rower.
To Maude and [the] Cromwell Rowing Club, a volunteer of the year award recognises Maude’s dedication to the sport and her success in establishing a rowing club in a small rural community.