Rowing – teamwork, swans and crabs!


By Jon Bruce, Senior PM and first-time sports blogger

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Rowing is one of the most under-rated team sports out there. Each crew member has to mimic the other, moving together in rhythm and rhyme – there’s no up-front striker who’ll score the winning goal or prima donna who’ll take all the glory. Each crew member is bound in unison to ensure good balance and control that can only come from time spent in the same boat, working together toward a common goal. Now if that isn’t what every work or project team wants to say about themselves, I’m not sure what is!

Photo of rowers from above

Now with the preamble out of the way, I’m keen to get into the story of the Christchurch Rowing Club’s Corporate Rowing Regatta. The mission: to have eight oarspeople, steered by a steadfast coxswain, traverse 500m along the River Avon in an effort to usurp competing corporate entities. Nine willing volunteers from within DETA signed up in commitment to the task, and indeed nine even turned up on the day. During the 6 weeks of training prior to the big day, however, trying to round up eight people to get all sweaty after a hard day’s work was a challenge. More often than not we were kindly supported by partners, which kept things interesting – thanks Leesa, Shane, Alex and Kate!

Photo of two people training

An indoor / on land event preceded the big race – a relay 8 x 250m race on the rowing machine. When we weren’t falling off our seats, we actually did quite well – coming in 2nd overall with a time of 6 minutes 20.9 seconds, just 4 seconds behind the winner. Great effort!

Photo of a man on an indoor rowing machine

On race day, there was an air of confidence within the team. A secret weapon was already in place: a, once athletic, ex-Scottish rower who was to sit in the “engine” of the boat and support the struggle to victory. However…possibly as a result of the crew having only trained as a complete unit the Thursday prior to the race, or maybe because Jon’s rowing days were long behind him, or, more likely, because of the impressive competition on the day, the DETA crew struggled to find the results they were looking for on the water.

Photo of people rowing

Photo of people rowing

Photo of people rowing

We positioned 13th out of 15 crews, only narrowly avoiding the wooden spoon!

The trophy

The effort did not leave the team disparaged, however; instead, only motivated us to set our sights on next year’s race day. Like any good crew we took away some valuable lessons: working together as a team is always a winning strategy; and that to reach your goals, the most efficient way is to incorporate balance and control as core fundamentals in your strategy.

Teamwork photo

Highlights of the experience included one boat grounding (thanks Coach Joe for getting your feet wet!), one swan attack (followed soon after by an eerily brutal “hisss”…not from the swan, but actually from Michelle!) and only a single boat collision (a valiant attempt to discretely take out a competitor). Despite all this, there was sincere elation, along with some surprise, when during our final race of the day we crossed the line ahead of two other boats…even as Mark caught the biggest crab ever!!

The DETA rowing team after the race

Well done DETA!

The crew:

8 – Brett Eades
7 – Luke Rundle
6 – Mark Davis
5 – Hamish Hendry / Sarah Manning
4 – Euan Stewart
3 – Jon Bruce
2 – Veronica Mitchell
1 – Michelle Cowles

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