Masters National Championships 2023 photos

Conrad Blind – Picture Show took these lovely images.

Masters rowing national championships, eights rowing on Lake Ruataniwha, masters men rowers
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show
Cure Boating Club mens masters rowing quadruple scull, rowing in New Zealand Masters Championships 2023 at Lake Ruataniwha
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show
Smiling man in a single scull rowing at Lake Ruataniwha New Zealand in the master rowing championships 2023
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show
Masters mens eights racing at Lake Ruataniwha New Zealand, St George Rowing Club in the foreground.
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show
Four women wearing green jackets at the Masters Rowing National Championships of New Zealand 2023.
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show


Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting occurred on Sunday 27th August. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

The new committee elected at this AGM are:

  • President: Sue Wright
  • Past President: Lesley Milne
  • Secretary: Paula Storey
  • Treasurer: Roger Watts
  • Communications: Rebecca Caroe


  • Regattas: Trish Fenton
  • Advocacy: Rebecca Caroe
  • Awards: Allan Vester
  • New Events: Sue Wright

We would like to acknowledge our Past President, Brian Parr. He is no longer on the committee, but has offered continuing support as needed.

Also, we would like to acknowledge Keith Hibberd who has resigned. He was involved in setting up the first Masters Regatta on the Tamaki River in 1984 and has been supporting the Legion for the past 39.5 years, particularly helping with regatta conditions and regatta events format.

The New Zealand Under 19 Junior Rowers received awards totalling $10,000 from the Legion of Rowers. This funding was much needed as the cost for each rower was $14,000 to attend the regatta in Paris. The recipients shared their experiences of competing in Paris for the Under 19 – see the separate article.

Past rowers provide invaluable support at the Legion regattas, the Legion tent will provide a base at future regattas where they can connect with each other.

The guest speaker was Steven Mayo-Smith, he spoke on “Past history of rowing and into the future”. The presentation provided an insightful, humorous review of rowing as an evolving sport. He also challenged the audience to consider some significant shifts that are currently in play for our sport.

U19 report from Paris

The New Zealand under 19 rowing team travelled tot he World Junior Rowing Championships 2023 partially funded by the Legion of Rowers.

The slideshow below is their report about the regatta, Paris and some fine photos.

Self-coaching drills

A coach’s eye on your blade keeps technical crabs at bay during an outing. But if you’re out alone you need a way to self-coach. As a part of your daily warm-up choose a drill that gives you clear feedback and sets the tone for your row. 

rowing crew, masters rowing pair,
Mens pair at the catch. Photo credit: David Sogan

Two essential drills

Here are a couple of suggestions.

Feet-out rowing focuses on a clean release of the blade using the support of the water to assist the exit. The drill helps you row tall, preventing your weight from falling into the bow. Remove your feet from the shoes and place them on top of the stretcher. During the drive hold steady pressure against the foot stretcher and as you draw the oar handle. Tap down on the oar handle to release the blade in sync with legs down; just before you lose the pressure on the blade. Keep your weight over the handle as you then feather as the hands move away from your body. If the release is late, your feet will come off the shoes, and going in the water is likely. If you nail it, it’s crisp and feels easy. Practice rowing slowly for 10 minutes feet-out.

Rowing with a pause at one-quarter slide helps you practice rowing with a quiet upper body on the recovery. Transition smoothly from the drive to the follow-through position of arms-body away. When your knees rise slightly at one-quarter slide, pause. Let the boat glide for a count of one-one thousand, two-one thousand, then row on. Keep your upper body quiet and steady as you compress on the slide. Let the knees come up to your chest versus the chest dropping to the knees as you get ready to place the blade. Practice sets of 10 strokes.

If it helps you to focus, give yourself a score out of 10 for each set of the drill you do. Mark your improvement. If you don’t get better, it may be time to head in to the dock and practice again another time. Practicing rowing wrongly will not be helpful in the long term and a tired body and mind finds challenging drills very hard to do successfully.

Boat detective work

We got an email from Michael Dorbeck asking

We talked about the name on an old skiff I have hanging in my shed and you were going to ask around to see if anyone knows who the boat is named after.
The boat is a plywood hulled coxed pair, so I am guessing it dates from the 50s, pre fibreglass. It is in great condition and if I had riggers, think it could be easily rowed as it is. The name on the boat is Bruce Rogers. I have asked around at North Shore Rowing Club but no-one seems to know anything about the boat or the person it was named after. 
I got the boat when Westlake (Boys High School Rowing Club) were moving out of their sheds (I am storing 4 of their historic hulls some of which will go back in the water when I get time). The boat is dated well before WBHS started their rowing crews.
Be really appreciated if you would be able to ask around the Masters community and see if they know anything about Bruce Rogers.
There must be a rower somewhere who knows about him!

And the amazing network of masters rowers swung into action. would you believe me if I said within 24 hours we had an answer?

Stage one…. look out for published histories

Grant Craies has a copy of the West End Centennial history book 1884 – 1984. In it there’s an Elected Life Members list which notes for 1979 BK Rogers.
and in the active members list for 1967 it lists B.K. Rodgers (note the spelling difference).
Seems likely your man was a West End member.
He won Maiden Eights in the 1968-9 season in a crew with Rogers M as the coxswain.
and in the same season J. Parnell was rowing the Junior eights…. Lesley Milne knows John Parnell (he now lives in Dunedin) and he may remember Mr Rogers. [We wrote to John Parnell and he replied below.]
This has all the makings of a lovely rowing history detective story and so I have cc both John Parnell and Mike Harrison. Mike has tracked down some amazing St George RC history and written it up for the Legion website in the past.
Mike, if you fancy taking up this story – would you launch right on in?
We can crack this one… I’m sure of it.

And personal memory too

John Parnell rowed at West End in his youth. Now living in Dunedin  and featured his boathouse in an earlier article. John wrote back “I remember a Bruce Rogers. I’m sure he went to Mt Albert Grammar.”

We know that Mount Albert Grammar School row out of the West End boathouse, so it was likely he joined the club after his school years.

Mystery solved…. so quick. It’s easy when you know the right folks, eh?

Row Timer app

screenshot of race times from the Row Timer app

For years, rowing events have relied on the old fashioned way of timing races: by using stop-watches, doing “maths”, and then facing several hours of waiting while the results are finalised. This is immensely frustrating! Moreover, spectators are often heard asking “have they started yet?”, only seeing their crew for a few minutes on the course, and having no idea how they are really doing.

Row Timer has been designed to allow real-time tracking of crews down the course so that spectators can see exactly when their crew has started and how they are stacking up against everyone else. As soon as the crew has finished, their time is available, and their current position in their category is displayed – updated as the other crews cross the line! It has proven very popular with coaches who are unable to get away from preparing their next crews to race by letting them keep tabs on what is going on.

The website has been optimised for use on smartphones so it is convenient to get the information quickly and easily. It is also made to be as light as possible on data use.

screenshot of race times from the Row Timer app

Scoring Burnout

Rowing boat on water, masters rowing crew, boat with river and high white clouds,

When you are in the groove and the boat is in stealth mode, you dial into your mission and rise to the challenge. Whether in practice or on the race course if you are “on” thoughts of failure get no airtime. 

However, there will be days when you feel like toast. Athletes need enough rest and at times your scale may be tipped towards the side of fatigue. However, if your performance is starting to drag and the doldrums don’t seem to be going away, you may be pushing the “more is better” principle too far and be risking burnout.

Photo Credit: Nuno Silvestre quad with great sky sitting idle

Am I over-trained?

Asking yourself these 20 questions can determine if you need to build more rest and down time in your plan. 

Answer each one True or False: 

  • I am tired all the time. 
  • I don’t enjoy training/practice like I did before. 
  • When I am at training I wish I were somewhere else. 
  • I dread racing. 
  • It has been a long time since I had fun rowing. 
  • I continually ask myself why I am rowing. 
  • It is hard to stay focused on my goals. 
  • I seem to get injured more often than before. 
  • My injuries never seem to heal. 
  • My attitude seems to have become worse over the past few months. 
  • I resent having to sacrifice so much time for rowing. 
  • I don’t handle the discomfort from hard training as well as I did last season. 
  • Sometimes I don’t care that I don’t care. 
  • I am more negative than usual about myself and my training. 
  • I put myself down a lot lately. 
  • I resent my coach. 
  • I have trouble getting along with my teammates.
  • I feel pressured by others to keep rowing. 
  • I don’t seem to bounce back from setbacks and losses like I used to.

Each true answer equals one point; each false equals zero points. 

If you scored between one and three you are not at risk for burnout; between four and seven you are entering the trouble zone so take some time off; between eight and 14 you really need a vacation from training and competition; 15 or higher you are seriously burned out and should sit down with your coach and evaluate your rowing future. 

Taking a breather can turn the Thank Goodness it is Friday mentality, counting the minutes of practice, into the Thank Goodness it is Monday mentality and get you revved up for the next season.

This article first appeared on 

Repetitive stress factors for masters rowing

rowing quad, masters rowing nz,

The injury rate in rowing is about 0.4 per 1,000 hours of training at the elite level. Rates may be higher among non-elite recreational rowers but are far less than other sports such as (American) football at 4 per 1,000 hours of training or rugby at 40 per 1000 hours of training. 

rowing quad, masters rowing nz,
Photo credit Eira deJeger

What causes rowing injuries?

Most rowing injuries are caused by the repetitive nature of the rowing stroke. Regardless of age, experience, or competitive level weaknesses, imbalances, or restrictions of muscles and joints can lead to overuse syndromes primarily affecting the neck, shoulders, elbows, ribs, low back, or hips. Repetitive stress or repetitive motion injuries develop because of microscopic tears in tissue or fractures in bone. When the body is unable to repair the damaged tissues inflammation occurs, leading to painful conditions. 

You can test your physical restrictions in this Functional Movement Assessment free webinar. 

Gender injury differences

Overuse injuries are more common in female than male rowers. In female rowers the most frequent complaints are chest wall pain (i.e. rib stress fractures), then low back pain, followed by tenosynovitis (inflammation of the tendon and enveloping sheath) of the wrist extensors. 

In males, low back pain is most prevalent, then tenosynovitis of the wrist extensors, followed by chest wall pain. Sculling, sweep rowing, and erging are similar exercises but each discipline poses different risks due to the mechanics of the motion involved. 

Factors contributing to repetitive stress injuries can be internal or external. Internal factors include your fitness level, core stability, muscle flexibility, nutrition, strength, hydration level, balance and coordination, recovery rate, age, rowing technique, posture, pre-existing injuries, emotional or perceived stress, and cross training. 

External factors include a change in boat type or the size of your oars or oar handles, decreased boat stability, change in rigging, racing, changes in rowing technique, overtraining, rapid increases in training intensity, frequency, or duration, or a change from sweep to sculling, changes in seating position, change of athletes in the boat, and inadequate rest between training sessions. 

To keep your training on track make changes to your program or equipment gradually including transitioning from the boat to the erg each fall (autumn). 

Article reproduced from Faster Masters Rowing with permission.

Matt Kavanagh Nails National Erg Record

Matt Kavanagh started rowing at the end of 2001 when Brian Hawthorne was doing a project out of North Shore RC and he heard about it. He had done half a novice year at school and always wanted to do it again. Last month Matt broke a New Zealand erg record for the 43-49 age category for 60 minutes rowing 16, 376 meters. So we sought him out for an interview,.

Matt tells his rowing background

I got involved competitively at North Shore till 2010 when I shifted to Auckland Grammar RC as I was teaching there at the time. We formed an interprovincial group including some school leavers as well. Then I moved to Cambridge RC and then Waikato RC. I loved it but from when I started I got a NZ development squad trial 2003-4 and that was the week my first child was due to be born so I didn’t attend. My 4th child was born in my last year of rowing competitively.

As a masters rower I dabbled in a bit of  coaching at St Peters and teaching my own children. Then I got back in a boat and now I live in Wellington and coach there.

When I’m not coaching I try to row in the single or on the erg. I need to have some sort of challenge. I’m 47 and at the moment I’m targeting as many national records as I can get.

We got flat water in the B final at North Island Champs when I was doing my single and I did 7.53 so I was miles off the pace of the young fellows. On the water I’m going to try to reduce my single time to 7.45 or 7.30 to stay competitive as long as I can.

Matt’s Erg Records

The first one I did was the 10k which I did in 2022. I have broken that again recently 35:47 minutes. Then I did the 30 minute record which is 8440 meters and I want to get to 8500 meters – that’s my plan. Then I did the 6k record…. 21 minutes and I’d like to go under 21 minutes for that.

I’d like to hold a 1:45 split for 30 minutes at some point. I don’t know if I can do that.

Last week I beat the 1 hour record which surprised me – I haven’t done an hour since 2010. You can tell from my smile how good that felt!

Here’s my race plan for the 60 minutes.

Matt smiling after breaking the erg record
Matt’s 60 minute erg race plan

I have had a spell of being busy with Maadi coaching and I got sick and so my next aim is the 5km but I didn’t feel in condition, so I’ve gone back to the longer ones.

How to get an erg record recognised

Matt explains how to get your erg score into the record books.

Send photo of the screen and the code that pops up on the screen and your personal details to Concept2.

Future plans

I would love there to be someone out there going tit for tat with me – facing each other to step up and steal the record. That would be a lot of fun.

Sometime this year I want to do the 5k record. Under 17 minutes is my ultimate goal.

There is a marathon, and a half marathon which are the longest…. I doubt I will attempt the marathon and anything under 5 km would be challenging – I’m better at the longer distances. Even against the big boys.

Plundering Aussie Gold

An enthusiastic group of 31 kiwis traveled the Sydney International Regatta Course to compete in the Aussie champs from June 1-4th, 2023.

Representatives from Nelson, Horowhenua, Union Whanganui, Hawkes Bay, Clifton, North Shore and Tauranga clubs came home with some serious silverware!

A total of

  • 14 Gold
  • 6 Silver
  • 5 Bronze

Plus Maud O’Connell (Nelson RC) was invited to take part in the womens Winner-of-Winners singles event. This is open to all 1x gold medalists who join a handicapped race against all age groups.

North Shore was 31st in the overall medal table even though they got confused with North Shore (Sydney) a few times. We managed to tie the commentary team up in knots as they struggled with pronunciation!

Photos by Rebecca Tate