Clarence seeks world crews

The Gregory Terrace junior eights boys during a training session for the Head of the River Regatta.
The Gregory Terrace junior eights boys during a training session for the Head of the River Regatta. JoJo Newby

THE Clarence Valley's three senior rowing clubs are throwing out the welcome mat ahead of next year's World Rowing Championships in Sydney.

The clubs have put together a proposal highlighting the outstanding qualities of the region as a pre-regatta training venue.

Grafton Rowing Club president John Brien said his club had joined forces with the Maclean and Iluka to put a proposal to Rowing NSW and Rowing Australia for countries competing next year to train on the Clarence in the two or three weeks leading up to the competition.

Brien said the proposal had gone to Rowing NSW and he was expecting to hear from it soon.

"We've put our proposal to Rowing NSW and we're hoping they will be able to put us in contact with officials from the countries coming to the regatta," he said.

Brien said the Clarence clubs wanted to relive the glory days before the Sydney Olympics in 2000, when Grafton hosted the Irish, Russian and Estonian teams and Maclean the United States team in the lead-up to the Games.

Brien said the visiting teams had nothing but praise for the facilities on the Clarence during their Olympic visits.

"They all said the river provided some of the best rowing anywhere in the world," he said.

"They really enjoyed the privacy the river offers.

"These teams are often jealous of their training methods, so if they need to get out of sight, they can just knick off somewhere up or down the river and train in private."

Local rowers have kept in contact with friends they made during the Olympic visits.

"I was part of a masters team Grafton took to Canada, where we ran into some members of the Irish team," Brien said.

"Our coach, Ken Maughan, also keeps in touch regularly with a couple of the international coaches he met then."

He said the teams competing in Sydney would be the elite of world rowing.

"At the London Olympics every team that wins a gold medal will get an invitation to compete at the world championships to be held at Penrith," he said.

One of the big positives for the region was the influx of cash the overseas teams brought with them, Brien said.

"There hasn't been a lot of good news around at the moment, so we're hoping this will be a real positive thing for the Clarence," he said.

The club had worked with the Clarence Valley Tourist Association and photographer Debrah Novak to come up with the brochure the clubs are using to promote the region, Brien said.

Topics:  grafton rowing club, john brien



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