Eight reasons to make your way down to the river
By TONY WHITE
THE annual Grafton Head of the River rowing regatta has gone international.
Listed among a record 26 schools and five rowing clubs, Auckland-based St Kentigern College will contest the regatta on the Clarence River for the first time tomorrow.
Inaugurated in 1997, the Head of the River has grown in stature to rank as one of the most prestigious school-age regattas in Australia.
The Head of the River opens proceedings tomorrow followed by the Grafton Rowing Club regatta on Sunday, which also has attracted record entries.
Some of the best school rowing talent in the nation will be on show during the two-day regatta with competition sure to be fierce in the two premier events tomorrow ? the boys' eight (scheduled for 4.59pm) and and girls' eight (2.19pm).
Fifty-five races will be conducted tomorrow with 824 rowers, while on Sunday 83 events will be staged with 1280 rowers competing. Rowing commences at 9am on both days.
St Kentigern College, located in Pakuranga in the eastern suburbs of Auckland, is regarded as one of the leading rowing schools in New Zealand.
With a male-female student population of 1600, the rowing program boasts more than 90 athletes.
This is the school's second international foray after competing with Takapuna Grammar at the Southern Sky regatta in Brisbane two years ago.
"We're looking forward to coming down to Grafton," Leith Menzies, head of St Kentigern's rowing program, said.
"We've heard Grafton is a lovely place to row and you have great weather.
"We were coming out for the Southern Sky in Brisbane again and Grafton was offered as part of the package.
"Peter Tierrey (head rowing coach at Brisbane Boys' College) put our heads together and we've had two days training with them (BBC) in Brisbane, a couple of days together training in Murwillumbah then moving on to Grafton to compete."
St Kentigern has brought its best Under-18 eight and head rowing coach Geoff Perry joined the team last Wednesday.
"The trip is aimed at allowing our Under-18 oarsmen the opportunity to travel, train and compete before heading home to get ready for the New Zealand Championships, the Maadi Cup, the pinnacle of school rowing in New Zealand," Menzies said.
"We're hoping this is the start of a regular trip for us."
Also for the first time a Melbourne team from Xavier College will compete alongside Grafton High, South Grafton High, McAuley Catholic College, six Queensland schools, five from Sydney and St Clare School (Taree), St Joseph's (Gregory Terrace), Taree High and club rowers from Grafton, Leichhardt, Lismore, Port Macquarie and the Manning River.