SOUTH Africa’s rowing success at the London Olympics this year, where the lightweight fours team claimed the gold medal, has seen an upsurge of interest in the sport at the Grey Rowing Club.
The club have seen their ranks swell to 60 members from a total of 40 following the exploits of James Thompson, Matthew Brittain, John Smith and Sizwe Ndlovu at the London Games.
While this is exciting for the future of the club, which is affiliated to Grey High, it does put a premium on their equipment, the prohibitive cost of which means rowing clubs have to constantly source funds to keep their boats and other equipment in line with modern trends.
For instance, blades cost in the region of R4500 and boats, depending on the size, range from R190000 to R250000.
To that end, the club are holding a function on the school’s Philip Field at which the Grahamstown comedy act of Boet & Swaer will be assisting them in raising funds with a show on Saturday in a 1000-seater marquee. The show will follow the screening of the Springboks-Scotland rugby test and the cost is R250 a ticket or R220 a person in tables of 10 or more.
Comedians Brian Mullins and Alan Weyer have become closely involved in assisting the rowing fraternity ever since Mullins’s son, Walter, was included in the SA Schools team and funds need to be raised to send them to the world champs.
As Mullins explained: “Listen boet, you need to be dedicated to be a rower because it’s a sport of passion. There aren’t many rewards in rowing; for instance the SA gold medal team had to share R400000 between them. So we are happy to do our bit because the equipment is very expensive.”
The club, whose immediate focus is one of two major schools events of the year when the SA Schools Boat Race is held in Port Alfred on December 7-8, are raising funds to buy equipment which is essential to them raising their performances.
“We have to improve our equipment to make a statement against other teams because at this stage we are way behind the rest in terms of what equipment we have,” Grey Club coach Benjy Ekron said.
“Last year, we came third last at the Schools Boat Race and this year we are definitely looking at trying to improve our performance.”
The Schools Boat Race attracts the top sides from around the country, with 13 schools having entered. There is also a development section and a girls’ category.