The recent Pub to Club surf boat challenge saw two of last year’s winners deliver winning performances again in the race from Puhoi to Red Beach, a 16km journey. Piha A won the open men’s section while Mairangi Magic took out the open women’s race.
Race organiser Gordon Williams picks up the story …
The 12 crews entered made excellent time on the first leg down the river and were anecdotally faster to Wenderholm than anyone could recall. Then it got tough with a westerly wind occasionally swinging towards the south and onto the noses of the boats, all but stalling the lighter crews in the water.
The times were a little slower overall this year which seemed to be belied by the Piha A crew’s time of 1:31:46. However, there were two crews over the 2-hour mark which is unusual but demonstrated just how tough it is to row a surf boat into a westerly wind gusting up to 55km/hr!
There was just one retirement, a women’s crew beaten by a series of persistent gusts that sapped too much from the rowers and discretion became the better part of valour. The Bethells Barracudas, on just their third row together, battled over 2 hours 10 minutes of non-stop rowing to make the finish line. They ended out of the places but nonetheless earned everyone's admiration.
The Piha A crew displayed discipline and class in the trying conditions and ended 3 minutes ahead of the next fastest, the Piha Pistols who won the U23 men's division. Unusually, the U23 division sported the largest number of entries and it was tremendous to see the future of surf rowing in the care of such promising young rowers.
The women's crews lack the power and mass of the men and their race was one of discipline and fitness rather than sheer boat speed. In such conditions the extra few kilos carried by the blokes provided them with the momentum and boat stability to set them up for an easier race … should there be such a thing on such a day.