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Interview Series


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Interview Series


WRC is steeped in tradition and has over the years been blessed with many great rowers, coaches and club administrators. Through this series of interviews we hope to record and share some of the great characters, stories and thoughts of these club champions, both past and present..... We hope you enjoy!

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Tom Reid


Tom Reid


There was about 15 guys who turned up to our meeting in Ferry Road and after I outlined my programme there was an instant response to get stuck in and see how fit we could get. Everyone remembers those runs up Mokorua Gorge, over the top, down the Ngati Awa farm hill, over the stream, up to the trig station and back down the same track. If you arrived late as Warren well remembers you had to catch up by the time you hit the top of the gorge.
— Tom Reid

Tom Reid

 

How did you start rowing?

My Dad Tom Senior was rowing at the club at the time and he took both Ray and I down and taught us how to cox.

What was your first crew and who was in it?

There was a High School four training to compete at the Head of the Harbour regatta in Auckland. I wasn’t in the crew but one of the boys didn’t turn up to practice one day and to put it mildly coach Cyril Molesworth was much displeased. We all knew what happened when Cyril got angry he would storm out to his Ford V8 pickup truck, crash it into gear and tear off in a shower of flying gravel. He was off to the boys home-where is Johnny(not his real name)-his mother said”he is still in bed-shall I get him up?” NO says Cyril- leave him there he’s fired! That is how Tom Reid started his stellar winning career. The crew of Ray Reid,Barry Cave, Brian Slipper, me and Neil Reid(cox) stunned the Aucks by coming from down country and winning this prestigious race.

Who was your 1st coach?

Cyril Molesworth. When Cyril arrived in Whakatane Bert Norman was the club captain and although club members competed at local regattas it was with rather mixed success. Cyril took over the coaching role and made it quite clear if he was going to spend the time with his crews he wanted them to train hard and win races-not just compete.

Who at that time was your sporting hero?

Don Rowlands and Jimmy Hill were the 2 top scullers at the time and they had a huge tussle every time they raced. This impressed me immensely and made me determined to have a go at sculling. The club was mainly active in sweep-oar rowing at the time so I decided to give sculling a go.

You and brother Ray teamed up with 2 novice rowers from the Board Mills Baden Watkins and Mick Gosling to compete in the Business House race on the Tamaki Estuary course in around 1955. You won this race and competed again a few times….tell us about this?

This race in Auckland was called the Thompson Memorial Cup and for years had been won by crews from Mason Brothers. Having already been up and stamped the Whakatane name on the Auckland rowing scene Ray and I decided to get Baden Watkins and Mick Gosling from the Board Mills and give it a crack. The rules stated you could have 2 experienced rowers but the other 2 had to be novice rowers. We won it with this crew and had a few other tries as well –it was a good way to get new rowers into the sport and Baden and Mick rowed for the club for many years.

How did you andDave come to be in a double sculls?

New boats had to be ordered from England and it was a huge effort for the club to raise funds to get boats good enough for members to compete in decent racing craft. Cyril decided he would buy a double sculls himself and he could say who could row in it. He offered it to me and Dave and said he would coach us to a winning standard.  We raced against the Watkinson brothersat Mercer who were at the time NZ title holders and we came second by 6 lengths. Bloody Hell said Cyril – you are just useless! I pointed out-that second was still OK –the other crews were a long way back. Don’t know if he was very impressed with that explanation. He then took the boat off us so we had to rowin a new Sargent & Burton that had just arrived. We went on to win both the double and pair at Karapiro.

 

Given you have rowed in most boats at NZ championship level –what is your favourite event?

I just loved rowing in the 2 seat of our champion eight. One of the measures of how well you are moving the boat is when you are able to “clear the puddles” where by the time the stroke blade is going into the water all the puddles have gone past his blade - we used to be able to clear the puddles in 6 strokes-quite remarkable. The other thing I remember is in the two seat you have the “feel” of how the boat is running and I swear at times the bow was lifted so far out of the water the skin of the shell under my seat was in the air. I just love that boat still sitting in the ceiling of the clubrooms and when I look at it I still get that marvellous feeling.

What was your BEST race?

My best national race was with Dave winning the champion pair and champion doubles at Karapiro as the first of our New Zealandtitles.

 My best internationalrace was the one Warren Cole often refers to.  In 1967 there was an internal tour of NZ vs Australia for the Ampol Trophy. Warren did not get a row in any of the 4 tests but wemade up a scratch crew of Warren, myself in 3,Noel Mills in the 2 seat and the Aussie sculler Peter Edwards(in the bow)who Noel had beaten earlier in the day.  The crew just “clicked” and we ended up beating not only the Aussie four but also the official NZ crew by a narrow margin. Warren attributes this race and his WhakataneRowing Club teammates performance as the catalyst to being invited to the 1968 Olympic trials and selection in the 4+ which went on to win agold medal at Mexico.

Another race on the international scene that gave me great satisfaction was teaming up with son Gary and winning the masters doubles at Henley.

What was your WORST race?

1967 at Lake Waihola. The wind was blowing and the lake was too rough to row the singles title race so the officials postponed the race for an ½ hour waiting for reasonable water. Conditions 30 minutes later were still no better but they decided to race anyway.

 My arms tied up in the rough conditions and Dave finished up the winner. …… Bugger!

You and Dave had a trip to Henley and Europe –what races did you have?

We raced at Henley and at the World Champs in Amsterdam and a few other regattas. We really didn’t do very well and I realised although we were champions in NZ we were really behind the eight ball when we saw the fitness and training the European crews were doing. All our training at the time was done IN the boat. What I saw over there was crews training OUT of the boat in the gym with weights,running up hills,cross country skiing in winter etc. and getting super fit. Dave and I talked about it on the way home and I made a plan to get a group together and give them a fitness schedule with the aim of getting selection in New Zealand crews.

When you came back from Europe you called a meeting to form a squad to capture some redcoats. How did that evolve?

There was about 15 guys who turned up to our meeting in Ferry Road and after I outlined my programme there was an instant response to get stuck in and see how fit we could get. Everyone remembers those runs up Mokorua Gorge, over the top, down the Ngati Awa farm hill,over the stream,up to the trig station and back down the same track. If you arrived late as Warren well remembers you had to catch up by the time you hit the top of the gorge.

When you started the training squad did you think you would achieve such outstanding results in the ensuing years?

No. But I knew if we were going to make a mark on the New Zealand Rowing scene, there had to be a change to our training program.

Cyril Molesworth to put it mildly was a very forceful man with very strict ideas about a lot of things. How did the transition from his being the main coach to you taking over go?

There was really never any discussion about this –it just happened. Cyril always coached from the bank and occasionally would get into a boat and demonstrate what he wanted a rower to do. We learnt from Cyril how to get the power on a stroke by implanting sculling techniques. All of our squad rowed in singles as part of our program which included the eight,doubles,pairs and fours, so when it came to the NZ Championships we split up into pairs,singles,fours and of course the eight.  Wybo and Warren had the biggest load with the eight,four and pair. So Cyril still coached from the bank andIimplemented a rigorous training schedule and got the troops ready to strike. As they say “the rest is history”.

A greencoat is awarded to coaches of crews that win a title at the New Zealand Championships-tell us a bit about the crews you coached.

While I was still rowing I coached the pairs and Cyril also carried on as a coach. When he retired I took over the rest of our championship crewsand was awarded a number of greencoat wins.   The crews I coachedincluded NZ Champion men’s eights ,coxed and coxless fours, coxed and coxless pairs, double sculls, quadruple sculls and single sculls.

Aside from Dave -Who would you most like to row in a boat with?

Reg Douglas.  Reg and Bobby Parker dominated the pair oar and double sculls NZ titles for years and won a gold medal in the pair-oar at the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver.. They considered Cyril to be their coach and they often came down to Whakatane and Cyril would watch them from the riverbank at the back of his house in Eivers Road.

For some years after I had competed in the NZ Championship regattas Reg and I would go out for a paddle(for fun) in a pair the next day. We absolutely “clicked” as a pair and the boat really sang along. Reg had worked in the flax mills in Mercer all his life and although not all that big he was powerful on the end of an oar. As recently as 3 years ago Reg came down and we went out for a row in a pair-it was still a great feeling.

Where do you live now?

I still live in Ohope(voted NZs best beach) with Margaret and we play golf together, I go fishing with John Retta and take my single out with Dave & Co on the odd Sunday morning.

 

 

Our children Jennifer,Dianne and Gary are not too far away and we have grandchildren and great grandchildren scattered around to keep us all busy.

Tell us a bit about your family-Tom(snr), brothers Ray and Bruce and son Gary?

My Dad Tom snr rowed on the Whakatane river out of the old shed, my brother Ray rowed both here and for Waitemata Rowing Club when he went to work in Auckland and Bruce started off as a cox in our Thompson Cup crew(can you imagine Bruce being small enough to cox?) and also rowed briefly for the Club before going to Canada. Gary gained quite a few titles for the Club but we will let him tell his story in a later interview.


TOM REID   1936-2016

TOM REID

1936-2016

Timeline

1940

Tom’s father was rowing for Whakatane and took Tom and Ray down and introduced them o his favourite port by teaching them to be coxwains.

1950

Tom and brother Ray teamed up with Brian Slipper and Barry Cave and Neil Reid(cox) and ompeted in a Whakatane High School four and won the head of the harbour title in Tamaki stuary in Auckland. Tom then rowed in maiden,junior and senior crews and again teaming p with brother Ray they pulled in Mick Gosling and Baden Watkins and won the Thompson hield for business house rowing, once again in Auckland.

1963

Dave Molesworth teamed up with Tom and they wonNZ Champion Men’s double sculls and oxless pairs titles.

1964

Dave and Tom won pairs title  and also doubles title again.

Dave and Tom rowed for NZ in FISA European Championships(forerunner to World Champs) n Amsterdam,Netherlands.

196

Dave and Tom win double sculls title. Also represented NZ in Australia-NZ Test Series at Iron ove, Nepean River, Lake Wendouree, Australia and won the 1st test in the double sculls .

1966

Tom coached Wybo and Warren mens coxed pair

1967

Tom coached Dave and Noel Mills to double sculls title also Wybo and Warren coxed pair.

Tom coached Noel Mills who won 3 tests in the single sculls in the Aus/NZ Test Series in NZ

1968

Tom coached Wybo and Warren to NZ Champion Men’s coxed pairs and coxless pairs titles.

1969

ditto above coxed and coxless pairs

1970

Tom coached coxless pairs, coxed fours

Tom in 2 seat champion 8

1971

Tom in 2 seat champion 8,coached coxed four and also coxless pairs

1972

ditto coxless pairs and also Wybo and Noel in coxed pairs.

1973

coached Wybo and Noel in coxless pairs and also coxed four

Coached Coxed four at Colts-Australian Tour in Tasmania,Canberra,Penrith,Sydney

1974

coached coxless pairs and mens champion 8.

Tom coached the coxless four and Quad Sculls at World Champs in Lucerne,Switzerland

1975

ditto above coxless pairs and also Grant McCauley and Bob Murphy in coxed pairs.

Coached champion 8 and coached John Alexander to singles title

Tom coached the quad sculls at World Champs in Nottingham,England

1976

coached Wybo Veldman to singles title

Coached the coxed four and coxless four at 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada

1977

coached mens coxless four and Grant McAuley to singles title

1978

coached John Alexander to singles title

Coached coxless four and John Alexander(single sculls) at World Champs at Lake Karapiro,  New Zealand.

1979

coached John Alexander to singles title

Coached NZ eight, John Alexander and womens double sculls at World Champs in Bled,Yugoslavia.

Coached NZ eight and John Alexander(singles) at West Germany Champs in Essen, West Germany

1980

coached John Alexander to NZ singles title

Coached NZ eight  in European Tour in Lucerne, Amsterdam and Henley(replaced competition at Olympic Games in Moscow USSR)

1981

coached John Alexander to NZ singles title

1982

Coached John Alexander and Gary Reid to double sculls title

1983

coached Gary Reid to singles title and John and Gary to doubles title

1984

coached Gary to singles title

Coached Gary in single sculls at Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA

1986

coached Gary Reid and B Riordan to double sculls title

A simply outstanding contribution to the sport of rowing at club, national and international levels. Tom will be remembered fondly by all those who came in contact with him as a man who just loved the sport of rowing.

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Wybo Veldman


Wybo Veldman


However in the final at Munich it was absolute perfection, when we went out of the blocks in the final the boat just took off-it was like a monumental flywheel that seemed to gather speed as the race progressed. People have said to me that must have been the hardest race of your life –but no, it was one of the easiest because it was so good. We seemed to have total control all the way down the course. Our plan was to go at 600 metres out but Simon Dickie held us back until it was 350 metres to go because the boat was going so well. It was just magnificent-the best race I ever had.
— Wybo Veldman

WYBO VELDMAN

How did you start rowing?

A bit by chance we were living in Barry Avenue at the time and I was dead keen on riding horses and went to hunts ,showjumping and events until I had a bad accident while riding out to Awakeri and spent 3 months in hospital recuperating. The surgeon told me I had to avoid contact sports and so when I used to watch the club rowers going up and down the river off Eivers Road I thought maybe here was a sport I could have a go at. I got a start with the school with Tim Malcolmson as my first coach and found by chance I had got involved in a sport I was reasonably good at and within a year I was rowing for the school in the mornings and in a club crew in the evenings.

What was your first crew and who was in it?

I rowed in a maiden four with Eddie Reddish, Peter Mahy, Brian Walfordand myself in the bow. We had a great row in the final at the NZ Championships at Karapiro and were in the lead until our 3 man caught a crab and we lost the lead and finished second.

Who was your first coach?

Bit hard to say Molesy and Tom were around in that time and I remember Baden Watkins was club captain and also Keith Bowering; they were all there helping us one way or another.

Peter Needham gave me a green tracksuit with the words “Whakatane” printed on the back-none of us at the time had tracksuits so I thought that was pretty neat. Of course we are talking quite a few years back now-ha ha.

Who at that time was your sporting hero?

Peter Snell was a big hero at this time and he came down and ran an exhibition race at Awakeri so he was an athlete I admired for a good number of reasons. He had great dedication to his sport and was always available to talk to other sportspeople and pass on his knowledge and passion for sport. Sadly for reasons we are unaware of he was lost to New Zealand Sport and lived in the USA passing on his expertise. A truly great sportsman.

How did you and Warren come to be in a coxed pair?

When I left school I went farming with Mum and Dad on Norm Reynolds farm and after a year my folks decided to go back into the Barry Avenue home and although Norm offered me a job with his new increased herd, I decided to go back into town and started a mechanics apprenticeship with Des Wood in his garage in George Street.

I ended up down at the rowing club after being away for a year by myself because everyone else was already in a crew. Also there was Warren Cole who had just come back from a year in the UK. Warren was probably looking at me and thinking who is this skinny school kid and I was looking at him thinking he was an overweight very unfit guy just come back from an overseas jaunt probably carousing and drinking etc. Anyway Tommy sent us out in an old phelpspair(coxless) and with Warren in the stroke seat and me in the bow I was pulling him all over the river in a zig zag fashion. At one stage it was so bad we cracked the hull from keel to gunwale with the strain we put on the poor old boat.

We sat on the bank wondering what to do and Tom said why not put Wybo in the stroke seat(still rowing bow side) and Warren in the bow(rowing stroke side) and we will put a coxswain in as well to keep the damn boat straight. We tried this and never looked back. Our first outing was at the Blue Lake regatta and we got to within one length of Peter and Murray Watkinson so we thought this feels good and that was the last time anyone beat us for about 4 years.  We remained undefeated in the coxed pair for 4 years.

Who was your coxswain?

Our first coxswain was Stephen Baird and later on Colin McGlashen and also while we were rowing in the four Ken Clarke was our coxswain. All now well known entities in the present day Whakatane.

It was felt given the chance you and warren could have won an Olympic gold medal in the coxless pair oar –do you agree?

Unfortunately whenever Warren and I were selected to row for New Zealand we were always in different crews with Warren in the four and myself in the eight, so we never had the chance to show our speed at the international level.  The coxed pair event seemed to be in and out as an Olympic race during those years but it didn’t signify much to us because we were both flat out training in our respective crews.

When Warren and I rowed a coxless pair our boat went as straight as an arrow – I remember because I was the one doing the steering. The only time I had to use the rudder was when we had a corner to go around. When Warren left and Noel Mills stepped into the pair the boat never went quite as well even though we continued on our winning ways. It was because Noel and I had different styles –Noel had a very smooth sculling action whereas I was perhaps a bit more aggressive but having said that we were still unbeaten and won a silver medal at the 1973 European Championships held in Moscow.

Given you have rowed in most boat classes at NZ championship level –what is your favourite event?

Not quite every boat at the NZ Champs, I never rowed in the doubles or the quad. But of all the others the pair with Warren has to be my favourite. Our pair just hummed along and our combination of styles made our races just so satisfying. The feeling of that boat flying along underneath you is always there.

My favourite boat to row in is……

The pair oar-no contest.

The other boat I enjoyed was the singles. When I got to 1976 I had done a lot of racing in crews and decided I would like to have a crack at the Singles title at the N Z Champs. When Fred Stachan asked me if I was available for the NZ eight to go to Montreal, I said no but I would like to be considered for a singles berth as I intended winning the title. I duly won the title and Fred Stachans response was “If Veldman can win the single sculls in his first attempt –that doesn’t say much for the standard of sculling in NZ-does it?” Sounds like Fred, so that was that.

What was your BEST race?

Winning the eight in Munich must be my number one BEST race,it was a huge effort and just so satisfying. I was in the NZ eight from 1967 to 1972 and the crew changed about 3 times in that period. In 1972 the boat just wasn’t going as well as it should and there was a bit of grizzling and the guys were just not happy. Rusty Robertson was training us to a standstill and things were not jelling as they should.

However in the final at Munich it was absolute perfection, when we went out of the blocks in the final the boat just took off-it was like a monumental flywheel that seemed to gather speed as the race progressed. People have said to me that must have been the hardest race of your life –but no, it was one of the easiest because it was so good. We seemed to have total control all the way down the course. Our plan was to go at 600 metres out but Simon Dickie held us back until it was 350 metres to go because the boat was going so well.  It was just magnificent-the best race I ever had.

What was your WORST race?

When we came back from Moscow in 1973 I had been in a pair for 12 years. 8 years with Warren and 4 years with Noel Mills. Noel and I had won a silver medal at the Olympics in Moscow and I was running out of steam. All I wanted to do was get into a single and see if I could win a singles title.

However, Noel and I were racing in the pair at the NZ champs in 1975 and found ourselves a length down on Dick Joyce and Collinge after about 350 metres. Try as we did we just couldn’t get past them and I thought ”hells bells I have never lost a title race yet but we may well lose this one”.

Noel was always the quiet one but at the 1500 metre mark he said “are you bloody well going to do something ?”. That is all it took,we shot past them and won by a length in what was my hardest (and worst) race of my career. 

Dick Joyce came up afterwards and said he had never had a redcoat stripped off his shoulders so fast as that. Noel was a superb oarsman, solid, loyal, cool calm and collected and usually a man of few words. I learnt however that if Noel had something to say –it was a good idea to sit up and take notice.

Noel Mills was certainly a terrific oarsman-I had the good fortune to have a season with him in a junior pair oar and double sculls. I (Brian) was never much of a sculler but Noel and I won at just about every regatta that season in both classes. He was a great club man -rowing during the season and playing in our rowing club indoor basketball team thru the winter.

Noel was my yardstick on those gruelling runs up the gorge that everyone remembers. If I could keep up with Noel- I would be OK. I could never catch John Alexander or Grant McCauley and Tom was pretty slick. Noel was always in about 3 or 4 so I thought if I could keep him in sight I was having a good day. I had to keep in front of Dave Molesworth and Chick Hammond going downhill because Chick went like a madman downhill passing everybody. We used to meet by the soccer club in the domain and nobody waited for latecomers. Warren Cole was not the greatest runner so he got there early and took a head start. At the top of the gorge we would stop and wait for Warren and then take off just before he caught up. Cruel eh? Then down the hill to the Wairere stream and up the steep hill to the trig station –then back the same way. Boy was that a tough circuit.

NZ selectors now have a policy of promoting both mens and womens eight crews to train and race with World Champs and Olympic games on the radar. What brought that change of thinking about?


It is recognising that even though New Zealand rowing is very strong in the small boat classes in both lightweight and open divisions it means that when crews for example like Bond and Murray settle into their winning ways- other very good oarsmen and women can be lost to the sport.

There are a good number of rowers coming up through the ranks from Maadi Cup on who may well find a pathway in their career by trialling for a place in an eight. The present mens eight , twice under 23 gold medallists are a good example and we have yet to see what they can achieve in the future.

Who would you most like to row in a boat with?

This would have to be Warren Cole –it was like we were linked in the boat –there was nothing separating us. The boat ran straight as a arrow and Warren had the heart of a lion.

So that probably means that my big regret is that Warren and I never had the chance to represent New Zealand in a pair because if Noel and I could win a silver at Moscow-sure as hell Warren and I were that much faster and could have won as a pair as well.

Ce la Vie.

If you didn’t row what other sport would you have chosen?

Looking back I think it would be cycling. I loved cycling as a youngster and still do. When I was in Whakatane I used to do a lot of miles with Kevin McComb. We did a lot of training- 4,000kms in fact as a build up for a big round Taupo race which I got down to about 4.55. I was always a bit on the big size because of the rowing but had I not rowed I may have been a tall skinny build-ideal for cycling.


What job did you do after retiring from rowing?

I set up my own concrete cutting business in Whakatane and at the time not much was known about the concrete cutting as there were only about 3 guys in the whole of the country doing it. My initial job was working with Robert Stone Ltd when they were building the number 3 machine at the Whakatane Board Mills. I bought half the business territory from Rangiuru to Rotorua and all of the Eastern Bay which included Tasman ,Caxton, The Board Mills and Fonterra and ran it for 19 years.

That lead me on to work down Ohakune way with a new mill built by Winstone Samsung and for 18 months or so did a week down there and a week back up at at Tasman and Caxton.  

About this time my old mate Monty McGougan went berserk signwriting my work truck. He did such a good job every time I came to town I would get more phone calls with customers having read my mobile sign. About that time Alex Harvey industries were building Turoa skifield and they were also staying at the hotel so I got to know them and they said when you are not busy at the mill concrete cutting come on up to the skifield and work for us. This area has been very kind to me.


Where do you live now?

I live here in Ohakune, we had a farm of around 250 acres and we sold the farm and retained 10 acres to live on. We got an offer for the 10 acres and 2 small houses with a 12 month settlement date and my partner Janlee moved to a lovely old villa in Taihape built by the Bell Tea family. 

I bought a new house on a small section and a big boat and made the move to Taupo. 2 ½ years later I had run out of projects in Taupo so I moved back to the Ohakune farm because the buyer of our 10 acres had reneged on the deal and we got the small acreage back.  I found I was having more fun back on the farm so I live there now and have spent the last few years doing major renovations on the main house. Time now to sit back and enjoy it.

When we go on a shopping trip I pick up Janlee in Taihape and we head thru to Wanganui and meet up with a bunch of old friends and have a good old catchup.  

Tell us a bit about your family?

My wife Helen suffered from multiple sclerosis for a number of years and eventually needed to go into care when we were unable to provide the level of help and medication required. She passed away about 10 years ago. 

We have 2 boys, my oldest Shaun is 47 this yearand lives with his partner in Sandringham(Auckland) and is in IT management .  My other son Jason(43)  works as an electrical contractor for the Ports of Auckland and has a 11 year old daughter and an 8 year old son.  I enjoy going up to visit them and spending time with my grandchildren.

 With my partner Janlee in Taihape ,my newly renovated farmhouse on 10 acres ,my boat in Taupo, my mates in Wanganui and my kids in Auckland life is good –long may it last.

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Warren Cole


Warren Cole


Brian Morpeth spoke with Warren Cole, Olympian and long time WRC rower, for a chat about his rowing career

We (Wybo and I) teamed up really by accident as both being new to the club were not selected in any crews for the forthcoming season. Fortunately Cyril Molesworth noticed us on the bank and suggested that we go for a row in a 2+ that nobody was using at the time, helped us rig it and away we went. After a couple of weeks of difficulty we rigged the boat with Wybo as stroke which made us both comfortable and efficient and the rest is history.
— Warren Cole
 

How did you start rowing?

I started rowing at Hamilton Boy’s High School in 1956.

What was your 1st crew and who was in it?

My first crew was the school 2nd 4+ at a regatta on the Tamaki Estuary course, placed 2nd of 12 crews.

Who was your 1st coach?

My first coach was Mr. Thomas Thompson the master who introduced Rowing to the school in 1955.

Who at that time was your sporting hero?

My sporting rowing hero of the time was Jim Hill an international from Hamilton Rowing Club who took an interest and was one of the very few who encouraged school rowing in the club at the time.

How did you and Wybo come to team up?

We teamed up really by accident as both being new to the club were not selected in any crews for the forthcoming season. Fortunately Cyril Molesworth noticed us on the bank and suggested that we go for a row in a 2+ that nobody was using at the time, helped us rig it and away we went. After a couple of weeks of difficulty we rigged the boat with Wybo as stroke which made us both comfortable and efficient and the rest is history.

Was there some turning point that made you think “I want to be a champion rower”?

When I joined the Whakatane Club after returning from my OE and being posted from Hamilton my goal was to win a redcoat.

Do you think the standard in the mens pair or the fours has changed since the time you rowed?

In our day we used heavy wooden oars and boats so times are not all that comparable. However there is no doubt in my mind that with the modern technology and training regimes our crews would still be winners also both nationally and internationally.

What about rowing competitions in general –how have they changed since your early days of rowing?

On the NZ scene there have been huge changes and improvements. The introduction of woman’s rowing and the phenomenal growth of schools rowing has made regattas huge events now with up to 2000+ athletes competing. For instance when I rowed in the Maadi Cup regatta,1956/57 it was all over in 4 hours, now it takes 6 days.

I have heard on Tom Reid’s famous training runs you had to stop along the way and wait for the others to catch up and when it came to lifting weights and doing chin-ups you left them all in the dust-is this true or is it an urban myth?

It is an urban myth for sure but a very good story over a few beers. We were all very competitive as individuals and the famous programme gained me the fitness level required to be a winner.

What was your BEST race?

It has to be the 1968 Coxed 4 Olympic final.

What was your WORST race?

Getting second in the 1957 Maadi Cup 8 I think.

What is your favourite event?

The coxless pair followed by the eight.

Which is your favourite rowing venue?

Lake Karapiro.

The “Warren Cole Walkway and Cycleway” is hugely popular and in constant use daily –very aptly named considering it runs alongside the stretch of the river you and your fellow rowers trained on.

I am very proud of the great honour of my name being recognised by the river bank. It was a wonderful gesture by the people of Whakatane to build such a popular and useful public place in my name and I am very grateful.

Who aside from Wybo would you most like to row with?

There is in fact quite a list of great oarsmen that I have had the privilege of rowing and racing with.

Noel Mills, David Molesworth, Dudley Storey, Dick Joyce, Ross Collinge.

What job did you do while rowing?

Sales Engineer for the National Dairy Assn. Milking Equipment Division.

Where do you live now?

Retired, living in Hamilton.

Tell us a bit about your family?

I have 2 children both having lived in Sydney for many years. I have 3 grandchildren also living in Sydney. My eldest grandson Simon has represented Australia as a lightweight and is looking toward selection for Rio.

 

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Graham Watt


Graham Watt


Dudley Story won gold at Mexico in my first year of rowing. I remember clearly being at the rowing club one day when one of my crew mates came hooning down the hill on his bike with his transistor radio to his ear yelling that New Zealand had won a gold medal in rowing at Mexico.
— Graham Watt

GRAHAM WATT

Graham is a Club coach running the senior boys programme. He sat down with Brian Morpeth recently to answer a few questions about his rowing life, coaching and those who have had the most influence on his rowing career.

How did you become involved in rowing?

I was at Westlake Boys High in the 3rd form and the teacher in charge of rowing who happened to be one of my teachers, invited me to trial for a novice four. Being unfit and asthmatic I declined the offer but thanks to his persistence I ended up having a try. I loved it, made the crew and my asthma and lack of fitness gradually became a thing of the past. I still feel that I owe a great deal to that teacher because of the path he set me on.  

What was school rowing like then? 

The things that stand out in my mind were heavy wooden boats, no girls, no sculling, travelling by bus to regattas with boats on top and heaps less training than today’s school rowers. 

Did you carry on into club rowing after school?

I did do one short summer season for North shore after my first university year but after that my summers were spent working on farms as a requirement of my Veterinary degree. That put an end to my rowing. After graduating I longed to row again for North Shore during their golden era as I worked pretty close to Lake Pupuke, but due to significant after hours work demands of my job I had to put rowing behind me. 

Do you still have regrets about not being able to carry on with rowing at that stage of life?

No doubt I would have had some good times had I done so, even if I hadn’t been Olympian material. Instead I did other things which have been equally rewarding.  

Are there any people who you encountered during your rowing years who still stand out in your mind?

Dudley Story won gold at Mexico in my first year of rowing. I remember clearly being at the rowing club one day when one of my crew mates came hooning down the hill on his bike with his transistor radio to his ear yelling that New Zealand had won a gold medal in rowing at Mexico.  In the course of time I got to learn about Dudley. Some months later he visited us at the club and spoke about his Olympic experience and we were spell bound.  I still clearly remember him sitting amongst us telling his stories in his down to earth manner.

Brian Hawthorne was my coach in my second season. My crew was the first crew he ever coached. He knew very little then and we did poorly but he was a quick learner and he eventually went on to coach North Shore club crews to many national titles a few years later and also the gold medal four at the LA Olympics.

Now that I am coaching and rowing again I have regular contact with both of them, because after 45 years they are still involved. They seem little changed.  

How did you come to be involved with rowing again?

Although I was busy with other interests in my mid-life such as kayaking and running, I never forgot the good times I had rowing so when I came to live in Whakatane I took advantage of being close to a rowing club again. Eventually I became involved with the Masters rowing in about 2001 and then started coaching about 2003.  

After more than 10 years coaching and having a number of successful crews, do you feel as though you understand what makes a crew go fast?

Little by little I am getting a greater understanding of the intricacies of sculling, but feel that there is still so much more to learn. There are many occasions when things get thrown at you that make you still feel like a novice coach. I may be a Master rower but will never fully master rowing.

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Graeme Weston


Graeme Weston


Teaming up with some very competitive ol’farts heading off to dedicated Master regattas all over Australia
— Graeme Weston

Graeme Weston

Brian Morpeth sat down with Graeme Weston, a keen Masters Rower with the club. Graeme competes regularly at Club and Masters regattas. 

How did you start rowing?

Mt Albert Grammar

What was your first crew and who was in it?

Coxed a School boy 8 – light weights weren’t welcome in those days

Who was your 1st Coach

Kerry Ashby

Who at that time was your sporting hero?

TV was new. Rugby players did not grope each other after scoring. Sporting hero’s are a relatively new concept.

Did you do club rowing after you left Mount Albert Grammar?

Four of us from WHK Surf Club joined Whakatane Rowing Club as novices. Sid Murphy, Colin Simonsen and Eon Dowthwaite. The era just before Tom coached the NZ Eight.

Your job has taken you around the world and given you the opportunity to row in a number of overseas cities-tell us about this?

Pot hunting with Thames Tradesman ( London) was a great way to see the country and get amongst the locals. As a master in Melbourne and Brisbane. Teaming up with some very competitive ol’farts heading off to dedicated Master regattas all over Australia. Sydney Olympic Course is a great place to race.

Given you have rowed in a lot of different boats in masters class ––what is your favourite event?

Quad – you get to the finish earlier.

What was your BEST race?

Head of River, London. We had the Club’s lowest ranked boat – a Donoratico identical to the “Whakatane”. I was in awe of it, except it had been an 18 month challenge for us Senior B’s to row until this day. We finally learnt how to make the thing go. Started in position 70, finished 46 ahead of a fancied TTRC 8 who were in one of the new Carbocraft boats. That caused a stir.

What was your WORST race?

Novice 4 final, NZ Champs, Lake Waihola. Some big unco lads from Avon managed to stay in front. Didn’t help that a virus was still plaguing me.

Who would you most like to row in a boat with?

Blokes of similar ability, age and size

If you didn’t row what other sport would you have chosen?

Canoeing

What job do you do?

Piping Designer – build 3D computer models of industrial plants.

Where do you live now?

Ohope

Tell us a bit about your family?

My father was a hot cricket player – ball sports are not my thing. Haven’t had the “pleasures” of bringing up kids.

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Dave Molesworth


Dave Molesworth


As they say “back in the day” redcoats were awarded to the winners of Senior Class(now called Premier) winners in the single sculls, double sculls, pair oar(coxless), four our(coxed) and eight oar races. I was the first rower to get a redcoat in every event, not bad for a rower who started out as a lightweight.
— Dave Molesworth
Dave is pointing at his place in the eight –the #5 seat or the powerhouse as he likes to call it.

Dave is pointing at his place in the eight –the #5 seat or the powerhouse as he likes to call it.

How did you start rowing?

I started by coxing the club senior eight around 1959

What was your first crew and who was in it?

My first crew was a mens lightweight 4 -Keith Rigden(stroke), me, Roy Hollis and Stan(Mohawk) Miles.  The Club had just taken delivery of some new fours and the committee said (very big-heartedly) that we could row in the old plywood the “Albert Norman” which was in a very sorry state. The proviso was that we had to do all the repairs ourselves and get it back into racing standard –we must have done a good job as we went on to win the lightweight fours title at the NZ Champs in Wanganui.

Who was your 1st coach?

We pretty much coached ourselves

Who at that time was your sporting hero?

TOBY ANDREWS-Toby came to stay with us at age 20 from up north. He was a carpenter for Boon Sullivan Luke and used to ride a bike everywhere. Toby was a magnificently built guy with huge leg and arm muscles and looked like a champion boxer. The first thing he did when he arrived to stay at our house in Francis Street was to do a handstand then walk right around the house on his hands (try it sometime). Toby paired up with Bill Hunter to win the club’s first redcoats in the double sculls at The NZ Championships at Wairoa in 1956.

How did you and  Tom come to be in a double sculls?

Tom and brother Ray Reid were planning to buy themselves a pair oar boat and row together. Ray however got transferred to Auckland where he went on to row with a number of top crews at The Waitemata Rowing Club. Meanwhile the Club had just ordered a brand new Sargent & Burton double sculls boat and Cyril suggested to Tom and I that we give it a crack. And as the saying goes “the rest is history”.

Who was the boss?

Tom –no question

Given you have rowed in every boat at NZ championship level –what is your favourite event?

As they say “back in the day” redcoats were awarded to the winners of Senior Class(now called Premier) winners in the single sculls, double sculls, pair oar(coxless), four our(coxed) and eight oar races. I was the first rower to get a redcoat in every event, not bad for a rower who started out as a lightweight. I enjoyed all these events but somehow there is nothing quite like rowing in an eight that is just humming along out in front of a field of also very fast eights all trying to knock you off. 

So lets settle for the eights.

What was your BEST race?

Our first win with Tom in the doubles

What was your WORST race?

We had a very disappointing race at Henley-the organisers gave us a dunger of a boat and we never had a chance. The people of Whakatane had helped us get there and we felt we had let them down.

You and Tom had a trip to Europe –what races did you have?

This was where we paid back the townspeople with our training and racing leading up to the World Champs in Germany. We rubbed shoulders with the best rowers in the world at that time and came back full of new ideas of how to train and win races.

When you came back from Europe Tom called a meeting to form a squad to capture some redcoats. How did that evolve?

Tom had the basis of a promising four and at the time the blue riband event on every regatta programme was still the senior eights as they were called back then. Tom had  watched and learnt carefully the training regimes they observed in Europe and he devised a plan to motivate his fellow rowers to go with him and knock off the top clubs like West End, Waikato and Avon. The squad went on to win not only the eights title but every other title as well.

It was good to see many of the redcoat eight back for the centenary –do you keep in touch with each other?

Yeah we do, but of course none of us are getting any younger so it gets a bit harder as the years go by.

Aside from Tom Reid -Who would you most like to row in a boat with?

That’s easy –WYBO VELDMAN    - in my mind the best oarsman whoever walked this planet. You name it –he had it all- strength, stamina,a cool head and the ability to read a race- just everything a rower needs to win and win consistently.

If you didn’t row what other sport would you have chosen?

As a kid I just loved horse riding –that would have been my passion.

What job did you do while you were rowing?

I was a fitter and turner working with Tom, Baden Watkins and Mick Gosling at the Whakatane Board Mills. All great guys.

Where do you live now?

In Eivers road Whakatane, in the family home with siblings Barbara and Robert. We live by the river and I cycle down the Warren Cole Walkway most days and meet lots of interesting people and give tons of cheek to my mates along the way.

Life is great.

Dave & Barbara at the recent Centenary celebrations.

Dave & Barbara at the recent Centenary celebrations.

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Keith Bowering


Keith Bowering


When Cyril Molesworth told his good friend Bill Stevenson the club was considering the possibility of staging a regatta on the Whakatane River, Bill promptly gave a donation of $1,000 and a guarantee to underwrite any losses the enterprise incurred. A separate committee was formed called “The Whakatane Rowing Club Regatta and Carnival Committee” with the likes of George Henry, Bill Stuart, Les Stewart, Keith Bowering, Peter Seebeck etc. and they went ahead.
— Keith Bowering
Keith Bowering on right talks to fellow life member Geoff Moore   at the museum display at the centenary celebrations.

Keith Bowering on right talks to fellow life member Geoff Moore at the museum display at the centenary celebrations.

How did you start rowing?

I had started work and joined a maiden four crew of Cal O’Rourke, Mac Brown, Me and Murray Whitaker

Who was your 1st coach?

Geoff Moore and Bert Norman were there but we pretty much taught each other to row by trial and error. We rowed out of the old shed which stood precariously perched out over the water just on the army hall side of the bridge over the Waiewe Stream about opposite the front door of the Regional Council #2 building. No stop banks back then but very conveniently a short trek thru the playground opposite took you to the Commercial Hotel premises.

What was your BEST race?

The club went to the Ngarawahia regatta one year and we made almost a clean sweep of every race we were entered in-probably the equivalent of the WRC winning the Dewar shield at the Blue Lake regatta this season. The annual Ngaruawahia regatta was a real carnival event with wood chopping events water melons galore and all the fun of the fair.  In the early days whole trainloads of people and boats would make the journey down from Auckland just to take part. There was a very tricky finish to the course where you had to row across the mouth of the mighty Waikato into the Waipa river and if you misjudged the current your lead disappeared in a flash.

What was your WORST race?

As we all know rowing on any harbour is always tricky when the wind gets up. We were at a regatta at Petone on Wellington Harbour and even though we had lashed splashboards under the riggers to keep the worst of the water out it was still coming in faster than it was going out. In the end all the crews had to make for the shore,get the boats out of the water and walk them back along the motorway to Petone. It must have looked strange to the passing motorists and a hell of a tiring exercise for the rowers.

You were a long time committee member of the club as CLUB CAPTAIN and a number of other positions-tell us about some of the things you remember about those years?

The club was very fortunate to have the whole town supporting our rowers all the way. Harry Warren while he was Mayor would call a coffee meeting of the towns leaders and somehow convince them they should contribute to the fundraising efforts to send rowers overseas or buy them boats so they could compete on a level playing field. Bill Henderson ran a very successful contracting firm and was very generous with employing some of the rowers that arrived from out of town-his only stipulation that they had to make sure they turned up on payday to collect their wages. He often underwrote the fundraising efforts with a monetary guarantee which he often said he hoped would never be called upon as he never had any cash. 

Others like Sel Cave, Norman Patterson, the Bridger family, Rex Morpeth, Sam Carter and many others were great supporters over the years.

What about some of the early regattas-how were they run?

When Cyril Molesworth told his good friend Bill Stevenson the club was considering the possibility of staging a regatta on the Whakatane River, Bill promptly gave a donation of $1,000 and a guarantee to underwrite any losses the enterprise incurred. A separate committee was formed called “The Whakatane Rowing Club Regatta and Carnival Committee” with the likes of George Henry, Bill Stuart, Les Stewart, Keith Bowering, Peter Seebeck etc. and they went ahead. Besides rowing there was a “Miss Whakatane Beauty Contest” and June Bowering made the sashes for each years winner.

JD Rivett also staged a cards competition and there were all sorts of other entertainments. The date of boxing day seemed a little odd when you think about it but because the rowers were coming such a long way from Auckland and Waikato they were able to have Xmas dinner at home then travel down and arrive on Xmas eve and bunk down at the Army Hall. We spent most of Xmas day putting up big sheets of reinforcing steel to cover up the walkways etc so we could charge an entry fee to spectators. We then spent hours filling paliasses with hay to go on the stretcher beds we had acquired to provide beds for the visiting rowers in the Army Hall-what a job! . The rowers  competed on Boxing Day and then had the next day to travel home ready for work the following day. We had huge spectator crowds at the regatta and many of the rowers talked about how much they enjoyed the regatta years later when the venue and date had to be shifted to Lake Matahina with a  mid-january date.

In the 70s there was a separate REGATTA COMMITTEE  that ran the club regattas at first on the river with the finish at the Army Hall and then up at Lake Matahina-tell us about those days?

Brian Slipper was the driving force with you Dave Smith, Les Stewart, Peter Seebeck, Keith Bowering, Brian Morpeth. What events stopped rowing on the river and then years later finished our days at Lake Matahina and the move on to the Blue Lake.

The Whakatane River was silting up and we always had a problem with the timing of the tides. Boxing Day was always fixed so rowing a full days programme became a nightmare when the tide went out. Entries were getting bigger and  having 3 or 4 eights charging downstream with the tide going out became very difficult. It was a shame to call a halt to the regatta in town as it was so popular with rowers and the public but we could see a move had to be made. Lake Matahina presented a perfect rowing course on the water but the road in and the lack of a decent sized beach and area to store the boats caused all sorts of problems. It was only the sheer perseverance from Brian Slipper who did not understand the phrase ”it can’t be done”  that kept us going. Brian spent countless hours up at the lake working on the course and on land –often arriving back home drenching wet having fallen out of his boat into the lake.

Tell us how you came to get the Army Engineers to carry out an exercise on the regatta course at Lake Matahina……?

The Army Engineers brought all their heavy machinery down and created terraces, wider roads and tracks and some good flat areas where we were able to build a garage to store our gear and use as a catering centre to provide food for the hungry rowers and spectators. Brian Slipper and I helped provide the meals to the engineers who stayed overnight in the Army Hall and travelled out to the Lake each day for work. The work they did greatly improved the layout of the area we used and made the regatta a great success. The event that ended our stay there was the big 1987 earthquake which resulted in the access road just completely slipping into the lake and cutting off our access to the park area we had created. We then moved the regatta to the Blue Lake as a back-to-back event with the Rotorua Rowing Club as it is to this day.

Tell us a bit about your family?

My brothers Jack , Peter and Noel all rowed for the club and June’s brother Gordon Angus did his time as an electrician at Whakatane Radio & Electrical and learnt to row at the Whakatane Club. He then moved with his parents to Auckland and while there joined the West End Rowing Club and won a couple of redcoats in their eight.  My granddaughter Stacey also rowed at school-she attended Cambridge College and while there rowed in their squad. She is now is an English teacher at Cambridge College and June and I are immensely proud of her.

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Brian Morpeth


Brian Morpeth


How did you start rowing?

I  was  lucky  that  rowing  was  alive  and  well  when  I  arrived  at  Sacred  Heart  College  in  Richmond  Road,  Ponsonby.  The  College  leased  a  boatshed  in  Westhaven  which  was  subsequently  demolished  to  make  way  for  the  new  Auckland  Harbour  Bridge  in  1954.                          

West  End  Rowing  Club  was  operating  from  St.Marys  Bay    at  the  time  and  they  very  kindly  allowed  us  to  store  our  skiffs  in  their  shed  and  even  provided  us  with  a  coach    Bill  Engles  .  Bill  was  the  stroke  of  the  West  End  eight  that  represented  New  Zealand  in  the  1950  British  Empire  Games  a  Karapiro  (now  known  as  the  Commonwealth  Games)  and  the  next  year  Ted  Smith  the  bowman  of  the  same  eight  was  our  coach. 

What was your first crew and who was in it?

A  few  I  remember  were  my  good  friend  Frank  Hall  (  Brother  Marcel),  Frank  Crotty,  who  rowed  for  Union  Wanganui  and  represented  NZ  at  the  Empire  games  in  Edinburgh  and  the  late  Dudley  Storey  who  went  on  to  gold  medal  fame  and  became  a  tireless  worker  promoting  the  sport  of  rowing  throughout  the  country. 

Was your first crew any good?

We  thought  we  were  pretty  good  but  I  think  our  best  finish  was  a  3rd  place  in  the  Head  of  the  Harbour  regatta  -  so  as  they  say  we  had  plenty  to  work  on.  

Who  was  your  1st  coach? 

My  first  coach  when  I  left  college  and  came  back  to  Whakatane  was  Cyril  Molesworth.  

Cyril  had  developed  a  unique  rowing  stroke  that  was  quite  different  to  my  experience  with  the  West  End  ,  Eric  Craies  way  of  rowing.  Eric  favoured  a  straight  back  then  a "strike" into  the  water,  a  lay  back  and  a  quick "hands away".  Cyril  taught  us  to "roll" into  the  catch,  drive  through  then  pull  the  body  back  up  at  the  end  and "squeeze" the  finish.  This "Molesworth" way  of  rowing  coupled  with  Cyril’s  determination    (he  only  wanted  to  coach "winners")  would  be  the  catalyst  to  the  outstanding  run  of  redcoats  the  Whakatane  Club  won  through  the  70s.

Who at that time was your sporting hero?

Jimmy  Hill  and  Don  Rowlands.  They  had  so  many  battles  in  the  single  sculls  races  –they  were  the  giants  of  rowing  in  my  day.  

My favourite boat to row in is.....

I  rowed  with  Tom  Reid  in  a  very  good  Junior  four  and  also  loved  rowing  a  pair  with  the  late  Noel  Mills    but  I  still  really  enjoyed  the  thrill  of    eight  oar  rowing  –the  boat  just  goes  so  fast. 

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What was your BEST race?

My  best  race  was  in  an  Empire  games  trial  race  on  the  Sunday  after  the  NZ  Championships  in  Wanganui  in  1958?  West  End  had  won  their  redcoats  on  the  Saturday  and  needed  to  have  a  comfortable  win  in  a  trial  to  stake  their  rights  to  represent  New  Zealand.  

At  the  time  crews    going  to  Empire  or  Olympic  games  were  chosen  mainly  AS  A  CLUB  CREW  so  in  these  trials  the  selectors  were  also  considering  selecting  a  COMPOSITE  crew  in  the  eights  to  train  at  Karapiro.  I  was  in  the  3  seat  of  a  crew  stroked  by  Max  Weston  and  coxed  by  Bob  Page  both  from  West  End  and  both  annoyed  they  had  been  dropped  from  the  West  End  eight  that  won  redcoats  on  the  Saturday.  As  soon  as  we  rowed  away  from  the  bank  we  could  tell  that  we  were  sitting  in  a  very  fast  boat  and  Max  and  Bob  made  it  quite  clear  before  the  race  they  knew  we  had  a  good  chance  of  knocking  off  the  West  End  crew.  

West  End  jumped  out  to  about  a  length  lead  and  we  both  soon  left  the  3rd  trial  crew  behind.  I  was  in  awe  at  the  skills  of    Bob  Page  and  Max    and  our  boat  was  really  flying.  About  200metres  to  go  Bob  Page  really  got  stuck  into  us  and  stroke  by  stroke  we  pulled  back  the  redcoat  crew.  We  kept  gradually  moving  up  on  them  and  at  the  finish  we  were  only  6  inches  behind.  I  knew  then  that  would  be  the  fastest  crew  I  would  ever  row  in.  Great.    

What was your WORST race?

I was  half  way  down  the  rowing  course  at  our  local  boxing  day  regatta  in  front  of  a  big  local  crowd    and  going  quite  nicely  until  I  caught  a  crab  and  fell  out  of  my  singles.  Unlike  other  scullers  I  had  no  clue  as  to  how  to  get  back  in  so  I  very  unceremoniously  swam  my  single  over  to  a  nearby  beach.  Very  embarrassing.

Who would you most like to row in a boat with?

Sir Steve Redgrave in a very fast eight.

 

If you didn’t row what other sport would you have chosen?

I  enjoyed  my  rugby  immensely  playing  for  St.Josephs  in  Whakatane  (now  Marist).  I  found  that  when  I  was  part  of  Tom  Reid’s  training  system  which  involved  a  run  from  the  Rex  Morpeth  park,  up  to  the  top  of  the  gorge,  down  to  the  Wairere  stream,  then  up  to  the  trig  station......then......back  to  Rex  Morpeth  park(whew!).  I  was  so  fit  I  could  run  all  day  on  a  rugby  field  and  our  St.Jos  team  won  a  couple  of  titles  in  the  process. 

Where do you live now?

After  78  years  living  in  Whakatane,  Maureen  and  I  have  moved  to  a  retirement  village  in  Katikati.  Instead  of  looking  down  on  Otarawairere  Bay  we  now  have  a  great  view  across  the  upper  Tauranga  Harbour  to  Matakana  Island  in  the  distance.  Life  is  good. 

Tell us a bit about your family

My  mother  and  father  lived  most  of  their  lives  in  Whakatane  and  Dad  was  the  Mayor  of  Whakatane  for  15  years.  He  just  loved  his  time  on  the  council  and  he  was  very  proud  of  his  involvement  with  both  rowing  and  golf  in  particular.                

Maureen  and  I  have  3  sons  –  Ian,  Gregory  (deceased)  and  Steven.  Ian  lives  in  Sydney  with  Karen  and  children  Jordan,  Tyler  and  India  –  Ian  has  looked  after  setting  up  the  clubs  website  and  keeping  it  running  for  the  last  5  years.  Steven  had  10  years  living  in  Toronto,  Canada  and  is  now  back  in  New  Zealand  and  living  in  Auckland.  

KIA  KAHA.


                       

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David Smith


David Smith


Who would you most like to row in a boat with?

Nigella Lawson, Amanda Redmond, Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry as the coxswain.
— David Smith

David Smith

How did you start rowing? 
Started rowing in about 1960,a natural progression from the coxwains seat. 

What was your first crew and who was in it? 
First crew,a novice four,Myself,Allan “Tweets” Larkin,Jamie Hudson and brother Brian Smith. 

Who was your 1st coach? 
Cyril Molesworth 

Who at that time was your sporting hero? 
My sporting heroes were Bruce McLaren ,Denny Hulme and Chris Amon. 

Given that you were a great friend of Noel Mills-tell us a bit about him?
What can I say about Noel Mills, that has not already been said ,a great guy, one of the best, not only a true champion rower but a great club member to boot, always had time for the younger members and always keen to pass on his knowledge and expertise. As a friend he was a model of reliability and sincerity. In his latter years he had major health problems, a quad heart bypass proved most successful and he was able to continue masters rowing. 
His name will always live on with the creation of the Noel Mills Trust Fund from which is drawn
financial benefits each year to promising Junior members of the Club. 

What was your BEST race? 
Best race would have been winning the novice fours at the Ngaruawahia regatta. 

What was your WORST race? 
Worst race would have been any of those races where we finished up getting beaten. 

You were a long time committee member of the club as secretary and a number of other positions-tell us about some of the things you remember about those years?
I spent more years in the club as an administrator than as an active member. Many enjoyable
moments were had, especially joining a supporters party to Lake Waihola to witness the club
winning its first redcoats in the coxed four and eight. Sadly the majority of that tour party have since passed away.  

In the 70s there was a separate REGATTA COMMITTEE that run the club regattas at first on the river with the finish at the Army Hall and then up at Lake Matahina-tell us about those days. Brian Slipper was the driving force with you, Les Stewart, Peter Seebeck, Keith Bowering, Brian Morpeth. What events stopped rowing on the river and then years later finished our days at Lake Matahina and the move to the Blue Lake.

I spent many years as secretary of the regatta committee, it was a lot of work but one got a lot of enjoyment from it. The regatta was held on the Whakatane River with the finishing line just upstream from the wharf. In those days the Miss Whakatane Bathing Beauty contest was run in conjunction with the regatta, it was always a fun day which attracted a large crowd and drew entries from all over the North Island. For many years the committee provided accommodation for the visiting oarsmen in the form of stretchers with a palliasse (a large sack filled with straw). What with the amount of partying that went on after the regatta I’m not too sure how many of the beds were actually used for SLEEPING. 

Because of the many problems associated with trying to run a regatta on a tidal river it was decided that we had to look for an alternative venue. The late Brian Slipper took it on himself to look into Lake Matahina as a possible rowing course. With the many problems regarding public access, parking,boat launching etc. it proved to be a logistical nightmare, but Keith Bowering and the NZ Army Engineers came to the fore with earthworks which enabled the club to stage many successful regattas. Unfortunately the Edgecumbe Earthquake put paid to the venue, the access road dropped into the lake and the many years of hard work and planning disappeared overnight. Since then the club has run its annual regatta at the Blue Lakes in conjunction with the Rotorua Rowing Club. 

Who would you most like to row in a boat with? 
Nigella Lawson, Amanda Redmond, Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry as the coxswain. 
Editors note: sorry Wybo I thought you would be on Dave’s list but because of the competition you didn’t make the cut (despite all those trial fours races you won with Dave in the bow). 

If you didn’t row what other sport would you have chosen? 
I don’t know what summer sport I would have taken up besides rowing, tried cricket but no good at it plus it was boring. 

What job did you do while rowing? 
I was an apprentice watchmaker with the family business. 

Where do you live now? 
Still live in Whakatane. 

Tell us a bit about your family?
Been married to my wife Judith for nearly 50 years, have three children, 7 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Unfortunately our 3 children all live far from home, Stratford(NZ) being the nearest ,then Western Australia and New York. 

Rowing has played a large part in my life, I still get enjoyment in strolling down to the club on a
Sunday morning for a coffee and chat. 

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Gary Adams


Gary Adams


Brian Morpeth sat down with Gary McAdams, Club Captain for the past 3 years for a chat about his rowing career and how he sees the future of the club developing over the next few years. 

How did you start rowing?
I didn’t come through the school rowing system so at the end of 6th form an old friend asked me what I was doing over the summer and as I didn’t have a lot on he talked me into coming down to the rowing club and giving it a go with the promise of lots of beer, wine, women and song-sounded pretty good to me.


What was your first crew and who was in it?
We had probably about 20 guys who went thru the squad which our coach “Chick
Hammond” gradually filtered down as he does in his way and there was four of us left.
There was myself ,David Tutbury, Paul Brunetti and the 4th guy was Ron Stockman and our cox was Wayne Hay who had been involved with Richard Newey and Robbie Hamill and the eight that Chick took through to a NZ title.

Who was your 1st coach?
Chick was my first and only coach at the Whakatane Club and he mentored me right from my novice year, thru the grades, thru the under 23s and into premiership racing and before I went overseas I was a member there for 7 years. 

In 1990 you teamed up with Richard Newey and won the NZ Champion Mens Double Sculls title with Miles Hammond as your coach. How did you and Richard Newey come to be in a double sculls? Also who did you have to beat to win this title?
After a year in the novice 4 and a year in a coxed pair I then rowed with Wybo’s son Shaun Veldman and won some good races. We rowed in a double in intermediate and under 23 and of course we always did our races in single sculls at the same time.
 Richard was single sculling at the time and he joined Shaun and I along with Tim Goodson who was my coxed pair partner and we rowed senior 4 for a year coxed and coxless and we came 2nd and 3rd at the nationals – we won the North Island titles but never quite the nationals. After that Tim left and Shaun went off to University and Richard and I were left looking at each other so we thought let’s give it a crack in the doubles. We had some pretty formidable opposition with Eric Verdonk being the top single sculler late 80s early 90s winning a bronze medal at the world championships and an Olympic bronze medal in 1988. And almost a 3rd in Barcelona in 92 –a very competent sculler. Richard and I had 3 years in the double and we won the title once and the other times we were close 2nd to Eric and his 3 different partners. We won the North Islands which was nice but a little bitter sweet as the one that really mattered was the national title. But we did get our win. The three of us (Richard,Chick and I ) had a really great time over those years and we are still good mates to this day and share a lot of good memories of adventures like when Chick took us over to Lake Barrington in Tasmania in 1990 where we raced the Australian National Championships. 

I see your name as a NZ representative in 1989(sen 1x) and 1989 and 1990 (sen 8+)-tell us a bit about these races?
I made the under 23 team as a single sculler in 1989 and both Richard and I made the elite team in 1990 and then we missed out 1991 and 1992 despite the fact we met the criteria the selectors laid down for us. They put down a time and said if anyone matches these times you will be selected for the Olympics. We qualified that time twice but the selectors in their wisdom decided they would change the goalposts so Richard and I went overseas together and tried to force selection by doing the European circuit- but that was unsuccessful. Richard came back to NZ and joined forces with Eric Verdonk and won a few national titles in the single and in the doubles. Even though I was sculling in the under 23s in 1989 I was picked in 1990 in the elite 8 and went to the Australian Championships in Tasmania from there NZ had an invitation along with Italy to send crews to a prestigious University race in the USA called the Windemere Cup. When we got there we discovered although I had been sent as a single sculler there was no single sculls race. The Italians also discovered they had sent a pair oar crew and also there was no race at this regatta. So being a number 8 wire Kiwi we decided to make up a crew of myself,the 2 Italians and a spare USA rower that the States coaches thought was no good and we went on to win the coxed four race to everyones surprise.

In 1995,1996,1997 and 1999 you rowed for Great Britain. How did you come to be in the UK at that time and where did you race?
I stayed on in England with my parents British passport criteria and at that time I was a bit sick of rowing and I just wanted to put the fun back into it. I had heard about the Henley Regatta and I moved to Nottingham and got involved with a group of young guys and we just rowed and had huge success. At the time I thought I would just be there for a year and I ended up staying for nearly 9 years. It was quite a change from Whakatane where you had a crew and coach and pretty much stayed in that little world. At Nottingham we had a squad of about 20 so there was plenty of changing crews around, settling the pecking order ,competing for a seat etc. which made rowing really enjoyable. I thought I would just stay for a year and see what happens and each year we became more and more successful and competing in International Regattas sometimes up against NZ crews and beating them -so that was very sweet for me to do that so I had no inkling to go back to NZ.

I believe you had the honour to row alongside both (now Sir) Steven Redgrave and his long time rowing partner Matthew Pinsent. Tell us a bit about this experience?
Most of the rowing in England is done on the Thames at clubs like Leander and London Rowing Club and is run rather along the elite class. I had a contact in Nottingham with a friend of Tom and Gary Reid called Ian Wilson who was the head coach so that drew me up there to row. Nottingham was a lightweight rowing stronghold where there would be 10 or 12 that had world lightweight titles. When I arrived they were just starting to attract good heavyweight rowers and we were able to feed off the training and technique of the lightweights just about all of them representing England.

I rowed at Henley and succeeded in winning the single sculls 3 times while I was there which was a great experience in sudden death racing. I rowed in the winning Great Britain 8 at the Commonwealth games in 1994 and our 4 came 2nd by 2 feet both times beating NZ crews which was very satisfying. Sir Steven Redgrave was around before and during my stint in the team as was Matthew Pinsent both standing around 6 foot 5 inches and weighing 16stone. Both men won multiple gold medals in both World Championships and Olympic games and it was a great experience to row in the same squad .Redgrave and Pinsent dominated the coxless pair oar in much the same way as Bond and Murray. They won the World Champs coxless pair in1991,93,94 and 95 then teamed up with James Cracknell and Tim Foster to win the coxless four in 1997,98 and 99 and the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

I was appointed Head Coach at the Notts County Rowing Club for the last 2 years I was there. At the time Nottingham was the only 2000 metre course in the country and it was only after I left that the new man-made course at Eton was created for the Olympic Games. 

 

What was your BEST race?
Very hard to choose. As far as both physically and technically my bets race was making my first world final in a four. The race was won by Rumania and the next 3 crews were a photo finish and even though we were awarded 4th I had great satisfaction in the way we attacked the race and this gave us the confidence that we had the boat speed and the goods to win races.
The other races were in beating Eric Verdonk both in the singles and the doubles titles and then competing in the UK and succeeding after everyone writing you off. Being able to work hard and come through and win races showed them I had the goods-very satisfying.

What was your WORST race?  Do you have a worst race?
Yes, but I don’t want to talk about it.(a wry laugh)  

Who would you most like to row in a boat with?
I would love to have my time over and row again with Richard Newey knowing what I know now with training technique and fitness knowledge. But of course imagine putting an eight together with the likes of Wybo,Warren, Rob Waddell, Mahe,Bond and Murray,Redgrave and Pinsett and be able to sit in the middle of that lot………..wow,wouldn’t that be great.

What job do you do in Whakatane?
I live here in Whakatane rebuilding rowing boats/fishing boats/surf skis/hockey sticks anything to do with carbon fibre/fibreglass and composites. When I came back from the UK I went dairy farming for about 7 years and then the opportunity came along in boatbuilding with a friend of mine who was importing boats and he needed someone to fix them. This was what I was doing in the UK so it was a natural progression for me..

As Club Captain how do you see the club at present and what do you hope to see it achieve over the next few years ?
For me as Club Captain I see my role as gelling everyone together so we can all work on the bigger picture. As you know we had a very successful 100 year centenary which celebrated some extraordinary successes over the years. I felt at the time it was a good point in time that we could cap off all the good rowing and move the club forward into the future. Rowing has changed a lot from being very big in club rowing to not so big club rowing but huge school level rowing and to an extent masters rowing which is growing- that is really neat. If clubs are to survive we need to embrace the school system and obviously if there is to be club rowers- certainly encourage them as well. Even in the school rowing system I don’t think it is as good as it can be. It is very hard on the kids and the regimes and the drop off is very high –it is only 3% of the kids rowing at school go on to club rowing mainly because it was just so hard with the early starts, the amount of training and the pressure from parents and coaches etc. Because I took up rowing after school that may have allowed me to have more fun years and could be the reason I had such longevity in the sport. I was a young adult and there was the socialising aspect of it which for me was hugely important.

For us to be looking forward as a club we need to be looking at building numbers and to me that means school rowers, club rowers and masters rowers and I believe if we have 10 members in the club 1 will step up to championship level,if we have 100 members in the club we will have more standing up and this will enable our club to punch above our weight. And long term I still believe Whakatane has got one of the best pieces of water to train on and I would like ultimately like to see it as a club of excellence. If we had 200 members I don’t know if or how we could accommodate them but I think it would be cool if every kid in town at least sat in a boat had the opportunity to give it a go. This is my dream.

Tell us a bit about your family?
My father passed away recently and my mother still lives in town and keeps herself really active. I have 2 sisters who live in town with their husbands and a younger brother who is a policeman here in Whakatane. We all get on well and often have family get togethers. I am now separated from my wife but I have 4 beautiful children in town with one who is off to University this year and of course I am involved with the Club.