By Oliver Field
The Rhodes Rowing Club has been renowned for producing some of the best national results for a university year in and year out. This is despite the fact that Rhodes does not have a reputation as a top sporting university and social life holds a higher priority than sport for most students here. The 2006 teams did not disappoint, each race saw the Rhodes crews putting in massive strength and coming out on top in many cases.
The Rowing Club’s success stems largely from the fact that both men’s and women’s crews compete at top levels and produce results which put the university at a high sporting level. The club tasted victory in many situations despite 2006 being a fairly up and down year for all the crews.
The highlight of the year undoubtedly came from the First XVIII’s victory at the biggest rowing event of the year, Boatraces in Port Alfred. One of the victorious members of the crew, Jonathan Hadley, described winning the event as “better than sex”, while “B” Fours’ Andrew Theron felt it was an “absolutely memorable experience”.
The intensity of competition for rowing at University, however, is completely different to high school level. In terms of training, the onus is completely on the student to maintain a high physical fitness, as well as a discipline to the sport, especially over the weekend when surrounding Rhodents are up to their usual nightlife antics. Even work begins to take its toll, particularly in the third term as Boatraces approaches. Rowers aren’t always busy keeping up their fitness though and once the season has come to an end, the crews are notorious for taking over many of Grahamstown’s pubs.
The club also offers tough training programmes, which can usually be obtained from the team captain and can often be useful to non-rowers. However, the responsibility to keep up with training still lies on the rowers themselves, who can often be seen dominating the Health Suite or running on the roads of Grahamstown.
This year promises to live up to the reputation set by this year’s crews, and Theron believes crews such as the “B” Fours, who are losing just one oarsman, “can only get better”. With so much depth from last years and the promise of some first year talent for the club, it seems that one of Rhodes’ most successful sports clubs is certainly one to look out for in 2007.
Theron believes that for first years, “rowing is a great commitment, but the benefits that come from it can be compared to nothing on this planet.”