by Siena Snow


After Maadi Cup 2020 was cancelled, due to the first ever COVID lockdown, the Rowing Squad was devastated. Seven gruelling months of training had already been put in, and now there was no national stage to showcase on.

However, several dark, winter months later, and the girls were ready to get back to the grind. The first regatta of the next season, the Otago Champs in December 2020, proved very successful. We gained a handful of 1st and 2nd places in both U16 and U17, fours and doubles.

The Canterbury Champs was the first regatta in 2021. Columba won Silver in the U15 four and U15 double, as well as Gold in the women's pair.

This was followed by a very windy, week-long training camp that ended with a brutal hike up through the Mackenzie High Country.

Next came the South Island Club Champs, which resulted in a Bronze in the novice four, two Silvers in the U15 and U17 doubles, and another Gold for the women's pair.

And then, once again, it was the lead up to the next Maadi Cup, the largest secondary school sporting competition in the southern hemisphere. Columba started strong in the week-long regatta, with crews ranking well on race times. Some very close races and cut-throat competition resulted in the Novice, U15 and U16 fours all placing 4th.

Post Maadi, Phoebe Wellstead was invited to trial for the South Island U18 team, whilst Siena Snow was invited to trial for the NZ Juniors U19 team.

A special thank you to our coaches Matt Adam, Saskia Klinkenberg, and Gabby Hunter for pushing us out of our comfort zones during training, and building athletes of discipline, good character, and sportsmanship. Thank you, also, to Matt Sutton and the small army of parents, for investing your time and organisational skills, not to mention your exceptional cooking expertise. You truly are the backbone of the squad and little would be achieved without you.

HEAR THE BOAT SING - by Tegan Wisnesky

I think back to those endless summers I spent

My thighs stuck to the sliding plastic seats

Drifting gently just me and my boat

The sunlighting glancing off my blades

Water unravelled by its touch.

I felt the cool drips of water

From my hair down my back

And my sunburnt cheeks

Hurt when I smiled.

The lake’s skin shivers in anticipation

As we prepare to go to war

As I departed this moment of stillness

The peace stops while the tension begins.

The first half of the race

The mind remains still all throughout the swing

All in an effort to make the boat sing

With every graceful pull of the oars

The blisters of my palm sting as they burst.

Time is nothing to me

Through the tedious placement and swing

Of the blades against the boat.

And just like that I’m halfway there

My breath becomes ragged

And with every desperate tug of my blades

The boat’s bow chops the water with more aggression

Than the stroke that came before.

My body begs me to stop

As my legs melt into slop

This is how I know the time has come

When the mind takes over

My lungs now nothing but a shell.

As my inner revs roared its way to the red line

The 500 metre line came into into view

And suddenly I felt a kick as I shove my legs into the 8th gear

And the adrenaline revived me

As I forgot how to breathe.

And everything got faster

My blades attacked the surface

White noise filled my brain

The silent screams in my body

Drowning the cheering crowd out.

If I tip out now I wouldn’t have to finish the race

Was the only thoughts I could muster

Just keep going

You’re almost there

One more stroke

I’m gonna throw up-

And then it’s done

As quickly as it began

In the relief of victory

My back arches over my blades

Making the shape of a rainbow

The calm after the storm.

The sense of peace is immediate

As I remember how to breathe

The gentle wake over the water

Rocking me back to life.

In a short eight minutes I learn

As much by the senses

As the muscles

I row as much by the soul

As the body.