Albert Falls Dam is venue for second major regatta in KZN this year

PRESS RELEASE: “Albert Falls Dam is venue for second major regatta in KZN this year”, 19 October, 2008

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa – Alberts Falls Dam was for the second time this year the venue of a major rowing regatta.  In April this year, KZN hosted a combined Gauteng and KZN Provincial Championships Regatta at Albert Falls Dam, showcasing for the first time the great potential this venue holds for rowing.

Rowing is an Olympic sport rowed over 2000m, with some junior races taking place over 1000m.  The South African National rowing course is based at Roodeplaat Dam north of Pretoria but has been out of commission for over a year now as a result of an explosion in the growth of water hyacinth at the dam.  The only other 2000m capable course in the country was the tidal and often windy stretch of water on the Buffalo River in East London.

Through a partnership between Albert Falls Yacht Club and the Midlands Rowing Club, rowing in KZN has established a new home and will focus activities on Albert Falls Dam.  The newly installed permanent rowing course now provides the South African rowing community with an excellent venue for regattas, training camps and national championship events.  The course, while demarcated 2000m for racing, is actually over 3.7km long and thus an ideal location for coaching and training.

The KZN Schools Regatta took place this Saturday, and with almost 800 entrants is the largest regatta hosted in the province to date.  Racing started just after 08h00 and ended after 17h00 in cool, overcast conditions with a slight headwind during parts of the day.  Almost all the participants were from schools in Gauteng, with local representation from Howick High School, Hilton College and Alexandra High School.

Holy Rosary School for Girls from Edenvale, won the trophy for the best overall performance at the regatta and St Stithians won the Boys Open 1st Eights event, the premier event of the day.

Responses from participants and parents alike were positive and supportive:  rowers want to row at Albert Falls more often.  President of KwaZulu-Natal Rowing, Warwick Bruce Chapman, committed during the post event function to petitioning the South African Schools Rowing Union to hold the largest regatta in the country, the South African Schools’ Rowing Championships, at Albert Falls Dam in April 2009.

Chapman says that despite the potential readiness of Roodeplaat to host regattas again in 2009, the SA Schools’ event should also be held outside of Gauteng from time to time, “Rowing as a whole will benefit from having provinces outside of Gauteng build a competency to host events of this scale.  The hosting of a the SA Schools’ Champs is a major undertaking, but with the support of National Officials and South African Schools Rowing, the event could be held in KZN as early as 2009 and could bring as many as 3500 people to the area over a period of 3-5 days.”

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