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.”

KZN hosts combined KZN/Gauteng Rowing Championships Regatta at Albert Falls

PRESS RELEASE: “KZN hosts combined KZN/Gauteng Rowing Championships Regatta at Albert Falls”, April 14, 2008.

Largest rowing regatta ever hosted in KZN

Durban, South Africa – The largest rowing regatta ever hosted in KZN took place this Saturday 12 April at Albert Falls dam just outside Pietermaritzburg.  The regatta was an event combining the provincial championship regattas of KZN and Gauteng, as well as serving as a national selection regatta for junior and senior crews.

The home of Gauteng and National Rowing is Roodeplaat Dam just north of Pretoria, but due to severe ecological problems resulting in an explosion in the growth of water hyacinth on the dam, the national course was destroyed and most of the surface area of the Dam covered in hyacinth.  The Gauteng Rowing Association (GRA) contacted the KwaZulu-Natal Rowing Association (KZNRA) about the possibility of hosting a combined event at Albert Falls.

The regatta took place under ideal conditions with wind only affecting the quality of the water for a few hours in the early afternoon.  Opinion from participants and spectators was that the water conditions were excellent and far superior to that of the national course at Roodeplaat Dam.  Over 300 entries were received for the regatta and events ran from 8am through till just before 5pm.

The regatta was organised by KZNRA with the support of GRA and Midlands Rowing Club.  Rowing Officials from KZN and Gauteng, lifeguards and paramedics oversaw the smooth and safe running of the event.  No safety incidents were reported throughout the course of the day.

One of the most important aims of hosting the regatta was to expose various members of the South African Rowing community to the significant opportunity that Albert Falls presents to build a course capable of hosting a World Cup in South Africa.

As a result of the successful hosting of this weekend’s event, KZNRA has been asked to consider hosting the South African School Championships in 2009.  This is the largest rowing event in South Africa with an estimated 2500 participants and over 4500 spectators over three days.

In order to cater to such number, facilities at the venue would have to be improved significantly and thus request that any parties or organisations interested in supporting such an effort contact KZNRA.

About Albert Falls Dam
Albert Falls has only very recently become the home of rowing in KZN; previously rowing and the provincial Championships were based at Camps’ Drift in Pietermaritxburg, but problems with the quality of the water at the Drift as well as the massive silt built up have made rowing difficult and the hosting of regattas at the venue impossible.  Additionally, rowing is a 2000m sport and the Drift only offers KZN rowers 1000m so an alternate venue has been sought by KZNRA for the past two years.

During the last few months of 2007, Midlands Rowing Club, through their chairman, Vincent Ritter, cemented a relationship with Albert Falls Yacht Club around supporting the development of rowing and sailing in the Province.  The first rowing regatta was held at Albert Falls in February in the form of the inaugural Midlands RC Regatta at which the Arthur Blaxall Rowing Club (rowing for the visually impaired) was launched.

The Dam is owned by Umgeni Water and the resort is managed by Msinsi Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Umgeni Water.

About KZNRA Schools’ Development Programme
Supported by KZN Rowing, Rowing South Africa (Tom Price Trust), the National Lottery and Hilton College, the KZN Schools’ Development Programme was started in early 2006 by Kevin Garcia (SA Schools Rowing Union).   Midlands Rowing Club was formed by Vincent Ritter shortly thereafter to provide support and operational structure to the programme.

The programme saw several schools in the Pietermaritzburg area being affiliated to KZN Rowing and adopting rowing as an official school sport.  Most notably, Alexandra High School and Arthur Blaxall School have enthusiastically embraced the sport, injecting the programme with young and motivated black rowers.  In the case of the Arthur Blaxall School, the rowers are not only black but also visually/hearing impaired, thus creating the first programme of its kind in South Africa.

About Midlands Rowing Club
Midlands Rowing Club was formed by rowing parent Vincent Ritter at the end of 2006 to operationally support the KZNRA Schools’ Development Programme.  Midlands RC comprises rowers from schools who have not fully adopted the sport as well as rowers who have left school and wish to continue rowing.  The Club is one of the youngest in the country but has already achieved much in the areas of development and transformation in the country.  Current Chairman is Vincent Ritter.

About Arthur Blaxall Rowing Club
The Arthur Blaxall School was founded in 1954 and is named after its founder, the Rev. Arthur Blaxall, who was a noted anti-apartheid activist and friend of the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Today the School is regarded as the leader in the field of education for Learners with Special Education Needs. Since 1997 the School has been rated by the Sunday Times as one of the top 100 Schools in South Africa.

The Arthur Blaxall Rowing Club was formed in August 2007 and is enthusiastically chaired by teacher Mr D. Chuntharpursat.  Abedare Cables have adopted the AB RC and contributed in excess of R100 000 to the Club and has committed to expanding its involvement to a skills development and employment programme.  Shortly after being formed in August, the first 12 visually impaired rowers in South Africa took to the water at Camp’s Drift in Pietermaritzburg.

On 23 February 2008, the Arthur Blaxall School Rowing Club was launched at Albert Falls by the HOD: Sport & Recreation, Sumayya Khan, after the inaugural Midlands RC Regatta and was sponsored by Abedare Cables.

The KwaZulu-Natal Rowing Association is a constituent member of Rowing South Africa (RowSA), and is charged with overseeing the development and transformation of the sport of Rowing in KwaZulu-Natal.  The body is reliant on support from members, sponsors and donors to fund its activities.  Current President is Gary Ainsworth.

About GRA
The Gauteng Rowing Association oversees the largest rowing province in the country (by number of rowers).  Gauteng is home to the national course at Roodeplaat Dam, the national squad and the RowSAcademy (Junior High Performance Programme based at the HPC, Pretoria).  Current President is Peter Heidstra.

About RowSA
Rowing South Africa is the national federation which oversees rowing on a national level.  RowSA is funded by sponsors and the National Lottery.  Current President is Rod MacKinnon.  See for more information.