A record entry of no fewer than 34 teams shows the increasing strength and depth in South African junior rowing, say the race organisers. Meanwhile, for Port Alfred, the highlight on the events calendar remains an opportunity to showcase the town, and is a catalyst for future investment.
Makhanda’s St Andrew’s College hosted the 22nd Standard Bank Schools Boat Race, where crews competed against each other on the Kowie River on Saturday, 10 December. The boat contest is one of the highlights on Port Alfred’s events calendar. This year’s schools rowing event was sponsored by Standard Bank and the races were live streamed by SuperSport Schools on DSTV channel 209.
A record number of 34 teams entered this year’s school race, 20 teams took part in the junior men’s event and 14 in the junior women’s event. The participating crews for the girls were Assumption Convent School, Clarendon High School for Girls, Germiston High School, Holy Rosary School for Girls, Kgabareng Secondary School, Kusile Comprehensive School, Madiba-A-Toloane Secondary School, Mbukamuzi Secondary School, Peninsula Girls Rowing Club, Somerset College, St Andrew’s School for Girls, St Mary’s School, St Stithians Girls’ College and Umtata High School. The boys participating crews were Bishops Diocesan College, Germiston High School, Grey High School, Guzani Secondary School, Jeppe High School for Boys, King Edward VII High School, Kusile Comprehensive School, Madiba-A-Toloane Secondary School, Nomzamo High School, Parktown Boys’ High School, Rondebosch Boys’ High School, Selborne College, Somerset College, South African College High School, St Andrew’s College, St Benedict’s College, St John’s College, St Stithians Boys College, St Alban’s College and Thabang Secondary School.
The regatta had two events, a Junior Men’s Eights race over 5,4 km and a Junior Women’s Quads race over 4 km. There was a dedicated spectator zone at Port Alfred Ski-Boat Club, right at the race finish line where they viewed the racing down the length of the course on TV screens cheering their crews’ home at the Upper Deck Restaurant.
The event organisers were delighted to welcome the record entry of 34 teams into both the Junior Mens’ and Junior Womens’ events. “This goes to show the increasing strength and depth in South African junior rowing. As part of this increased entry there were a number of new schools competing for the first time as well as coming from areas not traditionally associated with rowing. Two crews each from the Free State and North West province took part as part of Rowing South Africa’s ‘Teaching the Nation to Row’ initiative,” said Ed Goodier.
“The competition on the water was as close and intense as ever with many crews separated by a matter of only one or two seconds in the time trial racing on Friday. The finals racing on Saturday delivered exciting racing up and down the field and supporters were out in numbers all along the river,” Goodier said.
Defending 2021 Champions in the men’s and women’s events, St Benedict’s College and St Mary’s School both found themselves at a deficit coming into their finals, placing second in their time trials.
For both crews their pedigree in the side-by-side finals racing had through, however, Goodier said. They had overturned any disadvantage from the previous day to win their finals and take home the winners’ trophies.
The regatta festivities ended off with a medals handover ceremony on the deck at Halyards Hotel on Saturday evening, December 10. For junior women’s, St Mary’s School came first place for a record 8th year in a row. For the junior men’s, St Benedict’s College came first place for the fourth time.
Sunshine Coast Tourism manager, Sandy Birch said the Schools Boat Races are one of the highlights on Port Alfred’s events calendar.
“This event is extremely important for Port Alfred as it is an opportunity to showcase our town, and is a catalyst for future investment in the town,” she said.
“Although this is an inter-school event, it affords the opportunity for most parents to accompany their children, and to experience Port Alfred’s offerings first hand. Looking ahead, this is the building block for future family holidays and hopefully, ultimately, investment in the town. Economically, in the short term, hospitality businesses thrive because of the boat races as accommodation is booked out, restaurants filled and there is also a spin off for other retail outlets,” said Birch.
2022 Boat Race Medalists:
Junior Women’s Results:
1st St Mary’s School
2nd Holy Rosary School
3rd St Stithians Girls College
Junior Men’s Results:
1st St Benedict’s College
2nd St Stithians College