On a mid-August afternoon, the request for an expression of interest (EOI) for Abley’s Corporate Rowing Team arrived. As many around the world these days, I was working flexibly, which happened to be in my living room just north of Christchurch. Initially, it was a “pass”, but from behind me came “click on it!” without me even aware that my partner was eavesdropping.
The link provided was a video of the 2019 Indoor Rowing Competition. In an intense 6 minutes, the 8-person team used a rowing machine to travel 2000m. The core elements being focused effort, a supportive team, and heaps of fun. The 2020 Corporate rowing challenge was to consist of an Indoor Rowing Competition and an on-water Regatta. The video definitely sparked my interest!
Established in 1861, Canterbury Rowing Club is the oldest rowing club in New Zealand, which offers multiple programs ranging from all levels of skill, including hosting this corporate competition. Having participated in the event the last three years, Abley was somewhat experienced, however my level equated to “has used a rowing machine before”. Nevertheless, the Abley team welcomed this formerly landlocked American to the team with open arms (along with three other beginners).
Throughout the six-week program, we practiced diligently. I learned the difference between bow and stern, how to “sit at the finish”, and was the first in the boat to “catch a crab”. The culmination of our 12 practices was a Sunday regatta amongst the other corporate teams consisting of races, camaraderie, and a sausage sizzle (another Kiwi favourite, I have learned.) Facing a bit of adversity throughout the day, Abley managed to finish 4th (out of 9 teams), setting the bar for 2021.
While the regatta proved a challenge on that Sunday, there was a another event which Abley stands tall. Defying the odds with a comeback victory, we proudly hoisted our erg as 2020 Indoor Rowing Competition Champions!