By feature writer and RowSA administrator, Birgitta Wasserfall

The South African Schools Rowing Union (SASRU) invited all member schools and junior clubs to compete at the 2019 RMB SA Schools Rowing Championships, which took place at Roodeplaat Dam, Pretoria, on 1-3 March.

This regatta is one of the performance criteria rowers must meet to be considered for selection at provincial trials. Once these crews are selected by their respective provinces, they will compete at the 2019 National Selection Regatta in May for a place in the squad to tour at the 2019 Junior World Championships which takes place in August in Tokyo, Japan.

Approximately 1300 rowers in age groups ranging from u14 to u19; from across the country including several clubs from Zimbabwe, took part and showcased a high standard of rowing across all categories.

A few extremely close finishing results kept the crowds of supporters biting their nails as they waited for the official photo finish results to announce the 0,01 second difference between the u19 girls to confirm gold was clinched by St Mary’s and silver by St Andrew’s.

The other tight result was also in the u19 age group but this time between the boys. Another photo finish saw St. Benedict’s cross the finish line 0,44 seconds ahead of Parktown Boys.

The RMB SA Schools Rowing Championships provides fundraising opportunities for schools through various mediums such as food stalls and merchandise stands. Contributing to the success of this national regatta is the sheer number of volunteers involved. From university students assisting umpires and Rowing South Africa staff, to parents officiating on both land and water.

Having RMB as the title sponsor elevates the status of this niche sport. RMB’s support is noticed in the details from branding the venue and umpire boats right through to sponsoring big screens and drone pilots for the live streaming for spectators.

RMB also sponsored the resident SA rowing photographer Bruce Viaene to capture the athletes in action. You can download hi-res images for free here.

Out of the three race days, conditions on the Sunday resulted in the fastest times, especially in the first team age group where the boys’ eights, boys’ doubles, and girls’ quads results ranked in the region of 90% of the international world best times in their respective events. This confirms the overall standard of competitive rowing in South Africa is among the best in the world.

Catch all the results from RMB SA Schools Rowing Championships.