Producing the best rowers in the world is just one of Rowing South Africa‘s (RowSA) goals. The other is to bring gold back home!

South Africa has seen incredible results in the recent Olympics. It is now gearing up and working towards Tokyo 2020.

At CN&CO we believe that partnership is a beast, most especially when it adds value and makes a difference in the long haul.

RowSA has partnered with Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in a number of projects, where they have done incredible work in supporting schools and developing rowing clubs across the country.

RowSA and Fiduciary Institute of South Africa (FISA) recently started collecting boats that are ‘throwing out’ and unrowable. They revamp them and distributing them to rowing clubs in Africa. Their ultimate goal is to make rowing accessible to everyone. Through this project, they also hope to unite communities, create opportunities and give hope to the youth.

RowSA  purchased a container of boats and rowing gear from the Norwegian Rowing Federation. It also sourced other boats from clubs and salvaged the Old General Smut High School‘s boats which were left isolated in the field.

FISA has been amazing and paid to get the entire development fleet program off the ground. This included covering the costs to get Dennis and Carol Blignaut of National Squad to deliver a fleet of boats to Zambia and Malawi.

The journey started on the 5 May 2017 when Clive Blechman, CEO of Eastvaal Motors and his team lend Dennis and Carol a 4×4 Ford ranger to begin their excursion. Clive and his team have supported rowing in South Africa for a number of years. They were happy to lend a helping hand in this great initiative. 

Dennis and Carol started what they described as an “adventure of a lifetime”. They spent 12 hours a day driving across boarders, trying to dodge potholes and wait for cattle to cross the road (a true African road block). They also had to cross rivers by boat.

All of that was worth it when they finally arrived at Malawi and handed the boats to a rowing club. “It was a pleasure seeing the faces of the 12 rowers when they tested the boats out in the water,” said Dennis.

Read more on Dennis and Carol’s journey…

Day 1:
We started off by unpacking and cleaning the boats. We then met the rowers and took them through the rigging and rowing terminology. The excitement started to build up when we moved into practicing rowing strokes on land. Later that afternoon, we took to the water for the first time. We experienced a lot of energy from the rowers.

Day 2:
The weather didn’t play ball. Lake Malawi demonstrated some ocean rowing conditions. The afternoon was filled with boat rigging and maintenance. We picked up a local Concept 2 Ergo rowing machine and took the team through some rowing techniques.

Day 3:
The wind wasn’t giving up and so we stuck to some land exercises in hope that the wind would calm down.  There was no keeping these excited athletes off the water though. We stayed in the water until the twelfth hour. Then went on to prepare for the boat hand over ceremony.

We had the pleasure of having the minister of transport of Malawi and SG of Olympic Commission, as one of the guests at the ceremony.

As part of the ceremony, the boats were given names, before the athletes went on to race each other and demonstrate the functionality of the boats.

Make sure to follow the national squad‘s journey as they prepare for Tokyo 2020