Club cel­e­brates 125 years

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

IT MIGHT have had sev­eral dif­fer­ent homes over the years, but that hasn’t stopped the West End Row­ing Club reach­ing its 125th an­niver­sary, which will be cel­e­brated this week­end.

West End has been based on the Whau River in Avon­dale since 2001, af­ter beginning its ex­is­tence in St Mary’s Bay.

Af­ter mov­ing around the Waitem­ata Har­bour sev­eral times over the years be­cause of new road­ing projects, the club fi­nally de­cided to look for a com­pletely new home when the Amer­ica’s Cup came to Auck­land.

“The har­bour be­came less and less avail­able. It was just a mat­ter of time un­til we moved on,” says club cap­tain Lloyd Ban­ton.

The move has been a great suc­cess with about 125 ac­tive row­ers and 350 mem­bers at the club, in­clud­ing Olympic bronze medal­list Mahe Drys­dale, who will take part in the an­niver­sary fes­tiv­i­ties.

Ban­ton says it is great to have the sup­port of Drys­dale, who is based in Cam­bridge with the New Zealand team for much of the year.

“He’s a mate to all of us. He comes and meets all the mem­bers and they love it.”

The club can also boast a num­ber of other for­mer Olympians in its ranks, in­clud­ing Dud­ley Storey, who won gold in Mex­ico City in 1968 with the fours team, and a sil­ver at the Mu­nich Games in 1972.

Storey was a mem­ber of the club be­tween 1954 and 1963, re­join­ing in 1972 af­ter the Olympics.

While he joined the Auck­land Row­ing Club for a num­ber of years to in­crease his chances of mak­ing the Olympics, he says there’s no place like West End, where he coaches up to 25 hours a week.

“As much as any­thing, it’s be­ing able to put back into the kids af­ter what the club has given to me.”

Ban­ton says the growth of row­ing as a sport has been amaz­ing.

“We used to run the whole club off one trailer.”

Now it has sev­eral trail­ers and vol­un­teers in­volved to help keep the row­ers in the wa­ter.

For­mer row­ers, who still meet down at the club ev­ery Wed­nes­day to re­mem­ber old times, also play a role in keep­ing the club go­ing, tak- ing part in ev­ery­thing from boat re­pairs to mak­ing cups of cof­fee.

“If we didn’t have the old peo­ple down here we would be bug­gered,” Ban­ton says.

“The young peo­ple like to talk to them and they like to talk to the young peo­ple.”

The club cel­e­brates its 125th an­niver­sary at the clu- brooms, 26 Saun­ders Place, Avon­dale, with a mix and min­gle on Fri­day at a cost of $10 and a ju­bilee re­gatta on Sun­day from 11am.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the club and the week­end cel­e­bra­tion email lban­ton@ihug.co.nz, bradley. jowitt@gmail.com or visit www.wes­t­endrow­ing.co.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Oar­some an­niver­sary: Lloyd Ban­ton and Dud­ley Storey of the West End Row­ing Club will be part of the club’s 125th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions this week­end.

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