Club celebrates 125 years
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, bradley. email@example.com or visit www.westendrowing.co.nz.
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.