Auckland Grammar School’s under-18 rowing eight will defend their title next Saturday at the 65thannual Maadi Cup regatta, the biggest secondary school sporting event in the Southern Hemisphere.
The National Secondary Schools Rowing Championships will be held on Lake Ruataniwha, Twizel, from March 26 to April 1, with almost 4000 competitors in more than 1400 crews, across 48 events.
The Maadi Cup originated in Egypt during World War II when Kiwi oarsmen from the Maadi Camp Rowing Club won a competition against the Cairo River Club, on the Nile River, in 1943.
Contested for the first time in New Zealand in 1947, the Maadi Cup is awarded to the winning crew of the men’s under-18 eights event.
Auckland Grammar coach Ian Bright says last year’s win was unreal.
“There was a tremendous sense of pride across the entire group. If we do it again this year it’s going to be pretty special, for sure.”
A Canadian, Bright has coached gold medal crews at the International Canadian Henley Regatta, but says nothing compares with the Maadi Cup.
“It’s a completely surreal experience, with the crowds on the bank and just how much investment goes into every crew that’s out there working that hard.”
Bill Tinnock, of the winning Mt Albert Grammar crew in 1947, says the significance of the race didn’t sink in at the time, but the hype around the race today illustrates what a great achievement it was.
“Looking back, the Maadi Cup has become quite an important achievement from those days,” says Tinnock, who won silver medals at the 1950 and 1954 British Empire games, and was a member of the 1952 New Zealand Olympic team.
“You feel pretty proud about it, and it is something that sets you aside to win the first race of something.”
Note: The Maadi cup is the common name used for the whole National Secondary Schools rowing regatta, which includes students from Under 15 to Under 18 age groups, in male and female categories, across a variety of events. The Maadi Cup trophy is contested in the men’s Under 18 eights event, considered the most significant event of the regatta.