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BACK ON THE WATER

Two Gisborne Rowing Club competitive masters combine for 15 medals at rowing champs.

Two Gisborne women have combined for 15 medals at the recent 2021 New Zealand Masters Rowing Championships.

Kate Ney and Danielle Lapointe travelled to Twizel to compete as the only two competitive masters in the Gisborne Rowing Club.

Combining with teams from Petone, Clifton and Hawke's Bay, they rowed in seven events together, racking up a total of 11 gold medals between them.

Paddling as doubles and pairs or in combined boats with other regions, they shared 10 golds and a bronze, and earned a further gold and two silver medals competing separately in combined boats.

The pair, who are sisters-in-law, got back into rowing after moving to New Zealand and seeing how much fun their children were having on the water.

They had both rowed as university students in Canada, with Ney the motivating force for Lapointe to start the sport in the first place.

Decades later, it was Lapointe who convinced Ney to get back into the sport and they set themselves the goal of rowing in the New Zealand Masters Rowing Championships.

Masters rowing is open to rowers 27 years of age and older. Rowers race in age categories starting at “A” for those with a minimum age of 27. The categories continue through to “K” for crews with an average age of 85 years or more

“It gave us a focus,” Ney said.

“We're already out here lots, might as well give ourselves a bit of a goal.”

They found an online training programme for master rowers and got to work.

“We're working and we're parents; figuring out a programme (too) is a little bit too much,” Lapointe said.

They also attended out-of-town training camps in the build-up, working on fine-tuning their technique.

Both Lapointe and Ney said their rediscovered love of rowing was built on the feeling of being out on the water and exercising.

“It's the best fitness I've had in my adult life,” said Lapointe, a physiotherapist.

“In any sport, as you age you need more warm-up and cool-down, but we have no best-before date stamped on us.

“It's a sport where you see the most geriatric people. It's incredibly balanced and not a physically stressful sport.”

Both rowers wanted to thank everyone who had supported their journey to compete, from the Gisborne Rowing Club getting behind them to the out-of-town clubs who let them join in.

“Rowing the eights and quads — that to me was really special,” Lapointe said.

The pair said they'd backed off training since competing but still regularly came down as “recreational rowers”.

“It's a gift for Gisborne to have this waterway,” Ney said.

Results —

Women's C (age grade) double, gold.

Women's C pair, gold.

Women's C 8 (with Petone and Clifton), gold.

Women's A/B 8 (with Petone), gold.

Women's C quad (with Hawke's Bay), gold.

Women's A/B quad (with Petone and Hawke's Bay), bronze.

Women's D 8, Lapointe (with Hawke's Bay), gold; Ney (with Petone), silver.

Women's D double, Ney (with Hawke's Bay), silver.

MASTER ROWERS: Kate Ney (left) and Danielle Lapointe in their Gisborne Rowing Club singlets with their medals from the New Zealand Masters Rowing Championships in Twizel. Picture by Liam Clayton