New Zealand rowers were in action at the Swift Racing NZ National Beach Sprint Championships, as were a contingent of visiting Australian athletes. Beach Sprints are an exciting and entirely new format likely to debut as an Olympic sport in LA 2028 and scheduled to feature at Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games. It is the fast growing wild cousin of traditional, flatwater rowing, or in the words of Olympic Champion Emma Twigg, “The BMX of rowing”.
“It’s really unpredictable. You never know if you are going to win (even) if you’re ahead halfway through the race. It is just an exciting sport,” Twigg told 1News. “I’m probably reaching the end of my rowing days in terms of my age, ” said the 35 year-old four-time Olympian. But age was did not stop Twigg winning CW1x gold at the 2022 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Saundersfoot, Wales. “It is a fascinating sport and I would love to be a part of it, in some capacity, in the future.”
New Zealand men’s eight Olympic Champion Michael Brake, 28, might be tempted out of retirement after enjoying his first taste of coastal rowing. “It was great. Running and the transition add such exciting new elements and it feels surprisingly similar once in the boat but perhaps the waves weren’t big enough!” He told 1News, “There will be a serious push from NZ (Rowing New Zealand) to get people to the Commonwealth Games. Whether I’m part of that, I’m not sure at this point”.