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Rowing ready . . .  Roncalli College's four-member rowing squad (from left) Conor White (15), Kian Wills (15), Jan Kuepper (17) and Antonio Frances-Rees (17) will pit themselves against the best at the Maadi Cup regatta this week. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

It might be the smallest squad Roncalli College has sent to the Maadi Cup for some time, but the school’s four rowers are hopeful about their chances.

Conor White, Kian Wills, Jan Kuepper and Antonio Frances-Rees make up the four-member squad from the Timaru secondary school competing at Lake Karapiro, near Cambridge, Waikato, this week.

Roncalli is one of five schools from around South Canterbury which has pupils attending the annual national secondary schools rowing regatta, which starts today.

Other South Canterbury schools attending the regatta will be Craighead Diocesan, Timaru Boys’ and Timaru Girls’ High Schools and Twizel Area School.

A record 131 schools from all around the country will participate in the week-long regatta.

More than 2160 pupils will compete across 50 events.

Conor and Kian will pair up for under-16 doubles, as well as rowing individually in the under-16 single sculls, while Jan and Antonio will team up for the under-18 doubles and row individually in the under-18 singles competition.

A Rowing New Zealand spokeswoman said the largest number of entries received were for the boys and girls under-17 single sculls.

The Maadi Cup regatta, the long-running showpiece of New Zealand schools rowing, alternates annually between Lake Ruataniwha, near Twizel, and Lake Karapiro.

Antonio is the only member of this year’s Roncalli team who has rowed at the Maadi Cup before and he told The Courier last week he was looking forward to attending with his three team-mates.

He said the four rowers were feeling “pretty good” about competing.

They had prepared with about three practices a week at Lake Opuha, as well as land-based training.

Maadi Cup competition begins today, on Monday.

Qualifying rowers will progress to quarterfinals on Wednesday, semifinals on Thursday and finals on Friday and Saturday.

Sunday, March 31, is a “spare” day, in case weather or lake conditions delay some of the events.

A crowd of more than 10,000 is expected on the two days of finals.