Nature or Nurture?

Two female rowers on their boat
Nature or Nurture: Are the children taking after their mothers?
The SI Masters Rowing Regatta was raced yesterday on excellent flat water at Lake Ruataniwha, Twizel, NZ.  330 athletes braved the chill conditions and there was much good racing. Not surprisingly, many of the winners bore familiar names.
Dale Maher won a 1x race, Kevin Horan another. Marie McCoy was a key member in the fastest women’s 8 at the regatta. These names and the people behind these names, and many others like them, are familiar to rowers here as current coaches, administrators, as champions and New Zealand representatives, from the days when we were all a little younger than we are now.
There was another crew full of familiar names. Aebli, Borowczyk, Bolderston, Pierce, Loe, O’Connor, Newsome-White and Burgess has a familiar ring to one who has followed rowing in New Zealand in the last few years. These aren’t names out of the past however. These are names of the future. At least eight of the children of this group row at a good level and four have already represented New Zealand successfully.
The Wakatuis, as the Christ’s College Club Women’s crew are known are part of a new phenomenon in rowing here. They are adults who have learnt to row as adults and have taken up racing, in this case very successfully.
This trend seems to be gathering momentum. Each year we see more and more Masters crews on the water. At a time when we are struggling to retain young adults in the sport a growth in one area of the sport is doubly welcome.
Like all growth it can be difficult at times. Some of us will have to adjust long held attitudes and patterns. Clubs and regatta organisers will have to work out how to allocate scarce resources – boats and starting slots at regattas are not unlimited.
But to return to the opening question: are the young O’Connors and Loes and the rest of them taking after their mothers or are the mothers taking after their children?
-Duncan Holland

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