A new ‘coffee table’ book about rowing in New Zealand has been published to coincide with the World Rowing Championships being held in Lake Karapiro, NZ starting next week.
Peter Bidwell is a journalist and sports writer and has pulled together an engaging story about the development of NZ rowing over the past hundred plus years. He doesn’t try to write a complete history -instead by interviewing the athletes, coaches and selectors who were involved he draws threads together into chapters with titles such as “When the Eights were King” and “The Kremlin crumbles”.
Chapters covering the epic duel between Rob Waddell and Mahe Drysdale for the Beijing Olympic single sculling seat are really interesting with new detail that wasn’t published at the time. I also enjoyed the “Battle for Acceptance” study of women joining the top ranks of medalling kiwis.
The book is marred by some obvious errors and inconsistencies which simple research or proof reading would have corrected. The British Professional Sculling champion Ernest Barry is mis-spelt “Ernst”; Sonia Waddell is described as an “Olympic champion” which she isn’t [although she is an Olympian], the front cover image is of a Goldie Boat Race crew [why?] and most irritatingly HRR is called “The historic Henley Royal Regatta in London’s River Thames.”
Overall it’s a good read about a small sport from a small country that has achieved world greatness many times over a long period. A great book for your Christmas list.