Ron Chaffey and Nick Reeve were two participants in the Grafton Rowing Club’s annual Rowathon on June 26. Image: Contributed.

Making a splash for a good cause

Emma Pritchard

Blessed with beautiful winter weather and clear skies, more than 80 rowers and paddlers in 31 boats took to the waters of the Clarence River on June 26 to participate in the Grafton Rowing Club’s annual Rowathon to raise funds for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.

The event was open to all non-powered watercraft including rowing boats, kayaks, canoes, and surfing vessels.

It was also the first time the annual fundraiser was able to go ahead following its cancellation in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Grafton Rowing Club treasurer and event coordinator Don Noble said entrants participated in single, double and quad rowing sculls, canoes, kayaks, and a dragon boat, and had the choice of completing an 8km course around Susan Island and finishing back at the Grafton Rowing shed, or continuing downstream to row around Elizabeth Island and return to the shed for total distance of 18km.

While a handful of entrants were forced to withdraw due to newly enforced Covid-19 restrictions, eager participants traveled from Maclean, Iluka, Coffs Harbour, Murwillumbah, Lismore, Ballina, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Port Macquarie, with Grafton Rowing Club seniors and rowers from Grafton and South Grafton High Schools also joining in.

Mr Noble said the Lismore quad scull crew of Andrew Gordon, Lyndal Gordon, Phil Makings and Electra Jensen completed the 8km course in 33 minutes while Murwillumbah sculler Scott O’Reilly was the quickest to complete the 18km course in 1 hour and 19 minutes.

Former South Grafton High School rowers Scott, Max and Talia Rose along with Jake Brown and Oliver Pratt also participated in a coxed quad scull.

Former Grafton High School rower Cameron Kitcher also sculled.

“The Rowathon raised a substantial amount for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, and everyone who was able to participate really enjoyed themselves,” Mr Noble said.

“The Grafton Rowing Club received a lot of great comments, and a lot of the participants said they’ll definitely come back next time we host the Rowathon.”

The full amount raised from the Rowathon was not known at the time of publication.