Madibaz rowing

The Madibaz are primed to take on the top student rowing teams in the country at the University Sports South Africa sprints regatta in the Western Cape this weekend.

Maties will host the competition on Friday and Saturday at the Misverstand Dam on the Berg River near Porterville.

Much in line with the USSA boat race in Port Alfred each September, this is a premier event that sees the cream of the crop compete in all classes from sculls to eight-man crews in 1 000m sprints.

The difference between the two is that the Eastern Cape race caters for eight-man boats that compete over distances ranging from three to five kilometres.

Madibaz Sport rowing manager Melinda Goosen said the club has entered a small team of 12 and she anticipated that it would be a rather steep learning curve.

They will compete in the men’s and women’s individual races from the A to novice divisions across all classes bar the eight-man boats.

“It is naturally tough to compete with our numbers, but this is a fantastic opportunity to gain exposure against the country’s top rowers and we are ready to challenge ourselves.”

She added that it was essential that the Gqeberha rowers, several of whom were relatively new to the sport, competed in these events given the lack of regular competition back home.

Madibaz rowing

The Madibaz men’s rowing team will be among the competitors in the USSA sprints regatta on the Misverstand Dam near Porterville in the Western Cape this weekend. Photo: Supplied

Some of the big local events, such as the Buffalo regatta in East London, took place too early in the year for the Madibaz to be involved, she explained.

Due to the nature of the sport, it is also costly to travel to regattas outside the province.

“So this provides us with a golden opportunity,” she said.

They have been working extremely hard to be race-ready, splitting their time between the ergo machines at the Madibaz High Performance Complex on campus during the week and the river at Redhouse on weekends.

Goosen said the team’s goal was to secure as many points as possible as the overall winners were decided based on their total points haul in all the men’s and women’s races in the various categories.

The top contenders usually include Tuks, UCT and UJ and she expected 2024 to be no different.

Selection for the USSA national squad was the incentive of racing against the best the land had to offer, she said.