Rowers bow out in style

Harrison Somerville, left, and Jordan Gasson in their prized red coats. Photo: Sarah Brown.

A couple of contrasting awards ceremonies provided appropriate stages to salute the careers of two of Marlborough’s hardest-working rowers last week.

On Sunday, Harrison Somerville and Jordan Gasson, premier champions at the 2020 NZ champs, were presented with much-coveted red coats during the Wairau Rowing Club’s prizegiving at the Royal Hotel.

The following day they stepped onto the Convention Centre stage at the Marlborough Sports Awards, wearing their prized red coats, and came away with the Team of the Year award.

The duo earned their Sports Awards nomination during the national rowing champs at Lake Karapiro. Harrison (26) and Jordan (22) joined forces with American brothers Sebastian (23) and Rhys Krappe (19) to create their own slice of rowing history.

The talented quartet claimed the New Zealand men’s premier quadruple sculls title with a superb row in the decider. It has been 17 years since the Wairau Rowing Club last won a premier title and 32 years since they last won the men’s quad.

Harrison, who had missed a place in the NZ summer squad and RPC intake this season, said his 2020 rowing plans were up in the air until a chance meeting with the Krappe brothers.

“I ran into the American boys for a beer, got yarning and decided, ‘you know what, maybe a club season wouldn’t be a bad idea – just to finish it off’.

“And it definitely worked out better than expected.”

Although there were no RPC crews in the premier final at nationals this year, the Wairau crew were up against some highly-talented opposition.

“Karl Manson was in the Waikato boat, along with three other former NZ or RPC rowers, and they had been dominant through the club season in the North Island, so they weren’t a crew to sneeze at.”

Harrison and Jordan are products of the highly-successful Marlborough Boys’ College and Blenheim Rowing Club development system. Both showed huge potential at Maadi Cup level, then went on to gain national recognition.

Harrison, a lightweight sculler, represented New Zealand at under-21, under-23 and University level, before graduating to elite selection in 2019.

Jordan, also a lightweight, wore the silver fern at under-21 level.

Now both young men have decided to call time on their rowing careers, recognising that it would be an appropriate moment to move on from a sport that they have put so much into over many seasons, and which has given them plenty in return.

“You can’t see into the future, but for now I’m content [to step away from competitive rowing],” said Harrison. “I’ve had a decent run and it’s time to start looking down other avenues. I’m excited to see what comes next.”

Jordan, who is studying law in Hamilton, has a similar mindset.

“I was seeing this as my last season of rowing and [a shot at a national title] certainly wasn’t on the radar to begin with, but we saw a chance open up and we just went for it.

“It’s really great to end my career on such a high note.”

Although he has pulled down the curtain on his rowing career for now, Jordan could not rule out a return somewhere down the line.

“Rowing is one of those things that you can come back to at any time, assuming your fitness hasn’t dropped off to much, so [getting back in the boat] is always an option,” he added.

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