Corporal Rebekah Salt and Private Ryan Flintoft

Army rowers make history

by Mike Isle

Four Burnham Military Camp-based Army staff will make history in July as part of a mixed-gender NZDF squad contesting rowing’s King’s Cup in the UK. It’s 100 years since six nations New Zealand, Australia, the UK, the USA, Canada and France competed for the cup as troops waited to return to their home countries after the first world war.

This year those six nations will be joined by Germany and the Netherlands to race for the cup as part of the Henley Royal Regatta at Henley-on-Thames, near London.

The event will honour the past, cement the relationships and alliances of today and build towards the future of the competing nations, including in gender balance. The race will be the first time men and women have raced in the same boat at an elite, international event.

Major Emily Hume, Corporal Rebekah Salt, Lance Corporal Mark Evans and Private Ryan Flintoft joined the rest of the squad from throughout the country at Christchurch’s Kerrs Reach to train last weekend (April 6–7).

All four Burnham-based members say they feel honoured to be selected to compete at the prestigious regatta.

LCPL Evans said it would be a career highlight for him, and an added bonus was the example it was setting for his 12-year-old daughter, Jordyn.

“I think it’s amazing. It’s definitely where society is going, this is the first rowing race at an elite, international event that is going to be mixed gender, so everyone that is involved in it is part of history,” he said.

“This opportunity to row with the NZDF is just a dream come true. It’s a career highlight; that’s for sure.”

Corporal Salt said being named in the squad was a dream come true and that making history as part of a mixed-gender crew made it even more special. She rowed while at Rangiora High School but had to give up when she joined the army as there were no clubs near Waiouru or Linton. She took it up again while studying at Otago University and continued once she was posted to Burnham. “I won’t take for granted the amazing opportunity I have been given to travel halfway around the globe to do what I love,” she said. Major Hume, who last rowed for Villa Maria College 15 years ago, said NZDF team coach and former Great Britain rowing representative Rachel Gamble-Flint has an interesting job ahead.

“It will be a challenge for the coach, knowing where to put everyone in the boat, because men and women have different strengths,” she said.