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The highly anticipated annual Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) Universities’ Boat Race rowing competition started Thursday 23 September and concluded on 25 September. 

This competition is an annual boat race that sees numerous universities rowing in the 4–6km races at the Kowie river in Port Alfred, Eastern Cape.  Among others, Maties Rowing Club entered three teams to compete, which included their Men’s A, Women’s A and Men’s mixed B team in association with Nelson Mandela University. Each team had eight members rowing for their respective clubs/universities. 

According to the captain of the Men’s A team at Maties Rowing club, Alistair van der Riet, a second-year BCom (Mathematical Sciences) student at Stellenbosch University, Maties were categorised in heats leading up to their competing in the 5km race down the Kowie river. 

Tammy Dyason, a second-year BA (Sport Science) student and the captain of the women’s A team, added to this and said, “It was the most amazing experience. Pretty much all the girls in the team had tears of joy once we took the boat out the water; we were all just so proud of each other for how far we’d come.”

The heats took place on Thursday 23 September allowing each heat-winner the    opportunity to compete in the finals, which took place Saturday 25 September. Maties Rowing club placed fifth in both the Men’s A and Women’s A team division, granting them a spot in the finals, where both teams won their respective races.

The teams were seen practising every week on their rowing machines and getting in shape for the highly anticipated competition. Van der Riet explained that the fellow club members at the rowing club “had to sacrifice their weekends to practise on the Grabouw dam in preparation for this competition”. 

Though the uncertainty of not being able to row again was still hanging in the cloud, they continued to give their best.

Matthew von Bulow, a second-year BEng (Industrial engineering) student and member of the club, expressed, “It left me breathless knowing we left everything on the water, leaving our mark on rowing in the world.” 

The team captains extend their gratitude to the rest of their team members who competed, expressing that they are “proud of the work their teams have put in”. 

According to Van der Riet, “the club felt excited to compete again.” 

“It felt so good. I feel as though we connected better than ever on this sports tour,” said Dyason. 

Dyason added that the Elgin sprints are coming up on 17 October at Elgin Grabouw Country Club; therefore, the club’s  focus remains on getting in shape and rowing-ready to compete next year. The club can be found on social media (Instagram: @maties_rowing; Twitter: @MatiesRowing) for more information on future events. 

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