National call up for Whakatane rower

TOP TEAM: Elliott Jenkins, middle, is flanked by New Zealand junior rowing squad team mates Cambell Crouch and Flynn Watson. File photo

THIRD time was a charm for Whakatane rower Elliott Jenkins.

The 17-year-old was named in the Rowing New Zealand junior team last week, earning the black singlet after his third time as a national trialist.

Former Woodlands School student Grace Watson has also been named in the New Zealand team as part of the women’s coxless fours crew. Grace attends St Paul’s Collegiate.

Elliott was named in the coxless fours crew who will race at the Junior World Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic in August. After a golden run of national titles with Whakatane High School, Elliott has spent this year at Hamilton Boys’ High School, adding another national title to his resume.

“It was good to get named after a third time trialling. I developed a lot over the past year and I think experience has helped quite a lot. I knew what to expect at the trial and knew what they wanted to see.

Elliott will race with Hamilton team mates Flynn Watson and Campbell Crouch and Christchurch Boys’ High School’s Will Gilbert in the Czech Republic. Elliott had a lot of success as a sculler, particularly with his brother Finn as the pair were unbeaten through their entire secondary school career as a sculling crew. Rowers have an oar in each hand for sculling but row with one oar per rower when sweeping.

Elliott said he liked the change to sweeping.

“That is where I wanted to be, but it is a hard boat to make. I have developed my sweeping a lot. Sculling is a lot more technical and I have found it easy to make the change to sweeping. You don’t have to think as much, you just give it everything. But it means you need to get bigger, which means more time on the weights, on the water and in the kitchen.”

Elliott is the third of Jenkins siblings to make the New Zealand junior team after twin brother Finn and eldest brother Lenny have both rowed for the national team in recent years.

Elliott said the crews will be working hard in the next few months as they build up to the world champs.

“The goal for the junior team, as a whole, is to make their A finals. It is hard to know where we sit in the world.

“We have four weeks training by ourselves before we assemble. From then we train as a group until we fly out in August. We just want to make the boat as fast as we can, perform well together and get to know each other well.”

Part of the squad’s preparations will include a series of winter races against the elite crews. Elliott said he needed to raise a significant amount of fundsto make the trip, part of which he will do through a givealittle page.