ROWERS: Matt and Amy Butler alongside the boats at Whakatane Rowing Club where their rowing careers started. Photo Allen Winter D8645-01

THE lure of university study in the United States will see two Whakatane siblings studying in different colleges come August.

Matt and Amy Butler head to Princeton and Harvard universities in August – a continuation for Matt after two years there already, but a totally new experience for 18-year-old Amy.

The pair have made the move under rowing scholarships, so they can follow the sport they first experienced at the Whakatane Rowing Club.

Twenty-year-old Matt took up rowing eight years ago.

After competing successfully in New Zealand in the Maadi Cup, his shift to The States has seen him rowing in the lightweight eight for Princeton.

Most recently, his crew competed in the Eastern Sprints, where the crew missed the final by 0.1 of a second, but Matt’s crew won the same event last season.

There are major differences between rowing in New Zealand and that in The States, he said.

“There are just so many more people. In my team of lightweight rowers there are between 40 and 50 people, and the whole boat house has a total of about 170 rowers – that’s counting lightweight and heavyweight men and lightweight and heavyweight women.”

While rowing is a major part of his university life, his main focus is on his politics and economics studies, and he finds the university scene hugely beneficial for his future.

“I have found that I am studying with some of the smartest people from around the world, and we are taught by some extremely smart lecturers. It’s amazing how much you can learn from them.”

When it comes to goals, Matt is not holding his breath when it comes to rowing.

“I’ll see how the next two years pan out, but the academic benefits will surely set me up for life.”

He said combining academic studies and rowing was not all that easy a prospect, but it was manageable.

“I find it’s really tough having to put in some study time after a solid rowing training session. It’s more difficult but the experience is much more rewarding.”

For Amy, the next few years are quite daunting, but she is eagerly looking forward to the challenge of Harvard, where she starts her first year of university study, also under the auspices of a rowing scholarship.

She will be competing in a women’s lightweight team and considers herself very lucky to have been chosen.

“Harvard usually takes on three or four recruits in women’s lightweight each year and I am lucky to have been accepted.

“Last September I visited a number of universities and Harvard was my top choice, so I am very happy.”

Amy started rowing as a 12-year-old when at high school. She has spent the past four years of school at St Peter’s College in Cambridge, a school that has a rowing academy.

“My St Peter’s eight crew won last year’s Maadi Cup and that definitely helped me gain the scholarship.”

She will study economics at Harvard for the next four years.

The pair say their rowing careers benefited greatly from their time at Whakatane Rowing Club.

“Our coach Graham Watt helped me a huge amount,” Matt said.

allen.winter@thebeacon.co.nz