Billy Webb Challenge


Entry Form

Are you keen to take on Mahé & Robbie?

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Community 8's

Oarsome fun on the water guaranteed!!

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Elite Men

Rowing's best coming to Whanganui

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Entry Form Back to Competitors page.

You can have the unique opportunity of racing against the world's best rowers in the Billy Webb Challenge


Entry fees are $35 per person which includes race entry, a BWC tote bag and a ticket to attend the BWC Luncheon to be held at Union Boat Club following the race.


There is a cash prize of $750 for Men's Category and $750 Women's Category - how's that for an incentive!


Download Entry Form to Billy Webb Challenge by clicking on this link:


Download entry form here

Community 8's Back to Competitors page.

The Community 8s (formerly the Corporate 8s) is a 500m sprint open for all colleagues, trades, sports teams, families and other groups to enjoy the camaraderie of training and racing together for the Community 8s Challenge Trophy. 


Crews are made up of no more than 2 experienced rowers, a minimum of 2 women and 5 novice rowers. 


If you've never rowed before this is the perfect opportunity to give it a go in a fun, social environment!

As an oppotunity for local rowing Clubs to raise funds, we have coaches to train you for 6 weeks, and boats available for a donation. 

This is the perfect team bonding experience to the end of 2017!


Contact Event Co-ordinator, Kat Wade for further information


Read about AONs Team Leader - Maree Langford's experience here


2015 Corporate8+ Challenge Winner:
 Whanganui District Council

2014 Corporate 8+ Challenge Winner:
 Aon Risk Takers

2012 Corporate 8+ Challenge Winner:
 Aon Risk Takers

Elite Women Back to Competitors page.


Members of the NZ Elite Summer Squad TBC









Elite Men Back to Competitors page.

The Whanganui Rowing Association is extremely pleased to announce the return of crowd favourite and kiwi icon, twice Olympic Gold Medalist, the irrepressible Mahé Drysdale.


To join Mahé on the water is double Olympian Robbie Manson, the current NZ Single Champion, 2017 World Cup Champion and recent World Record Holder


Event Guide

Sunday Schedule

Sunday 26th November - Billy Webb Challenge TBC

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Saturday Schedule

Saturday 25th November - Jury Cup Regatta TBC

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Sunday Schedule Back to Event Guide page.

Sunday 26th Nov - Billy Webb Challenge


Schedule TBC (unconfirmed draft schedule below)

9:55am: Waka Welcome/Karakia

10:15am: Sprint Challenge  

10:45am: Community 8s challenge

11:00am: Billy Webb scullers launch

11:30am: Billy Webb Challenge

Saturday Schedule Back to Event Guide page.

Saturday 25th Nov - Jury Cup Regatta TBC


7.30am start: Jury Cup Regatta


Crews from RPCs, North Island, South Island Clubs and Schools race over the 2,000m Aramoho course.


Hosted by the Wanganui Rowing Association



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Billy Webb the legend at home and abroad

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Sponsors Back to About page.

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History Back to About page.

William Charles Webb - 1886 - 1960

He became the first New Zealander to win the world professional single sculls title when he beat Australian Charles Towns on the Parramatta River in Sydney, by five lengths in 1907 covering the demanding three mile course in 20min 45sec.


Webb, who won 1,000 pounds for his Sydney victory, defended the title by two and three quarter lengths on the Whanganui River in 1908 against twice Australian champion Richard Tressider, before 25,000 spectators including premier Sir Joseph Ward. 


So delighted were the citizens of Wanganui there was even the suggestion that the city be renamed “Webbanui.”


Later that same year Richard Arnst (Akaroa) de-throned Webb by six lengths on the Whanganui River and in 1909 held off a Webb title challenge by three lengths on the same river.


Webb, who rowed for the Union Boat Club, won the NZ amateur singles in 1903 and 1906, the NZ amateur doubles in 1905 and 1906 and the NZ professional singles in 1915.


Return of NZ’s premier long distance single sculling race

Whanganui’s proud rowing history marks its stamp on the NZ rowing calendar with the country’s premier long distance race, the annual Billy Webb Challenge, to be held on Sunday 26th November 2017

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Return of NZ’s premier long distance single sculling race Back to Media page.


The Whanganui Rowing Association is extremely pleased to announce the return of crowd favourite and Kiwi icon, twice Olympic Gold Medalist, the irrepressible Mahé Drysdale. 


After a well deserved break and with Tokyo 2020 on his radar, Drysdale is back on the water prepping for his return to racing, the Billy Webb will be the first measure of his pace. From his home near Lake Karapiro, Mahé says; "I always enjoy racing in Whanganui, it is a beautiful river and town. Whanganui has a very proud history in Rowing, hosting New Zealand's first World Championship win in 1908 and producing many of our countries best rowers and coaches. The Billy Webb Challenge, an iconic and important event on the New Zealand Rowing calendar is a great opportunity for our elite NZ rowers to support rowing in our provincial communities. It is a unique event where any rower can enter and compete against the best rowers in the world. I am proud to have raced in every Billy Webb since its inception in 2008 and look forward to being back again in November." 


Similar to 2008 when Rob Waddell took on Mahé Drysdale to win the coveted NZ Single Sculling position to represent NZ at the Beijing Olympics, the 2018 rowing season will likely see the “new kid on the block“, double Olympian Robbie Manson, the current NZ Single Champion, 2017 World Cup Champion and recent World Record Holder, take on Drysdale, to represent NZ at next year’s World Championships. 


Manson, who is about to depart for the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida, USA in a few days time is trying not to get ahead of himself but says, “Mahe has been a great inspiration and support to me, but the thought of taking him on in the historic 5 kilometre Billy Webb Challenge, where Billy Webb won the World Title nearly 110 years ago is very special and will be a great early season shake down for Mahé and myself”. 


Council and Whanganui Rowing spokesperson, Philippa Baker-Hogan says, “the rowing gods couldn’t have written a better script for this year’s race - and with further high profile athletes plus members of NZ Rowing’s Elite Summer Squad to add to the spectacle.  This event is set to once again deliver the best of the best on the world rowing stage to the banks of the Whanganui River”. 


The weekend and race day encompasses the annual Jury Cup Regatta held on the Aramoho 2000 metre course on Saturday 25th November.  The Billy Webb Challenge includes a Secondary School Sprint Regatta Challenge and the newly named Community Eight‘s. 


Read more about this exciting announcement here

2016 - Event Back to Gallery page.

World under 23 champion German Tim Ole Naske, edged out Kiwi Jordan Parry to claim the title in challenging conditions. 

A strong breeze meant choppy conditions and a fast current for the 35 rowers who left from the Union Boat Club, rowing 2.5km up-stream before turning around

Naske won the race in 22 minutes 21 seconds, with Parry three seconds behind.

It was the first time the race has involved rowing up and down stream and the added difficulty was clear from the almost four minutes extra on the winning time from Drysdale's last effort.

But Drysdale, who is set for a year away from competitive rowing, made it clear early that he would not be challenging the front-runners.

When the leaders lifted their stroke rate, Drysdale was comfortable maintaining his pace and finishing fifth out of seven elite men rowers.

2014 - Event Back to Gallery page.

2014 Aon Billy Webb Challenge Results

Aon Billy Webb Challenge


Philippa Baker-Hogan Womens Trophy:


Corporate 8s Challenge:



Hamish Bond battled the horrendous Whanganui River conditions as much as his Rowing New Zealand team mate and three times winner Mahe Drysdale to claim his first win of the Aon Billy Webb Challenge Trophy.

This year, the fifth running of the event, organisers adopted a new format, accepting entries in Elite, Club, Under 20, Under 17, Master 40+ and Master 60+ for both men and women.

All 22 competitors participated in a mass start above the Aramoho 2000 metre course and then raced the five kilometres downstream to finish outside the Union Boat, former club of Billy Webb himself, and in a further nod to the historic race, Mahe and Hamish were wearing the same colours as Webb and Tressider wore back in 1908.

Conditions were testing with a strong wind creating considerable chop in different parts of the course.  Hamish Bond, despite starting on the less favoured side of the course went out very quickly, rating 41, Mahe Drysdale was at 33, and established a small margin over the defending champion.  Hamish held that margin to the 1500 Metre mark when Mahe had to check his boat to avoid striking a log in the river.  Hamish took advantage of Mahe’s misfortune and moved out to about a four length lead.  Three Kilometres into the course Mahe up his rate to around 40 and was closing on Hamish but never managed to regain parity.  Hamish crossed in a time of 19.24, with Mahe a mere seven seconds behind.  We have a new champion, Hamish Bond, but both put in a spectacular effort, and a very quick time in such conditions.

Lucy Spoors won the woman’s elite division in a time of 22.25 and is the new Phillipa Baker-Hogan Trophy holder. Lucy’s effort is even more noteworthy when you discover that she competed in the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge Race on Saturday 29 November 2014, finishing second in her division in the very creditable time of 4hours and 19 minutes.

Another notable result was put up by club sculler, Jamie Saunders, who finished third overall in a time of 20.54, ahead of the other elite mens entrants.

There were athletes on the water aged from 15 to 68.  There were 22 starters, 20 finishers including our youngest and oldest athletes.

Other than the wind, the conditions were very pleasant and a large crowd observed the events, informed by a live commentary, and entertained by some knowledgeable local radio personalities.



Thank you for contacting Billy Webb Challenge. If you have any questions please feel free to call us or simply fill in the below online form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

Contact: Kat Wade
Phone: 021 032 7070