2012 Aon Billy Webb Challenge

2012 Aon Billy Webb ChallengeBack to Past Events


Athletes competing in 2012 were:



Kim Crow (AUS)       Double Olympic medallist 2012
Fiona Bourke (NZL)   Elite Quad
Sarah Gray (NZL)      Elite Quad 2012 Olympics
Zoe Stevenson  NZL   Reserve 2012 Olympic squad 


Mahe Drysdale (NZL)   Defending Billy Webb champion 2010, Gold medallist, London 2012
Eric Murray (NZL)      Gold medallist London 2012
Nathan Cohen (NZL)    Gold medallist London 2012
Joseph Sullivan (NZL)  Gold medallist London 2012
Lassi Karoren (SWE)    4th placing, London Olympics 2012 


The Lion Foundation Night Sprints – Friday 7th December 2012

Due to the favourable weather conditions, the 500 m course was able to be held downstream of the City Bridge, with the finishing line at the Bridge. Four heats were raced for each gender. The winner of each heat progressed through to the semi-final, and subsequent winners to the final. 
Kim Crow proved to be too strong for the competitors in the women’s sprint racing. She raced Zoe Stevenson in the final after beating Fi Bourke in the semi- final, and Esther Austin in the heat.
The men’s race heralded a new, however not entirely unexpected, winner. Hayden Cohen, fit from the NZ U23 training programme, took on his brother Nathan, after beating Mahe in the heats. Hayden Cohen proved too strong for Lassi Karonen in the final, winning by a canvas.

Race for the Philippa Baker-Hogan Trophy 

 The Women’s race started in calm conditions with NZ Olympic Quad members Fiona Bourke, Zoe Stevenson and Wanganui’s Sarah Gray taking on Australia’s Kim Crow.
Former Aramoho Wanganui Rowing Club member, Sarah Gray jumped out to a good start on the 5 km race deciding that the only way to beat Kim was to get in front from the beginning and try and stay there. Kim Crow demonstrated why she was a double Olympic medallist and quickly got into her rhythm overtaking Sarah in the early stages of the race. Her stroke rate of 28-30 strokes per minute was like poetry in motion. Even with the higher stroke rate the New Zealanders could not hope to keep up with Kim as she pulled away with every stroke. By half way she held a comfortable 6 – 7 boat length over second place getter Fiona Bourke.
The real entertainment came for the 3rd placing. Gray looked to be tiring after being passed by Zoe Stevenson prior to the City Bridge but, encouraged by the crowd, gave all she had left and went bow to bow with Stevenson for the last 300m with Gray taking the honours on the line for 3rd place.

The Aon Billy Webb Challenge

The stage was set for the men following the success of the Olympics, with four of the five NZ gold medallists and Lassi Karonen set to race each other for the Aon Billy Webb Challenge.With Cohen and Lassi recently having beaten Mahe at the Head of the Charles Regatta, and both Cohen and Murray having beaten Mahe in NZ this season, no one could predict the winner.This race turned out to be the closest of all the challenges to date. Karonen made a determined start believing his only chance was to get in front and hold Mahe off. Karonen led the field for the first 2 kms to the Aramoho bridge, while Cohen shepherded the two staying close to the two leaders for his signature sprint finish.Competition was intense as Cohen and Drysdale boats came a little close for comfort for the umpires while Karonen sat in clear water until the Railway bridge. Drysdale kept his cool, fighting hard to keep his line along the riverbank, all the while keeping Cohen at bay. Covering Cohen until the half way mark Drysdale upped his stroke rate as the Cobham bridge approached. His knowledge of the river was an advantage over the Swede. Drysdale was in commanding form by the Kowhai Park hoping the psychological advantage of being in front would take its toll on Karonen and Cohen as they fought for 2ndplace. Cohen, once again, sprinted for the finish line overtaking Karonen. Murray had Sullivan in his sight and positioned himself to stay in front for 4th place with Sullivan finishing 5th.The water had literally changed in front of the spectators eyes as calm water became surfing water as the rowers made their way under the City Bridge to the finish line.

The NZCT Corporate Eights Race

The corporate crews were allowed to train for 8 weeks prior to the Billy Webb event. Each crew was allowed two experienced rowers and at least two female rowers. They were coached by a coach from one of the local clubs giving the Club a source of fundraising.

This year the heats for the Corporate Eights Challenge were held over the 1000m course during the Jury Cup regatta on the Saturday. Heat racing was held to give the crews a second race and to determine the lane draw for Sunday’s final.

Racing was close with Aon taking line honours from the MegaFM combination.

The 2012 participating crews were:


Aon Risk Takers, BNZ Financial Floaters, Chronicle Corporates, WDC River Works, Mega FM, S-Dub

Following racing the Corporate Eights enjoyed a lunch, prepared by Aramoho Wanganui Rowing Club, watching the Billy Webb Challenges from the Corporate Eight Tent.

2012 Competitors