Fast-learning Fort Hare rowers impress at USSA test

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A marginally inexperienced Fort Hare rowing team stroked their way to a gold medal and several other top performances at the University Sports South Africa National Sprints Regatta at Moorreesburg in the Western Cape recently. The men’s coxed four, led by Isolethu Mona, combined brilliantly on the waters of the Misverstand Dam to bring home victory in the D division for the Alice-based tertiary institution.

The team placed fourth out of nine institutions in the overall standings. Equally important, said Fort Hare women’s team captain Banathi Sithole, was the experience gained.

“Competing in this regatta really meant a lot for the rowers as it was the first USSA sprints event for some and they did an amazing job,” she said.

“They had a chance to learn how to work together as a team and realised that in this sport there is no place for individualism – rather that we work as a family.”

What impressed men’s captain Luxolo Jekana most was the improvement shown from last year.

“Both in terms of the number of boats and our positions in the races,” he said. “There is a definite move in the right direction.”

The fact that there were a number of newcomers to the team meant the results were even more encouraging, said the skipper.

They have pushed all year in training to put on a good show against their tertiary rivals and the exposure will be invaluable as they aim to raise the profile of rowing at Fort Hare one paddle stroke at a time.

“The competition was a steep but valuable learning curve,” said Jekana. “When you compete against other teams you learn from them and these lessons make you more comfortable each time you race.”

And that, he said, made it easier to execute a game plan while exposing the areas that needed work.

“Even though we have some good rowers, we know there is always room for improvement.”

The team will now target the national championships at Roodeplaat Dam near Pretoria on April 29 and 30.

Fort Hare results from USSA regatta:


Eights: A division – 5th

Fours: B division – 4th

Fours: D division – 1st

Singles: C division – 3rd

Singles: D division – 4th

Pairs: C division – 4th


Eights: A division – 5th

Fours: B division – 5th

Fours: D division – 2nd

Pairs: C division – 2nd

Pairs: D division – 2nd

Singles: D division – 2nd