Commentator aims to ‘paint a picture for a blind guy’

The art of rowing commentary can be a tough one to master.

In any given race there is up to 10 minutes of time where the silence that surrounds the water must be filled, while good vision of the boats and the progress of the race often only comes in the final few hundred metres.

WATCHING CLOSELY: Dave Yarworth at work in the commentary booth. Photo: Corey Rosser
WATCHING CLOSELY: Dave Yarworth at work in the commentary booth. Photo: Corey Rosser

But Maadi Cup race caller Dave Yorwarth prefers to keep it simple and when in the commentary booth adopts a trusted mantra to his work.

“Paint a picture for a blind guy. So every time you talk just imagine everyone is blind.”

Dave is somewhat of a Lake Karapiro veteran. As we chat from the lofty heights of his commentary booth he points out parts of the river where he swam as a child while his father worked as a judge at rowing regattas.

That same spot now forms the scene for the final frantic few metres of the Lake Karapiro course, where rowing crews and Dave himself aim to produce their finest work.

Despite the sport forming such a large part of his life growing up, Dave never rowed as a child and only started to compete around nine years ago.

“I never physically rowed when I was a kid…I did masters about nine years ago and learnt in Tauranga then moved to Pukekohe and rowed for the Mercer club.”

Similarly, commentating is a new addition to Dave’s life after taking up the practice around four years ago.

“The guy who originally did it put out a general email to all the rowing clubs and I did a bit of radio announcing in Tauranga years ago so I thought, ‘I’ll give rowing a crack’.”

Since then Dave has volunteered his time to call any rowing events which need an enthusiastic narrator, ranging from small club events to the premier tickets such as the Maadi Cup, where Dave has taken five days holiday from his job as a representative for a large baking company in order to attend.

With no previous commentating experience to fall back on he has for the most part had to teach himself the ins and outs of calling rowing races, picking up tips and ideas along the way.

“I haven’t got anyone to learn from, a good mate of mine (Brian Kelly from The Coast) is a radio announcer, I had a chat to him and he gave me a few tips.”

The fact that commentating is not a science helps, and Dave is quick to point out that everyone’s perception of a rowing race is always very different.

DEDICATION: Dave takes five days off work in order to call the Maadi Regatta. Photo: Corey Rosser
DEDICATION: Dave takes five days off work in order to call the Maadi Regatta. Photo: Corey Rosser

“What I see is different to what they see, everyone’s perception is different…no-one can call you a liar, but everyone has a different opinion.

“The difficulty is that you will be talking and then the rowers will get to the 1500 metre mark and go bang and do 10 on the legs…all of a sudden you see that they were second and now they are way out in front.”

The adrenalin rush is addictive, just like that the rowers experience while out on the water.

“On Saturday there will be 8000-9000 people here and they are all baying for their kids, yelling and screaming, you talk it up and get excited…the hair’s stand up on the back of your neck, you get hoarse and then the race finishes and you calm down.

“You’re trying to remember everyone’s names and get it all right…you get a buzz from calling it…it’s all go and you’re getting all bloody ramped up.”

But for the time being the Boys u15 doubles are racing up to the 1500 metre mark and Dave is gearing up for another big finish.