The training slog is over, the competition has begun and unofficial supporters’ chairperson Paul Yates is hard at work in the Hamilton Boys’ High tent.
This is the fifth Maadi Cup that Yates has been supporting family at. First it was his nephew, Caleb Shepard, who is now the coxswain for New Zealand elite, and now he’s watching his son Harry race for the second time.
“It’s a pretty iconic event,” Yates said. “I do a lot of rugby coaching and it doesn’t come close to these kinds of events.”
At Maadi he is the chair of the Hamilton Boys’ High supporters crew.
“They call it the chair. It’s unelected,” he said. “Really just trying to support the school and the boys and put some of the structure in fundraising behind the programme so that it can continue to be successful.”
The work is time consuming. The supporters help organise two or three week-long camps each year, fundraise for gear upgrades and arrange sponsorship.
“We really just sort of make sure the boys’ lives are about rowing as much as possible as opposed to worrying about raising money for camps and that kind of thing.”
When Maadi is at Lake Karapiro Hamilton Boys’ High hosts Christchurch Boys’ High, and Christchurch Boys’ return the favour when the regatta is down in Twizel. Yates says it forms a connection with the parents.
“We do a function on the Wednesday night where all the parents get together and have a meal. It’s quite a connection between some of the schools,” Yates said.
Maadi is a unique event because of the connections between the school.
“Usually you’re competitors, you don’t touch them or go anywhere near them,” Yates said. But that isn’t what it’s like at Maadi.
Yates said that if parents have been to a few Maadis “they’ve got people they’re friends with for life”.