On Saturday morning as dawn broke, the Lagoon was strangely bereft of rowers in quads and coach boats.

Where were they all? In the hills above Port Vila, doing a 10 kilometre walk to Monmartre and back to the Rowing Club. Why? Cross training? No! The view? No!

For many sporting clubs in Vanuatu, fund raising for equipment, international competition travel expenses and Club training activities is a big problem. For the Vanuatu Rowing Club, long standing sponsorship from the National Bank of Vanuatu, support from VASANOC and membership fees provide core funding. The annual Masters in Paradise International Regatta raises the year’s operational funds but there is always a gap when it comes to major new initiatives. As well, on-going private sector support from businesses such as ANZ, Azure Pure, South Pacific Catering, Bank of the South Pacific, Vila Marine, E+S Medical Centre, Incite, Novodental is critical but when the members decide on a big vatu project – what can be done? Definitely not asking the sponsors again for even more money!

“We get donation fatigue,” explained one business owner, “Constant request for funds from all sorts of organisations. We are only a small business. Cyclone Pam is still hurting our turn-over but we don’t mind Port Vila Rowing Club requests. They always tell us exactly where when and how our donations are used and acknowledge our support in media releases and public awareness items on Facebook and Social Media. It’s just so good to see a group not just putting out their hands; instead putting in the effort personally and doing it for themselves!”

“We have fund raisers that depend on tickets being sold for dinners or the Quiz Night,” explains Allan Kalfabun, Club President, “But we needed something our younger Ni-Vanuatu rowers could do. Many are still students at secondary school or University and don’t work. They can’t keep asking family for money. So we held a rower’s meeting one night after training and decided to do a Walkathon. In this way, our rowers can engage in a healthy activity + raise money for our current project – new gym equipment.”

So on Saturday, 18 rowers, supports Club Members and supporters met at the Rowing Club at 5am (normal rowing time anyway) and headed up the long hill to Monmartre, returning to the Club for a sausage sizzle and bottles of icy cold water – thanks to Azure Pure.

“We’re still counting the money as it comes in, but we confidently expect between 150,000 to 200,000 vatu,” commented Allan. “When the Committee meets next week, combined with the funds from our Quiz Night and Corporate Regatta, we can confirm our gym equipment order and the pouring a new slab as a purpose built “free weights” exercise space.”

Raymond Nasse

Sports Editor

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