A special rower has earned a special place in St Kevin’s College rowing.
Former world junior medallist Jo Kearney received the ultimate honour when a boat was christened in her name late last year.
The Jo Kearney is the Oamaru school’s new convertible coxed/coxless quad/four in which future generations will seek to emulate the boat’s namesake.
Kearney, a St Kevin’s old girl, had a fabulous junior career.
She represented New Zealand for the first time in 2012, winning bronze in the coxless four at the world junior championships in Bulgaria.
A year later, she won bronze with the New Zealand under-23 coxless four in Austria, and in 2014, she reached a career high point by helping the same crew win silver at the world championships in Italy.
Kearney was a rock star at the Maadi Cup, the massive national secondary schools regatta, winning eight medals – many in boats alongside twin sister Caitlin.
At senior level, she reached the top of provincial rowing when she won the New Zealand premier eight as part of the Southern crew in 2014, becoming the first Oamaru rower to win a red coat since the coxed four legends of 1962.
Kearney was joined by parents Clare and Kevin, siblings Caitlin, Patrick and Chris, St Kevin’s rowers, coaches, managers and supporters for the christening of the boat at the Oamaru Rowing Club.
The Kearney children, all of whom rowed for St Kevin’s and Oamaru, did the honours.
Fundraising for the boat had been “a 12-month endeavour”, spokeswoman Kate Mihaere said.
The project began with the donation of the insurance proceeds ($11,000) from the Br Don Murray boat, which was damaged in transit, from Frances Lemm, of the Robertson Family Trust.
A further $8500 was raised by St Kevin’s athletes picking grapes and selling raffles, and other generous contributors.
The boat is from the WinTech Racing stable, which has an outlet in Whakatane. The American-based racing shell manufacturer’s boat designs come from Klaus Filter, a German naval architect who was the former chairman of the International Rowing Federation’s Materials Commission.
Jo Kearney, whose rowing career took a back seat after an energy-sapping battle with glandular fever, now lives in Wellington, where she studies and is helping coach the junior rowing squad at Scots College.