2 July 2019
Being named in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) squad to contest rowing’s King’s Cup in England is a dream come true for Rangiora-raised New Zealand Army Corporal Rebekah Salt – and making history as part of a mixed-gender crew makes it even more special.
It is 100 years since six nations – New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and France – competed for the Cup as troops waited to return home after the First World War. This year those six nations will be joined by Germany and The Netherlands to race for the Cup as part of the Henley Royal Regatta at Henley-on-Thames in July.
It will be the first time men and women have raced in the same boat at the elite international event, and Corporal Salt, 27, said she was honoured to be part of it.
She took up rowing while at Rangiora High School after going to an open day.
“I went along and tried rowing. I came home and said to Mum and Dad, ‘I really love this sport’, and it has changed my life,” she said.
While competing at rowing’s Maadi Cup national secondary school championships she went to the NZDF recruiting tent and subsequently applied to be a medic with all three services.
The Army was the first to come back to her, saying there were no medic intakes coming up but could offer her a spot as a dental hygienist.
Six weeks later the then 18-year-old started basic training at Waiouru, followed by a posting and on-the-job training at Linton and three years’ study at Otago University, where she resumed rowing.
She was paid a salary while studying and her course fees and course-related costs were all covered, in return for her being bonded to the NZDF for several years.
“I’ve finished that now but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. It really set me up for life,” she said.
Corporal Salt has heard a lot about the Henley Royal Regatta over the years but never dreamed she would have the chance to compete there.
“I will not take for granted the amazing opportunity I have been given to travel half way around the globe to do what I love,” she said.
“Rowing has always been a passion of mine and I cannot believe how lucky I am to do this. It really is a dream come true.”
The NZDF squad for the event is: Leading Aircraftman Alex Hill (coxswain), Major Emily Hume, Lieutenant Commander Juliet MacLean, Corporal Rebekah Salt, Flying Officer Connor Broughton, Sub Lieutenant Rob Creasy, Lieutenant Ricky Daniel-Nield, Lance Corporal Mark Evans, Private Ryan Flintoft, Second Lieutenant Ashton Lovell, Lance Corporal Jack Proudfoot, Ordinary Rate Cathan Tamarapa, Rachel Gamble-Flint (coach), Wing Commander Rhys Taylor (manager).
Video of the team is at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1xmlt02faqd33qc/19-017_Henley_Rowing_Regatta.mp4?dl=0