Israeli Rowers Make History


When you think university rowing races, you think Oxford-Cambridge on the Thames, or Harvard-Yale on (Connecticut’s) Thames.

Now you can think Tel Aviv-Weizmann on the Yarkon.

Nine-member crews from Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science recently took part in their first intercollegiate rowing competition, 1,000 meters on the Yarkon River in central Israel, which flows from north of Petah Tikva through Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park and empties into the Mediterranean.

Inspired by the storied, 186-year-old race between England’s prestigious institutions of higher learning — and athletics — the Israeli squads trained for months at the Daniel Rowing Centre in Tel Aviv.

The TAU squad won by 12 seconds.

“It’s a huge honor to win the cup of the first universities’ boat race,” said a statement from Tel Aviv University’s sports department. “Rowing is popular in universities throughout the world, and we find great value in building our team for the years to come.”

Rowing is becoming a popular sport in Israel. Israel’s national rowing squad participated in the recent Rowing World Cup in Varese, Italy, and the third annual Dragon Boat Israel festival (the stern of the boats features a traditional Chinese dragon), raising money for charitable causes, took place on the Sea of Galilee, with hundreds of competitors.

One Israeli, Moran Samuel, a paralympic athlete, captured a gold medal in the Varese competition, not only shattering her own personal record, but breaking the Israeli record while defeating the reigning world champion, Norwegian rower Birgit Skarstein.