The 2024 Rigtec Billy Challenge is coming
Sunday 21 January 2021
$500.00 cash for the fastest male and female single scullers

Whanganui is home to the only official, long distance, small boat race in New Zealand – continuing our proud rowing history.

Rigtec Billy Webb commemorates New Zealand’s first professional single sculling world champion – William ‘Billy’ Webb’s defence of his World Title on the Whanganui River in 1908, before 25,000 spectators.

This free Community National and International Sporting Event is a rare opportunity to watch Olympic and World Champion rowers, compete against each other and the only chance for club and school rowers to compete against their legends.


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All competitors can enter through the Club Entry Form, your club or school will be invoiced for your entry.

International Entrants: Contact our Event Manager, Philippa Baker-Hogan, e: or m: +64 27 272 7953

Philippa will happily discuss entry with you.


Held on Sunday 21 January 2024, the Rigtec Billy Webb Challenge is a key event of Property Brokers Whanganui Vintage Weekend, one of the largest festivals in the region. Visitors from all over the country come to Whanganui to enjoy a packed programme of events and attractions that celebrate this humming place, and they love nothing more than to start their Sunday off on the banks of the Whanganui River, watching this prestigious race.

Prizegiving is at 1pm on the stage of the Riverside Shindig, which kicks off straight after with live music, dancing, a pop-up bar, food trucks and family fun all afternoon.

The race starts at 11:00am, but it’s worth coming along earlier to grab your spot and watch the competitors enter the water.


Rigtec Billy Webb is open to rowers of any age or experience, allowing any rower to race for the main trophies and prize money. The Categories are:

The cost to enter is $20.00 per single and $40.00 per pair/double/four. Entries close at 5pm Thursday, 18 January 2024. Trophies and cash prizes are up for grabs!


All competitors must attend the Race Briefing and the Prizegiving.


The race starts and finishes adjacent to Union Boat Club, near the Paddle Steamer Waimarie launch area.

From the starting point, competitors race upstream towards and through the Railway Bridge (this is the second bridge as, firstly, they will pass under the Dublin Street Bridge).

Immediately through the Railway Bridge, competitors must turn and race downstream to the finishing point. Spectators and supporters can line the riverbank and both bridges to watch the spectacle.



This 6km feature race takes place on New Zealand’s longest navigable river – Te Awa O Whanganui. A beautiful course, this is a memorable, must-do experience for all water sport enthusiasts.

Rowing NZ endorsed the race as a platform for NZ elite athletes to promote and encourage rowing in provincial areas like Whanganui – this is where many of our World and Olympic Champs journey to the world stage began.


William "Billy" Webb became the first New Zealander to win the world professional single sculls title when he beat Australian Charles Towns on the Parramatta River in Sydney, by five lengths in 1907 covering the demanding three-mile course in 20min 45sec.

Webb, who won 1,000 pounds for his Sydney victory, defended the title by two and three-quarter lengths on the Whanganui River in 1908 against twice Australian champion Richard Tressider, before 25,000 spectators including premier Sir Joseph Ward.

Later that same year Richard Arnst (Akaroa) de-throned Webb by six lengths on the Whanganui River and in 1909 held off a Webb title challenge by three lengths on the same river.

Webb, who rowed for the Union Boat Club, won the NZ amateur singles in 1903 and 1906, the NZ amateur doubles in 1905 and 1906 and the NZ professional singles in 1915.


The Rigtec Billy Webb Challenge is open to rowers of any age or experience, allowing any rower to race.

Along with cash prizes, thanks to our principal sponsor Rigtec Engineering and the Whanganui Rowing Association, the winners of the Men’s and Women’s Open have their names engraved alongside previous challenge winners on stunning glass trophies made by renowned glass artists based out of Whanganui.

For men, the ‘Billy Webb Challenge Trophy’ is a glass waka created by Greg Hall, and for women, the ‘Philippa Baker Hogan Trophy’ is a glass whisper created by Katie Brown.


The Whanganui Rowing Association is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to facilitate the development and sustainability of rowing in the Whanganui region. To achieve these goals, the organisation relies on grant and corporate funding support.


Current Event

Please check here following the event for Race Results

2024 2023 2021 2020 Winners

2024 Results

Please check here following the event for race results



Need help?


Thank you for your interest in our event and we look forward to having you involved. We welcome your enquiries and invite you to contact us for any questions you may have.


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