The 2024 Rigtec Billy Challenge
Sunday 21 January 2024

  • $500.00 cash for the fastest male and female single scullers
  • The Mahe Drysdale Junior Billy Webb Trophy, for the top Under 19 Junior Prognosic Boy or Girl, Under 18 31/12/2024 (Born 2006 or later), can also win main Trophies (BW or PBH) or 2-10th prognostic prize.

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.


29 December

The 2024 Rigtec Billy Webb Challenge, a headline Event within Property Brokers Whanganui Vintage Weekend, on Sunday 21 January 2024 is delighted to announce a very special new Trophy for young rowers to compete for – The Mahe Drysdale Junior Trophy.

Event Manager and Race Director, Philippa Baker-Hogan says “we are absolutely thrilled that one of New Zealand’s most famous and loved sportsman, Double Olympic Mens Single Scull Gold medallist and five time World Champion, Mahe Drysdale has supported a beautiful Katie Brown Trophy for the top Under 19 male or female single sculler, based on their prognostic time.

Mahe is our greatest single sculler ever, as well as being a superb ambassador for this historic race, having won it six times and raced in nearly every Billy Webb Challenge, since the inaugural event in 2008, which marked 100 years since Billy Webb himself defended his World Title on the Whanganui River in 1908, as New Zealand’s first ever Rowing World Champion.

Mahe says “I just love this event as it is totally unique and historic and set me up yearly for some of my greatest achievements in the sport, as well as being a drawcard to bring other top international rowers to Whanganui and New Zealand. I am absolutely thrilled to have this new trophy named after me, and supporting the next generation of young stars in our sport. I hope to get to Whanganui with my young family to present the inaugural trophy”.

Event sponsor, Mark Webb of Rigtec Engineering will be in Whanganui for the 2024 event and as a direct descendent of Billy Webb says the synergy for his company, who supplies rowing riggers and equipment for boat set up throughout New Zealand and Australasia with the Rigtec Billy Webb Challenge is fantastic and he can’t wait to see the epic battle for the three Trophies – Mens, Women’s and Mahe’s new Junior Trophy, with a 10am start time on Sunday 21 January.

To enter and for more details visit, with entries closing Thursday 18 January 2024.


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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 $10.00 per seat for pairs/doubles/fours/quads, with no cost for coxswains. Entries close at 5pm Thursday, 18 January 2024. Trophies and cash prizes are up for grabs!

Local clubs may be able to help with some loan boats but please contact the Event Manager asap.


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.

Course Map



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.
New in 2024; the top prognostic Junior (Under 18) single sculler wins the Mahe Drysdale Junior trophy.


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 by Prognostic

View results

2024 Results by Time

View results


Our naming sponsor, Rigtec Engineering Ltd, other supporters and our wonderful volunteers rowing community make this iconic event possible.



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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