A team of coastal rowers will hit the water at Torquay foreshore this weekend in a taste of what’s to come when the sport hits town as part of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Anglesea sculler Alex Wilcox and teammate Nicholas Andreou will take part in The Impossible ocean race from Point Impossible to Barwon Heads on Saturday in a newly created division for the multi-discipline event.
Coastal rowing’s beach sprints format was confirmed for Torquay at the end of last month in the growing sport’s Games debut, in what was also a coup for the burgeoning Surf Coast sports event sector.
Wilcox had been involved in traditional, still-water rowing since he was a schoolboy, and tried his hand at the ocean variant after a group of old friends from Tasmania had travelled to the 2019 World Championships at Hong Kong.
“At about the same time we moved down to Anglesea, and I thought ‘how cool’s this, let’s get a boat’,” he said.
Wilcox believes that the sport’s party-like atmosphere and accessible nature will endear itself to Surf Coast residents as it gains popularity.
“You can go out in conditions that aren’t suitable for flat water rowing, [because] you’re in a boat that’s reasonably sea-worthy and stable, but it’s also small enough to be able to go on top of your car and handle with one or two people, and you’re also able to cover good ground.
“I think it will open [the sport] to a new field of rowers. that sort of beach culture and that music and energy on the beach is going to be really exciting.
“I imagine it’s going to be a great spectacle for the Comm Games, to have this sunny beach, have people bashing in and out and having a great time.”
Beach sprints are head-to-head duels involving teams of one, two or four, where one team member races from a start point on the beach to the boat waiting in the water, rows 250 metres to a buoy and back to shore for a sprint finish.
Rowing authorities hope that the 2026 event will be the springboard to greater global appeal for the sport, which has been on an upward trajectory in recent years, including the first Australian Championships event at Noosa in August.
Meanwhile, Surf Coast Shire Council has also welcomed coastal rowing’s arrival for the 2026 event, adding to its growing calendar of major sporting events.
Events such as The Great Ocean Road Volleyfest and Bells Beach Longboard Classic are on their way to the region soon in addition to long-term staples such as the Rip Curl Pro and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
“The Surf Coast is an ideal venue for international events, and Council is pleased to welcome another one to our region when Torquay hosts coastal rowing in the 2026 Commonwealth Games,” the shire’s place making and environment general manager Chris Pike said.
Surf Coast Times story here.
Photo supplied: Torquay will host coastal rowing events at the 2026 Common-wealth Games.