A Partnership Born of a Rivalry

Singles World Champions Brennan and Twigg Row HOCR Double

By Corlyn Voorhees – Posted on October 22, 2016

Years of competition have gone hand in hand with years of friendship for former world champion singles rowers Emma Twigg from New Zealand and Kim Brennan from Australia.

“You can say [we’re] ‘rivals,’ but we’ve both been rowing for a really long time and we’ve been friends for a long time,” said Brennan.

“It’s probably since ’08 since we’ve known each other, probably more so in the last four years,” Twigg said.

The two have competed against each other in a number of events, from the World Rowing Championships to the Olympics in Rio this year where Brennan won gold and Twigg placed fourth in the women’s single sculls.

Their longstanding competition has not deterred their friendship. When they row against each other, they’re definitely competitive, notes Twigg, but when they’re off the water, “we grab a beer together. We have a huge respect for each other.”

As single scullers, they often don’t have a team to spend time with at international competitions, so they tend to hang out together, further cementing their friendship.

“It makes for some real camaraderie out in the field,” Twigg said.


But the two, who have always found themselves on opposite sides during competitions, pair up for this year’s double scull race at the Head of the Charles Regatta. This is the first time they are racing as teammates versus competitors.

What has largely brought them here to Cambridge is their friendship with fellow rower Gevvie Stone from Newton, mainly “because she buys us doughnuts,” Brennan joked.

“Yeah, that’s all we need,” Twigg chimed in.

Stone isn’t the only attraction to this massive event that they travel across the world for.

“This is an amazing regatta,” Brennan said, who also encourages rowers back home to come participate. “The sheer number of people racing and people watching is an atmosphere that’s like no other.”

Twigg agreed. “It’s amazing to see these masters, 80-plus years old, and young rowers at the top of their game.”

As for advice they’d offer the newer rowers just getting started, the two of them keep it simple.

“Have fun. Enjoy it,” Twigg said.

“And look after your teammates,” Brennan added.

Twigg and Brennan, who are also competing in the Women’s Great Eight on Sunday, have been staying in Cambridge with host families, spending their off-time scoping out nearby coffee shops and restaurants. And not only are they enjoying themselves off the water, but their main goal for the weekend is less about winning, but simply partaking in the sport they love.

“It’s nice to not have any expectations,” Twigg said. “This is a regatta about fun. We can just enjoy rowing.”

Brennan joked, “We’re going to try and crash as few times as possible.”

The Head of the Charles Regatta has a tendency to bring rowers together from all over the world for a weekend full of racing, rowers who share a “huge respect… that makes rowing more fun,” Twigg said.


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Make this year’s Head Of The Charles® a success. There are many opportunities to get involved over race weekend and before.