A FLOTILLA of 12 boats and 60 rowers are about to embark onone of the region's longest sporting events.
Rowers from the Gold Coast to Port Macquarie will join local oarsmen and women for the annual Grafton Rowing Club row-athon from Copmanhurst to Grafton.
Club spokesman Michael Collins said rowers had been preparing for the challenge of the rowathon for six to eight weeks.
"To get used to the distances involved you need to do a 10km to 20km row once a week," he said.
"Most have been fitting it in on Saturday mornings."
From 8am today the rowing will be on in earnest when the boats enter the water at Copmanhurst.
They are expected to finish between 11am and 2.30pm at the Grafton Rowing Club.
"It's a different type of rowing to the normal competition events over 1000 metres," Collins said.
"They are more sprints, this is more stamina.
"A lot of the rowers will take it in turn to row 10km to 20km stages over the course.
"Some will row the whole way."
He said the field would consist of five single sculls, two pairs and five quads.
The rowathon, which has been held since 1993, continues to grow in popularity since it changed its course from Iluka to Grafton to start at Copmanhurst.
"There were too many problems with tides," Collins said of the previous course.
"You had to leave on just the right tide at the right time, which meant you couldn't hold the event at the same time each year.
"Starting at Copmanhurst means we can have the race on the same weekend each year, give or take a week."