For immediate release
Lausanne, 09 February 2017

World Rowing and Filippi are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2016 Filippi Spirit Award (in alphabetical order):

  • Renaud Berger (FRA)
  • Iulia Bodnariuc (CAN)
  • Gordon Dodge (RSA)
  • Jose Gomez-Feria (ESP)
  • Nils Jakob Hoff  (NOR)
  • Robyn Horan (RSA)

The Award, now under its new name, the Filippi Spirit Award, has seen an unprecedented number of nominations in its fourth year, with 47 nominations from 20 different countries.  “We are blown away by the number and calibre of the nominations received this year,” says FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland. “We are extremely impressed by the young rowers of today and the work they are accomplishing. These future leaders will ensure a bright future for our sport.”

The next stage is to decide the winner, and this is for a select panel of judges which includes Rolland as well as Mahe Drysdale who is a double Olympic Champion single sculler from New Zealand, Lenka Wech a German Olympian and World Champion and David Filippi, CEO of Filippi Lido S.R.L.

Each of the six finalists has unique and individual attributes, but, all have demonstrated the core values of the sport of rowing and through these values have been able to inspire exceptional success in their own as well as other people's lives. 

Renaud Berger is currently studying Veterinary Medicine at the Ecole National Vétérinaire de Toulouse in France. Having started rowing in 2003, Berger was disappointed to find that his Veterinary School did not have a rowing club. He undertook the creation of the Vet Rowing Club and managed to make rowing one of the most popular sports at the university. Outside of school work, Berger also finds the time to volunteer with Veterinarians without Boarders, setting up an exchange programme with an animal welfare association in Paraguay. He also works with his school’s humanitarian association “Youth Solidarity EnFaim” which helps children who are not able to go to school in Burkina Faso.

Studying Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University in Canada is Iulia Bodnariuc. Bodnariuc joined the rowing club in 2014 and is currently Head Coxswain. She is dedicated to the team and volunteers countless hours to help train the new coxswains and coach the novice crews. Her teammates say that she constantly inspires them to work harder. Bodnariuc is also passionate about the sciences and volunteers for AL!VE, a non-profit organisation that focuses on bringing science to elementary schools. Bodnariuc concentrates specifically on encouraging young girls to pursue their interest in science.

Gordon Dodge is completing a Masters in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Dodge has been presented with several university awards including the Service to Sport Award for excellent contributions to UCT Sport. Dodge not only coxed the men’s and women’s eights to success, he is also a registered umpire, team manager and a volunteer coach. He is dedicated to helping grow and run the sport at his university and beyond. In academics, Dodge cites rowing as his reason for pursuing research in the field of water remediation, hoping that his research can contribute to ensuring environmentally-sustainable practices for water management.

Spanish rower, Jose Gomez-Feria is working on an MD/PhD programme at the University of Seville in Spain. After completing a degree in Biomedical Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology, obtaining a Cum Laude mention, Gomez-Feria returned to Spain to study Neuroscience. His research focuses on improving biomedical techniques to treat movement disorder diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Gomez-Feria first started rowing in 2005. He was a small rower and, despite often being put in the coxswain seat, he did extra practices to keep improving and developing his physical condition. His coaches and teammates have touted his perseverance and determination as his key attributes.

Well-known for his international rowing career, Nils Jakob Hoff also has an impressive presence at his university rowing club. Hoff began rowing in 1999, but when he started studying medicine in 2009, he was disappointed to find the University of Bergen in Norway without a rowing club. Hoff and a fellow student founded the Medical Rowing Club Bergen with the goal of sharing the values of rowing with their fellow students. The club now has more than 60 active rowers, with more than half of them being women. Hoff’s teammates say that he is an inspiration for all of those around him. As a child he was not involved in sports and spent most of his time playing music. Having suffered from bullying in his teenage years for being overweight, Hoff became a role model for young rowers.

Robyn Horan is studying Hydrology and Soil Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Horan started rowing in 2014, but was quickly given awards for leadership and service to sport. From the minute she joined the rowing team, Horan was active in helping to lead the team, organise events and promote the sport throughout the country. Academically, Horan has excelled, being called one of the most hard-working and determined students in the class. She energises and inspires people around her. Outside of rowing, Horan is an all-around athlete, participating on tennis and rugby teams at the university.

The winner’s university rowing club will receive a custom-built, top-of-the-range Filippi eight racing shell. The boat recognises the winner’s involvement in the club and helps the club to develop more young rowers in the future. 

For more information go to

Filippi Lido S.R.L. (also known as Filippi Boats) is a rowing racing boat manufacturer based in Donorotico, Italy. Since 1980 Filippi has produced top Olympic-class rowing boats. They are renowned for design, top-quality materials and state-of-the-art technology combined with passion and core values that underpin their work.

For more information, visit their website here:
or Facebook @Filippiboats.