The Edmonton Rowing Club made the short trip south to Calgary for a regatta doubleheader this weekend. The morning started off with the fiery Dino Sprints, an action-packed 1500m laned race on the Glenmore Reservoir. After an invigorating 3 hour bus ride at 5:00 in the morning, the team woke up from their naps in time for some high intensity racing. In the afternoon, crews got to take the scenic route for Head of the Weasel (Fun Fact: the weasel is the world’s smallest carnivorous mammal, other than our very own Noah Kryzanowski, of course). The 3 km head race followed the edge of the sprints course and included two right angle turns, which made for some interesting tactics.
It was a foggy start to the racing as rowers made their way to the start line for the sprint race. Much to his double partner’s chagrin, Connor Stephens had to pause mid-warmup to write a new chapter in his upcoming screenplay Rowers in the Mist. Lead actress Emily Dolphin started the gold rush in the very first event of the day, whizzing past archrival Calaine Inglis to victory in the open women’s single. The novice men’s eight (Adam Smith, Kyle Wheeler, Nate Wawrzonek, Mohsin Muhammad, Mitchell Reif, Kyle Samonte, Sidath Wijayasiri, David Boon, and veteran cox Sheila Findlay) kept the ball rolling in their first head to head race with the Calgary novices. The boys had a race start that you only dream of and then didn’t look back, opening up five lengths of open water over their adversaries from home team.
The ERC team took out the brooms and swept the podium in the open men’s single. Aaron Harrower and Colin Findlay followed Bryce Kneller across the finish line in an exciting race. When asked about his golden race, Bryce had only one word: “smooth.” He then proceeded to moonwalk away from the interview with a glass of scotch in one hand and easy-listening jazz playing in the background. Audla Buchan and Joshua Shire didn’t have as much of a fairytale race in their double. Their race is best described in Josh’s own words: “Right from go I started yelling for hard port, in the usual ERC manner. However, I soon realized this course was “straight”, who knew? Anyway, before long we were using the buoys for traction, that was until I got the wrong side of one. This shot the oar out of my hands and all seemed lost for a moment. However, Audla bravely turned around and stopped the handle with his face. We owe our second from last place finish to the gallant actions of his cheekbones.”
In the spirit of Dino Sprints, the novice women’s eight of Andrea Shmitz, Julia Le, Ashleigh Sprange, Avery Roberge-Eadie, Megan Lucas, Joni Hyland, David Boon, and cox Kyle Samonte went digging for dinosaur bones and gold medals. Unfortunately, all they unearthed was a large buoy in the middle of their lane at the start line. (Fun Fact: Canada has a collectible quarter with a glow in the dark dinosaur on it). Although they recovered from their rocky start, the original deficit was too large to overcome and they had to settle for second (though still ahead of Calgary). The girls will be out for revenge two weeks from now in Burnaby.
The open women’s double pitted Mallory Turner and Lara Damen against the one-two punch of Sahara Duffett and Georgie Hyland. Mallory noted that the 1500m course was “1000m too long.” Despite the extra distance, Lara and Mallory came out on top, claiming yet another victory for the ERC. The lightweight pairing of Georgie and Sahara were a close second, looking to be on good form in their prep for Westerns.
Moving into the afternoon, the sun came out and crews geared up for a grueling 3 km head race. Leading the way was the open men’s quad of Audla Buchan, Colin Findlay, Ben McCurdy, and Joshua Shire. Although the first half of their race wasn’t exactly a beauty, Audla commented that the boat had a “beast of a row” coming down the home stretch. In a tale as old as time, the big boys blazed through the last 1500m en route to a gold medal.
In the men’s 2x, Ben Altman and Connor Stephens reunited to face off against the duo of Aaron Harrower and Scott Elgersma. After Scott and Aaron had a brief encounter with the shore, Ben and Connor pulled away to finish 5th overall in the wave. Keep your eyes on these two as they look to make a statement at Westerns and CUs.
Head coach Amanda Cinnamon shook off the rust and joined Mallory Turner, Erin Watchman, and Patricia Juarez in the open women’s four. The quartet had a good race, but unfortunately fell short of some strong performances from the Calgary women’s squad.
The hotly anticipated battle royale between ERC masters Steve Fitzjohn and Jacques Aarts had to be prematurely cut short when Jacques fell sick and couldn’t make it. Foul play has yet to be ruled out. Nevertheless, Steve did the ERC proud, not even needing his time handicap to beat out the other singles.
The novice men’s eight built on the success they had in the morning to take home another gold, beating their Calgary counterparts by nearly a minute and challenging boats with years more experience. Next up on the naughty list are UBC and UVic, both of whom will make an appearance at Westerns in two weeks time.
After a brief respite, crews headed straight back out onto the course for the second wave of the head race. Being the divas that they are, the lightweight men’s four of Connor “Homer” Stephens, Bryce “Marge” Kneller, Noah “Bart” Kryzanowski, and Ben “Lisa” Altman made sure to find the time for a family portrait (pictured below). Instead of discussing tactics, their prerace meeting consisted of “So we’re going with hats forwards or backwards for this one?” (It was forwards). Making his competitive coxing debut, they were joined by Torrin “Shakira” Lemire. His hips didn’t lie and neither did the size of the cox seat, but after several minutes of wriggling, he managed to wedge himself in. The four were unperturbed by the extra sack of potatoes, and rowed an incredible race, beating out their heavyweight competition from Calgary by 3 seconds and claiming the gold. Torrin has since announced his retirement from coxing, leaving the sport with a perfect winning record. The divas will continue on without him, looking to be in good form heading into Westerns and CUs.
Next to hit the start line was the lightweight women’s quad of Georgie Hyland, Sahara Duffett, Lara Damen, and Emily Dolphin. A far cry from their race in Vermilion, they had an exceptional race and posted the fastest time of the day, a full 15 seconds faster than anybody else!
The novice women’s eight overcame a tough race in the morning and put on a show in the head race. Kyle Samonte, cox of the novices, reported a sore neck from all the medals he collected at the end of the day. The only ERC rower to take on the head race in the single, Scott Elgersma made up for his earlier mishap and rowed dead straight to post a very competitive time in the men’s single. There’s a bright future ahead for all of our novice rowers.
Steve Fitzjohn and Sheila Findlay decided to stop by the Fountain of Youth on their way down to Calgary. Organizers penned them down at an average age of 27. Steve and Sheila must have drank some sort of magic potion, racing to a gold medal in the mixed masters double. The age error was later corrected and the duo took their rightful place at 4th overall.
Through the wind, rain, and fog, the ERC had another incredibly successful regatta. Headlined by the success of the novices and lightweights, the club came home with heavy pockets. Crews claimed gold medals in 12 events and posted top three finishes in many more. Congratulations to all the athletes and we look forward to continued success as the fall season rolls on.
–Press Officer Lemire