Henley 2014 – Day 3

The days at the regatta are getting longer and the racing is taking its toll on both athletes and coaching staff. We apologize for the late update.

Thursday was the first day of final racing at this years Henley regatta. ERC crews competed in Heats, Semis and Finals throughout the day.

Andrea Labrecque and Amanda Cinnamon got things started in the heat of the Senior Womens 2-. The newly formed U of A duo (Amanda will embrace academia once more by starting a Masters degree at the U of A in September) raced superbly to finish third in their heat and book a qualifying spot for the final on Friday. While teammates and coaches were congratulating the pair on booking the ERCs fourth final appearance this year (and thereby equalling last years total number of finals) Andrea already had her mind on the next race. After the race is before the race.

Swapping their sculling oars for sweep oars, the two semi finalists in the Junior Mens 1x – Michael Hohnstein and Cody Anderson – took to the water in the Junior Mens 2-. Although the two occupy opposite ends of the spectrum with regard to hight and weight, Michael and Cody have gelled remarkably well over the course of the summer season. Further prove of the fact that anything goes in the pair, as long as you are willing to make it work. The two raced extremely well, finishing second to qualify for the semifinals on Friday. Michael continued to show his loyalty and devotion to Hudson Boat Works by commenting: “At least we did not lose to a Pocock.”

Till Tietz and Quinn Brandly started their bid for the U23 Lightweight Mens 2x crown. The two lightweights are facing an avalanche of races still in the afternoon (many of them finals). Consequently the coaches and many astonished spectators on the bank saw them scull down the course at 24 strokes per minute comfortably finishing in third to qualify for tomorrows semi-final. After the race stroke seat Quinn Brandly was overheard marvelling at his discovery of here thereto uncharted lightweight rpm ranges of 24 – 26.

In the U23 Womens 4x, the excellent Junior double of Aline and Isabelle Belzil welcomed U23 athletes Mallory Turner and Jess Phillips into their midst. The quad were in professional racing mode and left all drama at the dock in a solid and dominant display of heats racing. With the foremost aim of qualifying for the semi-final and saving energy at the same time, the quad sculled down the course effortlessly two finish third in a competitive field. The up and coming combination of Kendra Hartley, Caitlyn Couturier, Rebecca Carrick and Theora Gray competed in Heat 2 of U23 Womens 4x. The crew raced well, but failed to advance against significantly more experienced competition.

The Junior Mens 2x of James and Gregor Allan were first up in the semifinals for the ERC. The duo went out seeking to establish and early lead and control the field. The crew got out of the blocks well and were set to execute their race plan, however, the mid-race pace from the middle lanes was high and the Allan twins struggled to impose their will on the rest of the field from the outside lane (the boys were drawn into Lane 2 – the outermost lane on the Henley course, since Lane 2 is not in use anymore). In the end the duo had to concede the qualifying spot in the final 250 meters of the race. Gregor and James were disappointed with the outcome but look forward to another promising campaign in the Junior Mens 4x (where they are joined by Michael Hohnstein and Till Tietz) starting the heats tomorrow.

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It was a gorgeous day on the Henley course as the U23 Lightweight Men’s 4x of Ben Altman, John Carr, Aaron Harrower, and Torrin Lemire raced their heat

Up next was Ole Tietz in the semifinals of the Senior Lightweight Mens 1x. The race was an extremely tight one with four scullers coming through the 1000m mark level and competing for the two qualifying spots up for grabs. When the boats entered the last 250m all breaks were off as the scullers tried to get their bow ball in front. Ole finished strong to claim second place and qualify for tomorrows final, bringing the overall Henley final count to 5 for the Edmonton Rowing Club. Looking forward to the two finals (Lwt M2x and Lwt M4-) still to be raced that afternoon Ole commented that although extremely exciting, the finish line sprint had probably taken a bit more out of him than he would have been willing to give up.

The romping double scull of sisters Aline and Isabelle Belzil competed in the semi-finals of the Junior Womens 2x. The duo raced extremely well and finished agonizingly close to the qualifying spots for the final. The sisters set in the pack coming through the 1000m mark and started their trade-mark wind for the finish line with 750m to spare. Taking the stroke rate north of 37 strokes per minute with almost 3 minutes of racing to go, shocked many competitors, but unfortunately failed to move the top two boats enough to make them crumble. Aline and Isabelle finished third and were understandably upset afterwards. However, a finish just outside the top 6 crews in the Americas is by no means a bad result. Aline, at the age of 15, is looking forward to another two years of eligibility in the age class.

The first appearance of the ERC in the Henley finals of this years regatta came in the Senior Lightweight Mens 2x rowed by Quinn Brandly and Ole Tietz. The two were up against strong competition from the US and Canada and started the race trying to shock the field by gaining an advantage early on. While that part of the race plan worked quite well (the crew sat in third after 500m) the rest of it needed some refinement. The high pace at the start cost the crew in the third 500m, where they slipped back into sixth place. Although efforts were made to find an extra gear of speed in the last 500m, sixth proved to be the final result for the ERC crew. Although slightly disappointed with the result, Quinn commented that he felt it was better to try and race with the top crews at the start and pay for it later than to be out of the race the entire way.

In the second of the three ERC finals the Senior Womens 8+ of Andrea Labrecque, Amanda Cinnamon, Leanne Leder, Jess Phillips, Mallory Turner, Kendra Hartley, Aline Belzil, Isabelle Belzil and cox Roland Dennet were racing 4 eights from the US and local rivals Calgary. Disaster struck early as Kendra Hartley fell off her seat in the first few strokes of the race. The ensuing chaos cost the crew a boat length on the rest of the field within the first 250m. The crew showed great character by trying to push back into the pack and put their bid for a top three finish on the table. The Edmonton girls held the field for the rest of the race, but were unable to make up the boat length they lost early on. The eight finished fifth, beating the crew from Penn AC. Cox Roland Dennet was in a reflective mood after the race: “I am proud to to have started with the Women in the Boat Race and to be here competing in a Henley final for Sr Women 8+ 3 month later.”

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The ERC women’s eight huddles up before they get on the water for their Henley final

The last final appearance of the day came from the Senior Lightweight Mens 4- of Ole Tietz, Till Tietz, Kris Butler and Quinn Brandly. Ole, Till and Quinn had already raced in some hard races earlier in the day and in the week and were doing their best to pretend that they were still in full possession of the physical and mental faculties. The crew staked a significant chunk of their hopes on the awesome power of Kris “fresh legs” Butler. Thankfully the “engine room” did not disappoint. The boys started well and were well in the field coming through the 250m. The slight lack of physical freshness forced the crew to settle into race pace a little bit too early. The rest of the field thanked the Edmonton boys for the opportunity and went a length ahead. Bow seat Quinn Brandly kept his boat on track with some inspired calls through the middle of the race to keep the crew snapping at the heels of their rivals. In the end, the ERC boat finished fifth (out of 7); a great result in a very competitive event.

Further racing for the Edmonton Rowing Club were Torrin Lemire, Ben Altman, John Carr and Aaron Harrower in the U23 Mens 4x (this was the first ever race for Torrin and Ben on the Henley course), Andrea Labrecque, Amanda Cinnemon, Mallory Turner and Leanne Leder in the Senior Womens 4-Aaron Harrower in the U17 Mens 1x,Andrew Douglas and Burak Ozgulukin the Senior Lightweight Mens 2-John Carr and Anthony Encarnacionin the U23 Lightweight Mens 2x. All crews raced well and gained some valuable experience, which will form the foundation for success in the fall season 2014 and the 2015 summer rowing circuit.

Tomorrow evening we are looking forward to final performances from Andrea Labrecque and Amanda Cinnamon in the Senior Womens 2- and Ole Tietz in the Senior Lightweight Mens 1x. This brings the total number of finals by ERC crews to 5 for this year (beating last years total number of final performances of 4).

Well done to all those that raced today and good luck to all those competing on Friday,