Day 2 brought sunny weather and superb racing on the Tail of the Gorge course. The finish line remained the same, but crews started further inland and didn’t have to navigate the narrows a second time. Tail of the Gorge brings its own challenges, linking turn after turn into a 3 km course with almost no straightaways. A steady steering foot and a keen tactical eye are key to a fast time.
The TOGs slept in late after a rowdy Saturday night of partying, leaving just the mixed doubles to fly the masters flag in the morning flight. Bill Sabey and Allison Secord did not shy away from the trash talk with the duo of Sheila Findlay and Steve Fitzjohn. In the end, both doubles had great races, with the combination of Sheila and Steve proved too strong, coming out on top with yet another gold medal. Bill and Allison finished in a very strong 3rd. It’s worth noting that Calgary’s two entries came fourth and fifth, so the morning was deemed a sweeping success.
In the men’s double, Aaron Harrower and Torrin Lemire had a rematch with heavyweights Ian Smith and Josh Shire. Ian and Josh were convinced that their wigs had been holding them back and were out for revenge. However, experience played a huge role with the difficult course. Aaron and Torrin deftly weaved between masters womens quads en route to a 6th place finish in a competitive field. After taking a few detours on the wrong side of the buoys, Josh and Ian still finished a respectable 10th. The pair was further hampered by a masters womens quad that bafflingly decided to turn sideways in the chute to the finish line. Josh was heard saying “We probably could have finished further up the rankings if we didn’t pick up so many penalties.”
Last down the course in the morning flight was Steve Wong in the open men’s single. After being momentarily taken aback by the scenery on such a beautiful sunny day, Steve cruised down the course and finished in a strong 10th place. Congratulations to Steve and Karah for representing the Sport program so well in Victoria and we hope to see more Sport athletes at the Gorge in the coming years.
The afternoon brought the TOGs back to the course for one last race. 2016 marks the tenth anniversary of the TOGs first competing at Head/Tail of the Gorge. With the exception of Dale Hohnstein and Terry Mckall’s father, the exact same lineup stepped into the boat for this weekend’s racing. Fueled on some of Victoria’s excellent brunch food, the TOGs put together a superb race. After briefly tangling with the junior eight in front of them, Jenny steered them clear and the TOGs pushed past to finish in a swift 12:30.25.
The men’s doubles put aside their differences for the afternoon and combined into the men’s quad of Torrin Lemire, Ian Smith, Josh Shire, and Aaron Harrower. They had the honour of being the next boat off right after the TOG eight. It was on right from the word go. Torrin jammed the rate up into the low 30s and it stayed there for the duration of the race. With some deft maneuvering from Aaron, the quad took advantage of a particularly sharp turn to sneak up the inside and pass the TOGs. After the race, Glenn noted that he “appreciated their respectful silence as they rowed past.” After his impressive display with the rudder, Aaron was approached by several Formula 1 scouts looking to sign him. He politely declined, preferring to spend his winters at home on a nice, comfortable erg.
Last off in the afternoon flight were Allison Secord and Sheila Findlay in the masters women’s double. Finally figuring out they didn’t need to launch a day in advance, they took a more leisurely approach to warm up. Fresh legs paid off, and the duo were first across the finish line yet again. Sheila had to buy an extra suitcase to house all four of her gold medals on the flight home. Incredible performances by our masters ladies!
Gorge marks the end of the ERC racing season for another year. Edmonton rowers will try to squeeze in a few more precious weeks of rowing on the river before returning to their erg caves for the annual hibernation. Big thank you to the University of Victoria for hosting a great event and bribing the sun to stay out all weekend. As Charles put it, “The weather was great, the racing superb, the meals top notch, and fellowship above board. Great time had by all.”
–Press Officer Lemire