Max Girls 1 edge RMM for ladies' crown
The members of the Max Girls 1/Canada Games team celebrate their victory in the women's championship race Wednesday evening at the regatta. From left to right are Anna Henley, Stephanie Graham, Emily Peacock, Morgan Walsh, Kirsten McKay, coxswain Hayley Ivany and Megan Fitzgerald. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
By John Browne
The Max Girls 1/Canada Games crew had just enough kick at the end to nip defending champion Roebothan McKay Marshall in one of the most thrilling female championship races in recent history of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Wednesday on Quidi Vidi Lake.
When the gun sounded, there was just 1.07 seconds between the two crews and the winners were as much as relieved as delighted.
“It was too close, too close.” said No. 3 oar Morgan Walsh with a smile looking as much like relief as anything else.
The race was a classic race between two competitive crews who battled to the bitter end for the crown.
The Max team took an early lead, but Roebothan McKay and Marshall caught up and moved slightly ahead of them just before the turning of the buoys. However, the Max crew had a very good turn and came out of the turn first.
“When I looked over and saw them ahead of use going into the turn that was a little scary,” said Walsh, “because they are not usually ahead of us at that point.”
It was basically neck and neck for the remainder of the race. So close, some of the Max crew didn’t know for certain who won until the gun went off at the finish line and they heard the crowd cheering for them.
Max covered the course in 5:12.49 just ahead of RMM at 5:13.56. NEAL placed third in 5:20.14, followed by Max Girls 2 in 5:36.15 and India Gate in 5:43.18. Max 1, Max 2, RMM and NEAL each qualified for the final in the first race of the day. India Gate qualified out of the second race.
The win also gave the Max crew of coxswain Hayley Ivany, stroke Megan Fitzgerald, Kristen McKay, Emily Peacock, Morgan Walsh, Anna Henley and Stephanie Graham the racing triple crown as the team had already won the Harbour Grace and Placentia regattas.
In the last 20 metres, Fitzgerald, who was chosen the female oarsperson of the year, said “Our cox (Hayley Ivany) was telling us that if we really wanted it we had to go now.”
“It came down to final stroke,” said Fitzgerald, “and we got the kick we needed.”
The Max Girls 1 crew’s time in the championship race was two-10ths of a second off the time they posted in the opener, when finished four seconds ahead of RMM in the Female Amateur race.
“It was pretty great. Fantastic,” said Walsh, about knocking off the 2012 regatta champs.
However, she admitted, “We couldn’t have rowed as hard if they (RMM) weren’t there.”
It was the first year together for the crew, which trained all winter in preparation for the Canada Summer Games as well as the local regattas.
The team will be in Sherbrooke, Que., Saturday to start the Games
“It’s been a bit of a mind rush through all of this,” said Walsh who believes Wednesday’s win gives the crew an extra boost for the Games competition.
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“It’s all competition. It’s all good experience. I’m so happy.”
Ivany, who won the coxswains award for the most aggregate points, said the win feels great because they beat last year’s champs.
“We worked really hard for this, but it was a really close race. It was intense and it must have been more interesting to watch.
“Some of us were questioning who won at the end it was so close,” said Ivany.
RMM coxswain Gord Delaney was asked if the loss hurt more because the race was so close.
“Yeah, it was a tough loss. I mean, we lost by inches,” Delaney said.
Delaney hesitated when asked if his crew would have won with another five metres on the pond at the end.
“I dunno,” he finally said. “It was a great race. It could have gone either way. It’s great for the sport.”
He then praised the winners.
“They are a fantastic team and I hope they represent us well in Sherbrooke.”
Delaney said he believes RMM will return in some capacity next season, “but I don’t know exactly who will be back from this team. It was a bit of a transition year for the crew as we had several new rowers. But,” he added, “I’m sure we’ll be back. We’re still hungry.”