Regatta favourites come through

Kenn Oliver
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Close at the turn, H.J. O'Connell crew hangs on to take women's title

Coming out of the turn, three crews were virtually neck and neck in the women's championship race at the 190th Royal St. John's Regatta Friday. But ultimately, the heavily favoured H.J. O'Connell crew prevailed in a time of 5:03.51.

"We had three special ladies that we dedicated this race to," coxswain Gord Delaney said without revealing their identities, "and we pulled seven strokes each for them, for 21 strokes, and that's where the girls dug in and did it on emotion."

Coming out of the turn, three crews were virtually neck and neck in the women's championship race at the 190th Royal St. John's Regatta Friday. But ultimately, the heavily favoured H.J. O'Connell crew prevailed in a time of 5:03.51.

"We had three special ladies that we dedicated this race to," coxswain Gord Delaney said without revealing their identities, "and we pulled seven strokes each for them, for 21 strokes, and that's where the girls dug in and did it on emotion."

Delaney kept an eye on Smith Stockley in Stake 5 and the young Power Vac crew rowing out of Stake 4. Stockley finished third in a time of 5:07.61 while the young crew coxed by 48-year Regatta veteran Ron Brennan finished just ahead at 5:06.06 to capture second place.

"I've got two 16-year-olds in the boat rowing against all those senior girls with all kinds of experience, it was fantastic," Brennan said. "We beat (H.J. O'Connell) out in Harbour Grace two weeks ago, but it didn't work out today."

"It was a good year for the kids, they'll be back again next year."

MARCO finished fourth in a time of 5:16.31, while Audio Systems rounded out the field in a time of 5:20.55.

Delaney calls the heavily favoured crew "the most disciplined group of ladies" he's ever coxed.

"They were so focused and controlled, it was a pleasure to get in the boat with them each and every day."

O'Connell stroke Ashley Peach returned from Michigan to compete with the crew, and captured her third straight women's championship. In 2006, she won top honours rowing with OZ FM followed by a championship win with O'Dea Earle.

"It's the best feeling," Peach said, the smile still beaming across her face. "I've rowed on a couple of other championship crews, and I don't know, one year it was for the girls to go off on a win, this year there's a lot of girls, and Gord and Doug (Trainor), this is their first championship crew so it was an awesome feeling to do it for them."

One of those teammates who is reveling in the success of a first championship is Heather Doyle.

"It's unreal," Doyle said moments after the race. "The work that goes into it ... there are mornings when you're getting up at 5 a.m. and saying to yourself, 'gosh, what am I doing this for?' And then there's nights like this when it all pays off and everything is validated. That's why you do it."

Peach was surprised to see five crews row under 5:16 to make it to the championship, and as such, felt the race was going to require that extra bit of effort and concentration.

"In these kinds of races with everybody so close, you have to look out for everybody and mistakes can happen anywhere.

"Coming back, keeping focused on your own boat, not worrying about what other people do, just sticking to the plan and having faith in your crew and knowing each person in the boat is going to pushing just as hard as you."

It was a mentality imparted by Delaney that the crew was obviously committed to.

"This is my first championship and the competition is fierce, but one thing I've tried to learn to do is to keep my focus in my boat, listen to my coxswain, and try not to look to the side because that can throw you of your game."

O'Connell managed to capture Regatta glory despite having to use a spare. With Jennifer Jestican on the shelf, Katie Wadden - a championship winner with O'Dea Earle in 2007 - stepped in and, according to Delaney, "did a phenomenal job."

koliver@thetelegram.com

Organizations: St John's, Audio Systems

Geographic location: Michigan

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Recent comments

  • M
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Congratulations to both the winning crews and to all who rowed yesterday.

  • Jennifer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Congratulations to all involved with yesterday's running of the Royal St. John's Regatta. It's a little sad that the numbers of rowing teams were down again this year. I think that should serve as a call to action for the Regatta Committee. More interest has to be drummed up from somewhere. The whole idea of 'family tradition' has virtually disappeared among the rowers. One time it would be quite common to see three generations or more from one family participate over a span of many decades. That is not so now. I heard one radio commentator suggest that something has to be done to attract young people and their families to the sport of rowing: perhaps 'mini' regattas aimed at an age group of, say, 14-20. Proper lessons with the top cox's and coaches for these young people. Proper reward as well... corporate sponsored I would imagine. Award cellphones laptops and iPods and you'll draw much attention, I can almost guarantee. Then, maybe then, these young ones will want to 'graduate' on to 'regular' regatta competition. The time to act is now. Fresh energy from youth is desperately needed so the contest can continue....!

  • M
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Congratulations to both the winning crews and to all who rowed yesterday.

  • Jennifer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Congratulations to all involved with yesterday's running of the Royal St. John's Regatta. It's a little sad that the numbers of rowing teams were down again this year. I think that should serve as a call to action for the Regatta Committee. More interest has to be drummed up from somewhere. The whole idea of 'family tradition' has virtually disappeared among the rowers. One time it would be quite common to see three generations or more from one family participate over a span of many decades. That is not so now. I heard one radio commentator suggest that something has to be done to attract young people and their families to the sport of rowing: perhaps 'mini' regattas aimed at an age group of, say, 14-20. Proper lessons with the top cox's and coaches for these young people. Proper reward as well... corporate sponsored I would imagine. Award cellphones laptops and iPods and you'll draw much attention, I can almost guarantee. Then, maybe then, these young ones will want to 'graduate' on to 'regular' regatta competition. The time to act is now. Fresh energy from youth is desperately needed so the contest can continue....!