East Coast Maintenance Services crew takes mens championship race
East Coast Maintenance Services team members Luke Hayes, coxwain Mark Hayward, Matthew Manning, James Cadigan, Jeremy Kavanagh, Brent Hickey and Ronnie Whitten celebrate after winning the male championship race Wednesday at the 191st Royal St. Johns Regatta. Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Last Regatta Day, Ronnie Whitten figured he was "probably enjoying himself in the beer tent" on the north side of Quidi Vidi Lake as a retired Royal St. John's Regatta champion.
He had plenty of laurels on which to recline while quaffing. Whitten had been a member of the Crosbie Industrial Services crew which won Regatta men's championships in 2006 and 2007, smashing the course record in the latter year with a time of eight minutes and 51.32 seconds.
There was little else for Whitten and the others to prove on the pond. Still he, along with Crosbie coxswain Mark Hayward, stroke Brent Hickey and James Cadigan and coach Bert Hickey, was lured back to the Regatta this year. Joined by Luke Hayes, Jeremy Kavanagh and Michael Manning, they formed the East Coast Maintenance Services crew that - while not a record-setter - was nevertheless dominant, winning the 2009 men's title, Molson Canadian championship and Gerry Angel Memorial Trophy Wednesday evening by more than 24 seconds over runner-up Browne's Auto Supplies.
"I was missing it," said Whitten. "It was an opportunity to get with a good bunch of young fellows and see what we could do." What they did was prevail in all four races they entered this year - the Discovery Day Regatta, time trials, Wednesday morning's male amateur and the evening championship - by 15 seconds or more.
"There are other good crews, some very good crews here," said Cadigan in the obligatory winners' nod to the competition, "but I think we knew a lot of this would be us rowing against time, against the clock. We had goals in mind and we worked towards them."
An obvious goal was to win - which they did repeatedly. Another was to row the Regatta course in nine minutes, which did not happen. East Coast Maintenance rowed 9:05.27 in the male amateur and 9:09.72 in the championship, the latter in conditions far less favourable than they were in the morning.
Lambs Rum finished third, O'Dea Earle fourth and Canadian Forces Men fifth.