Races at the Royal St. John's Regatta are often won and lost on the turn at the buoys and that's just what happened in the women's championship race Wednesday in the 191st running of North America's longest continuos sporting event.
John Atkins and Company (JAC) Marketing/Canada Games came out of the turn with a lead over second-place North Atlantic (Yay! Rewards) and never looked back.
"Going into the race, we knew if we were with everyone on the turn, we would come back faster than anyone," John Atkins and Company Marketing fifth oar Stephanie Davis said after the crew's 5:08.27 win.
Even coxswain Ron Brennan knew they wouldn't be caught.
"I told them at the start, 'you're going to have open water.' When they were coming out of that turn they weren't stopping and they jacked it up all the way right on in.
"There was no catching them."
In fact, the only time the team has been caught this rowing season was in the women's championship race at the Harbour Grace Regatta in late July. After beating North Atlantic by more than 11 seconds in the qualifying heat, JAC struggled on their turn - "I'm thinking there was a pin bent in the rudder and it wasn't turning around," Brennan supposed - and lost by two seconds to their older more.
This time it was JAC who played the role of spoiler, eliminating North Atlantic's chances at capturing the elusive Triple Crown, after North Atlantic had taken top spot in the Placentia Regatta in June.
On Wednesday, North Atlantic rolled in for second place in a time of 5:12.02.
"We all had positive energy going in. We were all well rested," North Atlantic's Teresa Butler said.
"We put our hearts and guts out there. It just wasn't our race this year.
"But there's always next year."
But, with all the JAC professing a new-found love for fixed-seat rowing, they could be in tough again next season.
"Watch for us next year," the girls of JAC proclaimed resoundingly together. "We'll be back."
Before they come back to defend their title, there's a little thing called the Canada Summer Games in P.E.I., later this month. All seven intermediate members of the JAC crew, as well as the entirety of fourth-place Power Vac/Canada Games, are part of the province's rowing team.
The fixed-seat experience, while not foreign to them, has been a refreshing change to the slide-seat scene.
"In sliding-seat, we hardly ever have anyone cheering us on, where here there's such a big crowd for the championship race and it's a great feeling to have everyone cheering for you when you're coming down the pond," said Allison Delong.
Furthermore, the crew believes any experience on the water can only help them prepare for the Games. Likewise, Brennan feels their sliding-seat training helped them enjoy success this year.
"They can slide more on their seats and they use more legs," Brennan said. "Most of my girls are all legs and length and it all comes from sliding-seat."
With a strong showing at the Atlantic Rowing Championships in Halifax in June, a narrow defeat in Harbour Grace and a championship in St. John's, the crews are well poised for a run at the Games.
"Any bit of positive experience you can get… any bit of race experience, we'll take it and run with it," said Davis who was joined by stroke Jane Brodie, Delong, Alyssa Devereaux, Hilary Sinclair, spare Amanda Ryan and coach John Smyth.
Smith Stockley took third in 5:14.72, Power Vac/Canada Games rowed to a fourth place finish in 5:26.15 with Provincial Airlines/Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Rowing Cub rounding out the order in a time of 5:48.12.