Brennan makes it to the top step

Kenn Oliver
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Earns first men's title by steering Rogers Bussey crew to a dominant win

In all the years Ronnie Brennan has steered male crews across the often choppy waters of Quidi Vidi in the Royal St. John’s Regatta, he’s stood on the silver and bronze medal winners podium steps countless times.

But the veteran cox had never stood on the top step and hoisted the Dominion Ale trophy, sipping from its storied bowl.

That is, until Wednesday evening.

Brennan’s Rogers Bussey Lawyers crew of stroke James Cadigan, Chris Neary, Ronnie Whitten, Daniel Cadigan, Craig Whittle and Matthew Manning clocked a 9:32.76 to win the male championship race at the 192nd Regatta.

“All those years of waiting for it and to finally get one,” an ecstatic Brennan said following the win while a crowd gathered at the boathouse filled the air with chants of ‘Ronnie! Ronnie! Ronnie!’

“Is it ever sweet.”

In their morning heat, the team used near ideal conditions to their advantage and turned in a 9:03.98.

“If the pond had been there in the evening, I think we could have done under nine minutes, said Brennan who went through a particularly trying first half of 2010. After tearing nerves in his hip in a fall, he suffered a mild heart attack and was taken to hospital. 

With a clean bill of health, no permanent damage to his heart and his hip on the mend, he was able to get back on the water late this Spring.

Whitten says it meant a lot to the crew to win this for Brennan, his first cox when he began rowing a decade ago.

“He’s one of those guys who never really had a good chance at wining it, we wanted to get him one,” said Whitten, who won his seventh championship in 10 years.

James Cadigan, says a win was well deserved for a man who has helped keep rowing alive locally.

“It’s pretty tough to get a coxswain these days for a crew who come down maybe five times a week.

“He stepped up and said he was interested in cox’ing us because it looked like we had something good.”

Cadigan, whose father Ron was cox’ed by Brennan to a Placentia championship in the mid 1980s, said it was equally special to win a title with his young brother.

“He’s been following my crews for the past four or five years, so it’s a big day for him.”

“All those years of waiting for it and to finally get one,”  Ronnie Brennan

With a boat loaded with some of the stronger rowers the Regatta has seen in recent years — including a pair from the 2007 8:51.32 record-setting Crosbie Industrial Services  team in James Cadigan, and Whitten — on paper, the team looked nearly unbeatable.

But unlike most crews who are established and begin training early in the new year, Rogers Bussey didn’t hit the water until the third week of May according to Whittle.

“This year, most of us never had intentions of rowing but when the opportunity came up to get in with these guys, Chris Neary and I jumped on it.

“Normally we’re in the other boat competing against them and battling it out, so it’s nice to sit in there with them.”

Once they started rowing together, using coach Ben Colbourne as cox until Brennan was well enough to climb back in the shell, it didn’t take long for them to return to form.

“Everyone has the technique, it was just a matter of whether we could get in race shape in such a short period of time.”

Whitten adds that there were no expectations when they first got together.

“We started to get pretty fast fairly quickly and started working a little harder.”

Danny Harte, who cox’ed the second place OZ-FM crew, didn’t doubt Rogers Bussey’s ability to take the title.

“They boys are legends on the pond. They’re an unbelievable team.

“They have a wicked pickup off the kegs. They make their turn at the bottom of the pond and they’re gone.”

The Marco intermediate men’s crew turned in a 10:08.67 to claim third place.

The win successfully completes a Triple Crown bid for Rogers Bussey. The team won at both Placentia and Harbour  Grace in the weeks leading up St. John’s.

Organizations: Crosbie Industrial Services, OZ-FM

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Recent comments

  • Not Excited
    August 06, 2010 - 10:07

    Congratulations Ron and team.......... You guys won a race that had a much excitement as watching old television re - runs. I mean I remember the fierce competion of regatta crews of the past. Where you respected your competion, but would just as soon die rather than let them beat you. This year however we see a bunch of guys who admitted this was just for FUN. So Ron you did get your title but at the end of the day any Idiot could have won that race with the crew you had faceing the competion that was put in front of you. Maybe next year we may see some better competion, BUT I REALLY DOUBT IT.

    • RegattaFan
      July 11, 2011 - 12:03

      You still sure about that?...

  • Aubrey Rose
    August 05, 2010 - 19:13

    Congrats, Ron, it was only a matter of time before all the hard work paid off.

  • Brian Moffatt
    August 05, 2010 - 15:54

    The picture tells it all! We could hear the chants from Quidi Vidi here in Ontario. Congratulations RON and crew!! I think we have the makings of a movie.

  • Jim Ring jr
    August 05, 2010 - 07:56

    Congratulations Ronnie, well deserved! Kim and I are very happy for you and your crew.

    • carol wilson
      August 05, 2010 - 14:54

      Congratulations Ron and team!!! I just knew in my heart that this was going to be your win. You are living proof that passion will take you far and gather many good friends along the way. I am so very happy for you.

    • Joanne Tucker Hussey
      August 05, 2010 - 21:19

      Congratulations Ronnie! A much deserved victory!