They had the times of their lives

Crosbie Industrial Services breaks course record in the morning, smashes it again at night

Published on August 3, 2007
Eddie Williams, the No. 4 oar for Crosbie Industrial Services, celebrates after the crew won the mens championship of the 2007 Royal St. Johns Regatta at Quidi Vidi Lake Thursday evening. Crosbie Industrial won in a course record time of 8:51.32, breaking the record they had set Thursday morning in the mens amateur race. Photo by Mel Courage/The Telegram

Eddie Williams' reaction said it all.

Moments after the Crosbie Industrial Services crew took first place in the men's championship race of the 189th Royal St. John's Regatta at Quidi Vidi Lake Thursday evening, Williams stood in the boat, threw two fists in the air and let out a roar laced with adrenaline and emotion. His team had just set a new men's record for the second time in the same day and Williams couldn't hold back the excitement racing through his body.

"This is absolutely incredible," said Williams. "We didn't have a great pond this morning, but we went out and beat the record anyway. And we knew we could be faster, so when we came out here tonight, we came here to beat our record, which is again, I'll say it, unheard of.

"I don't think it ever happened before ... This is just amazing."

Crosbie Industrial Services broke Butternut's 1997 record of eight minutes and 57.14 seconds with a morning run of 8:54.06 in the men's amateur race. In the evening championship, Crosbie Industrial - which includes Williams, coxswain Mark Hayward, stroke Brent Hickey, Adam Kavanagh, James Cadigan, Darryl Ryan, Ron Whitten and coach Bert Hickey - set another record by finishing the course in 8:51.32. It's the first time the men's course record has been broken twice by the same crew in the same day.

"We broke a couple of records today ... this is amazing," Whitten said.

Exit Reality on the Rock took second place in the men's final, finishing in a very good 9:00.78, followed by Lambs Rum (9:26.46), IKM Testing (9:33.57) and Islander RV (9:46.53).

What transpired was really no surprise considering Crosbie Industrial rowed an 8:49 in practice last week. However, in order to challenge the mark Thursday, the rowers were looking for a calm pond and little wind, conditions they were happy to see awaiting them at the start of the men's final.

"We knew that if we had a flat pond, we could do it," Hayward said.

Thursday's performance gave Crosbie Industrial its second straight men's Regatta title - they won the 2006 crown in a time of 9:24.45. But that was on a wet and windy day at Quidi Vidi. So while last year's win was special as it came in their first year as a team, this year's title means that much more because it puts their name in the record book.

"Last year's championship was almost bittersweet, because it was blowing hard," said Hayward. "This is a bit sweeter."

A big part of the Crosbie Industrial crew's success is dedication, according to Williams. He said training for this year's Regatta began immediately after the 2006 event ended, and he proudly pointed out that he and his teammates never lost focus of their goal when training, regardless of what time of day they had to work out or what type of weather they had to train in.

"We were out running around in snowstorms," he said.

Another reason Crosbie Industrial performed so well in the final was because - outside of wanting to win the title - the crew really had nothing to prove time-wise since it had already set a record in the morning.

"We didn't talk about it much, but (before the Regatta) we had a lot of pressure to go after the record," said Whitten. "When we got it this morning, it took a lot of pressure off us for the final."

One member of the team that couldn't stop smiling was Vert Hickey. Even as Whitten sprayed his teammates with champagne as they stood on the podium, Hickey was too busy grinning to bother jumping out of the way or to shield his eyes. He was proud of what his team accomplished, but was beaming a little brighter because his son Brent had just won his second Regatta tittle and was also named the 2007 male oarsman of the year.

"It's like a dream, really," he said. "This is what we worked for."