Brent Hickey, stroke oar for the Rogers Bussey Lawyers men’s crew, says the team’s goal this year wasn’t to rewrite the local rowing record books.
They just want to win races.
Still, that didn’t stop them from setting new records at the first two events on the 2011 rowing calendar.
At the Placentia Regatta two weeks ago, Rogers Bussey won the championship with a time of eight minutes, 49.84 seconds. It was the second time that day the team had rowed under nine minutes.
Before this year, no other crew had ever gone below nine minutes at Placentia.
The previous course record was 9:00.15 by O’Dea Earle in 2008.
“Placentia was a bit of a surprise,” says Hickey.
“We weren’t going there to break the record, we just wanted to win and that’s all we were thinking of.
“We didn’t realize we had broke the record until we docked the boat.”
Last weekend, the crew set a new standard at the Harbour Grace Regatta, clearing the course in 9:55.41, besting the previous record of 9:57.03.
As for whether or not the crew can complete a record-breaking trifecta by establishing a new standard at the 193rd Royal St. John’s Regatta remains to be seen.
The 2011 Regatta goes Wednesday, weather permitting.
“The last couple of years, we’ve only been putting in the training during the summer months,” says Hickey.
“We had been doing some ergometre and cardio throughout the winter, but not as much as we did back in 2007 or the other years we competed for the record.”
This year’s crew has changed from the one that cruised to the men’s championship at Quidi Vidi in 2010. Ronnie Whitten, James Cadigan, Chris Neary and Craig Whittle are back, but Dan Cadigan suffered a broken hand during hockey season and wasn’t available to row, and Matthew Manning had moved away for work purposes. Manning later returned to the province, but too late for him to rejoin his former team. Instead, he is rowing with Toyota Plaza, Rogers Bussey’s main rivals this year.
Filling the vacancies are Hickey and Adam Kavanagh, who like James Cadigan and Whitten were part of the 2007 Crosbie Industrial Services crew which set the St. John’s course record of 8:51.32.
“It’s great to have the boys back in the boat and it seems to be working out well for us now,” insists Whitten.
While the crew hasn’t rowed under nine minutes at Quidi Vidi yet, Hickey says it’s mostly because they haven’t had the pond and weather conditions to attempt it.
“We might have to wait for Regatta Day to try that,” he says.
Priority No. 1 for Rogers Bussey might be the Toyota Plaza crew which has shadowed their movements throughout the season, finishing second in the Discovery Day Regatta and at Placentia, where they too rowed under nine-minutes.
And Toyota Plaza did get the best of Rogers Bussey in the St. John’s time trials last month, securing their boat of choice and Stake 1 in the men’s amateur race, the first male race on Wednesday.
“It’s not that we did anything wrong, they just rowed really well,” Whitten says of the time-trial performance of Toyota Plaza, which includes Mark Perry, Chris Quinton, Jeremy Kavanagh, Paul Hussey, Brent Payne, Manning and coxswain Robert Roach.
“I’ve rowed with (Jeremy Kavanagh and Manning) before and I know they bring a lot to the boat and they’re work ethic is unparalleled,” says Whitten.
Hickey feels Rogers Bussey didn’t row up to its ability at time trials, but it helped reveal some small issues in the boat that required fine-tuning.
“It’s a weird sport sometimes in that you can get away from things a bit and not even realize you’re doing it,” Hickey explains.
“Time trials was a wake-up call and was probably the best thing that could have happened to us this year.”
Rogers Bussey will row out of Stake 2 in the men’s amateur and while it’s been Whitten’s favourite berth since 2000 when he won his first championship with NTV, he doesn’t feel it will make a difference between the two heavily favoured crews.
“If you’re on 2, the team on 1 is going to be right there with you going down the pond.
“The race is never decided until after the turn anyway.”