An under-five minute “poke” Monday night may have been all the incentive and inspiration the m5 women’s crew needs to carry it to victory in today’s Royal St. John’s Regatta.
At least that’s what Amanda Hancock believes is possible.
Hancock is the No. 3 oar for the m5 team, whose lineup also includes stroke Katie Wadden, Heather Stone, Ashley Peach, Kim Oates, Alison Peach and coxswain Mark Hayward.
Monday’s a practice run for time — known to rowers at Quidi Vidi as a “poke” — saw the crew cross the finish line 4:58.8. That’s just a couple of seconds off the course record of 4:56.70, set in 2003 by OZ-FM.
Hancock — who rowed with the ‘03 OZ crew — believes there is reason for improvement.
“There was a bit of a wind on the pond that (Monday) night, so we can do a bit better,” said Hancock. who believes m5 will benefit from its opposition, something that wasn’t the case for OZ-FM in 2003.
“That was a totally different experience,” she said.
“We knew no one was going to come near us that year.”
The main competition for m5 is expected from Smith Stockley, coxed by Paul Ring, which actually posted the best result in the Regatta time trials, a 5:20.16, compared to 5:25.71 by m5.
“It was a very windy day for the time trials, so we knew we were there in terms of being able to go under five minutes. We just needed to prove it to ourselves,” said Hancock.
The genesis of m5 goes back to around last Regatta Day, when a few of the women began e-mailing each other.The crew began practising in early January, has shown steady improvement and is poised to take a run at the women’s crown, something a number of the m5 rowers have already achieved with different teams.
Hancock, Ashley Peach and Wadden were members of the O’Dea Earle crew, coxed by Ronnie Brennan, that won the 2007 women’s championship race in 5:06.16, a dozen seconds ahead of North Atlantic.
Alison Peach, who is Ashley’s sister, Oates and Stone rowed for the Marco intermediates in 2008, with Hayward steering the crew. They finished fourth in the women’s final.
Hancock believes the combination could accomplish something special.
While there may be those who predict this year’s women’s final will be a two-boat race featuring m5 and Smith Stockley, Hancock believes Lamb’s Rum, coxed by Gord Delaney, and Ron Brennan’s JAC (John Atkins and Company) crews are also legitimate contenders.
Hancock points to the Canada Summer Games crew, whose lineup included Wadden and which upset heavily-favoured OZ/FM in 2005, as an example of why it is unwise to underrate the competition.
“The scales began to tip after that because people realized what you can accomplish if you just put in the work,” she said.
“That’s where it is now. You can’t count anyone out.”