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Defending champs are favourites again for Royal St. John's Regatta

Weather permitting, Quidi Vidi Lake will be busy from morning to evening on Wednesdaywith the races of the 2017 Royal St. John’s Regatta. But it was quiet on the waters of Quidi Vidi on Tuesday, with no practice sessions. That’s because the racing shells were taken off the pond Monday night to be washed and polished in the Boathouse in preparation for Wednesday’s races. Among those doing the work Tuesday was rower and coxswain Ashley Croke, shown shining the Dictator racing shell. Today, Croke will row as the No. 5 oar with the A Fitness senior ladies crew before turning to her duties as coxswain for the midget boys Falck Security Services crew. Croke’s great grandfather, Dennis Croke, rowed with the 1901 Outer Cove fishermen, who held the course record of 9:13 that famously stood for eight decades.
Weather permitting, Quidi Vidi Lake will be busy from morning to evening on Wednesdaywith the races of the 2017 Royal St. John’s Regatta. But it was quiet on the waters of Quidi Vidi on Tuesday, with no practice sessions. That’s because the racing shells were taken off the pond Monday night to be washed and polished in the Boathouse in preparation for Wednesday’s races. Among those doing the work Tuesday was rower and coxswain Ashley Croke, shown shining the Dictator racing shell. Today, Croke will row as the No. 5 oar with the A Fitness senior ladies crew before turning to her duties as coxswain for the midget boys Falck Security Services crew. Croke’s great grandfather, Dennis Croke, rowed with the 1901 Outer Cove fishermen, who held the course record of 9:13 that famously stood for eight decades.

They have raced competitively only once this local fixed-seat rowing season — and that was in the Royal St. John’s Regatta time trials — but there is little doubt the Outer Cove crew is an odds-on favourite to successfully defend its men’s crown, if — as expected — the 2107 Regatta goes off Wednesday at Quidi Vidi Lake.

It’s not just that the entire 2016 championship crew  — coxswain Mark Hayward, stroke oar Brent Hickey, Brent Payne, brothers James and Daniel Cadigan, Mark Perry, Colin Stapleton and even spare Craig Whittle — is back. It’s their dominance in the early-July time trials, where they outdistanced runner-up Smith Stockley by more than 26 seconds, that can’t be denied.

Outer Cove, coached by Bert Hickey, did not compete in the Placentia or Harbour Grace Regattas. Neither did Smith Stockley, whose lineup includes four Barringtons — Hall of Famer John Barrington as coxswain, and sons and brothers Patrick, Gerard and John Barrington Jr., on the oars, along with Ian Power, Mike Rudofsky and Robert Lacey.

That left Mike Shea-steered, Chris Quinton-stroked Lamb's Run — which was third in time trials, six seconds behind Smith Stockley — to win the men’s titles in Placentia and Harbour Grace and earn a chance at claiming a triple crown.

On the women’s side, defending champ M5 is a favourite. However, unlike Outer Cove, M5 competed in the Discovery Day Regatta, the lead-in event to the rowing season, and in Placentia. The team also has had had some lineup changes. Donna Connors, part of the 2016 winners, has been replaced by Jane Brodie at No. 4 oar, Dean Hammond takes over as coxswain from Denise Carew and Hickey is the new coach (Jack Fagan had the job last year).

But stroke Katie Wadden, No. 1 Amanda Hancock, Alyssa Devereaux, Nancy Beaton and Amanada Ryan are back on a crew that won on Discovery Day and Placentia. In between, they topped the senior ladies’ list at the time trials, with a winning margin of 18-plus seconds in the latter.

However, the victory gap in Placentia dropped to nine seconds over second-place Dawe and Burke, a crew that was sixth in the St. John’s time trials and won’t be entered in the first race — the female amateur — on the Wednesday schedule at Quidi Vidi.

Steers Insurance, with Jim Carroll at coxswain and Carolyn Coady on stroke oar, was third in Placentia and second in the time trials. In the latter, it finished less than a second ahead of JAC, steered by Paul Ring and featuring Catherine Kelly at stroke.

Dawe and Burke claimed first in Harbour Grace, where M5, Steers Insurance and JAC did not compete.

In all, there are 25 races set for today at Quidi Vidi, with a more than 2-hour lunch break (between approximately 11:45 a.m. and 2 p.m.) if the morning goes off as scheduled.

The women’s and men’s championships are at 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

 

sports@thetelegram.com

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