ERC crews continued to feature in heats, semis and finals as the regatta moved into its fourth day. We are just over the half-way mark and fatigue is starting to show, but the athletes are highly motivated to see the week through and do their best for the club until the very last race.
First up was the highly anticipated Junior Mens 4x of Gregor Allan, James Allan, Michael Hohenstein and Till Tietz. The boys came out of the blocks well and put in a big push to move clear water ahead of the field at the 600m mark. From thereon in the crew did enough to maintain their lead in finish first in their heat with the fastest qualifying time of the day! Both athletes and coaches were excited by the early display of speed. The crew will compete in the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon.
Following the strong opening from the Junior Mens squad, Aline Belzil was determined to showcase her talents in the U17 Womens 1x. Her post-race analysis was complete, detailed and mature: “We all came out fast and the race for 2nd was tight between me and another girl. I stuck with my race plan and came out ahead. I held a comfortable 2nd the whole way through.” Aline beat an Argentinian competitor in third place (Aline was originally convinced that the sculler was Quebecois, but learned to appreciate the finer differences between Spanish and French later on), and had to concede first to a sculler well known to her. The girl had taken the silver medal in the U17 W1x final at the schoolboy regatta in June, in which Aline took fourth. Aline has already beaten the bronze medalist from that race at the BC Championship regatta. Alines next race is the semi-final on Saturday.
Cody Anderson took to the water for the heat in the Flyweight Mens 1x. The flyweight category is only contested at the Canadian Henley regatta; in flyweight races, no competitor is allowed to weigh more than 64kg. Codys “40+ rpm” sculling style is well suited to this type of racing. Cody came out fast in set comfortably in second place, until the rest of the field decided that they might also like to have a go at racing in the finals. A mad dash for the finish line ensued, in which Cody managed to hang on to third place and thereby qualify for the semi-final. After the dust had settled the scoreboard read: 1st – 7:44; 2nd – 7:44; 3rd – 7:44; 4th -7:45. Aside from the weight requirement, flyweight rowing appears to demand nerves of steel from all competitors. Anthony Encarnacion put his camera aside for a few hours to compete in heat 2 of the Flyweight Mens 1x. Anthony raced extremely well and just missed out on qualifying for the semi-final by coming in fourth.
The U23 Womens 4x of Isabelle Belzil, Jess Phillips, Mallory Turner and Aline Belzil got proceedings underway in the semi-finals. The crew raced extremely well in a tight field and finished in fifth, missing out on a qualifying spot by a few seconds only. After initial hesitation the girls were very keen to analyze the race as well as their crew and friendships in general. Adjectives describing the quad varied from “young”, “good-looking” and “beautiful” to “like-minded”, “graceful” and “princess-like”. The girls further added that “Mallory and Jess had not done much sculling, but performed admirably in spite of it”, “Aline did a great job calling the shots from the bow seat” and “The mind-set in the crew was very positive and homogenous, leading to great synergy”. The crew went on to reflect on the challenging conditions encountered on the race course and how “the boat stayed positive despite the adverse circumstance”. A full length book entitled “Inside the U23 Womens Quad” co-authored by Isabelle, Aline, Mallory and Jess will be available at good bookstores everywhere in time for the holiday season. Although their Henley campaign is at an end, there is no doubt that the “gorgeous quad” will be available for book signings in your hometown soon.
Facing similarly choppy water, the U19 Mens 2- of Cody Anderson and Michael Hohnstein took to the water to compete in their semi-final. The crew struggled to hit the rhythm and speed they had shown in the heats and finished the semi-final in sixth place. When asked about the quality of their race, Michael was very direct in describing the performance as “pretty bad”. An honest competitor to the core, Michael conceded that there was “nothing wrong with the boat” but that the fault lay with crew for not being able to clear the rough waters of the Martindale pond.
The most exciting race of the day came in the semi-finals of the U23 Lightweight Mens 2x, rowed by Quinn Brandly and Till Tietz. A neck in neck race for second place (and thereby the second of the two available qualifying spots) culminated in a mad dash for the finish line, where it appeared that both the ERC crew and the boat from Crescent BC crossed the finish line at the same time. The regatta results reporting service initially showed the result as a dead heat (a rowing term for a finish where two boats cross the finish line at exactly the same time). Discussions on how to settle the score were soon underway between ERC head coach Ali Williams and the Crescent BC coach; suggestions included a coaches arm wrestle and a public dance off. Thankfully, the Crescent coach was saved from embarrassment by the umpires, who declared the ERC crew winners by 0.008 sec (possibly the closest margin in ERC racing history). The two boys, affectionately known as Quill and Tinn, move on to the final (Saturday afternoon) to bring the total number of ERC final appearances to 6 at this years regatta. Bow seat Till admitted to shouting “Anything goes!!” in the final stages of sprint. Although not a particularly specific command, it clearly functions as a workable solution in tight race situations.
First up in the Friday finals was Ole Tietz in the Senior Lightweight Mens 1x. After a long day of racing on Thursday, Ole lacked the decisive bit of physical freshness to have a serious word to say in the allocation of the medals. Although Ole sculled technically well, he was unable to lift the boat speed beyond a sixth place finish. At the dock Ole was exhausted and slightly frustrated by the toils and desperation of racing in the outside lanes. Keeping the standard of racing high over a number of days is demanding. Over dinner Ole admitted that he is looking forward to the head racing season where “although the races are long, at least the regatta is over once you cross the finish line.”
Only 20 minutes later Andrea Labrecque and Amanda Cinnamontook Romulus out to join the final action in the Senior Womens 2-. The pair raced well, but struggled to find the boat speed in lane 2. Andrea and Amanda finished sixth in a competitive field, a very promising start for fall and university racing seasons. When asked to provide a blow by blow account of the racing Amanda looked blankly at the coaching team before admitting: “I literally can’t even remember what happened in the race.” Trusted sources later revealed that Amanda might have gotten a splash of water in her eye between the 750m and 1000m markers – a small glimpse at the trouble and hardship the bow seat of a pair goes through on a regular basis.
Further racing for the ERC were Jess Phillips, Caitlyn Couturier and Rebecca Carrick in the U23 Womens 1x. The three girls raced extremely well and held their own against significantly more experienced competition. Caitlyn and Rebecca just started rowing with the University Novice program in September and should be congratulated for their courage to compete in a single at the biggest regatta in North America.
Saturday will be a busy day at the regatta with many crews starting the day by racing in the heats for the dash events. Further Quill and Tinn are racing that final of the U23 Lightweight Mens Double later on in the afternoon. The ERC will finish the day by competing in (hopefully) many dash finals.
Well done to all those who raced today and good luck to all those racing tomorrow,