After a month of grueling seat racing and selections, University of Alberta Rowing athletes Andrea Labrecque, Jess Phillips, Shannon Hill, Becky Smith, Deb Johnson, Ole Tietz, Andrew Douglas, Josh Belke, Burak Ozguluk, and Ben Altman were selected to go to the Canadian University Rowing Championships (CURCs). CURCs were held in Montreal, Quebec from November 1st to 3rd.  As the first national regatta for the majority of the team, this was a big and exciting step.

The regatta was broken down into two parts. Time trials were held on the Saturday, and ranked finals were heldon the Sunday. Crews spent Thursday and Friday training and mentally preparing for what would be a long weekend of racing.

The weather in Montreal was proving to be difficult for U of A with winds reaching up to 60km/h and pouring rain. Conditions the athletes were not used to.

The first race of the weekend for the U of A was Becky Smith and Shannon Hill racing the Lightweight Women’s 2x, followed by Ole Tietz, racing the Lightweight Men’s 1x, Andrea Labrecque and Jess Phillips racing the Women’s 2-, Andrew Douglas and Josh Belke racing the Lightweight men’s 2x, Andrea Labrecque racing the Women’s 1x and finally Andrew Douglas, Burak Ozguluk, Ben Altman, Josh Belke and Deb Johnson racing the Lightweight Men’s 4+. All crews raced hard in the challenging time trial with a goal of making the ‘A’ final against tough competition from University’s across Canada, and Ole Tietz as well as Andrea Labrecque and Jess Phillips did just that!

Sunday morning was intense. With two crews racing in the ‘A’ final tensions and nerves were high. This was a big day for Edmonton. The Lightweight Women’s 2x, Lightweight Men’s 2x, Heavyweight Women’s 1x and Lightweight Men’s 4+, managed to hold their own against the other Canadian Universities.

Ole Tietz had an amazing start to his ‘A’ final, with gold in sight. But out of nowhere within the first 200 meters the wind took his oar and completely flipped it around. Mere inches away from flipping his single Ole managed to move his oar back to the proper position and he continued to race. Now behind the pack Ole had to move fast. Astoundingly he managed to pull in front of other boats and he finished the race placing third! Unfortunate circumstances for Ole, but an accomplishment he should be proud of.


Andrea Labrecque and Jess Phillips were next to compete in their ‘A’ final. Both girls were nervous as they had competition that included women from the London 2012 Olympics team, but they were ready. Happy that they had already completed their goal for CURCs, they just wanted to make the last race of their season a good one. After emptying their tanks Jess and Andrea were able to pull ahead of another boat and maintain a good position behind the pack. The girls finished placing fifth overall! A very exciting accomplishment for two girls who just last year, were apart of the novice program.

The Canadian University Rowing Championships 2013 was a regatta to remember for University of Alberta Athletes. Upon completing the racing all teams attended a banquet and hit the town for the night. The U of A team flashed their new green and gold crew blazers.

The athletes were both excited and sad that the biggest regatta of their fall season was coming to a close. Not surprisingly, they were already making plans to do bigger and better things for CURCs 2014.

Congratulations to all of the selected University of Alberta Rowing Team athletes who were able to compete in this national level regatta and good luck with your winter training!