We are happy to finally bring you the last report from this year’s Canadian Henley Regatta. Over the course of Saturday afternoon and Sunday a whopping 10 crews represented at the Edmonton Rowing Club in Henley Finals!! That means a quarter of all of our entries raced in finals on the weekend alone.


Saturday afternoon

First on the bill of final races was the Open Women’s 4- of Andrea LabrecqueAmanda CinnamonKendra Hartley and Mallory Turner. The focus for the Women’s squad has been firmly in the sculling discipline this summer, but coach Williams boated a the coxless four to keep preparation for the fall racing season ongoing. The ERC Women raced the Club Coxed Four at the Head of the Charles last year and placed 10th out of 60 crews. Henley represented a preliminary test over the sprint distance for the sweep rowing combination {Note: Sprint distance is a relative term here, but given that the Charles course is almost 5 km in length, 2000 m counts as a sprint}, which the crew completed in true head racing style. The Edmonton boat started slow, but finished quick to cross the line in fifth place hot on the heels of the Calgary crew that eluded them for most the season. We are excited to see if the Women’s crew can crack the top 3 at the Head of the Charles this year and earn a highly sought after “Charles coin”.

It is hard to find words to describe the next Edmonton race to come down the course. The Lightweight Men’s 2- of Mark Bonar and Quinn Brandly has raced an outstanding season, which included a BC Championship Gold medal in the boat class. The boys blasted away from the competition off the start and came past the island in first place with open water between them and the second place crew. The Edmonton camp erupted in screams of encouragement and a peloton of 20 supporters ran alongside the race for as long as the island would let them to cheer Mark and Quinn to a Henley medal. The prospect of a Henley win in a Senior event was a real possibility for a few glorious minutes. Unexpectedly, the boys found themselves in real trouble a mere 400 m from the finish line. Stroke seat Mark tried to explain what happened after the race: “I was feeling pretty good, until all of a sudden I wasn’t anymore”. The pair had to pay the price for the ferocious pace during the early stages of the race in the strong headwind. The ERC crew were caught in the final 20 strokes and had to settle for third place in the end. It goes without saying that the two rowers and the rest of the Edmonton squad were distraught by the result. In the midst of such heartbreak it is worth remembering that Mark and Quinn did the club proud and that “after all it’s only rowing”{Note: a sport were you got backwards and get yelled at by a person half your size}.


The lightweight men’s pair of Mark and Quinn left it all on the course in an emotionally charged final

After the emotional rollercoaster of the pair’s race, Steve Payne took to the water to compete for Gold in the final of Open Men’s 1x Dash. Many pundits doubted whether “Pain” Payne could deliver the goods without his companions “ Whirlwind”, “Fury” and “Precision”. A commentator, who wishes to remain anonymous, remarked: “What is pain without precision? Or fury? Well, its just pain, isn’t it? Does pain alone win you a race? Or is it just a painful experience?” Ready to show the doubters that no pain means no gain, Steve took his single out of the blocks at a cracking 45 strokes per minute to put the pressure of the field. Payne proved that pain is possibly the most important ingredient in a winning crew by placing fourth in a tight race. Remember that next time you get to the half way mark of a 2k test!

The “speed of light” moves of the “Krispy 8+” were on display next in the final of the Lightweight Women’s 8+ Dash. The crew of Kayla Rice, Theora Gray, Calaine Inglis, Emily Dolphin, Georgie Hyland, Lara Damen, Rachel Koortbeek, Rebecca Harrower and coxswain Robert Cassidy swear that they broke the stroke coach during the start of their race {Note: NK stroke coaches are known to self-destruct at stroke rates above 60 spm}. Cox Robert described the race as “deceptively fast” and went on to explain that, “there were clear moments where all the Krispies could do was move as quick as they could, and I didn’t have time between calls to even catch my breath”. Whether the Krispy were trying to be “deceptive” or not is a matter of ongoing debate, but there is no doubt that the crew went fast to place third in a high caliber race.

The Edmonton Rowing Club was excited to have gained a place in the “dash for cash” Mixed 8+ Dash on Saturday evening. The entry fees of this race are donated to a charity chosen by the winner. Head coach Ali Williams selected the Stollery Foundation as the charity for the Edmonton entry. The Stollery has been a great partner to the club during the annual “Row for kids” fundraiser, which has raised more than $ 1,000,000 for foundation and club to date. The crew was composed of the “delicate flowers” Ole Tietz, Torrin Lemire, Mark Bonar and Quinn Brandly, as well as “the basics” Andrea Labrecque, Amanda Cinnamon, Aline Belzil and Mallory Turner; the line-up was completed by coxswain Anthony Encarnacion. The crew name was an obvious choice and unanimously decided on as “The Basic Flowers”. The boat raced in their brand-new “New Wave” training unisuits, which have been mistaken for Jamaican National Team kit but more than a few competitors around the regatta course. Regrettably, the deadline for name changes had run out when “The Basic Flowers” realized that “Cool Runnings” might have been a much better crew name. Perhaps it was John Candy’s inspirational performance in the hit movie about the Jamaican bobsled team that left six-seat Mark Bonar a little bit trigger happy. Mark was tired of waiting for the go and just went for it, earning a huge cheer from the bank when the umpire announced “False start – Basic Flowers – yellow card”. The crew put their foot to the accelerator after the successful restart and finished fourth out of 8 in a highly entertaining race. 



The final day of the 2015 Henley regatta dawned and brought with it the sort of fierce headwind, which many athletes now associate with weekend racing on the Martingale pond. 

First to take to the water was the Lightweight Men’s 4x of Mark BonarOle TietzDillon Peters and Quinn Brandly. On the way to the course stroke seat Mark was more than a little bit frustrated when he remarked that “every time Bonar races in a Henley final it’s a {bleep}-ing headwind.” Mark is much lighter than most of his competitors in the lightweight category and reportedly weight-in at “two bags of powdered sugar” on Sunday morning. The Edmonton boys tried to put as much muscle as possible behind the sculls to race in a field that included the Canadian and Mexican National Teams, the Ontario provincial champions and crews from New York and Philadelphia. The crew handled the rough conditions well to finish the race in third place behind the Canadian and Mexican crews. The crew is left with the caveat of having finished as the fastest genuine club boat, a feat that is worthy of what the Germans refer to as “Holzmedallie” {Holzmedallie, the: roughly translates to wooden medal; represents a token achievement that is not recognized with a medal made from Gold, Silver or Bronze in a particular competition}.

The “delicate flowers” were out in full force for the first and only time during he 2015 regatta to race in the final of the Lightweight Men’s 8+. The crew of Ole Tietz, Torrin Lemire, Mark Bonar, Quinn Brandly, Connor Stephens, Aaron Harrower, Ben Altman, Dillon Peters and coxswain Anthony Encarnacion were forced to do a lot more gardening than they had bargained for after the chief umpire moved the crew into the little used reserve lane 1. Club manager Ben and summer student Torrin took the task at hand seriously from the word go and began weeding the course so the finer flowers might sprout. Middle pair Connor and Quinn did their best to save the wild life that was cruelly disturbed by the ERC boat. Coxswain Anthony expertly weaved his way through the larger shrubbery and avoided a number of sandbanks, especially at the finish line, where he saved the Lion Heart from certain destruction by pulling the hand break in the nick of time. The Edmonton crew excels at multi-tasking and was able to carry out these duties whilst doing some rowing on the side. The crew raced well in tough field and placed sixth out of seven in the end. 

The Lightweight Women’s 8+ of Kayla Rice, Theora Gray, Calaine Inglis, Emily Dolphin, Georgie Hyland, Lara Damen, Erin Watchman, Rebecca Harrower and coxswain Robert Cassidy were tossed around by the rough water and tried to hold on to their handles as tidal waves threatened to swallow the “Krispy” crew. Coxswain Robert was critical of the conditions on the course: “The turbulent water right off the start caused a torrent of high velocity water to barrage the crew which, while refreshing, was not what we were looking for.” Stroke-seat Kayla echoed Robert’s comments in slightly more vivid language: “The boat handled the difficult water well, but despite our best efforts the race quickly became a wet uni contest!” The Edmonton Women rowed what 6-seat Calaine called a “very good race as a crew” and finished in fifth place.


The Krispies fought rough conditions in the final of the lightweight women’s eight

The “pain-train” headed out on the course one last time to race in the final of the Open Men’s 4x. The quartet of “pain”, “whirlwind”, “fury” and “precision” were ready to activate their superpowers and teach the competition humility. 2-seat Colin Findlay indicated that the fantastic four looked to a much more competitor centric race plan this time around: “Any time I think about slowing down, I think about what my competitors are doing and keep going.“ The plan worked well and the crew finished the race in fifth place.

The honor of racing in the last ERC event of the regatta fell to the Lightweight Women’s 4x of Lara Damen, Kayla Rice, Calaine Inglis and Emily Dolphin. The ever worsening conditions on the race course made the planned visit to Marine Land superfluous, as the crew ran into a number of sea creatures on the way to the finish line. 2-seat Calaine described the race in three short phrases: “There were 4 foot waves. Oars were lost. We beat a boat.” The Edmonton crew finished sixth out of seven crews and can look back on a successful regatta as a squad – “We were all really happy with the results of our races. The Krispys stepped it up for the more experienced and difficult competition.”

Photos of all Edmonton crew courtesy of Anthony Encarnacion


Synchronized exhaustion from Aline and her rival after a hard fought battle to the line in the final of the U19 women’s single


This brings the 133rd Henley Regatta to an end. The bottom-line statistics for the ERC are as follows:

—> 31 athletes competed in 46 different boats and events.

—> Out of these, 15 crews qualified for Henley finals, that means that one third of all ERC crews participated in a Henley final (2014: 13 out of 58)

—> In the finals the ERC claimed 4x 6th place; 3x fifth place; 4x fourth place; 3x third place; 1x second place (2014: 3x6th, 5x5th, 2x4th, 1x3rd, 1x2nd).

—> If there were medals for second and third place, the ERC would have put four crews on the podium at 2015 regatta (2014: 2 podium finishes). 

—> Bronze medalists for the ERC were Lightweight Women’s 8+ (Dash)Lightweight Men’s 4x and Lightweight Men’s 2-.

—> Top ERC finisher and the only silver medalist for the club was Aline Belzil in the U19 Women’s 1x.

—> The Edmonton Rowing Club finished 15th in the overall club standings with 11.9 % of possible points earned, out of 130 clubs who attended the regatta! (2014: 19th with 7.8 % of points earned)

{Note: The ERC finished one place ahead of our local rivals from Calgary, who placed 16th overall; although the press team would like to take this opportunity to tip the hat and congratulate the CRC for two fantastic Henley wins in the Women’s 8+ and the Women’s 4-}

It is clear from the above numbers that the Edmonton Rowing Club is on an upwards trend at the top level of club competition on North America. Head coach Ali Williams gave her assessment of the week when the boats were loaded and scores counted: “As a whole, the club did a lot better this year than in previous years; this is a development that I attribute to improved depth of performance in the squad. The standard of training and racing has improved across the entire team. Our stated aim at this year’s Henley regatta was to win a Gold medal; unfortunately, we did not succeed in reaching that goal. I think we boated three or four crews that were capable of winning, but unlucky to miss out due to weather, lane draws and rule changes. Regrettably, it takes a little bit of luck to win a Henley medal, but if the squad continues to develop as it has done and Fortuna is kind to us, the waiting might come to an end next year.”

We would like to thank all the Edmonton athletes who committed to the hard training program in preparation for this regatta and who gave up their holidays to represent the club at this prestigious event. Further we would like to thank coach Ali Williams and coxswains Anthony Encarnacion and Robert Cassidy for their tireless work around during the regatta. We would like to thank the ARA for the financial support of the trip. The athletes and coaches would further like to thank the ERC board for the continued support of the competitive program. And finally we would like to thank the whole club for the countless volunteer hours and enthusiastic support of the competitive athletes who represent the Edmonton Rowing Club. None of these achievements would be possible without the support of every club member.


The team was out in force at Henley this year. Expect more great things from the ERC st Henley in the years to come



The ERC Competitive, Masters and Junior programs are out in full force at the NWIRA regatta held in Regina next weekend. 49 Edmonton athletes will make the trip across the Prairies to have a crack at winning the prestigious Lipton Cup awarded for the overall championship.


– Press Officer Tietz over and out (xoxo POT).