The final regatta of the OUA rowing calendar took place Saturday in St. Catharines and the Queen’s crew ended their strong season with an exclamation mark.
Despite competing not only against other crews, but also the gusty winds that swept down the course and created less than ideal racing conditions, the women won the OUA title while the men finished second overall, narrowly missing out on a Golden Gael double victory.
The Queen’s women ruled the waves of Martindale Pond, winning six of the regatta’s eight races to capture the OUA banner with a total of 115 points. The University of Western Ontario, last year’s champions, finished in second place with 88 points. It was the fourth championship for the Queen’s women in the last five years.
The usually strong-starting Gaels found themselves trailing Western at the halfway point of the lightweight eight race, forcing them to come from behind for the first time this season.
Connie Dayboll, lightweight eight crew member, said the team was confident they would be able to overcome the early deficit.
“So much was riding on that race. I believed the entire time that we could do it,” she said.
This was Dayboll’s eighth gold medal at the OUA Championships in her career rowing for Queen’s.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better result to end my university career,” she said. “It was a great experience to win a race knowing we really had to work for it.”
A further honour was bestowed upon the program when women’s lightweight coach Ian Trimble was named OUA Women’s Rowing Coach of the Year.
Head coach John Armitage said the award was especially meaningful because Trimble was nominated by the team’s rivals at Western.
“That’s quite a compliment to be nominated by another program,” he said. “Ian inherited a fast team, but his brilliance was in not interfering in a great team. He has great people-management skills.”
Meanwhile, the Queen’s men finished second overall with 102 points as Western won their third consecutive OUA championship with 104. The competition hung in the balance heading into the final race of the day, with the Gaels’ heavyweight eight crew needing to beat Western to claim the title.
Despite a strong effort, the Queen’s boat placed second, less than three seconds behind.
Armitage said the men’s team should be proud of the result.
“It’s a disappointment, but certainly not an embarrassment,” he said. “The men rowed a great race and were beaten by a better crew on the day. There’s no shame in giving your best and losing to a better team.”
Overall, Armitage said the rowing team enjoyed a successful season.
“I’m so proud of all of our varsity athletes and coaches for how they rose to the challenge this year,” he said.
The final stop for the rowing team this season is the combined Canadian University Rowing Championships and National Rowing Championships, which take place Nov. 1 to 4 in Welland
Queen’s Athletics announced last night that 10 of the 11 Gaels’ teams have qualified for the championship finals.
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