Rowing reaps gold

Men’s rowing team wins six gold in Ottawa

Heavyweight men Andrew Rastapkevicius and Mike Wilkinson competing at the under-23 World Championships in Belgium.
Heavyweight men Andrew Rastapkevicius and Mike Wilkinson competing at the under-23 World Championships in Belgium.
Journal File Photo

The Queen’s men’s rowing team kicked off their season in high style last weekend with a medal haul of six gold, seven silver and five bronze. The varsity and varsity development crews competed last Saturday in Ottawa at the Head of the Rideau regatta.

“[Our development program] looks good, not just for this season, but for subsequent seasons as well,” men’s head coach Rob Watering said. “The lightweight program looks strong for years to come.”

The Head of the Rideau was held at the Ottawa Rowing Club and hosted by Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. It’s a five-kilometre course on the Rideau Waterway that starts at Black Rapids and ends at Mooney’s Bay.

The day was chock full of strong performances, but the varsity lightweight crews were especially impressive. Five of the six of the gold medals won came from lightweight crews.

Varsity lightweight athlete Simon Gowdy helped bring in two of those medals. He won the open men’s single event with the fastest singles time of the day, and stroked the men’s lightweight eight to the fastest time of any eight-oared crew that day. In winning, the men’s eight beat not only the other lightweight crews, but also McGill’s heavyweight eight as well.

“What’s really impressive about Simon’s performance is that the singles event was open,” said teammate Andrew Rastapkevicius.

Rowers of any level and weight category are eligible to compete in open events.

“He was racing against some very established singles scullers and even some heavyweights.”

The remaining gold medals were won by Rob Ballard and John Barr in the lightweight double; Ballard, Eric Buchmeir, Ryan Meyers, Rares Crisan and coxswain Anna Crisan in the varsity lightweight four; Nick Pratt, Josh Metcalfe, Colin Sutherland, Ryan Gallagher and coxswain Kat Romatowski in the open men’s four and the varsity development men’s crew.

Rastapkevicius said the lightweight eight is particularly strong this year because six of its eight rowers having competed on provincial or national teams this past summer. He added that coxswain Kat Romatowski has also competed with a provincial team.

“They’re pretty stacked,” he said. “And Kat Romatowski is a pro. She’s exceptional.”

The heavyweight crews also turned in solid performances on the opening weekend. The heavyweight eight finished in second place, eight seconds behind McGill.

“Our heavyweight eight did well,” Watering said. “We’re within striking distance.”

“We’re training really hard. We’ve had no easy practices,” said Rastapkevicius, a member of the heavyweight eight, adding, “There’s not one thing we’re specifically working on. We just need more practice.”

He said the heavyweight eight is reaping the benefits of having an exceptional lightweight eight to row against in practice.

Rastapkevicius also said that since Queen’s fielded such a large team, many rowers also competed in events that they normally don’t row in.

“Some people who didn’t scull were in doubles events, and vice versa,” he said. “It was just for fun and more experience.”

After a strong performance at Rideau, Queen’s is looking forward to a more competitive event at Trent this weekend. With strong clubs like Western and McGill also competing in this event, Queen’s will be able to get a better idea of what needs to be done if they are going to achieve their goal of bringing home the OUA banner.

“We’re one of the few teams that can set a goal to go after the banner and have a realistic chance of going through with it,” Watering said.

“But it’s going to be difficult.”

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