Gaels survive gale

Rowers win three gold medals at Brock

The Queen's rowers came away this past weekend with some strong results as well as some disappointment amidst windy conditions at the Brock Invitational Regatta on Saturday.

Despite the strong winds, the rowers said the difficult conditions were expected.

“It gets blown out every year,” heavyweight Andrew Rastapkevicius said.

The weather conditions forced organizers to change the format of the race for safety reasons.

The heats were raced in sprint format, with boats lined up side-by-side in separate lanes, but finals were changed to head race format, with boats leaving the starting line separately, at even intervals and racing the clock.

“It’s not necessarily an advantage or a disadvantage,” women’s head coach Scott Feddery said. “Though it did makes things a bit more challenging for the athletes to adjust.” The men’s side won the lightweight eight, the lightweight double and the lightweight single. They placed second in the heavyweight eight and the single. Western won the heavyweight eight by a “good margin” Rastapkevicius said.

On the women’s side, the lightweight eight was among the favourites to win their race, but finished in a disappointing third place.

“Lightweights didn't have a great performance at Brock,” Feddery said. “We have some work to do, but hopefully we'll be ready by OUAs.” The heavyweight women, on the other hand, finished fourth in their event. The top four boats were separated by only 3.5 seconds.

Feddery said he was happy with the heavyweight result.

“The heavyweight women’s eight is a really young crew,” he said. “They wound up fourth, but it was extremely close.” Next weekend the men and women will compete at the Head of the Charles Regatta, one of the biggest in North America.

“In terms of rowing, it’s the biggest deal there is for the fall,” Rastapkevicius said.

The Gaels will travel to Boston to compete against some of the top American schools. Crews can secure a spot at next year’s regatta by placing in the top five per cent of the field. Both of the eights did that last year.

But the primary focus for the Gaels is still` the OUA Championships. With the race only two weeks away, both the men’s and women’s crews are practicing hard. The event will take place in St. Catharines at the same location as the Brock Invitational.

Lightweight rower Simon Gowdy said their practices have changed slightly to prepare for the weather conditions.

“Our practices are getting a little shorter and more intense,” he said.

The women have also experienced a change in their practices.

“I chose to race them against the headwind [in practice],” Feddery said. “It’s longer and more difficult, but it’s more likely to be the weather conditions in St. Catharines.”

McGill and Western will be the main competition for the men’s crews.

“We’re in there,” Gowdy said. “But we’re definitely the underdog.”

Feddery had similar sentiments about the women’s event.

“Our goal is to win the banner,” he said. “Western are the favourites, having won it the past two years.

“But it’s quite close,” Feddery added. “They won by one point over us.”

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