Queen’s rowers still looking to catch Brock & Western

Gaels kick off their fall regatta grind with tough race at Trent

The heavyweight women’s eight won gold over the weekend at the Head of the Trent.
The heavyweight women’s eight won gold over the weekend at the Head of the Trent.
Photo By Jordan Wille
The light weight women’s eight racing through the Trent Canal in Peterborough.
The light weight women’s eight racing through the Trent Canal in Peterborough.
Photo by Catie Finley

A brisk Saturday in Peterborough provided the Queen’s rowing team the first true test of the 2010 season. Held at Trent University’s campus, the Head of the Trent is one of the larger regattas in the fall season leading up to the OUA championships.

The crews race along a five kilometer course that runs through the Trent Canal and the Otonabee River. The races are run in time trial fashion with boats being sent off from the start one at a time so as to be unaffected by other boats. Particular to this race course, however, is a narrow canal about a kilometer from the finish which doesn’t allow boats to pass one another often causing bottlenecks. The large crowds use this position to heckle rival crews, making the finish even more exciting.

For the men’s rowing team this was their second race of the season, but the appearance of touted Brock and Western teams made for a tough day of racing. The men’s heavyweights finished 45 seconds off of first place Brock, finishing fourth in the varsity eight event behind Brock, Trent and Western respectively. In the varsity four, the heavies finished with a similar margin finishing in fourth place, 41 seconds behind the winning

Brock boat. The margins of defeat were smaller for the lightweight men, but the results were much the same. In the lightweight eight event the men finished third with a 12 second margin from first, losing to Brock and Western. Finally they came fourth in the lightweight four event losing by 37 seconds.

Team captain and lightweight rower, Colin Sutherland said there is still potential in the season despite a somewhat disheartening weekend.

“We were satisfied,” he said. “There is still a little bit of work to do but I think we are still in striking range of Brock and Western. It’s still a matter of coming together as a crew and learning to meld our techniques into one in order to go faster.”

Although the season is young, the middle of the pack position reflects on the rebuilding nature of both the men’s heavyweight and lightweight programs. In a longer race like the Head of the Trent anything under a 10 second margin is still fairly close. While the men’s lightweight eight fared respectably, losses by over 30 seconds in several races allude to the fact that a lot more work has to be put in for podium finishes at the OUAs. The women’s program came off with a more successful day of racing. The women’s heavyweight eight finished in first place, seven seconds ahead of Western. The women also came second in the women’s heavyweight four. The Mustangs did get caught behind a slower boat in the canal yet the victory provided the women with a good starting point for the season despite the slip of a rival boat. Heavyweight rower Sarah Pidgen took the victory lightly.

“I think it’s a good starting point,” she said. “Ultimately the goal is the OUAs. [It’s] good to know where you stand versus

other crews.” The lightweight women

surprised many by finishing in fourth place in the lightweight eight event, 12 seconds behind Western and fourth in the lightweight coxed four event. They went into the race with higher expectations placed on them.

Although the results weren’t hugely satisfactory, head coach John Armitage said he remains optimistic. “[T]here is an old saying that you don’t want to go fast in the beginning of the season. You don’t want to peak too soon,” he said. “[One] can’t read from these results that you are going to win or that you are going to lose. They are just interesting results to learn from. The results from this regatta are going to give us a training focus in the next two weeks.”

The teams are in transition and lack veteran presence. A season used to build up experience will be very valuable for years to come. Armitage said race experience and coaching will bring the team to where it needs to be in the future.

“We are a very young team and we need to get out there and race and test what we have learned,” he said. “Fortunately, I think we’ve got great coaching, we’ve got 12 very dedicated coaches with varsity and the development programs that are working hard.”

The Queen’s rowing team will be racing next in St. Catherines at the Brock Invitational on Oct. 16.

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