Rowers get ready to play the underdog at OUAs

Brock Invitational Regatta provides Queen’s rowers constructive feedback going into final weeks of the season

The men’s heavyweight eight was pleasently surprised by their results in St. Catharine’s.
The men’s heavyweight eight was pleasently surprised by their results in St. Catharine’s.

As the cold winds of winter approach Ontario, the rowing season draws to its end. With the hard work of the summer and fall seasons largely behind them, the Queen’s rowing team looks forward to the start of the OUA championships on Oct. 30. This weekend in St. Catharine’s the Brock Invitational Regatta signified the last tune-up regatta before the chips are down, and the results showed potential.

All four divisions of the program proved to be very competitive despite some large margins of defeat in previous weeks. This weekend was also interesting because the course length was shortened to the two-kilometer distance that OUAs will be raced on. On the shorter sprint course races take about six to seven minutes, margins less than five seconds signify a close race.

The men’s heavyweight team made perhaps the largest strides out of the group; they finished third in the eight-man boat event but missed first place Brock by only 3.2 seconds and second place Western by a miniscule .6 seconds. In the four-man event they didn’t do quite as well, finishing third again, but by seven and eights seconds to first and second.

The lightweight men couldn’t quite keep up with their competition in the same way. In the eight-man event they placed fourth, 23 seconds away from third, a crippling margin of defeat. However, unlike the heavyweights, the more elite four man group redeemed the team by finishing second in their event, losing by only a second to Brock.

Men’s team captain and lightweight rower Colin Sutherland said the team can take many positives from the weekend.

“I know the heavyweight men did better than they thought at Brock invite, they are very hyped up for OUAs, I think all the guys inour [lightweight] crew are pretty excited as well. I know the four is because we were so close,” he said. “Those neck and neck, wire to wire battles are the fun kind of races.”

The women’s program came off with comparable results. The heavyweight women, winners of the Head of the Trent, placed third in the eight, losing to second place Trent by under a second and first place Western by a much longer 11 seconds. The four came second losing again to Western but by four seconds this time.

The lightweight women had a more positive transition from Trent than their counterparts. Their eight came second behind Brock by nine seconds, a more satisfying outcome than the fourth place they took in Peterborough. In the four they had some technical malfunctions and were unable to finish the race.

Headlining the whole team was Katya Herman who took home gold in both the heavyweight women’s single and lightweight women’s single.

The theme of the weekend was that Brock proved dominant in the men’s events and Western was strong in the women’s field. Queen’s generally found itself sitting in either second or third in nearly every event. The OUA banners are awarded based off of total team points, so some tactics come into play when entering the various events. Head coach John Armitage explained some of the team’s thinking heading into the final challenge.

“We’ve spent a lot of time strategizing this week how to maximize our team points in the OUA finals. We are doing a little bit of shifting this week to play to our strength,” he said. “What we got out of this, Brock is really strong on the Men’s side, Western is really strong on the middle side we are consistent on both. I see a three way dog fight for the banner in both the men’s and women’s side.”

The team enters their last week of practice with a positive attitude despite being the underdogs for a championship. Armitage hesitatingly endorsed his team’s prospects.

“I think the morale is very high, we’ve got a realistic understanding of where we stand and I think all four disciplines have been very well coached this year and all four groups know where they stand,” he said. “We are just trying to put our team in a position where everyone can execute to the maximum of their ability, but that doesn’t mean we will.”

The Queen’s Gaels will race again in St. Catharine’s at the OUA championships to be held on Oct. 30.

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