Sports

Ridley Grad crew overcomes heartbreaking loss with open-water win

By Bernd Franke, Postmedia News

Graham Peeters, Taylor Ashwood, James Dyer, Karl Zimmerman, Logan Madill, Matthew Finley, Ryan Clegg, Brayden Halvorson toss coxswain Alison Zimmerman into Martindale Pond after winning the men's eight championship at the 135th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta Sunday  in St. Catharines. JULIE JOCSAK/Postmedia News

Graham Peeters, Taylor Ashwood, James Dyer, Karl Zimmerman, Logan Madill, Matthew Finley, Ryan Clegg, Brayden Halvorson toss coxswain Alison Zimmerman into Martindale Pond after winning the men's eight championship at the 135th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta Sunday in St. Catharines. JULIE JOCSAK/Postmedia News

“O.08 seconds” doesn’t roll off the tongue like “Win one for the Gipper” does as a pep talk to keep a team focused at the task at hand.

 

However, as motivators go, it was more than enough to push a Ridley Graduate Boat Club crew across the finish line on the final day of the 135th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta Sunday in St. Catharines.

Still stinging from the disappointment of losing the gold medal to Winnipeg by 8/100ths of a second in the senior women’s squad, Alison Whitty, Katherine Walker, Amber Cuthertson and Caitlin Pauls resolved to lick their opponents in their second race of the day rather than lick their wounds.

“‘O.08 seconds’ is what motivated us for this race,” said Whitty after Ridley beat Craftsbury and Ottawa by open water senior women’s lightweight quad by open water nearly two hours later.

Even a headwind that added about 10 seconds to their time in the first race didn’t keep coach Nancy Storrs’ crew from winning the club’s second gold of the day and fourth of the regatta.

“We wanted this one,” Whitty, 22, said. “After our race plan fell apart at the end of that last race, there was no way we were going to let that happen this time.”

Sunday’s final day of the 135th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta started on a winning note for the two crews that use Martindale Pond as their home course.

In the first of 26 finals Sunday, a dominant performance from Emma Dockray, Lauren Kelly, Anna Maloney and Emily Stewart in the under-19 women’s quad gave the St. Catharines Rowing Club its eighth medal of the regatta.

They covered the 2,000-metre course in 6:55.91 and beat second-place Charles River from Boston by nearly four boat lengths.

Dockray, who finished second in a single for Grimsby Secondary School at the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association, also held on Martindale Pond, was at a loss for words after winning Henley for the first time.

“I honestly have no words to describe the feeling you get when you cross the finish line first,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to get to race with such wonderful ladies.”

“I’m just so honoured I got to be in that beat.”

Also striking gold in their first attempt was Ridley, which won the William B.C. Burgoyne Memorial Trophy for the second straight year.

Ethan Enns, Matthew Schulz, Steven Rosts and Seth Moyer beat Martime, Amadeusz and St. Catharines in the under-19 men’s quad in a winning time of 6:12.10.

Schulz, 18, said the crew peaked at exactly the right time. He pointed out execution of the race plan was much better than it had been in the heat and the semifinal.

“We tweaked it a bit coming out of the heat,” he said. “We did what we wanted to do, we took control right out of the gates and just kind of hit it hard and fast.”

“That gave us a great mental edge, because we knew what we wanted to do and when we wanted to do it.”

St. Catharines followed a second-place finish in the senior women’s 52-kilogram coxed four by taking the under-17 men’s coxed four, in a time of 6:35.75; and the senior men’s lightweight eight, 5:55.62.

Jack Pratt, Christian McAlpine, Lucas Celia, Andrew Barry and coxswain Nicholas Murray-Coplen beat Argonaut and CRI to give St. Catharines its ninth gold medal.

No. 10 came in the very next race with Mack Berkhout, Zach Whiteley, Taylor Ashwood, Eric Buchanan, Owen Voelkner, Noah Van Helvert, Alex Powell, Brandan Andrews and coxswain Aurora Gordon duplicating the pace-setting success they enjoyed the day before in the 500-metre dash.

Sunday’s final, at 2,000 metres; was four times as long, but the win felt a lot more than four times better for Ashwood.

“This is an event I’ve been trying to win the past three or four years.”

The 22-year-old said he will cherish the medal as his last rowing competitively on the Henley course at the club level.

“Next in the fall is my last season at Brock, my fifth and final year,” he said. “Then, after that, I probably am going to pack in the oars.”

While it may have been Ashwood’s last Henley gold for the St. Catharines Rowing Club, it wasn’t his last of the day. He won his second of the day, and third of the regatta, as part of a composite crew that won the men’s championship eight, the final event of the competition.

Also in that crew, one of two boats racing under the Leander Boat Club banner in the field of seven, was Matthew Finley, who won the men’s single for St. Catharines in Saturday’s 500-metre dashes.

St. Catharines’ 11th, and final, medal at this year’s Henley was in an under-19 men’s eight that included Andrew Allan, Mitchell Rodgers, Abram Van Engelen, Jacob Martens, Jacob Tyrer, Cameron Walsh, William Galloway, Charles Pratt and coxswain Tyler Vanderloos.

With defending champion CRI emerging the heats and semifinals as the boat to beat, the outcome was a bit of an upset.

“We had the CRI boat that we were just basically fighting with the whole time in our heat. We tried to just secure ourselves into the semis,” said Vanderloos, 17, said after winning the first Henley of his three-year rowing career that crew didn’t leave anything out on the water in the rematch with CRI.

“Every stroke counted for in this one.”

St. Catharines used, fittingly enough, first-place finishes in dashes to sprint ahead of Argentina in the race to finish the world-class regatta with the most gold medals.

St. Catharines went 3-for-3 in 500-metre dashes Saturday to enter the final day of the national club championships with seven medals.

Argentina had five and Ottawa and Victoria City four each.

In all, the St. Catharines Rowing Club won four medals Saturday, starting with a pace-setting performance by Allan and Rodgers in the under-19 men’s pair.

South Niagara’s Graeme McKinley and Lynden Whitley trailed a Hudson River crew across the finish line to place third.

Finley won the 500-metre dash in the men’s single in 1:32.30 opening the floodgates for St. Catharines, which rowed to back-to-back golds starting one race later in the men’s and women’s lightweight eight dashes.

Notes: The dashes were run following a 50-minute rain delay ... Results from the women’s lightweight 500-metre dash were challenged and the race was rerun before Sunday’s 2,000-metre finals after a protest was upheld Ottawa’s Lilianne Page placed first each time.

bfranke@postmedia.com 



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