Weather or Not!
Resting in bed this morning at 6 a.m., seven crews of Brentwood rowers had dreams of races and medals dancing in their heads. Meanwhile, the Senior Boys 8+ was up and preparing to race for the first time this weekend. Due to Saturday’s atrocious weather, the last of the qualifying races had been delayed until early this morning – the same day as the finals.
With trepidation, Mr. Carr looked out of the window to check the weather. Dark clouds lurked, scattered showers sprinkled, and a healthy breeze blew across St. Catharines. The boys arrived at the course and prepared to row at 7:32 a.m. on the famous course, albeit, still reduced to 1000m. Although bumpy, the water was rowable and the eights got on the course.
About the same time, Mr. Allpress and Mr. Patel arrived to the finish line grandstand from a 6 a.m. touchdown at Lester B. Pearson Airport in Toronto. They were spoilt for choice for seating as the stands were empty; the finish was now a kilometer away at the 1000m mark! Jumping into their car, they arrived just in time to see the Senior Boys 8+ cross the line first in their heat, in a time that, fortuitously, would be the fastest time from that event’s heats. This brought the Brentwood total of crews that had qualified for finals to eight – over half!
With the last of the qualifying races completed, the regatta was scheduled to restart at 11am. An announcement, difficult to hear for the winds gusting up to 50 km/hr, ominously reminded us all that a coaches’ meeting would be held at 10 a.m. to notify us of the race conditions. Would it be 1000m, 2000m, or would it happen at all?
The coaches gathered at the check-in booth and as the Head Official took the mike, the low rumble of the crowd died. Black clouds scudded past overhead and white caps dotted the water behind him as he addressed the crowd and told us that the regatta would once again be postponed until 3pm as conditions were worsening. The coaches were to reconvene at 2pm for any updates.
Nervously we departed. These delays were taking a toll on the athletes and we had to keep them ready for a national championship race that kept being delayed. The message remained the same: hydrate, snack, relax and stay off of your feet. The Senior Girls watched horror films, sure to keep their adrenaline pumping, others ate and I am sure the Junior Boys worked on their hand-eye-coordination playing Call of Duty. Some even got prep done!
We departed the hotel one last time for the course at 1:40 p.m. The athletes, wound tighter than snare drums, headed for the Brentwood tent and the coaches went straight to the meeting. Once again, the milling crowd was silenced, and through the heavy winds came the sentence: REGATTA CANCELLED. Coaches were devastated, knowing that their athletes had travelled so far and trained so long for naught. The opportunity to display their final masterpiece and race for 6 minutes after a year of training had been stolen by forces of Mother Nature which were beyond anyone’s control. Subsequently, the race committee had decided that the events were to be decided by the most recent qualifying times. This meant that some events, the Senior Girls 8+ for instance, was to be decided by heats that had occurred two and a half days earlier.
The decision was bittersweet for the athletes. Some of the crews, having established dominant leads in their heats on Friday, had ‘shut it down’ early in the race to preserve themselves for the more challenging races ahead. These crews had been robbed of the opportunity to face stiffer competition. Other crews, however, had chosen to throw caution to the wind, leaving nothing in the tank and laying their hearts out on the course during the heats and semifinals, in the event that races were indeed cancelled. After all was said and done Brentwood’s eight finalist crews finished thus:
Jr Boys 4+ Bronze
Jr Boys 8+ Bronze
Jr 72kg 4+ 6th
Sr Girls 4X Bronze
Sr Girls 8+ Silver
Sr Boys 4X Gold
Sr Boys 4+ 6th
Sr Bys 8+ Gold
It should be noted that the gold medal crew in the Senior Girls 8+ was an American crew. Although it may be of little comfort to our girls, we are proud to be home to not only Canada’s top Boy’s 8+, but also our nation’s best Girl’s 8+!
Having completed all racing, we derigged the boats, loaded the trailer and headed back for our dinner and speeches. After an emotional day, a well-earned night’s sleep was welcome respite before our journey home.
Mr. Amiel, Junior Boys Coach