Aviron Knowlton Rowing athletes heading west for National Championships and Canada Cup
Just because most people have stored their watercraft away until next spring doesn’t hold back athletes from Aviron Knowlton Rowing Club (AKR) whatsoever. They are readying to head to Vancouver for a national event that is a double header. The National Rowing Championships and the Canada Cup, hosted by Rowing BC will take place between November 9 and 12 at Burnaby Lake.
Open to competitors from across Canada who are representing their provinces, the event serves to identify and assess the fastest rowers in the country. The Canada Cup portion that follows the National Championships provides the opportunity for Canada’s developing rowers to compete against other provinces within larger crews that include National Team athletes. All the athletes go through time trials to get to quarterfinals and then semifinals. On the fourth day they get to go in team boats, most like in quatras (four-man sculls).
According to Rowing BC, for some athletes, their performance at the NRC will be the pinnacle of their rowing careers, but for others it is a development opportunity on their paths to eventually representing Canada on the world stage.
In total there are 10 athletes who will be representing Quebec with 50 per cent of the delegation from Aviron Knowlton Rowing. Anna Burnotte will be in the U19 category. Marilou Duvernay Tardiff will be competing in the U23, while Gabrielle Smith, Shannon Kennedy, and Martin Robitaille will row in the seniors’ category.
The Brome Lake-based club at the end of its second season brought home gold, silver, and bronze medals in this summer’s Canada Games, including a gold win in the Women’s Double Sculls event by Burnotte and Duvernay-tardif. Then Duvernay-tardiff landed the James A. Mcmullen Trophy at the prestigious North America event, the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, in the intermediate women’s single (Under 23) category.
While two of the younger rowers from AKR, Charles-antoine Charest and Maylie Valiquette, were invited to participate in the Burnaby Lake events in November, Mckay says they are strong candidates for future races but are very young for this upcoming regatta.
Mckay admits that there is a lot of work to transport the equipment across the country and that the trip is costly. “It’s a long haul across the country with ten hulls on the trailer.” He will be taking them on the first leg of the trek between Knowlton and St. Catherine’s, Ontario. Some of the athletes have funding from the provincial coffers because of the level at which they are, others are doing what they can and do get some help from the Quebec Rowing Federation. Some of them have jobs, but they have to work it all around their schooling too.
The ever-enthusiastic coach is delighted with the training time during the summer and autumn period. “With the weather so warm it has been easy and the wind has not been a factor. It doesn’t scare us anyway,” he joked. “Brome Lake is a really outstanding lake for this sport. We can always find good water.” When asked if water time would be over after the BC events, Mckay says that, “As long as the lake is liquid, we will keep rowing. It will be a challenge for the lower legs to launch the boats because we have to step into the water. We will see how it plays out.”
While the club is looking for storage space within close proximity to Knowlton for some of the boats over the winter period, Mckay is quick to mention how amazing the community has been to lend a hand. Adding to that, he knows that the club is a good thing for the community to have these young people around. They are taking jobs in stores and are also contributing to the kids in the area.
Coach Gavin Mckay of the Aviron Knowlton Rowing at left is ready to take the trailer load of rowing sculls on the first leg of their journey to Burnaby Lake, BC. Gabrielle Smith on the right is one of the five athletes from AKR competing in the National Championships and the Canada Cup hosted by Rowing BC in November.