Av­i­ron Knowl­ton Row­ing ath­letes head­ing west for Na­tional Cham­pi­onships and Canada Cup

Sherbrooke Record - - BROME COUNTY - By Ann David­son

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...

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