Re­gatta mark­ing spe­cial mile­stone

Har­bour Grace event turns 150; ex­panded cel­e­bra­tions planned


When the boats en­ter the cool, blue wa­ters of Lady Lake in Har­bour Grace for the start of the an­nual re­gatta on July 28, it will mark the 150th time it has hap­pened.

That’s right, the sec­ond long­est con­tin­u­ous sport­ing event in Canada turns 150 this month. The event trails only the Royal St. John’s Re­gatta in that depart­ment.

To cel­e­brate this mile­stone, Joanne Tay­lor, Bud Chafe and the rest of the Re­gatta Day com­mit­tee have ex­panded the nor­mally one-day event.

While the races will still be held on the 28th, the com­mit­tee has de­cided to stretch out the sesqui­cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tions.

Re­gatta his­tory

“We’re mak­ing it an eight-day event,” said Tay­lor.

Start­ing on Satur­day, July 21, the com­mit­tee has nu­mer­ous events planned, in­clud­ing a tem­po­rary drive-in movie the­atre at Lady Lake on July 23, com­plete with a 40-foot view­ing screen. Called “Movies in Mo­tion,” pa­trons will be able to park their cars and en­joy a clas­sic movie watch­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The com­mit­tee will be work­ing in con­junc­tion with the Pi­rate Days cel­e­bra­tions in Har­bour Grace on July 21 in Har­bour Grace har­bour.

The of­fi­cial re­gatta an­niver­sary date, mean­while, is Satur­day, July 22. This date has been des­ig­nated “re-en­act­ment day,” with plans to stage an event sim­i­lar to an early re­gatta. This will fea­ture whale­boats on loan from fish­er­men in Lower Is­land Cove. There will also be card­board boat races that day.

The main event is the re­gatta on July 28, with a mini-re­gatta planned for July 29. The idea is to give novice row­ers an op­por­tu­nity to get on the Lake, shar­ing an oar with an ex­pe­ri­enced rower.

It was on July 22, 1862 that the first re­gatta was run as mem­bers of the Har­bour Grace Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany dressed in their blue uni­forms and car­ried the boats to Lady Lake.

At that time, whale­boats pro­pelled by four oars­men and guided by a coxswain, were used.

To­day’s rac­ing shells fea­ture six oars­men and are made of fi­bre­glass.

Those first whale­boats had names — Med­lock, Weasel, Hawk, Test and a gig named Nelly — and their own unique his­to­ries.

It was not un­til 1971 that the re­gatta com­mit­tee of the day pur­chased three six-oared shells from the St. John’s Re­gatta com­mit­tee.

The ex­pan­sion of the re­gatta cel­e­bra­tions are not the only ad­di­tion that is go­ing to be seen at Lady Lake this year.

For the first time, full elec­tric­ity ser­vice are now avail­able at the boathouse. Pre­vi­ously, a por­ta­ble gen­er­a­tor pro­vided power, mean­ing a fa­mil­iar noise will be miss­ing this year, much to the de­light of or­ga­niz­ers like Chafe.

“You can have any kind of ac­tiv­i­ties now. Some­thing like Paddy’s Gar­den (in Car­bon­ear),” he said.

It cost some $75,000 to in­stall util­ity poles and run pow­er­lines to the site, with the At­lantic Canada Op­por­tu­ni­ties Agency (ACOA) foot­ing the bill.

Fu­ture plans in­clude the ex­pan­sion of the boathouse to ac­com­mo­date an in­door row­ing fa­cil­ity.

“If it’s windy, we can’t put any­one on the pond,” Chafe said. “This would al­low them to do the same thing in­doors.”

A fam­ily af­fair

Row­ing in Har­bour Grace is very much a fam­ily af­fair.

Joanne Tay­lor been in­volved in row­ing for just un­der three decades. Her ex­tended fam­ily — the Tay­lors of Bris­tol’s Hope — have been pulling on oars for five gen­er­a­tions, be­gin­ning in the early 1900s when Percy Tay­lor Sr. took up the sport.

Fam­ily names like Wil­liams, Chafe, Dove, Down­ing and Pike are all syn­ony­mous with row­ing in the town.

With Har­bour Grace start­ing off row­ers as young as seven, Tay­lor said it is not strange to see older sib­lings join­ing in, fol­lowed by par­ents.

Chafe started with the Re­gatta in 1961, and now has two grand­daugh­ters (Emily and Abi­gail) in­volved in row­ing.

Chafe’s grand­son, Bren­dan Chafe, will race in the se­nior men’s division, and serve as a coxswain with four other crews. Huge num­ber of lo­cal crews Tay­lor said there will be 36 lo­cal crews row­ing in the 150th Har­bour Grace Re­gatta, the most she has ever seen, with row­ers rang­ing in age from seven to 75.

It is a sign that row­ing is alive and grow­ing in the Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion.

“It’s be­cause we’re the only sport in the area that doesn’t cost any money,” said Tay­lor.

Ex­cite­ment is run­ning high for re­gatta day to get here, but there is one fac­tor that still needs to be worked out for race day — wind con­di­tions.

“Old man weather is go­ing to de­ter­mine whether it goes ahead,” said Chafe.

For full sched­ule and contact in­for­ma­tion, see ad­ver­tise­ment on Page A8


Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Re­gatta com­mit­tee mem­ber Bud Chafe has been work­ing at the event since 1961.

Sub­mit­ted photo

What the park at Lady Lake looked like in years past.

Sub­mit­ted photo

An ea­ger group of row­ers take to the wa­ters of Lady Lake dur­ing the 1989 edition of the Har­bour Grace Re­gatta. They in­clude: front to back — Ge­orge Wil­liams, John Pike, Gor­don (G.G.) Meadus, Michael Martin, Lorne Pike and Bren­dan Chafe.

CHICKEN RE­LAY — Cheyenne Ed­munds of North River gets into the spirit dur­ing sports day ac­tiv­i­ties at All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary in North River on June 19. Ed­munds is shown here tak­ing part in the chicken re­lay. Ed­munds will en­ter Grade 2 in Septem­ber.

Sub­mit­ted photo

This im­age from a re­cent edition of the Har­bour Grace Re­gatta shows a large crowd in the back­ground, and a rac­ing shell on Lady Lake.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Row­ing crew (from left) Clarence Pynn, Ron Thomey, Harold Pynn, Bob Tay­lor and coxswain Eu­gene Pike get ready to race in this whale­boat. The date of the photo is un­known.

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