Har­bour Grace re­gatta turns 154

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

It’s just over a week un­til crews hit the wa­ter as a part of the 154th edi­tion of the Har­bour Grace re­gatta

When The Com­pass vis­ited Lady Lake on July 19 to get a han­dle on how things are shap­ing up lead­ing into the sec­ond long­est sport­ing event in North Amer­ica, a sin­gle crew hit the wa­ter to get some work in.

Over the soft wind blow­ing down the lake, coxswain Lenny Wil­liams could be heard hol­ler­ing in­struc­tions at halfa-dozen row­ers in the shell in front of him. He’s count­ing them in and help­ing them get in stroke.

Many of them are first time row­ers and rep­re­sent the first se­nior men’s crew out of Har­bour Grace in sev­eral years.

Fight­ing the wind, they slowly find their pac­ing as ev­ery­one gets in stroke mid­way up the pond. It’s a thing of beauty to see ev­ery­one fill­ing their role in the shell.

By the time they’re fin­ished their ex­er­cise, the group are pant­ing and their shirts are drenched in sweat. It’ll be a task to knock off the high pow­ered St. John’s teams, but they ap­pear up for the challenge.

The re­gatta in Har­bour Grace runs this Satur­day and Sun­day with more than a dozen lo­cal crews vy­ing for var­i­ous championships. That doesn’t in­clude the crews com­ing from out­side the com­mu­nity.

The se­nior men and women cham­pi­onship races go late Satur­day evening.

“We got her back in fine shape now,” said com­mit­tee mem­ber Bud Chafe. “All we’re look­ing for now is one fine day. Not even a sunny day, it can be cloudy. Just a fine day.”

A lit­tle bit of a festival

As much as the Har­bour Grace re­gatta is about ath­letic competition, it’s about cel­e­brat­ing the sport and the ca­ma­raderie that comes with it.

On Satur­day when the grounds fill up, it re­sem­bles a lit­tle bit of a festival. There’s games of chance and other things to en­joy.

The Sun­day is re­served for fam­ily day, where there are no tro­phies. The idea of the day is to throw a group of peo­ple in a shell and let them go up and down the pond.

It’s about hav­ing fun and pro­mot­ing the sport.

“What odds about win­ning. For­get win­ning. Just go out and have some fun,” said Chafe. “A lot of fam­i­lies look for­ward to it. They just come in that day and go.”

Get­ting them young

A point of in­ter­est for the re­gatta com­mit­tee and Chafe is keep­ing the ranks filled at the lower level.

That’s where the sport can be re­plen­ished. It’s some­thing Chafe looks for­ward to see­ing on the pond ev­ery sum­mer.

“As long as you can keep them in­ter­ested,” he said. “It’s the young peo­ple you need. To get the kids in­volved, that’s what it’s all about”

Weather-wise, the re­gatta com­mit­tee has a con­stant eye on the long-range fore­cast. As of late last week it was, it’s call­ing for sun, but with wind up to 60 kilo­me­tres and hour.

That isn’t ideal con­di­tions for row­ing. A strong wind causes waves, which can be a haz­ard for boaters.

A bit of wind doesn’t bother Chafe. If there’s a lot of wind, they won’t start the re­gatta, but a small rip­ple on the lake makes for some ex­cit­ing races.

“The boat is alive with that lit­tle rip­ple,” said Chafe.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Coxswain Lenny Wil­liams hollers at a se­nior men’s crew at Lady Lake on July 19 in Har­bour Grace. The 154th Har­bour Grace Re­gatta runs this week­end.

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