Harbour Grace regatta turns 154
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.
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.