On the water at the crack of dawn, the University of Victoria Vikes rowing teams will be going for another Canadian title, starting Saturday at the national championships in Welland, Ontario.
"We've never gone into nationals without that goal in mind," said Howie Campbell, the men's rowing coach. "We've achieved it five times now and we'll try and achieve it again."
The UVic men have won three straight national championships and the women have won two straight, and both teams are confident they can bring another trophy back to campus – although they expect a close finish.
"The best races you win are the ones you win by a whisker, not the ones you win by a mile," said Campbell. "I believe it will come right down to the wire. The men will be challenged but they're excited about that, they're looking forward to that challenge."
This year's national championships are being hosted by the University of Western Ontario, and the Vikes say the Mustangs will be a major challenger, especially since everyone's looking to dethrone UVic and end the chance of a three-peat.
"We have to prepare for Western but we also know that everyone else is out there pushing particularly for us, because we're the previous banner winners," said Leanne Fells, a member of the women's lightweight double and four crews.
"It's going to be a hard week for sure, we have giant targets on our back."
As always, the key is preparation, and both teams have been up early thrashing the water off the coast of Victoria's campus.
"We're doing short workouts, just a little bit of intensity just to keep the edge on," said Rick Crawley, the women's rowing coach. "I'm expecting them to be bouncing off the walls by the time they get ready to race."