Sophia Donnecke wins gold at the Head of the Lake regatta at University of Washington near Seattle on Nov. 3.

Sophia Donnecke wins gold at the Head of the Lake regatta at University of Washington near Seattle on Nov. 3.

Wind limits Lower Island high school rowing championship to one day

Saturday’s windy conditions forced competitors out of the water on the first day of the city rowing championships

Saturday’s windy conditions forced competitors out of the water on the first day of the 2013 Lower Vancouver Island city rowing championships at Elk Lake.

Instead, the regatta was done in a series of timed heats on Sunday, with as many as three heats for some categories.

It makes it challenging for crews because they could be first in their heat, but have no idea how fast the boats in the other heats have gone, as the winners are based on times. It can also be frustrating if one heat faces more wind or chop than another. It’s also not as exciting without the top crews racing each other, said Alia Zawacki, coach of St. Andrew’s school rowing academy.

“It’s difficult for them, you can’t see how hard it was for the athletes just by looking at the results.”

The Claremont Spartans junior, senior and advanced (academy) rowers combined to win the overall team aggregate.

School rowers managed just two heats on Saturday before organizers Richard Curry (SMUS), Graham McLaren (Mount Doug) and Lindsay Horlor (Reynolds), were forced to cancel the day at 11 a.m. and re-do the entire schedule for Sunday. It’s especially unlucky as changes to the school racing format this year have created two divisions at the senior level. Rowers from academies or rowing clubs race in the advanced division while seniors who only compete on the school team are in the senior division. And its making for a more competitive and enjoyable season, Zawacki said.

Hannah Taft helped St. Andrew’s win the advanced girls category as she was first in the advanced women’s single and part of the St. Andrew’s advanced women’s eight which was also first. St. Andrew’s senior girls duo of Grace Geneau and Maria Isberg won the double and were third in the quad. Isberg raced at both levels as she was part of St. Andrew’s advanced eight crew.

Claremont’s powerhouse program also sent rowers to Seattle’s Head of the Lake University of Washington regatta, where Claremont’s national junior rower Sophia Donnecke, of Saanich, won the five-kilometre women’s single. Claremont’s boys coxed quad won bronze in Seattle, with a crew of Will MacTavish, Marshel Glidden, Pascal Herold, Preston Ruygrok and coxswain Kylie Redlin.

This week Donnecke, one of Greater Victoria’s most promising young athletes, will represent Claremont and B.C. at the National Rowing Championships in Welland, Ont., Nov. 8 to 10.

Though Donnecke was in Seattle during the blustery city school regatta, she’s a great example of racing in unknown conditions, as she was part of Claremont’s senior women’s quad that was first at the 2013 Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association championship in St. Catherines, Ont., in June.

“Just like Elk Lake on Saturday, the weather forecast at the CSSRA in St. Catherines last June wasn’t great and you never know what can happen,” Claremont rowing academy director Gord Redlin said. “So on day one in St. Catherines we told our rowers to race the heats as hard as possible. Then the finals were canceled for the first time ever and they based the results on the times from the initial heats. It was awesome, we won three national titles, in part due to that.”

Academy vs. Academy

High performance rowing is an asset unique to rowing in Greater Victoria. Beyond the Victoria City Rowing Club and Gorge Rowing and Paddling Club are the Claremont, St. Andrew’s and St. Michaels University School rowing academies.

All three are regular producers of elite talent as St. Andrew’s, under coach Zawacki, the former Vikes rower, also had second place finishes on Saturday by its junior novice boys quad and junior novice girls eight boats.

Leading the way in terms of size and success, however, is Claremont, buoyed by an “all-star” coaching team with 2012 Olympian Lindsay Jennerich (Claremont alum), 2008 Beijing gold medalist Kevin Light, Darryl de Leeuw (head coach) and Colin Maddock, who came over from Shawnigan Lake.

Claremont’s top three placings (with names for winners) at the Lower Island rowing championships are here:

Novice Girls Quad – First: Maggie Dolezal, Kristen Pappas, Anna Leach, Jenna Thornton
Quad – SecondEight – First: Juliana Rampon, Kristen Pappas, Brittney Rosenberg, Hannah Hughson, Anna Leach, Maggie Dolezal, Emma Davenport, Jenna Thornton, Julia Scheuer

Jr Novice Boys
Quad – ThirdEight – ThirdSr Novice GirlsQuad – Third

Junior GirlsQuad – SecondEight – First: Kate Wille, Ella Webber, Cezanne Insley, Katie Pearson, Sonja Donnecke, Emma Pearson, Chloe Hamer, Camryn Anderson, Carson FoxallEight – Third

Junior BoysEight – First: Aelon Nicolson, Angus Brown, Jaylam Lau, Derrick Chow, Idjen Cabral, Matthew Watson, Simon Muller, Macgregor Macintosh, Kaitlin RogersDouble – First: Derrick Chow, Idjen CabralDouble – ThirdQuad – SecondQuad – Third

Advanced GirlsQuad – First: Julia Sunderland-Baker, Megan Egilson, Kenzie Rosene, Urszula CaputaEight – Second

Advanced BoysEight – Second

As a team, we also won the following:Jr Boys PointsJr Girls PointsJr Points

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