St. Catherines, Ontario — The Oakland Strokes Rowing Club capped off a winning racing season with yet more wins at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta last week. The team captured seven gold medals and six silvers at the regatta, hailed as the top amateur rowing race in North America. The one-of-a-kind event, where high schoolers compete with college rowers, including 2,400 participants representing 147 clubs from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia.
The Strokes’ first-place finishers in the men’s competition included the under- 19 pair and the under- 23 lightweight straight four. The under- 19 eight finished second, along with the under- 17 eight.
The first-place finishers for the women included the under- 19 eight, the under- 23 lightweight eight, the under- 23 lightweight straight four and the under- 19 cox four. The under- 23 lightweight women also took a gold in the 500-meter dash. Second place finishers included the under- 17 eight, and the under- 23 lightweight pair.
Because most clubs across the U.S. don’t have summer programs, some teams invite top rowers from shuttered clubs nearby to row in their summer sessions. They then send the pick of the litter to Henley. One East Coast club had rowers from 15 other clubs racing out of its boathouse this summer. The coach had 800 girls to choose from and picked the best nine to bring to the Henley. So the competition is fierce.
“You have to come ready to race,” said Strokes women’s varsity coach Derek Byrnes. “Nothing is easy. There is no ‘easy’ race.”
The team had to work particularly hard to haul all of that metal. Since only 45 Strokes rowers attended and there were numerous events, they often had to spread themselves thin. While the average Henley rower participates in 2.3 races over the five-day event, the Strokes rowers averaged seven events each. “Some of the girls rowing in the under- 19 eight no sooner climbed out of their winning boat, than they got into a four, immediately rowed to the starting line for the under- 19 four and promptly won, Brynes said.”
The year started big for the Strokes when the varsity women captured first place at the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta in October. Strokes women in particular performed well during the season. In a storybook ending the official season, the women’s eight and women’s lightweight eight walked away with gold at the 2012 U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships in June.
It was pretty sad seeing the year end (at Henley),” Byrnes said.
“It was a great senior class. Super kids—just an amazing group of kids. They were heavily recruited. And there are some very lucky college coaches out there.”
Photo caption: Oakland Strokes rowers David Hostler and Luke O’Brien took the gold medal in the under- 19 pair category at the 2012 Canadian Henley, where they raced against the best pairs in North America. They bested Canada’s St. Catherines club pair by two tenths of a second.
The women’s lightweight eight end their championship season with gold at the 2012 Canadian Royal Henley last week. From left to right, Alia Shafi, Brittney Presten, Lizzie Pate, Indigo Catton, Caroline Carper, Anna Wietelmann, Zabie Elmgren, Tara Bozzini and Kate Bird.
For more information contact Diane Moe, 925-377-0255.