It’s easy to underestimate how big a factor the weather can play in the results of a sporting event. Rain, snow, heat, cold, they’re all variables that can change the outcome of any outdoor competition.
For the OUA rowing championships, it was wind that forced them to change the structure of the event. The event would normally take place over an entire weekend, but predictions for strong wind and rain on Saturday forced them to run two days’ worth of events on Friday.
“It was a bit of a challenging day because we had to compress the schedule but the athletes responded well and raced really hard, and we saw some fantastic, really tight races,” said Coach, Peter Somerwil.
A rivalry between Brock and Western emerged as the day went on. Historically, Brock and Western’s men’s teams have battled for the championship. Both teams were evenly matched heading into the weekend, each having won the P.C. Fitz-James trophy four times in the past 10 years.
This year, Western came out on top, but not without challenge.
“In heavyweight women’s eight, Western just nipped us at the line. Men’s lightweight eight, we beat Western, again, really tight race, we just barely pulled it out. There’s a number of races like that, which is good, because it shows that rowing is strong in Ontario,” said Somerwil.
In the end, Western had the edge, taking both the men’s and women’s titles.
“They were just a little bit better, I think, our team is quite young, we have a lot of new people on the team this year, which is great for our future, but it does make winning a little tougher right now, but I thought we performed very well.”
Athletes have incredible dedication to the sport and an intense work ethic that Somerwil pointed out, “Depending on the athlete, they do anywhere between five and 14 workouts in a week.”
The team gets together at the end of August, a week before the semester starts. Somerwil called the 12 day testing process “Pretty grueling.”
The team tests their athletes to determine the best combinations that will lead them to the Ontario championships.
Brock may not have taken home a championship, but coxswain, Laura Court was named OUA rowing female athlete of the year. Court is a fifth year psychology student. This was based not only on her performance at the OUA championships, but also her performance at the U23 World Championships, where she took home a gold medal. She is the first coxswain in OUA history to be awarded this distinction. She was unanimously nominated by university rowing coaches who were in attendance at the championships.
As a coxswain, Court is responsible for directing the rowers. She organizes the rhythm and keeps the rowers on pace. Court is smaller in stature, but has a powerful presence. She is respected by the organization for her skill and dedication.
Somerwil is optimistic about the future of the program and not unhappy with the results from the weekend, “[We] would have liked to have won a championship, but coming in second and third is still not too bad”
The Brock rowing team is strong, dedicated, and although they fell short of the ultimate prize this year, they were a significant threat. The team will no doubt be a contender next year and for many years to come.
“Rowing just requires a lot of work, I think we’ve got a group of athletes, who for the most part a really good with that, which is why we’re getting better all the time.”