250 rowers gather on Vancouver Island lake for national championship

More than 250 rowers took to the waters of Quamichan Lake last weekend for the 2022 Rowing Canada National Championships co-hosted by Rowing Canada and the Maple Bay Rowing Club.

It was the first time that North Cowichan’s central lake — the future training center for the Canadian national rowing team — had been used for such an event.

“This is one of the largest regattas held in the country,” said MBRC President Susan McDonald, adding that the event was larger than the MBRC’s annual spring regatta.

Nonetheless, McDonald said the regatta went “smooth” thanks to an incredible group of volunteers.

“We were so happy,” she said. “I think we had about 90 volunteers: people from our club, parents of juniors, community members, all kinds of great people came to help us.

Volunteers from as far away as the Lower Mainland and even people from other rowing clubs on the island also participated.

“It was great,” McDonald said.

Rowers from 45 clubs across the country competed in a variety of singles and pairs events, and two new trophies named after RCA alumni were awarded to national champions in the lightweight events for the first time.

Shawnigan Lake and Brentwood College Schools as well as the MBRC all had rowers registered for the event.

Brigid Kennedy, 23, of MBRC, won the silver medal in the lightweight women’s singles race, placing just behind Jill Moffatt of Ontario for the Wendy Wiebe Trophy.

“She’s a new member to us and has been to college and done a lot of her training in college,” McDonald said.

Eight junior members were also competing for the MBRC, all of them U19 or U17.

“A few of them have only been rowing for a little over a year, but they had to qualify to be admitted,” McDonald said. “Although they didn’t win a medal, it was so fantastic to see them in the fray. They held on. It was an incredibly competitive regatta. We are very proud to see them there.

According to the event, the future is bright for rowing in Cowichan now that Rowing Canada exists.

“We are really pleased with Rowing Canada’s presence here,” noted McDonald. “We were the only club in the area and we were a small club, but now we are definitely growing.”

McDonald explained that Rowing Canada has brought extra attention to the sport and the fact that a solid venue exists here.

“It attracts coaches, it attracts athletes and people are drawn there knowing that it will be a key location for the national training program,” she said.

For complete National Championship results, visit rowingcanada.org

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