Competitive Clubs

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Gee-Gees face challenges at P.D. Ross Regatta

 Spencer Van Dyk | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Mico Mazza 

YOU WIN SOME and you lose some, as the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees rowing team discovered this past Saturday, Sept. 15 when they competed in two consecutive races against the Carleton Ravens at the P.D. Ross Regatta. First to race was the alumni boat, which gained a win against the Ravens. The varsity team was less successful, however, as they were defeated by Carleton in the second race of the day.

Jordan Kay, a rower for the Gee-Gees varsity team, explained the setback.

“The race was okay,” he said. “We had some steering issues at the start, and kind of went straight into a wall.  We didn’t hit the wall, so that was good.  We got it back after that.”

Despite the varsity defeat, Marika Kay, co-president of the University of Ottawa rowing team, said that the alumni win is something to be celebrated because of the skill of Carleton’s team.

“It was definitely a good run for the alumni,” she said. “Carleton has some pretty good alumni, and our program is definitely building up, which shows in the alumni.  I’m not sure what happened with the varsity.  We’ve won the past three years.”

Kay went on to explain that Saturday’s boats consisted of the top four men and women from each team, the distinguishing factor between the two boats being experience.

“The alumni is people that have graduated from us,” she said. “There’s a lot of skill levels, so they’ve rowed for us for a number of years.  A lot of them started out in our novice program.  None of [the novices] have ever rowed before, and a lot of our team is built on this novice development program. We actually have people that have been really successful in that boat—it’s the top four men and women that go on the alumni, and ex-national team members.”

Last year, the team raked in seven medals at the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Championships, and three at the Canadian University Rowing Championships (CURC), which is the equivalent of Canadian Intrauniversity Sport (CIS) for rowing. Kay said that the team hopes to build on that success this year, and that the novices look very promising.  Despite their skill and success, the U of O rowing team seems to be undervalued.  There was not much in the way of spectators at the regatta, despite the excitement of the event. The team has faced resistance from the university, which makes their training difficult.

“We have a lot of people who don’t really know what rowing is,” Kay said. “Everyone’s a lot more interested in rowing after the Olympics, because the Olympics is really the only time that they get to see it.  We had one of our alumni go to the Olympics this year, but she’s injured, so she didn’t race in our alumni boat this year.  Hopefully, in the years to come, we’ll have a really strong alumni team, as well as varsity.”

The team trains at the Ottawa Rowing Club throughout the summer, but has to pay to use Carleton’s facilities come November, because they have no venue at the U of O.

“We just need a hall,” said Ottawa Rowing Club manager Brian Adams, who is also one of the Gee-Gees coaches. “We take all our equipment. We’re trying to winterize [the rowing club], and we’re getting closer, but there’s still a lot to be done. This place is 150 years old, we were founded in 1867, so we want a winterized gym, a rowing tank, so it’ll change the whole aspect of the club to have a full year.”

Adams went on to explain that the added expense of training at Carleton is sometimes a deterrent for those considering joining the team, although he later joked that the 5 a.m. training also cut down the number of novices.

The Gee-Gees rowing team will participate in the Heart of the Rideau Regatta on September 23, 2012 at the Rideau Canoe Club in Hog’s Back.