Sports

St. Catharines Rowing Club finishes world-class regatta with 11 gold medals

By Bernd Franke, Postmedia News

St. Catharines Rowing Club captain Mark Welsh, left, accepts the efficiency award from Canadian Henley Rowing Corp. commissioner Bill Schenck. JULIE JOCSAK/Postmedia News

St. Catharines Rowing Club captain Mark Welsh, left, accepts the efficiency award from Canadian Henley Rowing Corp. commissioner Bill Schenck. JULIE JOCSAK/Postmedia News

A total of 140 clubs competed at the 135th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, and not one of them made a bigger splash during race week than the St. Catharines Rowing Club.

 

St. Catharines crews combined to win a regatta-high 11 gold medals, five more than Argentina and Ottawa, and they also topped the standings when it came time to award the efficiency trophy.

St. Catharines earned 59.5 per cent of the possible points it could receive in the finals contested at the six-day competition that wrapped up Sunday at Martindale Pond.

“That’s a tough trophy to win,” Ron (Swede) Burak, a coach with the St. Catharines Rowing Club, said after posing along with his fellow coaches in a group shot with the trophy.

Second, with a 56.5-per-cent efficiency; was the Ridley Graduate Boat Club, the winner of four gold medals at a regatta at which only first-place finishers get to stand on the podium.

Rounding out the top 10 were UBC, 54.1 per cent; UVic, 52.8; CRI, 47.4; UWO, 47.3; Argonaut, 46.5; and Ottawa, 45.8.

Leander and Victoria, with four each; finished tied with Ridley for third place in the race to finish the regatta with the most golds.

In all six clubs from the region competing in the Canadian national club championships but, while the Notre Dame and South rowing clubs, both based in Welland, advanced boats to the finals, neither club was able to set the pace in any of them.

The Niagara Rowing School, Vineland; and the Niagara Falls Rowing Club were unable to send any entries to the finals.

Joshua King of the Ottawa Rowing Club earned four of his club’s five gold medals. He won the senior men’s single Thursday, the senior men’s lightweight single Friday, the senior men’s lightweight pair with Jason Sukstrof Saturday before ending race week on a winning note by outracing several national team rowers in the men’s single championship Sunday.

This is King’s fifth Henley and the second from which he will leave St. Catharines with more than one medal. He won three golds when he was competing in the under-23 categories.

“I’ve had a couple of good years here,” the 24-year-old said.

King said the feeling he gets on the podium at Henley never gets old.

“Henley is especially special because there are no second-place medals,” he said. “You either win it or end up going home with nothing.”

King felt there was a target on his back approaching the starting line for the men’s single championship final.

“I won the heavy men’s single a couple of days ago and a lot of guys saw that and were gunning after me,” he said. “It was a good race.”

bfranke@postmedia.com