Mother Nature wasn’t in a great mood on Saturday, but the rainy weather did little to dampen the enthusiasm of competitors at Head of the Fort, the University of the Fraser Valley rowing program’s annual regatta.
Fifty-nine boats from UFV, Simon Fraser University and local rowing clubs took to the 6.5-kilometre course on the Bedford Channel at Fort Langley featuring a 180-degree turn in the middle. Despite the rain, participants were simply happy to be out on the water after an unusually frigid winter which iced over many waterways and kept many clubs off the water.
“Our numbers were down overall, but it didn’t surprise me because so many clubs have been iced in,” Cascades head coach Liz Chisholm said. “We were grateful for the athletes who did come out from other clubs, and people were really happy to be there. And I was surprised because with all that rain, it was cold.”
One of the highlights for the Cascades was the men’s pairs race featuring two UFV varsity duos: Mitchell Wierks and Kyle Krahn, and Riley Dueck and Stephen Wall. Krahn and Wall have been longtime partners in that event, competing together in past years at the Canadian National Rowing Championships and the Canadian University Rowing Championships. But in an unusual year which saw Krahn redshirt during the first semester and Wall miss extended time due to pneumonia – and inclement weather limiting practice time – the athletes elected to switch up the pairings. Wierks and Krahn ended up prevailing by about a minute and a half.
“It’s friendly competition, definitely,” Chisholm said. “Kyle and Stephen have been the pair together for so long, and there was some excitement.
“I couldn’t wait to try Mitch and Kyle together, because it adds to the number of athletes on the team of similar strength and ability. Through seat-racing we’ll be able to put together the top men for that boat to train for the Western Canadians and hopefully Canadian Universities (championships).”
The Cascades also entered a pair of junior varsity fours boats. The women’s four featuring Karen Chung, Erin Steele, Angelica Evans and Michelle Olive finished third, just over a minute behind a Vancouver Rowing Club entry. The UFV men’s four, with Clayton DeVries, Graeson Lounsbury, Andrew Stahl and Kyle Fischer, also took third, finishing just 15.8 seconds back of a UFV alumni boat.
The Cascades also had a variety of club and alumni rowers competing at Head of the Fort. Click the following link for comprehensive results.