The University of the Fraser Valley rowing club geared up for its highest-profile university competitions of the season by scrimmaging against Simon Fraser University last weekend at Burnaby Lake.
The Cascades and Clan raced twice in each boat category, and despite rain coming down in buckets, the UFV entries posted their best times yet.
The UFV women’s crews swept to victory in all boat categories, with the Cascades’ two women’s pairs (Michelle Olive / Angelica Evans and Karen Chung / Erin Steele) each earning a win and Jayme Reitsma turning in a solid performance in the women’s single.
SFU has not kept a men’s crew since last spring, but it was a perfect time for veteran Stephen Wall (fifth year) and pair partner Mitchell Wierks (second year) to see where they’re at and give first-year rowers Clayton DeVries and Graeson Lounsbury a great run. They too pulled off a win each, finishing in 7:45 and 7:43 respectively.
The Cascades also brought their newest club recruits to the race and had them join junior varsity rowers Kyle Fischer and Andrew Stahl in the men’s 8+. The newcomers showed great potential in head coach Liz Chisholm’s estimation.
“It was important for UFV rowers to get on Canada West’s top rowing course, with two kilometres of buoy lines and flat water to get an idea of how accurate our times might be for 2km racing,” Chisholm said.
“This is a great opportunity before our biggest races on a course that has every 250 metres marked, and six lanes across to be side-by-side with your competition. For 90 per cent of our crew, racing on this course was a first for them, and they rose to the occasion. It was still dark and early and raining, but I’m stoked by their performance.”
This Saturday, the Cascades are in Victoria for the Western Canadian University Rowing Championships, hosted by the UVic Vikes at Elk Lake. All university programs west of Ontario will be in attendance, and racing runs all day until 4 p.m.
The following weekend, the UFV rowers will be back at Burnaby Lake for the Canadian University Rowing Championships.
“Most of the time a school’s top crew in each of these categories is pretty predictable, but there’s always one surprise crew,” Chisholm said, looking ahead to the Western Canadian Championships. “This is where they show their mental focus and physical push that can put them above and beyond what they believed they had in them, and their ability to handle pressure. It’s a coach’s opportunity to witness the grit and commitment to their racing. Most coaches finalize their lineup for the national university championship on the results of Western Canadians.”
The Cascades rowers will travel to Victoria on Friday with all boats snug on the racks of their new boat trailer, designed and built by Chung Mo Chung, father of Cascades rower Karen Chung.