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Relatives and friends cheered the crews on from the shore of the Rideau River. Photo: Lucy Martin
Relatives and friends cheered the crews on from the shore of the Rideau River. Photo: Lucy Martin

A beautiful start to rowing season at Head of the Rideau

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The regatta racing season is underway for rowing teams across the region.

This past Sunday the Ottawa Rowing Club played host to U.S. and Canadian teams ranging in age from high school to master's.

It was a lovely fall day, full of brilliant sunshine. Lucy Martin checked in with the finish line crew, just past Mooney's Bay Beach. She spoke with one of the umpires, Brian Storosko.

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Finish line officials (l to r): Andy Banda, Lynn Alberta, Brian Storosko, Wes Kuran and Randy Allan. Photo: Lucy Martin
Finish line officials (l to r): Andy Banda, Lynn Alberta, Brian Storosko, Wes Kuran and Randy Allan. Photo: Lucy Martin
Brian Storosko: “Hi, I'm Brian Storosko, on the Rideau River, in Ottawa, and this is for the Head of the Rideau regatta. It's a rowing regatta that incorporates high school crews, club crews and university crews. There's a number of crews from New York state as well. Clarkson is here (fellow official adds “Grateful Oars from Postdam” in the background) From Potsdam, there's crews here.” (editor's note: that should actually be from Norwood.)

Lucy Martin: “How many years has Head of the Rideau been held?”

Brian: “1976. The Queen was here in 1977, to give out medals during the silver jubilee. And it's run on the Rideau Canal in the past, and now it's currently run on the Rideau River here.”

Lucy: “It's pretty windy here today. How would you describe conditions?”

Brian: “Challenging. Challenging. It's a little – at least it's a tail wind, so it makes the race a little faster. But it just makes getting to to the start a little slow.”

Lucy: “Were you a rower?”

Brian: “Yes, I was.”

Lucy: “What was your favorite crew, or?”

Brian: “I was a coxswain, so I did steering the boat and things like that. And, actually, my favorite race was in the states, at Boston, the Head of the Charles regatta. I've won that one. So it's been a great event down there. I was with a high school crew out of St. Catharine's. I was also there as part of the Canadian national team as well. But it was the high school victory that was the best one, because we beat a number of U.S. colleges and universities.”

Lucy: “Did you?! The high school team beat the...?”

Brian: “Yeah, we had a lot of national team members in our crew, so we did quite well. I think Princeton came (in) second. So it was a good victory for us.”

Lucy: “What year was that?”

Brian: “1976.”

Lucy: “You've got a big smile on your face! (Brian laughs) It's still a good memory!”

Brian: “Yes, that's right. Yes. Very good!”

Lucy: “What do people not understand about this sport?”

Brian: “It actually looks very smooth, when you're watching, from shore. But when you're in the boat there's a lot of variables. There's keeping in time with the person in front of you. Keeping a proper pace. Keeping your oars off the water and keeping the boat set up.”

Lucy: “Today we've seen a number of boats nearly get blown into the rocky shoreline.”

U.S. and Canadian team boats began with staggered starts, but could easily get clustered up on the natural river course. Photo: Lucy Martin
U.S. and Canadian team boats began with staggered starts, but could easily get clustered up on the natural river course. Photo: Lucy Martin
Brian: “Yeah, it's a little treacherous at the finish line. Especially, this is the first race, for a lot of these kids - if they've just started in the fall - especially some of the novice university athletes. And this wind makes it very challenging for the boats.”

Lucy: “But all in all, a nice day.”

Brian: “Oh, it's gorgeous weather, and that! And, you know, a lot of camaraderie with the people on the shore, and that sort of thing. So it's quite nice. Yeah, the wind is picking up. But hopefully we'll get the last few races off without any incidents.”

Lucy: “Is this the big hurrah for the Rideau? Everything moves off to other places after this?”

Brian: “After this, there's one next weekend in Peterborough, the Head of the Trent regatta. And then there's a couple in the United States that crews from here will go to. Some will go to the Charles. Some will go to the Head of the Fish, in Saratoga Springs. And then there's some Ontario University races that are occurring in Southern Ontario in the next few weeks.”

Lucy: “What's it take to be a rower?”

Brian: “Dedication, discipline and time. A lot of endurance, because it's a full body sport, right? It's not just running, it's moving your whole body.”

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