Gosling Park was the venue for the 35th annual Labrador Canoes Regatta Aug. 4-5. It was held in almost perfect weather conditions, with the sun shining and little breeze to worry about, the water was almost like a sheet of glass, perfect for paddling on.
Aug. 4 saw the start of the Regatta with the qualifying races for the men’s and ladies division along with a family race and the official opening ceremony, followed by a night of live music and entertainment.
Sunday was the championship day and Family Fun Day, with a number of activities scheduled for children to participate in, including a scavenger hunt, Power Wheels race and a cakewalk in between the feature races.
The first race of the day was the men’s championship which was contested by only two teams, the Cozy Cruisers consisting of Chris Budgell, Chad Gray, Nathan Rideout, Gavin Mutrey, Matt Pomeroy and Adam Anderson and The Exterminators who only came together as a team five minutes prior to the commencement of the Saturday qualifying heats.
Men’s champions The Exterminators had only paddled once before as a team, and that was in the Saturday qualifying heat. Zach Garland, who was part of the winning team made up of David Dicker, Matt Coates, Richard Clarke, Lucas Compton and Michael Ghaney told The Labradorian that the team was formed quickly.
“We just went out there and paddled for the fun of it, I always wanted to compete in the Regatta but just couldn’t get a team organised then this one came together in five minutes,” Garland said.
Regatta emcee John Kelland was the person responsible for gathering the team members who competed as The Exterminators, convincing them to enter as a team.
“We had zero teams entered in the race which is a shame as it’s the 35th Annual Canoe Regatta and we’d like to keep it going. The River Rats were tied up understandably, but I’m putting a personal shout out for next year to the fire hall, the RCMP, the pen guards, the hospital — everybody that’s out there — we need you down here,” Kelland said.
The novelty race is a shortened race comprised of four competing teams paddling out to the first buoy marker, turn and head back to the start/finish line.
First place was earned by Sean & the CFA’s, followed by Put Together, PSP and The Knickers.
The final competitive race for the day was the female championship. Three teams lined up for the final, which included the team of Moms on the Water, who only entered into the race on the day. The other two teams were Team Riptide and The Penny Pinchers.
The ladies race was held over the same course as the men’s championship race and from the very start, it was Moms on the Water that shot out to an early and commanding lead. They managed to hold and extend their lead throughout the journey of the race crossing the finish line with a huge margin over Team Riptide, followed by The Penny Pinchers.
In what was a remarkable coincidence, both the winners of the men’s and ladies championships were teams that were put together at the Regatta. The Moms on the Water team was comprised of Jodi Brown, Roxi Wolfrey, Toni Hamel, Dana Webber, Coralee Evoy and Stephanie Eddy.
The Labradorian spoke with the winning team about their experience out on the water and how the formation of the team came about.
“There’s no interest anymore, there’s no teams anymore, so we’re trying to bring it back a bit,” Hamel said.
“As we get older, we get busier and we got kids so it’s hard to put aside the time to do it, but seeing this I’ll make sure we put aside time from now on,” Brown noted.
Eddy said, “We sat in the canoe together for the first time just five minutes before the start of the race to figure out our weights and who paddled where and where we were comfortable.”
Evoy concluded, “The conditions were great, it was really smooth, couldn’t have asked for better.”