|Original cover of the 1978 Regatta Program|
|1977 Henley Gold-- Heavy fours and Coach Keith Ratcliffe (Stephen Gaunce, Mark Allan, Dave Allan, and Wayne McConnell)|
The Way of the Gold
The Kennebecasis Rowing Club performed magnificently, even dramatically, during the 1977 season, winning three gold medals and only losing a fourth by a freak accident.
For sheer excitement you cannot beat a close rowing race. While the boats rush forward at a fast clip, they still go slowly enough that the value of each stroke can be measured by the eye.
The first gold medal was taken by the Allan brothers, Mark and David, in the junior straight pairs competition at the International Canadian Henley. They were opposed by the best juniors in America. This race was so close that no one knew who had won. Sitting in the large grandstand right on the finish line, we held our breath for the announcement. The two shots had rung out "Bang! Bang!" less than a second apart. The strong American crew from Kent School (well known in European racing) was the favorite. But Kennebecasis had hung on to its slim lead and had just refused to yield an inch to the challengers and that’s about what they won by.
Their second win was in the Canadian Championships, but in senior competition this time. This regatta was one week after the Henley and was rowed in Montreal. The Allan brothers simply outclassed the opposition, winning by several lengths.
The best race of the Canadian Championships was the straight four over 2,000 meters (one mile plus). Vancouver were set to win this major race. They had been second at the Henley. Free from American competition, they were expectant winners. The race started badly for KRC and at the half way mark we were two lengths behind. Vancouver was happy. They could row comfortably and hold off any challenge.
Suddenly at the 1500 metre mark they found that their lead had been cut by half. By this time it was a two crew race. The rest were far back. Concern began to register on the faces of the leaders. They decided to put on a major spurt and shake off those pesky East Coasters, for it was East versus West. Away went the B.C. oarsmen. They made a major effort and should have regained their lead. But, no! They had gained nothing. The boys from N.B. matched them stroke for stroke and still gained.
B.C. began to show signs of exhaustion. Their opponents were remorseless. They continued to gain. It now became a question of distance. One hundred metres to go and half a length in the lead. Could the Vancouverites hang in long enough to reach the finish line first? Foot by foot our boys edged up. A quarter length, ten feet to make up and only ten meters to do it in! Only ten meters! Our boys made a supreme effort and the boat shot through the water. The Vancouverites could not hold on. They had shot their bolt. We won by about two metres.
This was said to be the finest race of the whole Regatta. Kennebecasis had its third gold medal and second Canadian Championship. Hats off to a strong crew that simply refused to be beaten. Congratulations to Mark and David Allan, Andy Messer, and Wayne McConnell, and particularly to coach Keith Ratcliff, and a fitting climax to three years of intensive training.
Kennebecasis Rowing Club
During the year of 1977, the Club has been very successful under the leadership of Dr. C.H. Bonnycastle, in capturing gold medals in both the Royal Canadian Henley and the Canadian Championships.
The year saw some 20 people rowing for the Club with both girls’ and boys’ crews.
During the year we completed negotiations and now have in our Boat Club an 8-man rowing shell. This brings our total number of boats to 7.
During the recreational period of the Community Club this summer, the Kennebecasis Rowing Club will be giving instructional rowing to the children of the area starting at age 14, under the direction of Wayne McConnell, who is one of our gold medallist rowers.
Again, we look forward to another successful season of rowing with year again even more rowers enrolled in our Club.
WOMEN’S ROWING CREW
Not all the laurels go to the men. The women’s four also went to the Henley in 1977. On the way they stopped off in Buffalo, New York for a regatta there and they won their race against four American crews. At the Henley they rowed very well. Unfortunately there were over thirty other women’s teams in the competition. They rowed well to finish third in their heat, losing to the Mexican National women’s crew and very close behind the London Rowing Club.
The members of our crew were Mary Ellen Guidry, Sally Hutchinson, Patty Kiever and Margot Inches. Lorne Kilpatrick coached the girls to their fine performance.