Not only did the Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) alumni excel in their respective races, but the gathering also served as a poignant occasion for sharing stories, and memories, and paying tribute to the late Jon Beare, a Beijing bronze medallist and teammate to many, who sadly passed away in October 2023.
Under the RCA Alumni Association banner, the Women’s Coxed Four in the Senior Masters category secured a gold medal with a stellar performance. The quartet of Jen Walinga, Isolda Penney, Cheri Moore, and Julie Platt, coxed by Deb Lloyd, not only clinched victory but also set a new course record, outpacing their competitors by a remarkable 16 seconds, finishing in a time of 18:29.
Members of the victorious Women’s Coxed Four crew. (Jennifer Walinga/Instagram)
Additionally, other RCA Alumni, racing as Endeavour RC in the same race, placed 8th in a time of 20:14. This coxed four under the leadership of alumna Lesleh Anderson, featured Tina Clarke, Angela Schneider, Jane Stamp (nee Tregunno), along with Molly Baker (USA Alumni) and coxed by Freya Pollock.
On the men’s side, there were two entries in the Sr. Masters 8+ (50+) race. The “Red” crew consisting of Julien Bahain, Dave Calder, Andrew Hoskins, Darren Barber, Mike Forgeron, Phil Monckton, Aubrey Oldham, Henry Hering and coxed by Sara Pape started in 6th place and finished 3rd overall in a time of 15:32.
The second crew, the “White” boat, coxed by Mark Laidlaw included Phil Graham, Chris Jarvis, Jim Relle, Christian Dubrowski, Paul Hardy, Richard Upenieks, Peter McClelland and Todd Keesey. The crew started in the 18th spot and were able to claw their way to a very respectable 9th place overall in a time of 16:18.
In a touching tribute to their late teammate Jon Beare, both men’s eights gathered for a team photo around one of the three Hudson boats named in his honour. Men’s and women’s alumni crews along with international competitors and friends from GBR, NZ, USA, and AUS, concluded the regatta with a heartfelt toast in his memory, embodying the spirit of unity that defines the international rowing community.
A toast to the memory of Jon Beare. (Aubrey Oldham/Instagram)
Following the regatta, Paul Hardy, an elite provincial level rower in his junior years, shared an inspiring letter with the National Team Alumni Association, reflecting on the transformative journey that brought him, fellow junior elite rower Richard Upenieks, and Los Angeles 1984 Olympian Jim Relle back to the Charles River. Their story, born from a few emails reconnecting old friends, underscored the enduring bond of rowing and the joy of competing together once again.
As the echoes of the 2023 Head of the Charles Regatta linger, the RCA Alumni express their enthusiasm for future competitions. The experience Paul Hardy shared encapsulates the sentiment of the alumni association, who invite fellow rowing enthusiasts to join the ranks and start training not only for next year’s HOCR but for other regattas across the nation. The prospect of racing again with your Canadian National Teammates is a great opportunity to rekindle the passion for rowing that unites us all.
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