Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) was proudly represented by five athletes at the recent 2023 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals at the coastal town of Barletta, Italy, where they competed against the world’s best coastal rowers.
The team was led by Canadian coastal rowers Aubrey Oldham (Leander Boat Club / Don Rowing Club) and Sarah Pidgen (Don Rowing Club) who competed in the men’s and women’s solo events before joining forces in the mixed doubles event.
Oldham, representing the nation at his fourth Beach Sprint Finals, faced off against USA rower Christopher Bak in a thrilling race in the knockout phase. Both rowers turned at the 250m buoy with by less than a second separating them, but it was Bak who prevailed on the return leg to the beach to take the victory and progressed to the quarterfinals.
In the Women’s solo, Pidgen was matched against Christine Cavallo (USA) in the knock-out phase. A difficult slalom leg by Pidgen heading out to the 250m buoy saw the Canadian rower fall behind by 10 seconds at the turn, and despite a determined row to the shore, the difference was too much to overcome.
The Canadians joined together in the Mixed Doubles event, where they were up against the second ranker qualifiers duo from Spain. Calling on their experience and skill, Pidgen and Oldham battled valiantly against the Spanish rowers, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to secure the win and they were knocked out of the regatta.
View this post on Instagram
Canada was represented by three emerging coastal rowers in the Under 19 categories, in the Men’s Under 19 solo, Queen’s University and Don Rowing Club’s Dennis Ovdiyenko competed against Egyptian Omar Elkomaty in the knock-out phase. Trailing at the turn around the buoy, Ovdiyenko, competing at his second Beach Sprint Finals, used a surging final 250m to put the pressure on his opponent, but sadly fell short for the victory.
Montreal Rowing Club’s Ella-Rose Duval, representing the nation at her debut Beach Sprint Finals, drew Egyptian Hannah Elsobky in the knock-out phase. Duval pressured her competitor throughout the exciting race but the Egyptian rower got the better of the Canadian at the buzzer and took the victory.
Duval then joined Hanlan Boat Club’s John Liu, to compete in the Mixed Under 19 Doubles event. Going head to head against the sixth-ranked Austrian double was going to be a challenge for the young Canadian double. Despite pressuring their competitors on the race home, the Austrian double took the win and knocked out the Canadian teens.
Liu later joined with Ovdiyenko to compete in the Men’s Under 19 Doubles event where the emerging rowers qualified 11th which saw them go through the repechage where they faced off against their German counterparts. Battling challenging surf conditions, the young Canadians trailed through the slalom leg and the turn around the buoy, resulting in a lead by the Germans that proved insurmountable. Nevertheless, the display of sportsmanship at the finish line between the competitors, a hallmark of the entire regatta, was truly commendable.
The 2023 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Barletta, Italy, marked a significant milestone in the development of Canada’s coastal rowing program. As the Canadian team heads home, we celebrate their invaluable experiences and performances, which will undoubtedly continue to promote and nurture the emerging discipline of rowing in Canada.
2023 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals – Canadian Team
Men’s Solo (CM1x)
Aubrey Oldham (Leander Boat Club / Don Rowing Club) – 18th Time Trial 1 > 7th Time Trial 2 > Lost vs. USA – Knock-out phase
Women’s Solo (CW1x)
Sarah Pidgen (Don Rowing Club) – 16th Time Trial 1 > 6th Time Trial 2 > Lost vs. USA – Knock-out phase
Mixed Doubles (CMix2x)
Aubrey Oldham (Leander Boat Club / Don Rowing Club) & Sarah Pidgen (Don Rowing Club) – 17th Time Trial 1 > 7th Time Trial 2 > Lost vs. Spain – Knock-out phase
Under 19 Team
Men’s Under 19 Solo (CJM1x)
Dennis Ovdiyenko (Queen’s University / Don Rowing Club) – 14th Time Trial 1 > 6th Time Trial 2 > Lost vs. Egypt – Knock-out phase
Women’s Under 19 Solo (CJW1x)
Ella-Rose Duval (Montreal Rowing Club) – 10th Time Trial 1 > 4th Time Trial 2 > Lost vs. Egypt – Knock-out phase
Men’s Under 19 Doubles (CJM2x)
Dennis Ovdiyenko (Queen’s University / Don Rowing Club) & John Liu (Hanlan Boat Club) – 9th Time Trial > Lost vs. Germany – Knock-out phase
Mixed Under 19 Doubles (CJMix2x)
Ella-Rose Duval (Montreal Rowing Club) & John Liu (Hanlan Boat Club) – 11th Time Trial > Lost vs. Austria – Knock-out phase