St. Catharines has been long associated as the prestigious site of the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta held here each summer. Local high school competitors who compete on this course are held in the high esteem by American Universities who scout the best athletes and offer them enticing scholarships. Brock University itself, has produced 15 talented rowers who have competed in the Olympics, a superb record.
The Brock University men’s and women’s rowing teams recently christened five brand new boats at Henley Island in St. Catharines. In the ceremony, Brock Rowing honoured three former Brock rowers, a longtime rowing supporter and a well-known Niagara fundraiser.
One coxed four rowing shell was named after Rob Jennings, a former Brock University rower, who graduated in 1968, and became the youngest director at ScotiaMcLeod. He created Jennings Capital Inc. in 1993, which has grown to 85 employees and $40 million in revenue.
Coxed fours have previously been named to honour former Brock Chancellor Dr. Raymond Moriyama, longtime supporter Dr. David S. Howes and longtime professor and former Director of Athletics, Dr. Lorne Adams.
Brock also named two pairs after Brock rowing alumni Bob Crawford and Stan Lapinski.
Crawford, part of Brock’s first-ever graduating class, rowed as part of the school’s first rowing crew, the initial sport at Brock University. Lapinski, also part of the inaugural rowing crew, coached rowing at the high school level and has been an active volunteer at the St. Catharines museum for 15 years.
Brock’s two new boats donated by the Wise Guys Charity were named after Sue Erskine and Chuck Smith.
Erskine’s longtime rowing dedication involved her as director of St. Catharines Rowing Club in the late 1970s, President of the Rowing Club, and Director and President of Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation. She has been involved with the YMCA, YWCA, Trillium Foundation and served the city of St. Catharines as a councillor and deputy mayor.
Chuck Smith is the founder of the Wise Guys Charity Fund, which has raised more than $2 million for area projects. The fund was launched after a successful drive to raise money to help build a new YMCA community centre in north St. Catharines. It became a registered charity in 1997 and its most prominent fundraiser is a celebrity golf tournament held every year. Money raised by the Wise Guys has supported dozens of Niagara-focused charities.
Rowing shells do not come cheap. The four pairs christened cost $15,000 each for a total of $60,000 and the coxed four is $27,000. An eight now costs $45,000 to $60,000 and a single oar is worth $600.
Brock Rowing also unveiled a display recognizing their 15 rowers who have participated in the Olympics: Joel Finlay – Mexico City, 1968, Gail Cort – Montreal, 1976; Moscow, 1980; Los Angeles, 1984, Ron Burak – Montreal, 1976, Kathy Lichty-Boyes – Moscow, 1980; Los Angeles, 1984, Richard Doey – Los Angeles, 1984, Darby Berkhout – Seoul, 1988
Terry Paul – Seoul, 1988; Barcelona, 1992; Athens, 1996; Beijing 2008; London 2012; Rio de Janeiro, 2016, Jennifer Walinga – Seoul, 1988; Barcelona, 1992, Matt Swick – Sydney, 2000
Chris Taylor – Sydney, 2000, Iain Brambell – Sydney, 2000; Athens, 2004; Beijing, 2008
Jacqui Cook-Beattie – Athens, 2004, Jeff Dunbrack – London, 2012, Eric Woelfl – Rio de Janeiro, 2016, Tim Schrijver – Rio de Janeiro, 2016.
I recommend The Boys In The Boat by Daniel Brown as an inspiring non-fiction book about rowing. It celebrates the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing team, consisting of nine working class lads from the University of Washington, who came together as a team to dramatically disrupt Hitler’s Berlin Olympics.
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