Getting a new boat is usually the big excitement for rowing clubs. But in this case, Rowing P.E.I. is even more excited about a new purchase that doesn’t float.
Rowing P.E.I. has a new set of wheels.
While a new trailer may sound like a minor accomplishment for a sporting organization, this is big news for the fledgling rowing club. It means they can now transport their fleet of boats to regional and even national competitions.
“Being mobile is a huge deal,” says Rowing P.E.I. president Michael Gibson, who is also the club’s highest-level coach. “As we prepare for the next Canada Games, it’s crucial that we are able to get our young Island athletes to regional competitions. This will keep them developing at the same rate as other rookie rowers in the Maritimes.”
Rowing P.E.I. is now beginning the process of recruiting athletes for the upcoming 2017 Canada Games. The Games are in Manitoba but the rowing competition will be held just across the Ontario border in Kenora. Rowing P.E.I. took a team of ten athletes to the last Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
“We have so much more to offer young athletes now, ” explains Gibson. “We were very new at the last Games. Now we have a fleet of boats and, with the trailer, the ability to take them where we need to be during the competitive season. ”
The club also has an inspiring role model for new rowers in Emily Cameron. Cameron grew up in Summerside and started rowing as an adult, at the University of Toronto. She rose quickly through the competitive ranks and has been a member of the national team since 2010. Cameron has her eye on the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
When Emily Cameron returns to P.E.I. to visit family, she always fits in a visit with her fans at Rowing P.E.I.
“It has been really exciting to see the growth of the sport in my home province, ” says Cameron. “They are great supporters and I’m happy to help them however I can. ”
And it turns out that Rowing P.E.I. may be on the cutting edge of one of the hottest growing areas of the sport of rowing.
Coastal rowing is becoming increasingly popular in Canada. Coastal boats are wider and sturdier than traditional rowing sculls. They are designed for more turbulent coastal waters, including the conditions in the Charlottetown Harbour. Rowing P.E.I. currently has one of the country’s largest fleets of coastal boats, including two coastal doubles, a quad with cox seat and a coastal single. They allow the club to offer times on the water that would be considered “un-rowable” in the narrower sculls.
Now there are quiet whispers of coastal rowing perhaps one day becoming an Olympic event. Rowing Canada reports that the sport is taking root in many parts of the world. It has already taken off in Europe and rowers are now beginning to discover it in more parts of Canada, including a group in Toronto who row out on Lake Ontario.
There is already a popular coastal regatta in Alma, Quebec. Organizers reports that the 2014 Festirame had a 35% increase in the number of participants, from 3 different provinces, with 95 seats registered compared to 61 in 2013. The event was covered by regional, provincial, and international media outlets.
Rowing P.E.I. is hoping to follow closely in the wake of the Alma success story. The club organized a small-scale local coastal regatta in 2014, with 22 rowers participating. The goal is to eventually build to a regional event in years ahead. The possibility of an international event, featuring P.E.I.’s beaches, is the club’s ultimate dream.
In the meantime, with the boats tucked away for the winter, the focus is on recruiting more members for 2015. And Rowing P.E.I. is hoping to put many kilometers on that shiny new trailer in the season ahead. Have trailer, will travel.