Rowing P.E.I. looking for financial help for Canada Games fleet

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Rowing P.E.I. looking for financial help for Canada Games fleet

-Youth team needs race boats suited for Island waters

P.E.I.’s hopes for a rowing team at the 2017 Canada Games depend on the success of a new fundraiser that will raise money for young Island athletes to train. Rowing P.E.I. suffered a loss of more than $20,000 when the club’s storage barn collapsed in March 2015, crushing four of the fleet of rowing sculls.  Now the club has launched a campaign to purchase new boats that will allow young rowers to compete at the Canada Games.

“It has been quite a comeback already,” said Rowing P.E.I. president Mike Gibson. “We weren’t even sure we would be able to operate this season.”

“Insurance and donations from rowing clubs across Canada have helped us to begin to rebuild our fleet,” explained Gibson.  “But we are now in a position where we need to purchase at least two new boats, hopefully four, to be able to train our young athletes properly for the upcoming Canada Games in 2017.”

Gibson explains that the water conditions where the club trains make it challenging to prepare for national competitions, such as the Canada Games.

“We have steadily grown our fleet of boats, primarily coastal boats, which are more suited to the windy, choppy waters of the Charlottetown Harbour,” said Gibson.  “Unfortunately, the coastal boats are not part of the Canada Games, though they will soon be part of the Olympics.  But, for now, the coastal boats don’t prepare our young rowers to compete in flatwater rowing.”

“Our previous flatwater racing boats were not sturdy enough for anything but the calmest conditions,” added Gibson.

Rowing P.E.I. has done extensive research, says Gibson, looking for boats that will allow the youth to train on the Charlottetown Harbour.  He says they’ve decided on boats –created by the Maas company in San Francisco –that are uniquely designed for ocean racing.

“We believe these boats will give our young rowers the ability to train and compete on an even playing field with other rowers from across Canada in a way that the traditional rowing sculls do not,” said Gibson, who is also the head coach for the Canada Games team.  “We estimate that with the Maas boats we will be able to quadruple how much training our youth will get.”

“We are hoping to raise $40,000 to purchase 4 Maas boats –two singles and two doubles,” Gibson continued.  “It is still a tiny fleet compared to other provinces.  But we believe this is a target that we can meet.  We will also meet the national standard for training.”

“Even at the national level, rowers train for years in singles and doubles before moving to larger boats,” explained Gibson.

Gibson adds that time is of the essence because the P.E.I. youth need to start training in these boats in May 2016.

Rowing is still relatively new on Prince Edward Island.  Rowing P.E.I. started with a “loaner kit” of boats from Rowing Canada in 2010 and has been steadily growing in membership since then.  It is based out of the docks at the Charlottetown Yacht Club.

In 2013, Gibson took a team of ten athletes to the Canada Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec.  At the previous Games, hosted on P.E.I., the Island had just two rowers.  The head coach says he’s started working with a group of ten athletes who will be eligible for the Games in 2017.

“But getting those boats — race boats that we can use here with our water conditions — that is going to be the key,” said Gibson.

Contact: Mike Gibson – President Rowing P.E.I.

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