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ROWONTARIO (RO) hosted the 2019 RO Small Boat Trials (SBT) on Sunday May 26th in Welland on the South Course.  88 athletes, representing 78 entries from 18 clubs, competed in the 2019 edition of the event, which has evolved from a strictly high performance-oriented regatta to an increasingly more inclusive and meaningful event.

The RO SBT is an important fixture in the ROWONTARIO High Performance plan.  The event is strategically targeted to be two to three weeks prior to the RCA Speed Orders to provide high performance athletes a test event before entering the national team selection process.

However, the RO SBT has evolved in to so much more than a high-performance test event.  Included in the Trillium Chase 1x Challenge Series since its inception in 2018, the event is inclusive to athletes of any age or weight category. In fact, a primary goal of the SBT is to provide athletes with a meaningful race opportunity against competitors of like speed, to really challenge athletes’ tactical skill development regardless of skill or experience level.  By having competitors first complete a time trial then be seeded into finals, regardless of age or weight category, lends itself well to competitive and meaningful finals for everyone in the second half of the day.

The results of the 1x sprint finals can attest to the benefits of that format.  3/6 finals in the M1x final involved finishes separated by less than a second and the A-final included lightweight, senior, U23, U21 and U19 entries. Brock’s Matthew Finley won the event overall, followed by Markewich (Brock) and Bryenton (Kingston), who improved his position from 6th to 3rd after the time trial.  A similar spread of categories was true in the W1x event, which was won by Mika Kimmins (Hanlan), with Western’s Urabe and Brock’s Zanatta swapping their time trial position to finish in 2nd and 3rd, respectively. 

The Men’s and Women’s 2- events also benefited from having two opportunities to race on WIFC’s world-class South Course, once in a time trial and later head-to-head.  The Men’s 2- event was won by Basil Jancso-Szabo and Sam Zimbel, a U19 pair from Argonaut Rowing Club, with a time of 6:55.91.  They were followed by Hohnstein/Stewart (Brock) and Darling/Veld (E.L. Crossley), who improved their position from 5th to 3rd in the final.  The Women’s 2- event was won by Paige Adams and Cassidy Deane, a SR pair from Kingston Rowing Club, with a time of 7:42.27.  Brock’s pair of Maloney/Gadsdon maintained 2nd position but closed the gap in the final, and Western (Hutton/Baranowski) improved their position from 4th to 3rd

Full results are available on RegattaCentral.

An exciting highlight of the day was the RCA Hub Skill Competition that took place in the scheduled gap between the time trials and sprint finals.  The skills competition was initially proposed to RO by Western Hub coach Dane Lawson as a way to provide a meaningful competitive experience to novice athletes who are on a high-performance pathway but are not yet ready for a 2000m race. 

The skills competition included five skills: 360* turn (in both directions), rigger dips, handle dips, loaded roll-ups, minimum strokes in 500m, and a 500m head-to-head sprint from the start platform.  Though the skills portion saw several competitors tip, never did they stop smiling. 

Four novice athletes competed in the event, all based in London: Elisa Bolinger, Tianna McElligot, and twins Hannah and Fiona Elliot.  Hannah Elliot won the day by a small margin of 0.3 points over Fiona, thanks in large part to her impressive 38 rigger dips in 60 seconds and 18 handle dips! Elisa Bolinger exceled in the 500m events, rowing both the fewest number of strokes in 500m and sprinting 500m in the fastest time. 

The skills competition was by invitation-only in 2019. 

ROWONTARIO would like to thank Chief Umpire Murray Christie and his team of exceptional umpires for their expertise in running a safe and fair regatta across three very different event formats. As well, thank you to Erin Carl from the City of Welland and her team of staff and volunteers for providing the logistical support to run an event of this calibre. As always, thank you as well to the athletes, coaches and supporters and congratulations on a great day of racing.