Weekend Wrap: Two Days of Beach Sprint Action in Toronto
The 2023 RowOn Beach Sprint Championships took place over the weekend and featured two days of exciting action at Ashbridges Bay in Toronto.
The regatta was co-hosted by Row Ontario and the Hanlan Boat Club and was the first Beach Sprint event Row Ontario has ever run. In addition to being the provincial championships, it was also a qualifying event for U19 athletes for the 2023 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals, which run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in Barletta, Italy. The competitors hit the beach and the waves under sunny skies and favourable temperatures during the two-day event. The solo events took place on Saturday while the doubles ran on Sunday.
The festive scene at Ashbridges Bay was one of togetherness and encouragement as the competitors cheered each other on and pitched in as boat handlers throughout the day. Strategies and techniques were openly discussed among the rowers as the racing progressed, with more experienced athletes giving helpful tips to the rookies who were competing in a beach sprint event for the first time. The exciting beach sprint progression format began with time trials each day and depending on the number of competitors in the race category, were followed by a repechage round, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, where the winner of each category was crowned. Each competitor raced multiple times throughout the day, giving them valuable experience in the growing discipline.
In solo action, Elena Sati (Don Rowing Club) topped Caitlin Pauls (Ridley Graduate Boat Club) in the final by eight seconds to earn the open women’s solo gold medal, while on the men’s side veteran rower John Murphy (Niagara Rowing School) edged Kyle Spenard (Hanlan Boat Club) at the line by one second to claim the open men’s title in the most exciting race of the day. The two fastest times of the day came in the U19 men’s solo final, as Dennis Ovidyenko (Don Rowing Club) crossed the line in a time of 2:31.72 to claim gold. John Liu (Hanlan Boat Club) came second in a time of 2:37.74.
On Sunday, competitors became teammates as Ovidyenko and Liu joined forces in the U19 men’s double and claimed gold as a composite crew in an impressive performance. Other doubles winners included Meghan Bellerby & Alexander Kollman (Don Rowing Club) in the open mixed double, Ruth Shanahan-McDonald & Ava Semeniuk (Argonaut Rowing Club) in the U19 women’s double, and Semeniuk & Elliott Curtis-Young (Argonaut Rowing Club) in the U19 mixed double.
RowOn Beach Sprints Category Winners
Open Men’s Solo – John Murphy – Niagara Rowing School
Open Women’s Solo – Elena Sati – Don Rowing Club
U19 Men’s Solo – Dennis Ovdiyenko – Don Rowing Club
Open Mixed Double – Meghan Bellerby & Alexander Kollman – Don Rowing Club
U19 Women’s Double – Ruth Shanahan-McDonald & Ava Semeniuk – Argonaut Rowing Club
U19 Men’s Double – Dennis Oydiyenko & John Liu – Don Rowing Club / Hanlan Boat Club
U19 Mixed Double – Ava Semenuik & Elliott Curtis-Young – Argonaut Rowing Club
The RowOn Beach Sprint Championships wasn’t the only important beach sprint on the weekend, as the National Beach Sprint Selection Regatta also took place from Pierrefonds, QC. The event was a qualifier for the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in the open divisions. Coastal rowing pioneers Aubrey Oldham and Sarah Pidgen showed their form as they earned the opportunity to again represent Canada on the world stage. Representing the Don Rowing Club, Oldham and Pidgen each won in their respective solo events before teaming up to claim the gold medal in the mixed double.
Meanwhile in Kenora, ON, the Kenora Rowing Club hosted the 118th Annual NWIRA Championship Regatta. The North West International Rowing Association (NWIRA) is a regional association of Canadian and American rowing clubs of the Upper Mid-Western United States and Western Canada. The regatta featured 545 entries from 13 clubs including the Thunder Bay Rowing Club who 44 entries. The northwestern Ontario club had an impressive regatta, earning a total of 16 medals (3 gold, 7 silver, 6 bronze). Clubs from Manitoba, Alberta and Minnesota made up the bulk of the remaining entries. Iroquois, ON’s St. Lawrence Rowing Club was also represented at the regatta by Charles Rannells in the masters men’s single 50 and over division. Rannells qualified for the final by placing third in his heat and placed fourth in the final.
For full results from the RowOn Beach Sprint Championships, visit RegattaCentral
For full results from the National Beach Sprint Selection Regatta, visit RegattaCentral
For full results from the NWIRA Championship Regatta, visit RegattaCentral
For the full regatta schedule in Ontario, visit the Row Ontario website.