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Local rowers shine at South Niagara Invitational Regatta

Orillia Rowing Club brings home 10 medals from long-weekend event; 'I was shocked by our results,' says coach while commending athletes
20240527-orillia-rowing-club-ragatta
The Orillia Rowing Club earned 10 medals during the South Niagara Invitational Regatta which took place May 18 and 19, 2024

NEWS RELEASE
ORILLIA ROWING CLUB
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“Who is that yellow school and where did they come from?!”

That’s what was on the mind of many at this year’s South Niagara Invitational Regatta, which drew 363 entries from 72 schools on the May 24 weekend. The ‘yellow school’ was the Orillia Rowing Club, which came away with four first places and six second places, 10 medals from the events they competed in.

The Orillia Rowing Club was the northernmost team participating in the regatta. Ice and cold water usually keep the club from training until long after other clubs have started their season.

Coach Anne Hodkin explained: “This is the first time we have entered this regatta as we normally have only been on the water in May. I was testing the waters and I wasn’t sure if we were ready. We don’t have the best conditions and we don’t have the same standard of equipment that some of the private schools have, but we have heart and heart can carry you!”

The club just had four weeks of on-the-water training before the regatta and they had to borrow a lot of equipment from other teams: boats, blades, shoes, coxbox, etc. “The regatta chair and president of the South Niagara Rowing Club were amazing. The boat the boys rowed had never been used – arrive new on Wednesday!”

The gamble paid off.

“I was shocked by our results," says coach Hodkin. “We entered 13 youth athletes, the most we have ever entered so early in the season and the results were outstanding. Eleven athletes medalled, some in multiple events.”

Maelle Bouchard and Autumn Prior took first in the junior women’s double, the first time that they have raced together in a double.

Molly Hazel and Elias Fiddick took first in the mixed double after only rowing together, let alone competing together, once before.

Sam and Matthew Pecorella took first in the under-15 men’s double.

Sam and Matthew also took first in the under-15 mixed quad with Maelle, Zoe LeBoeuf and coxed by Scarlett Gilbert, also first time rowing together.

Autumn took second in the junior women’s single, Molly took second in the senior women lightweight single, Autumn and Molly also took second in the senior women’s lightweight double, Elias took second in the senior men’s lightweight single, Zoe and Maelle took second in the under-15 women’s double, and Lyla Stanton, Landyn Hill, Aliah Sinclair, and Maelle took second in the junior women’s quad.

Fedor Radzievskii and Andrew Dilawri, who are new to the club’s competitive program, failed to make it to the final races in their events, but they performed well considering this was their first non-recreational regatta and have had minimal training.

“This was very surprising considering the number of schools and clubs that enters,” coach Hodkin observed.

But she was cautious in her appraisal of what lay ahead for the team.

“These are outstanding results but we don’t know if everyone has an A or B team and who is turning up at each regatta. Our team is the A team and we will turn up at every regatta.”

And so it was that the team competed this past weekend at the London Western Highschool Invitational Regatta. At this regatta, Sam, Autumn and Elias each took second in their respective, single events. Autumn and Molly took third in the senior women’s heavy double and Sam and Matthew took third in the junior men’s double.

Molly also took fourth in the women’s heavy single, Matthew took fourth in the junior men’s single, and Andrew took fifth in the junior men’s single.

“I have to say as a small club with limited resources the support from the larger rowing community needs to be recognized. It was hard for us – we never thought we would enter seven events and land up in seven finals, but the community rallied and they wanted us to race with the best and they lent us everything! I could not believe the generosity of the rowing community and I teared up a number of times.”

“I have only lived in Orillia since June 2023 and I just want to thank everyone who has donated, bought something they don’t need, or attended something they did not need to attend just to support the athletes. I now live in a community that cares and I deeply care about. Thank you!”

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