Hyflodraulic wins Women’s Championship, NTV wins Men’s at historic 204th Royal St. John’s Regatta

Studio Verso won the first-ever women’s endurance race at the 204th Royal St. John’s Regatta on Thursday. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Despite being delayed by a day due to weather concerns, the shores of Lake Quidi Vidi were busy Thursday night for the championship races of the historic 204th Royal St John’s Regatta.

It was the first time since 2019 that providers and spectators were back at the lake.

The experienced Hyflodraulic Limited crew won the women’s championship race with an official time of 5:11:35.

“Everyone is super excited. Everyone is delighted. We’re indicating we’re cooling off now,” Hyflodraulic rower Teresa Butler told CBC News shortly after receiving her medal.

“I loved the passion and the cheer because we didn’t have that last year with all the COVID stuff. I just sat there and soaked it all up.”

Roebothan McKay Marshall was second with a time of 5:23:46, Cahill Group with a time of 5:25:47, Smith Stockley with a time of 5:29:50 and Steers Insurance Ladies with a time of 5:42: 45

In the men’s championship race, the NTV crew won with a time of 9:46:91.

Capital Home Hardware was second with a time of 9:52:78, NL Power finished with a time of 9:56:72, Fine Stokes Plaster and Painting Limited finished with 10:06:24 and Penney Kia finished with 10:43: 31

historic day

Meanwhile, four women’s teams made history on Thursday morning, rowing the 1.5-mile (2.45-kilometer) course as the first since 1816.

The Verso crew took first place with a time of 10:28.70.

In previous years, long-distance was reserved for men, but that has changed this year.

“A lot of people on this crew have been pushing for this for a long time,” Verso rower Steph Davis said Thursday. “It’s really, really nice to see it finally coming to life, bearing fruit and having so much incredible support.”

Take a look at the sights and sounds of the 204th Royal St. John’s Regatta:

Sights and sounds of the Royal St. John’s Regatta

Catch a glimpse of the fun around Quidi Vidi Lake.

Men can now row on the short course, too, although no teams have entered this year.

Ashley Peach, regatta committee vice president and course captain, said she hopes to see more men’s teams register next year.

The regatta will take place with a day delay

Peach announced the regatta would be held at a press conference just after 5:30am on Thursday, triggering the weather dependent St John’s bank holiday.

The first race started at around 8:20 am with two senior women’s races followed by two senior men’s races.

The regatta committee postponed the event on Wednesday because wind speeds of 20 km/h and gusts of up to 40 km/h were expected. The event will only take place if the committee determines that the weather conditions are suitable for rowing on Lake Quidi Vidi.

Environment Canada is forecast for drizzle Thursday morning and a mix of sun and clouds later in the day with winds of 12 mph. Temperatures are expected to reach 27 C with a humidex of 30.

A person wearing a ribbon and lanyard stands outside on a podium.  Behind the person the words "johns" and "regatta" can be seen.
Just after 5:30am Thursday, Regatta Committee Vice President and Course Captain Ashley Peach announced that the event would be held. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Peach said she hopes lower wind speeds and gusts will make for better rowing conditions than Wednesday.

“The decision this morning was much easier,” she said.

Olivia Neary and Elsa Loveys, both 10 years old, are part of J&E Enterprises Limited’s Squirt team, a crew of nine and ten year old girls.

Olivia said her father, former regatta president Chris Neary, inspired her love of rowing.

“He’s a great helmsman,” she said.

Two girls in yellow T-shirts with the J&E Enterprises logo are standing outside, smiling, arms wrapped around each other.  People walk by in the background.
Elsa Loveys, left, and Olivia Neary are two of the younger competitors in the 204th Royal St. John’s Regatta. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Elsa and Olivia said their aim for the regatta is to do their best – and have fun.

Chris Neary said the team could have some future champions.

“You’re having fun,” he said.

Spectators, sellers return

The regatta welcomes dozens of vendors and thousands of spectators for the first time since 2019. Organizers say the crowd around the lake has ranged from 30,000 to 50,000 in recent years.

Peach said rowers are prepared for the higher temperatures but spectators should remember to bring water and seek shade during the hotter part of the day. She suggested attending the event earlier in the morning when the temperature is cooler.

St. John Ambulance will be located around the lake to assist in the event of an emergency.

A close-up of a person in a white polo t-shirt mid-sentence.
Anchormen Barbershop Chorus President Steve Martin says the regatta is the group’s most important fundraiser each year. (Patrick Butler/Radio Canada)

The Anchormen Barbershop Chorus is one of the groups fundraising at the event. President Steve Martin said the regatta is the group’s premier annual fundraiser.

“We put a lot of energy into it, but we’re really enjoying it. It’s very rewarding,” he said.

In addition to prizes like stuffed animals, members of the group also accept song requests, Martin said.

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