The Winnipeg Rowing Club sent a team of 52 athletes to Lake Elmo, Minnesota this past weekend for the 110th North West International Rowing Association Championship Regatta, hosted by Minneapolis Rowing Club.
A long and proud tradition that began in 1886, the NWIRA Championship Regatta takes place each summer as a competition between Canadian and American mid-western rowing clubs. Over the course of two days, teams compete in 2000 meter sculling and sweeping races in junior, master and open categories.
This year was the largest NWIRA regatta in history with 12 clubs in contention, from Lake Oswego OR, Hudson WI, Wayzata MN, Duluth MN, Minneapolis MN (two clubs), St. Paul MN, Rochester MN, Saskatoon SK, Kenora ON, Thunder Bay ON, and Winnipeg MB. WRC showed strong performances, bringing home ten medals:
Open Men’s Single – Paul Thiessen
Master Women’s Single – Tracy Taylor
Lightweight Women’s Single Dash – Brandi Smith
Open Men’s Double – Paul Thiessen, Loch Inglis
Open Men’s Pair – Paul Thiessen, Loch Inglis
Open Men’s Quad – Paul Thiessen, Loch Inglis, Riley MacCharles, Patrick Thiessen
Open Men’s Four – Paul Thiessen, Loch Inglis, Riley MacCharles, Patrick Thiessen
Junior Women’s Quad – Hanika Nakagawa, Rachel Bourassa, Bridget Burns, Fiona Rettie
Mixed Master Quad – Andrew Lamont, Tracy Taylor, Brandi Smith, Jeff Reitberger
Master Men’s Quad – Andrew Lamont, Dave Cooke, Peter Vilks, Jeff Reitberger
For the first time since 2000, WRC won the Con Riley Trophy, named after WRC rower C.S. Riley, awarded to the club with the most points in men’s events. For women’s points, WRC placed third. Out of all 12 rowing clubs in competition, WRC placed second overall. The only team ahead was St. Paul, who were named Grand Aggregate Champion and won the coveted Lipton Cup. Last year, WRC took home top prize, capturing the Lipton Cup for the first time since 2004.
Great effort was put forth by the entire WRC team, led by coaches Brent Figg, Jeff Powell, Ralph Penner and Lisa Kates. WRC officials Sandi Kirby and Don Hornby also worked at the regatta as Officials.
The first NWIRA competition took place July 16, 1886, on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. What started as a quiet evening erupted into mayhem, as the sound of the starter’s gun blast echoed across the lake, and fans began cheering wildly from hundreds of small boats and steamers. Three crews raced down the course with Winnipeg in last place. With a quarter-mile to the finish, Winnipeg sprinted ahead with Minnesota and St. Paul in hot pursuit. In the end, the Canadians crossed the line first and took home a championship that would trade hands many times over the next century.
The NWIRA Regatta has continued to grow and thrive since that first race won by Winnipeg in 1886. An annual regatta, it has only been postponed during times of war. The grand aggregate trophy – the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup – is up for grabs annually, and won this year by Minnesota Boat Club.
Full results can be found here.