With their fleet bolstered by brand new boats, the McGill Rowing Team is primed for another exciting season. The rowing team has purchased seven new boats in the past six years. These crafts have been crucial to the team: Team Manager Jeff Hamilton appeared confident that the new acquisitions will inspire the rowers.
“New and better equipment give us a better chance to succeed,” Hamilton said.
The boats were officially christened after practice on Sept. 23. Their names honour both the school and McGill rowing alumni: Red Dawn, Red Wave, The Boys of ’77, Aaron and Sarah Pape, Henry Hering, Ben Storey, and Alison Korn. The christening itself serves both to unite the team and illustrate its strong history.
Red Dawn and Red Wave reference McGill’s iconic red, while The Boys of ’77 is a nod to the rowing team of 1977—the year that the team relocated to the city-made Olympic Rowing Basin where the club still practices today.
The remaining boats are dedicated to McGill rowing legends, including Henry Hering. Hering rowed for McGill in the 1990’s before competing in the world championships and becoming McGill’s Head Coach from 2002-2006. Ben Storey, another McGill alumnus, won the World Championships in 2000, and Alison Korn was a medalist in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic games. Aaron and Sarah Pape, meanwhile, were both on the McGill rowing team in the ‘90s and also went on to have Olympic careers.
Clearly, having boats named after these impressive McGill athletes is quite inspirational for the young rowers inside. This prestige also brings high expectations. Team President Craig McCullogh outlined the team’s objectives.
“Our goal every year is to get as many rowers on the podium,” McCullogh said.
The standard of excellence that drove McGill rowing to great heights in the ‘90s doesn’t appear to have faded. However, this season looks to be particularly challenging. Western University is always a strong club and will likely play a primary role in competitions once again. McGill’s biggest rowing rival is Queen’s University, which always puts forward a strong team.
The Head of the Rideau regatta on Sept. 24 was an important chance to see how the McGill squad would stack up against the competition. The men’s heavyweight eight and the women’s heavyweight four both won their categories while the men's lightweight eight came in second. The two victories were promising signs that point to an intriguing and competitive season ahead.
In addition to medaling this year, the rowing team also hopes to increase its visibility on campus among both students and faculty. In order to try to increase support and viewership, the team hand-delivered boat-christening invitations to various McGill Athletics staff.
While rowing may be considered by many as a fringe sport, the commitment and dedication of the rowers can match or exceed those of every other McGill team or club. It’s always disheartening to see the lack of a fan base for such a squad—especially with their rich history and strong athletes.
In order to encourage the athletes and support the hundreds of hours they put in—both on rowing machines and on the water—students should take a study break and head out to the basin to support the rowing team. It’s an exciting, intense sport, the athletes are tough and invested, and the fresh air certainly beats anything you’ll find in a McGill library.
A previous version of this article stated that the McGill men’s lightweight 8 earned gold at the Head of the Rideau regatta. In fact, the Redmen finished in silver. Additionally, Queen’s University was not present at the meet. The Tribune regrets these errors.