Rowers working to make marquee event out of western Newfoundland regatta

Rowers in western Newfoundland are hoping a new regatta will become a local and provincial staple in the rowing community.

Saturday races starts 10 a.m. with the championship races kicking off at 1:30 p.m.

Jaime Gazley and Jeff Griffin are hoping to make Saturday's regatta a community event that will be a staple race in the provincial rowing circuit. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Rowers in western Newfoundland are hoping to make the Humber Valley Regatta a marquee event on the local and provincial level..

Saturday marks the second consecutive year for the new regatta, which is held in the Brake's Cove area of Corner Brook, and organizers are hoping to build on last year's success.

Jaimie Gazley, who rowed in her first regatta last year, is the chair of the committee and says the group focused on making it a community event — with something for everyone.

"People are really excited to get involved and loving the opportunity," she said.

After seeing the potential for the races, she wanted to help out and get involved with planning this year's event.

There'll be 6 teams racing on Saturday, including one team travelling from St. John's. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Last year's regatta was put together without a lot of promotion, and focused mostly on the races. 

"Last year was kind of the first step, getting the ball rolling — just establishing the basic rowing races to begin with. And, now we're taking that to the next level and hopefully each year we'll get bigger."

Unfortunate decline

It's been a while since the area had an established regatta, says Jeff Griffin — who's president of the Humber Valley Rowing club. Griffin remembers when the event was quite popular when he was growing up.

"To see how big the festival was years ago — it was originally called the Land and Sea Festival — and it was really starting to turn into a really large event. And, unfortunately the club kinda took a little decline in years," says Grifin.

Griffin is the coxswain for the Barry Group team, and travelled to St. John's to compete in the regatta this month. He said if there's going to be more teams able to compete across the province, there needs to be a community in western Newfoundland.

"To grow it here on the west coast and have a lot more representation out there [St. John's], I think is really important, and I think building our regatta here will really help us get there."

New beginnings, new trophy

Gazley echoes those thoughts and hopes the committee's efforts to make Saturday's regatta a day for the community, along with the races, will help build the excitement for rowers.

"We've got some food vendors, some local businesses. Trying to get as much of the community involved as possible. And kinda create a bigger event for everybody," says Gazley and adds there's musicians scheduled to perform dockside throughout the day.

In hopes of starting a new tradition, there's a brand new trophy on the line which will have the winner's names etched in, something the organizers hope will grow over the years.

Saturday's day-long event starts with first race at 10 a.m.  with the championship races starting at 1:30 p.m.

About the Author

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore recently moved from Corner Brook, NL to join the CBC team in Fredericton. He's an associate producer with Information Morning.