And just like that, it’s come and gone!
More than two years have gone into organizing the World Rowing Tour 2022 – ‘Bays and Islands’ – following Ontario Adventure Rowing’s Peter Jepson’s original vision. Fifty-one international rowers from 12 countries, from as far away as Australia, enjoyed our beautiful Bay of Quinte and Thousand Islands areas from 10 to 18 September, with 6 days of rowing and many off- water activities.
Some visiting rowers chose to participate in pre-tour events at Montreal’s Olympic Basin or on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, or a post-tour event on the Rideau Lakes. Four of the international rowers even came to the boat preparation workday on September 9!
The World Rowing Tour 2022 – ‘Bays and Islands’ – was officially opened by the World Rowing Federation Rowing-for-all Commission’s Andrea Ranner, at a welcome dinner in Belleville, ON. Also in attendance were Rowing Canada Aviron’s (RCA) President Carol Purcer, Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board’s Trevor Norris, and Mitch Panciuk, Mayor of Belleville. It was an honour to be entertained by David Maracle from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. David is a world-renowned multi-instrumentalist and carver who, through his beautifully haunting music,
words, and carvings, shared a well-received window into his rich, Indigenous culture.
While in the Bay of Quinte, rowing from Weller’s Bay to Adolphustown, the participants experienced the tranquility of the Murray Canal as well as more open waters along the route; a welcome BBQ at the Trenton Rowing and Paddling Club; lunch prepared by the Conway United Church women; wine tasting at Three Dog Winery; and a wonderful introduction to the beauty of this area.
A mid-week rest day off the water gave the participants the time to move to Kingston as the base for the Thousand Islands leg of the tour. Prior to an afternoon exploring Kingston, everyone visited the Native Renaissance II Gallery in Tyendinaga.
The 10 coastal quads were once again rigged and launched from Kingston Rowing Club on Day 5 of the tour, to commence the Thousand Islands experience, which would end at Mallorytown, ON, on Day 7. As the boats wound their way through the Admiralty and Fleet islands, curious onlookers were spotted running for their binoculars and cameras. A fleet of boats like this is a rare sight in these waters.
With the low water levels of the late summer, each of the support boats, in turn, found some less friendly waters, where the river bottom was unusually close to the surface and their propellers grounded. One of the volunteers promptly jumped in to ‘walk on the water’ to free the grounded boats.
Threading through the Fleet and Admiralty Islands, around Sugar and Gordon Islands, and a picnic lunch at Grenadier Island, all provided ample opportunity for our international guests to experience the picturesque Islands, coves, beaches, and cottages of this wonderful area that the readers of Thousand Islands Life know and love. After landing at Ivy Lea on the 5th day of rowing, a trip up the 1000 Islands Tower provided a bird’s eye view that confirmed just how beautiful this area truly is.
This tour was the first time for some of the rowers to be in ‘coastal’ quads – boats designed for rough water, with four people sculling and one in the coxswain seat steering. A few rather erratic routes were observed with some of the boats initially, as the steering is quite sensitive. On average, the boats covered about 30 kms/day, but some (who shall remain nameless) covered a bit more! The total distance covered over the six days of rowing was 185 kms, with 39 kms on the longest day.
The weather forecasts caused some last-minute uncertainty for the organizers, but in fact very pleasant, Canadian autumn, conditions prevailed. The late summer sun even invited a few swims at the lunch-stop beaches and the crews managed to out-row some stormy skies which provided some great photographic opportunities but left everyone dry in the end.
For about 50% of the participants, this was their first experience of a World Rowing Tour, having previously toured only from their local clubs. The other 50% had done some, and in some cases many, World Rowing Tours before. The ten Crew Captains were named at the beginning of the tour, and they stayed with the same boat throughout the tour, but their crew changed each day.
This gave the participants the opportunity to get to know each other better and to share rowing experiences more widely. Many of the first time WRT rowers left knowing it would not be their last tour
The Farewell Banquet was held at Old Fort Henry following a tour of the fort. RCA was represented by Jennifer Fitzpatrick and Terry Dillon. Following the tradition of past World Rowing Tour Gala dinners, rowers from each participating country had the chance to thank the other participants and organizers from the podium. The Danish crew (which was the most numerous) delighted everyone with an interactive song that had been composed during the bus rides to and from the boats, which summarized the fun and adventure-filled week perfectly.
It was wonderful to see old friendships re-kindled and new ones formed. The sound of laughter constantly mixed with different languages and accents was a memorable background to the tour.
Thank you to all of the international rowers who took part in this tour, to the wonderful group of volunteers who were with the tour the whole way, and to the Thousand Islands for sharing their beauty.
By Shelagh Baker
Shelagh Baker's love of rowing started at the North Shore Rowing Club in Australia. After returning to Canada, she joined Hanlan Boat Club in Toronto, trading relatively flat, salt water for fresh water and the variety of conditions that come with a large body of water. In the past few years, she's been fortunate to have participated in a variety of OAR tours, including the WRT ‘Dry Run’ in September 2021. She has been on the OAR Board for several years, and helped to organize the 2022 WRT. She says she was happy to welcome international rowers to a beautiful part of Canada in September.
[Several photographs of the event courtesy of Leo Burosch and Charles Hauss.]
Posted in: Volume 17, Issue 10, October 2022, Sports, Places
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