Rower Shaffer comes through for hometown crowd

As a tailwind whipped down the course, so did Canada’s top rowing athletes at the RBC National Rowing Championships at the Welland International Flatwater Centre in Welland this past weekend (Nov. 11-13).

A mix of veterans and up-and-comers reached the podium.

In the women’s pair event, Olympians Darcy Marquardt of Richmond, B.C. and Andreanne Morin of Montreal, Que. won in a time of 7:16.60 (over 2000 metres).

Janine Hanson of Winnipeg, also a 2008 Olympian, and 2011 Under-23 gold medalist Lauren Wilkinson of North Vancouver, B.C. were second in the women’s pair in 7:18.24. They were followed by Ashley Brzozowicz of London and Krista Guloien of Port Moody, B.C. in 7:19.87.

In the men’s pair, 2008 Olympic silver medalists Scott Frandsen of Kelowna, B.C. and David Calder of Victoria were first in 6:35.54, followed by Will Crothers of Kingston, Ont. and Gabe Bergen of 100 Mile House, B.C. in 6:41.24. Olympic gold medalist (men’s eight) Andrew Byrnes of Toronto and 2011 men’s eight member Jeremiah Brown of Cobourg, Ont., were third in 6:45.23.

Patricia Obee of Victoria won both the senior and under 23 categories of the women’s lightweight single – her time was 7:53.11. Obee is a 2011 World silver medalist with Lindsay Jennerich, also of Victoria, who finished second in 7:55.66. Olympic bronze medalist (2008, lightweight women’s double) Tracy Cameron of Shubenacadie, NS, was third in 7:59.82.

Hometown favourite Kerry Shaffer of Welland put on a show for the crowd in the women’s single, edging out Pan Am double medalist Isolda Penney of Kingston. Up-and-comer Carling Zeeman of Cambridge took third and top honours in the under 23 category. Shaffer crossed the line in 7:44.45, closely followed by Penney in 7:44.50 and Zeeman’s time was 7:56.61.

Mike Wilkinson of North Vancouver won the men’s single in 7:06.92, followed by Fraser Berkhout of St. Catharines in 7:10.53, and Michael Braithwaite of Duncan, B.C. in 7:14.19. Wilkinson and Berkhout rowed in the men’s double at the World Championships this year, qualifying the boat for the 2012 Olympics. Guelph’s Adam Rabalski won the Under 23 category of the men’s single, and fifth overall.

In the lightweight men’s single, Morgan Jarvis (Winnipeg) won in 7:09.22, Cam Sylvester of Caledon, Ont., was second in 7:12.13, followed by Nick Pratt of Kingston in 7:14.20.

In the lightweight men’s pair, Eric Woelfl of St. Catharines and Derek Vinge of Fernie, B.C., (6:52.42) edged out local brothers Ben and Jacob Cushnie (6:52.94), followed by Graham Schenck of St. Catharines and Marc Addison of Vancouver in bronze position (6:53.94). Schenck and Addison were also the under 23 winners.

“It’s been fun rowing with Eric (who was a Pan Am team mate),” said Vinge. “This race was a good time – we were excited for it – there was a big tailwind, so were hoping for a fast time, but it was a little bit windier than we thought. We caught a lot of the tops of the waves, but we finished, and then had a little bit of a flip!”

Performances at the NRCs are used as one factor in determining the Olympic training camp, as well as for development purposes to determine future training camps and teams.