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High hopes

Memorial plays major role in Regatta as teams head for rowing glory

The 2008 Memorial University Women’s rowing team for the Royal St. John’s Regatta

By Jeff Green

After months of intense training, a group of Memorial employees will head straight up the pond next month with their sights squarely set on claiming Regatta glory once again.

The Memorial University Women’s rowing team – made up of employees, students and graduates – are hoping to capture gold for the third time at this year’s Royal St. John’s Regatta, which is set for Wednesday, Aug. 6, at Quidi Vidi Lake.

And, if their time trials were any indication, the team better start practicing their victory pose.

They came first, finishing their race with a time of 5:47.57, the best in their category.

“I think we’re going to do well. We’ve certainly put in a lot of preparation,” said longtime teammate Betty Ann Lewis, who works in the Department of Biochemistry. “I’m confident this year. We have a very good team.”

In addition to Ms. Lewis, it includes employees Karen Slaney, who works in Human Resources, and Patricia Churchill, an employee in French and Spanish. It also includes graduate students Tamara Smith, Courtney MacSween, alumna Connie Cornick, and coxswain Christine Rowe. Tara Connelly and Ashley Callahan, both of whom are also grad students are spares, as is undergrad student Danielle Collins.

The regatta is the oldest continuing sporting event in North America and a favourite tradition for generations of families drawing more than 50,000 spectators on race day.

And just as it has in the past number of years, Memorial is playing a major role in the regatta. In addition to scores of alumni who are rowing, the university is a gold sponsor of the event.

Another group of women with strong ties to the university are hoping for a strong showing at this year’s regatta.

The MUN Engineering team – made up of eight term-seven students, finished their time trials in 5:49.53.

The team consists of Gillian Langor, Amy Sturge, Surrey Lane, Delia Warren, Amanda Baker, Julie Hedderson, Melissa Bailote (spare) and Steve Reddin (coxswain).

“We are confident our rowing team will encourage engineering students to take initiative and get involved in community events such as this,” said Ms. Hedderson. “We really encourage everyone to come out and cheer us on.”

Memorial’s Regatta roots run deep

Those rowing in this year’s regatta will be putting a new shell to good use. Memorial’s Marine Institute – long associated with teaching young people to sail and design vessels – sponsored a new racing shell.

The aptly named The Marine Institute was unveiled at Quidi Vidi Lake in June. Memorial’s connections with the regatta run even deeper this year thanks to a unique partnership between the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee and the university’s co-op education programs.

Three students are working with the committee to help co-ordinate the big-scale event. Business student Veronica Morgan and Ryan Hopkins are helping handle accounting and marketing efforts, while kinesiology student Maggie Paine is helping co-ordinate the scheduling and training of rowers.

Wayne Young, vice-president of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee, said without Memorial’s help, the preparations for this year’s event wouldn’t have run so smoothly.

“Having these three students has been critical,” he said. “For us, as a volunteer committee and with the regatta getting so big over the last number of years, we really need people on the ground and in our office from April to about the end of August and these students are essential to the regatta’s success.”

Meanwhile, weather permitting the 190th rowing of the Royal St. John’s Regatta will go ahead on Aug. 6.

To learn more information about this year’s race, visit