St. Catharines’ golden eights
No one should have been surprised the St. Catharines’ men’s under-19 eight won Henley gold Sunday.
“We have the fastest junior pair in Canada, we have one, two and three from the lightweight single at Schoolboy and then a number of other medalists from Schoolboy and other regattas like Stotes (Stotesbury Cup),” said cox Nicholas Murray-Coplen.
Members of the crew were Evan MacRae, Nikolas Schramm, David Picard, David Law, Kai Bartel, Max Caruso, Christian McAlpine, Andrew Barry and Murray-Coplen.
MacRae, an A.N. Myer grad, won high school rowing’s Triple Crown this spring and McAlpine and Barry won the junior national trials this spring and Henley gold in the men’s under-19 pair Saturday.
“Looking at the lineup even before we started, I was thinking that this was going to be the team to beat,” Murray-Coplen said.
Even with an all-star crew, there were no problems with egos in the boat.
“We have all rowed together for quite a while and we had two guys come in this year (Schramm and Law) and they fit in right from the start,” he said.
The boat was fast right from the start, winning at both the Westside and Dominion Day regattas.
Despite the crew’s pedigree, it wasn’t all smooth sailing this week at the Henley. The crew came into the final with the third-fastest time in the semifinals after posting the quickest time in the heats.
“We weren’t sure we were the fastest boat coming in,” Murray-Coplen said. “We knew we had another gear to push and today we found that next gear and went.”
After Henley, the Governor Simcoe grad is heading to the University of Victoria this fall to cox for that university.
“It’s beautiful and their rowing team is right next door to the national team so hopefully I can follow the dream,” he said.
He has yet to row internationally, but that is his goal.
MORE EIGHT GOLD
Johan May and a number of his St. Catharines Rowing Club teammates have had a couple of near misses this week at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.
May finished third in the single after sitting second for most of the race and lost the four by one second.
“We lost a lot of close races this week,” the 19-year-old Sr Winston Churchill graduate said. “It is very frustrating, but the thing is we have all won medals here before and the best thing we can get is a good race.
“Whether or not we cross the finish line first, it is still a valuable moment.”
May and the rest of the club’s men’s senior lightweight eight, Eric Buchanan, Brad Iafrate, Noah Van Helvert, Owen Voelkner, Ryan Walter, Jacob Martens, Jacob Giesbrecht and Autumn Bland, also had reason to celebrate this week. They won their second Henley gold of the week Sunday, after placing first in the men’s lightweight eight dash Saturday.
It was the fifth Henley gold of May’s career and an excellent send-off to Harvard University, where he will row on the lightweight squad.
“It (Henley) is good experience and maybe they will have a bit more respect for me when I get down there,” May said, with a smile.
After winning bronze in lightweight single and double at the 2018 Schoolboy and placing second at the junior team trials, May took a gap year in advance of heading to Harvard. He spent two months in France this year rowing, volunteering and learning the language.
“I opted out of it this year because I wanted to row club and have a more relaxing summer before going off to university,” May said.
He can’t wait for his freshman season to start at Harvard.
“I am looking forward to the academics and it is a really competitive lightweight program,” he said. “I think we have a chance to win a national championship and obviously it is going to set me up for the rest of my life.”