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By Natalie Wise, Vikes Communications

October 29th, 2012, VICTORIA, B.C. – Weathering some challenging conditions over the weekend, the University of Victoria Vikes men’s and women’s rowing teams hosted and competed in the Head of the Gorge and the Head of the Elk, over the weekend.

The men’s varsity eights crossed the finish line one second behind first-place University of British Columbia while the women’s varsity eights conquered the course to earn the fastest time and finish first.

Traditionally, the Vikes men’s and women’s varsity teams race the Head of the Gorge on Saturday while the junior varsity and novice crews compete in the Head of the Elk on Sunday. In Saturday’s regatta the men’s varsity team was eclipsed by UBC in the eights as they were forced to stroke without veteran rower Will O’Connell (Victoria, BC), due to injury. In contrast, the women’s eights had a strong performance with a time of 15:09.2, good enough to claim first place.

The men’s varsity pairs won their event with a time of 15:33.6, beating UBC by 17 seconds. The women’s varsity pairs finished second with a time of 18:25.2, edged out by a twosome from Victoria City Rowing Club. In the women’s singles, Vike Antje von Seydlitz took top honours with a time of 19:21.5, a full 28 seconds faster than second-place UBC.

“Our varsity eights were the fastest women’s crew over the course in some very wet conditions,” said Rick Crawley, head coach of the Vikes women’s rowing program. “They did all the things that I had asked them to do, rowing against the tide has been a bit of a nemesis for us in the past but we were able to focus in and get going.”

Both the men’s and the women’s rowing teams are currently in preparation for their biggest fall event, the Canadian University Rowing Championships, taking place next weekend in Vancouver.

“The Head of the Gorge and the Head of the Elk are important events in terms of awareness and exposure of our programs but we are definitely gearing up for next weekend’s regatta,” said Crawley.

Last year, the women claimed the CURC title and will be looking for a repeat victory next weekend.