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By Natalie Wise, Vikes Communications

VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s rowing team is travelling to the Canadian University Rowing Championship this weekend, Nov. 3-4, as two-time defending national champions while the men are looking to best last year’s third-place finish.

Hosted by the University of British Columbia and the Burnaby Lake Rowing Club, this year’s CURC event promises to be action-packed for both the Vikes men’s and women’s crews as the men look for their sixth title after their last win in 2010 and the women will be hunting for an incredible 11th title and third consecutive win.

Men’s Rowing

This year the men’s eights will be led by veterans Connor McGuigan (Victoria, BC) and Will O’Connell (Victoria, BC) and despite several challenges this past weekend at the Head of the Gorge the eights crew will be looking to help with the overall title.

The UVic men’s lightweight contingent is shaping up to be one of the strongest that Vikes have carried in the past few years and with the combination of rookie-to-watch Alex Walker (Victoria, BC) and third-year Lee Hall (Victoria, BC), the lightweight pairs will put forward a strong performance. Adding to this twosome for the lightweight fours event are fourth years Brendan Downey (Victoria, BC) and Jonathan Chandler (Brentwood Bay, BC). Anthony Linton (Winnipeg, MB) has had impressive results at the Western Canadian University Rowing Championship as well as the Head of the Gorge and will be another strength for the lightweight crew.

“With the exception of Alex [Walker] they’re all returning veterans,” said head coach of the men’s rowing program, Howard Campbell. “Our entire lightweight contingent has high hopes going into this regatta.”

Women’s Rowing

The UVic women are gunning not only for their 11th national title but also their third consecutive, after winning in 2010 and 2011. Heading into the CURCs with a younger crew than in previous years, the Vikes will rely on veteran talent such as Canadian developmental rower Alyssa Weninger (Unity, Sask.), racing in both singles as well as eights. The eights will carry a heavy sophomore contingent as second-years Meaghan Thorkelson (Prince George, BC) and Marla Catherall (Errington, BC) have shown strong improvements over the course of the fall and will be a part of the longboat crew. Coxing the eights is third-year Megan Smith (Vancouver, BC). Rowing for UVic in the heavyweight pairs event will be twosome Bronwyn Lawrie (Prince Rupert, BC) and Renae Barks (Regina, SK).

Among the lightweights rowing for the Vikes is third-year Emily Garry (Victoria, B.C.), having really burst onto the scene this summer she will be competing in the singles event. In the pairs will be fifth-year Stefanie Miklosovic (Yellowknife, NWT) with Rachel Dennis (Victoria, B.C.) in the bow. Lauren McLennan (St. Lazare, QC) and coxswain Cay-Lee Honey (Victoria, B.C.) will join the pairs to compete for the Vikes in the fours.

“We’re a young crew now as we’ve lost quite a few people this year,” said head coach of the Vikes women’s rowing program, Rick Crawley. “Western and Queens will be the tougher boats from back east and you can never count UBC out. We’ve had some good practices and we’re going pretty fast right now so the weekend will certainly see some exciting races.”

Both the men’s and the women’s University of Victoria Vikes rowing teams will travel to Burnaby, B.C. this weekend to compete in the Canadian University Rowing Championships, Nov. 3-4.