BURNABY, B.C. – One-tenth of a second was all that separated University of Victoria Vikes rowers Taylor Perry and Mathew Szymanowski in the men’s pair final from second-placed Western at the Canadian University Rowing Championship in Burnaby. The final day culminated with a gold medal performance from Vikes Patrick Keane, in the men’s single, and the men’s pair, while the eights and lightweight coxed four earned silver. Brothers Chris and Sebastian Gulka earned bronze in the lightweight double as the Vikes finished second overall with 110 points, six points back of national champions and hosts UBC.
Lucien Brodeur was in the first men’s race of the day in the heavyweight single. Despite a strong time trial Brodeur finished fifth in a time of 7:06.251.
“Luc raced multiple races in a big boat and a small boat and that change is pretty challenging,” said Aalbert van Scothorst, head coach of the Vikes men’s rowing team. “He raced well and we did try some new tactics and strategies knowing that the athletes he was facing were only racing one race and coming in fresher then he was. The tactics we engaged in were to put him in a place where he would be comfortable turning it over and the level in the open men’s single is so high.”
Van Schothorst acknowledged Brodeur’s competition included the current reigning gold medalist at the world championships in Trevor Jones of Trent, as well as under-23 gold medalists like Brock’s Matthew Finley. Jones took gold in 7:15.210, while Finley finished second in 7:20.530.
Keane brought home the Vikes’ first medal and a gold one at that as the third year and national team member followed up on his first-placed time trial to dominate in 7:23.866, four seconds ahead of UBC’s Aaron Lattimer.
“Patrick used the length on both ends really well and it’s a good test run for when he’s racing the National Rowing Championships next week,” added van Schothorst. “This result is in line with his performances this summer. He’s an up-and-coming athlete in the Canadian system and he’s moving really well right now.”
The men’s eight battled hard to the finish but were three seconds back of UBC to finish with a silver medal in 6:05.038. The final sprint saw possibility for the Vikes to catch the T-Birds, knowing this race had the most value in points but it was not their day.
“As far as guys wanting to do it with each other, for each other you can’t think of a better crew,” said van Schothorst about the eights’ performance. “UBC showed up with a crew that was in lockstep and they peaked at the right time and they rowed it really well. There’s a lot of respect for them and that’s what keeps us honest.”
Szymanowski, who recently returned from an eight-month co-op, along with the internationally talented Perry, had one of the most exciting finishes of the day. Winning by 0.1 seconds ahead of Western’s Curtis Ames and Brayden Halvorson in the men’s pair was made extra exhilarating as in the final 500-meters the Vikes pair overcame fourth spot.
“That was just pure excitement,” said Szymanowski about the overwhelming celebrations across the finish line. “I looked over and it was a bit of adrenaline coursing through my body and wow, this was such a good feeling and I can’t believe we pulled through.”
The Vikes men also brought home a bronze in the lightweight double through brothers Sebastian and Chris Gulka. UBC Lattimer brothers, Aaron and Maxwell, dominated the event with a gold-medal time of 6:53.198, while Queen’s finished second in 6:56.526. The Vikes finished in 7:06.154 with a six second gap on fourth-placed Western.
In the lightweight coxed four coxswain Bailey Kulman guided the Vikes to a silver medal performance. Both Gulka brothers along with Keane and Sam Garber couldn’t catch a very fast UBC boat, led by the Lattimer brothers. UBC finished first in 6:39.459, while the Vikes were second in 6:46.691 and Western took third (6:50.471).
Overall the Vikes men medalled in five of six events and finished with second place. The second-place wrap up is bitter sweet as although this is the last Canadian University Rowing Championship for several seniors including fifth years Adam Donaldson and Mark Davies, the program’s future is still bright with lots of time left for talents such as Keane, third years Chris and Sebastian Gulka, and second year Perry.
“The success today has a lot to do with the lightweights,” acknowledged fifth-year captain Donaldson about the team’s overall success. “We felt like they were very much a part of our team and were really driving the process this year. They really led the way this regatta and that bound the two sides together. Historically the lightweights and heavyweights might have been a bit different but I think today we felt much more like one team. The men’s and women’s teams were also a lot closer than in years past and I think that really showed in both getting second overall. There’s still work to do but I think they came together and that showed in the results.”
Up next the Vikes will cheer on several of their teammates who will race in small boat events at the upcoming RCA National Rowing Championships and Canada Cup, also hosted at Burnaby Lake next week from Nov. 11-12.
2017 Canadian University Rowing Championships
Men’s Final Results – Nov. 5, 2017
5th – Lucien Brodeur (7:06.251)
Mens Lwt 1x
GOLD – Patrick Keane (7:23.866)