T-Birds repeat as Canadian Rowing ChampionsPhoto by Kevin Light

The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds rowing programs defended both of their titles with a clean sweep at the Canadian University Rowing Championship this weekend at Elk Lake.


For the men, it was their sixth national championship and the banner was the third for the women. The men have now moved into a three-way tie with the University of Victoria Vikes and University of Western Ontario Mustangs for the most national championships in the event’s 22-year history.


The Thunderbirds set themselves up in great position with impressive runs during the time trials on Saturday and capitalized with several top three finishes in the A final on championship Sunday.


In the final men’s race of the day, the Mustangs edged the Thunderbirds by 0.19 seconds to win the open lightweight coxed four. Even though they finished second, the Thunderbirds won the men’s national championship with a team total of 110 points. The Mustangs placed second in points with 108. The Brock University Badgers took home bronze with 91 points and the Vikes finished fourth with 76 points. Rounding out the top five was the Queen’s University Gaels with 46 points.


Weather conditions were nearly perfect on Sunday. The weather was cool with cloud cover. The water was flat and rippled by a slight crosswind. The conditions didn’t impact any of the races at any point on the weekend.


The Thunderbirds, Mustangs, Vikes and the Badgers sent the most entries into the time trials with 12 boats.


The Badgers and Thunderbirds were the only two programs to send all 12 of their boats to the A final. The Vikes men’s open single was the only boat of theirs in the B final, as they finished six one-hundredths of a second behind Trent University in the time trials. The Mustangs sent 10 into the A final and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues sent five of their 11 boats into the A final.


The Thunderbirds placed in the top three with 10 of their 12 boats. The Tbirds won the men’s open single (6:52.29), women’s lightweight double (7:12.23), women’s open lightweight coxed four (6:58.08), women’s open single (7:31.07), women’s open lightweight single (8:00.35) and the men’s eight. They also placed second in the men’s lightweight coxed four (6:22.77) and the men’s open pair (6:36.75). They managed to stay on the podium and earn points with third place finishes in the women’s eight (6:19.56) and the men’s open lightweight double (6:35.3).


The Vikes, which were hosting for the eighth time and first since 2014, had several impressive finishes.


The Vikes placed on the podium nine times.


The women’s open pair was the only Vike boat to win gold on Sunday. McKenna Simpson and Piper Battersby were forced to race for a third time after their initial race went under a lengthy review. The umpire crew determined that a re-race was necessary. They still managed to find the strength needed to win the race second time in 7:17.94 and repeated as national champions.


Vikes boats that finished in second were the women’s eight (6:18.99), women’s lightweight single (8:07.37), women’s open single (7:34.73) and the women’s open lightweight coxed four (7:00.35). Finishing third was the women’s open lightweight double (7:27.01), men’s open lightweight single (7:13.98), men’s eight (5:39.48) and the men’s open pair (6:39.49).