Let’s go ! After a day’s delay, the 204th Royal St. John’s Regatta gets the go-ahead

Racing for the 2022 Royal St. John’s Regatta began shortly before 8:30 a.m. Thursday. (Patrick Butler/Radio Canada)

The 204th Royal St. John’s Regatta went ahead on Thursday, following an announcement at 5:30 a.m. by Regatta Committee Vice-Chair and Course Captain Ashley Peach.

After a short deliberation, Peach said the regatta committee voted to go ahead with the event, triggering the St. John’s vacation depending on weather conditions. The regatta committee postponed the event on Wednesday as winds were expected to reach 20km/h with gusts of 40km/h. The event only takes place if the committee determines that the weather conditions are suitable for rowing on Quidi Vidi Lake.

Environment Canada is forecasting bouts of drizzle Thursday morning and a mix of sun and cloud later in the day, with winds of 20 km/h. Temperatures are expected to reach 27°C, with a Humidex of 30.

In an interview with CBC Radio The St. John’s Morning ShowPeach said she hopes lower wind speeds and gusty conditions will create better rowing conditions than Wednesday.

“This morning’s decision was much easier,” she said.

A person wearing a ribbon and lanyard stands in front of a podium outdoors.  Behind the person the words
Shortly after 5:30 a.m. Thursday, Regatta Committee Vice-Chairman and Course Captain Ashley Peach announced the event would continue. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Peach said rowers are prepared for the higher temperatures, but spectators should remember to bring water and seek shade during the hot part of the day. She suggested attending the event earlier in the morning when the weather is cooler.

St. John Ambulance will be located around the lake to assist in an emergency.

A historic regatta

This year, the event will feature 71 teams and 20 races. The 2022 regatta will also mark the first time that women will row the 2.45 kilometer course.

The first race started around 8:20 a.m. with two senior women’s races, followed by two senior men’s races.

Since 1816, the long course was reserved for men, but this year that changes, with four women’s teams competing in the long course.

“Certainly it will be a big historic event here at Quidi Vidi Lake today,” Peach said. “There will be a lot of encouragement for them.”

Men can now also row short course, although no teams entered this year. Peach said she hopes more men’s teams will sign up next year.

Olivia Neary and Elsa Loveys, both 10, are part of the J&E Enterprises Limited squirt team, a team of 9 and 10 year old girls.

Olivia said her father, former regatta chairman Chris Neary, inspired her love of rowing.

“He’s a great coxswain,” she said.

Two girls wearing yellow t-shirts with the J&E Enterprises logo stand outside smiling with their arms around each other.  In the background, people pass.
Elsa Loveys, left, and Olivia Neary are two of the youngest participants in the 204th Royal St. John’s Regatta. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Elsa and Olivia said their goal for the regatta was to do their best and have fun.

Chris Neary said the team could have future champions.

“They’re having fun,” he said.

Viewers, returning sellers

The regatta is once again welcoming dozens of vendors and thousands of spectators for the first time since 2019. Organizers say crowds around the lake have numbered between 30,000 and 50,000 spectators in previous years.

A close up of a person wearing a white polo t-shirt in the middle of a sentence.
Anchormen Barbershop Chorus chairman Steve Martin said the regatta is the group’s main fundraiser each year. (Patrick Butler/Radio Canada)

The Anchormen Barbershop Chorus is one of the fundraising groups at the event. Chairman Steve Martin said the regatta is the group’s main annual fundraiser.

“We put a lot of energy into it, but we really enjoy it. It’s very rewarding,” he said.

In addition to prizes like stuffed toys, band members will also be accepting song requests, Martin said.

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