At recent Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in St. Catharines
By Pat Payton
ST. CATHARINES – A gold and two second-place finishes!
That’s what Grace Hutton brought home from the 2018 Royal Canadian Henley Regatta held here recently. With results like that, there’s a great chance it will get the 17-year-old Medina resident on the national rowing team’s radar.
Hutton had a busy and successful week at the famous Henley Regatta, competing a total of eight times against rowers from Canada, the U.S. and others around the world. All races were 2,000 metres in length.
Hutton started her week competing in the U-19 Junior women’s singles division, featuring 78 entries.
She grabbed first in her heat with a time of 8:27.01, and the first and second-place finishers advanced to the semi-finals the following day. Hutton placed second in the semis with a time of 8:18.51, and the first and second-place finishers moved onto the final the next day.
In the six-boat final, Hutton finished second with a time of 7:50.61. Other boats in the final came from St. Catharines, Detroit, Toronto, Hamilton and Miami.
Hutton then competed in the Senior Doubles Women’s category. Her rowing partner was Shannon Kennedy, of London, who is also a member of the Western Rowing Club.
Hutton and Kennedy earned first in their heat with a time of 7:02.32. It gave them a direct berth to the final, where rowers were faced with a strong head wind. Racing against pairs from Argentina, Winnipeg and three teams from the Arion Club in the U.S. Northeast, Hutton and Kennedy finished second with a time of 7:40.60. One of the boats from Arion posted a winning time of 7:30.29.
One division up
Hutton then finished her week of competition in the U-23 women’s singles division, featuring 55 boats. For Hutton, it’s one age group up, and it will be the age group she competes in next year.
Facing a “super head wind,” Hutton was first in her heat with a time of 9:06.08. The following day, she was also first in the semi-finals in 8:39.66.
In the six-boat final, Hutton led from start to finish and captured gold with a time of 8:29.9. At the finish line, she held off the second-place rower from the Craftsbury Club in Vermont, who posted a time of 8:31.09.
“Because of the head wind, it was a really long race,” Hutton reported. “But I actually race better in head winds rather than tail winds or flat conditions. I don’t know why, I just do better in those conditions. I feel more comfortable in head winds.”
Other boats were from the University of British Columbia, Cambridge Ontario, Cambridge Massachusetts, and another from Craftsbury.
Burnaby, B.C. in November
Grace Hutton has two more local competitions before heading to the National Rowing Championships (NRC) in Burnaby, B.C. in November.
“You will see where you rank against everyone else,” she noted. “It’s really important for that.”
The ultimate goal for Hutton, who trains seven days a week, is to make a national team. She will continue to train at Fanshawe Lake in London right up until she leaves for Western Canada.
She took up the sport of rowing about two and a half years ago, and has “seriously” trained for the past year.
–This year was the 136th annual Canadian Henley, located on Henley Island, racing on the waters of Martindale Pond.
–Last year, Hutton competed for the first time at the Henley Regatta, reaching the semi-finals in the Junior U-19 women’s singles.
–Hutton rows a Fluidesign boat, built in London by Fluidesign. Her Western Rowing Club coach Mark Henry, of London, works with Fluidesign. Henry rowed for Canada in the U-23 Worlds, 2015 Pan-American Games and the World Rowing Championships.
–Boats are 26 ft. long by 11 inches wide.
–Doubles partner Shannon Kennedy and Hutton train at Fanshawe Lake under the direction of coach Henry.
–Grace is the daughter of Bryan and Joyce Hutton. She begins her fifth year at DCVI in the fall.