Lab West regatta now in 45th year

Published on July 6, 2017

Organizer Harry Clarke said they have seen more and more women interested in the sport over the years and currently about 85 per cent of their rowers are female.

©File Photo

The Labrador West regatta is now entering its 45th year and organizer Harry Clarke said it is still going strong.

“Registration is been open now for three weeks and we have 23 team signed which is 100 per cent improvement from last year at this time of the year,” he said. “I've been around a long time, a lot of stuff happened but we are still surviving. There were a lot of other events start at around the same time but none of them have been running continuously, they've had breaks here and there. Is the longest running event in Labrador west, maybe all of Labrador.”

Clarke said they get a good mix of new and old rowers, people who have been doing it for decades and people who just started. One thing they have noticed if that more and more woman are becoming involved in the sport.

“A good 85 per cent of our rowers are female,” he said. “It's a very big shift, not only here but all over. Regattas from across the country are all experiencing the same thing. Most of them started high school programs to try to interest more people to come in, and are focussing now on males.”

Clarke said they suspect in Lab West one of the reasons they’re getting more women are because they use an Olympic style rowing technique, which is more technical, and women are more adaptable to the technique. We think in our case it is something to do with the Olympic style rowing, which has a much more technical aspect to it. The women are more adaptable to it, the technique.

Clarke has been involved in the regatta in one form or another for the entire 45 years it has been in existence. He started as a rower, became a coxswain and about 20 years ago took up the briefcase and became the organizer.

“It's a sport that I enjoy tremendously and I love it on the water, I've always been involved in the community a lot so it’s a good fit for me,” he said. “I just enjoy it, I love the interaction with the younger people, and I sort of figured that if I give it up it'll be a struggle for a lot of people to do what I do. I'm retired so I'm able to spend a lot of time there. For 20 years I put pretty well most of it together, with help from a lot of other people of course.”

He said in the years he’s been involved he’s seen a number of changes, including moving the regatta twice. They started it in Duley Lake and then moved to Little Wabush Lake in Labrador City. In 1978, they moved to Jean Lake and have been there ever since.

The regatta is scheduled to take place on July 28.