Just like the ol’ days: Victoria rowers shine at Head of the Charles

It all came back like it was 1992 again and Basic Instinct was in the movie houses, Achy Breaky Heart on the radio and Brian Mulroney in 24 Sussex Drive.

The Victoria City Rowing Club eights crew — five of them who were double-gold medallists in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics — once again stroked to victory over the weekend at the Head of the Charles Regatta.

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It was the second consecutive year in which the Vic City eight has won the 50-plus senior women’s event in the massive regatta held annually in Boston and featuring 11,000 rowers from around the world competing in 55 race catagories.

“Four or five of us still train regularly in Victoria, and in our minds, we’re still amazing,” quipped crew member Brenda Taylor.

Well, actually, they were truly amazing in their time.

The Vic City crewmembers Taylor, Marnie McBean, Jessica Monroe, Kathleen Heddle, Kirsten Barnes and Kay Worthington won two gold medals each at the Barcelona Olympics. Also in the Vic City crew for the Head of the Charles was Cheri Moore, former world-champion Jennifer Walinga and coxswain Jane Gumley.

Now all in their mid-50s, these former rowing greats are proving that muscle and mental memory never really leaves a body or mind.

“It’s remarkable how quickly we all slipped back into our normal old roles,” said Taylor.

“But things are more relaxed now, of course. The goal now is to simply go out and race with friends. What we enjoy the most is just racing together.”

Head racing is a time trial with crews starting and clocked individually. The Charles River course is 4.8 kilometres and the Vic City crew was across in 18 minutes, although off from their time of 17:20 last year.

“There was a strong head wind this year,” noted Taylor.

But Gumley had these experienced arms stroking on beam.

“Every time I asked for a bit more, they responded with such enthusiasm and skill,” said the coxswain.

Just like old times.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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