UVic Vikes impress at Canadian university rowing championships

It is during moments like this when the words of his mentor, Mike Spracklen, come back to Aalbert Van Schothorst.

“Mike said it’s the athletes themselves who motivate the coaches [not the other way around],” said University of Victoria Vikes men’s rowing head coach Van Schothorst. “Motivated athletes motivate coaches.”

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When the legendary Spracklen spoke, people tended to listen to the man who coached Elk Lake-based Canadian crews to two Olympic gold medals, two Olympic silvers and a bronze and eight world championship medals.

Whoever was motivating whom, the Vikes teams did well Saturday on the opening day of the 2019 Canadian university championships at Elk Lake.

The time-trial racing saw the top six from each event advancing to today’s A finals. The next six go to today’s B finals and the rest to the C finals. All finals will be in the regular format of six lanes of head-to-head racing.

“Time trials are so much different than [regular lane racing],” said Van Schothorst. “Time trials are a much more internal process within the boat. It is a much more intrinsic thing.”

Five of Van Schothorst’s six Vikes men’s crews and all six UVic women’s crews, the latter coached by 2004 Athens Olympic silver medallist Barney Williams, advanced to A finals.

“I was pleased with our rowers’ focus and attention to detail today,” said Van Schothorst, who guided the UVic men’s team to second place nationally last year.

“It leaves us in a good position heading to the final day. This is a really high level of racing.”

So much so that the Vikes men’s and women’s teams this season are missing the likes of Patrick Keane, Taylor Perry, Caileigh Filmer and Avalon Wasteneys. They are sitting out the varsity season to focus on national team training on Elk Lake in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The men’s, women’s and overall team championship in the national university regatta will likely come down to the big four of Canadian university racing — UVic, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, Western Ontario Mustangs or Ontario’s Brock Badgers.

The final day of racing at the university nationals begins this morning at 9 a.m. and runs through 3 p.m. at Elk Lake.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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