Brisk winds arrived at the Royal Canadian Henley rowing course in St. Catharines Wednesday, but not even choppy waves that were filling boats with water could steer Kingston’s rowers from the Pan American Games podium.
Will Crothers, Rob Gibson and Nicolas Pratt made it five-for-five as they each won a medal on the final day of the Games rowing competition. The three Kingston Collegiate grads won a medal in each of the five events they contested in the five-day regatta, four of them gold.
On Wednesday, Crothers won his second gold medal of the Games as a member of the Canadian men’s eight that led from start to finish. Pratt was part of the lightweight men’s four that won its race and Gibson won the silver medal in the men’s single.
Earlier, Crothers had been part of the gold-medal men’s four, and Gibson had rowed in Canada’s championship men’s quadruple sculls crew.
The Canadian eight, with Crothers at stroke, took command of its race from the start, and held a whopping three-and-a-half-second lead after just 500 metres. The Canadians held it throughout the race, winning in 6 minutes 7.01 seconds, ultimately denying a late bid by the Argentine crew, which cut two seconds off the lead in the final 500 metres but still crossed the finish line 3.07 seconds late.
Julien Bahain of Laval, Que., Mike Evans of Victoria, Martin Barakso of Nanaimo, B.C., Tim Schrijver of St. Catharines, Will Dean of Kelowna, B.C., Conlin McCabe of Brockville, Kal Langerfeld of Parksville, B.C., and cox Jacob Koudys of Fonthill, Ont., are the other members of the Canadian crew.
To give an idea of the headwinds competitors faced, the Canadian lightweight four took 6 minutes 42.40 seconds to win its race Wednesday, after winning the repechage in 6:29.10 on Sunday.
Canada's gold medal-winning men's lightweight four crew, with Nicolas Pratt of Kingston, second from right. — Katie Steenman Images
In the final, Canada led by a length after 250 metres but the Canadians found themselves in a virtual tie with the U.S. at 500 metres. The Canadians— Maxwell Lattimer and Brendan Hodge, both of Delta, B.C., Pratt and Eric Woelfl of St. Catharines—were almost two seconds ahead by the mid-point of the race and they won going away, with a 4.16-second margin of victory.
It was Pratt’s first medal in international competition.
In his first international final in the single, Gibson, who, with Crothers, was an Olympic silver medalist in the eight in 2012, was within three seconds of Cuba’s Angel Fournier halfway through the race, but the Cuban pulled away to win in 7 minutes 51.39 seconds.
Again, the headwind severely tested the scullers as Fournier, who had the fastest time in heats, was almost 40 seconds slower than he was on Sunday morning.
Gibson finished 6.55 seconds off the pace.
“The conditions were rough,” Gibson said. “There were lots of waves; I knew it was going to be important to row clean and minimize the mistakes.
“I was hoping to stay closer to Angel. I let him get too far ahead of me. Every time I tried to make a move, the rough water would catch one of my oars, so I just tried to find a good rhythm and stay relaxed.”
Kingston's Rob Gibson shows off the silver medal he won Wednesday in the men's single at the Pan Am Games. — Katie Steenman Images photo
Gibson was a solid second throughout the race. He finished almost three and a half seconds ahead of bronze-medal winner Brian Rosso of Argentina. American Yohann Rigogne of the U.S., who defeated Gibson in the heats, finished fourth.
The medal was the third of the games for Fournier, who was born in Guantanamo. Seventh in the single at the Olympics in 2012 and silver medalist in the 2013 world championships, he earlier won gold in St. Catharines in the double sculls and silver in the quadruple sculls.
On Lake Ontario at Toronto, Kingston’s Danielle Boyd had two fifth-place finishes and she and skipper Erin Rafuse of Halifax remain sixth overall in women's 49er FX sailing with two days of racing to go.
No one in the fleet seems to have an answer for Argentina’s Victoria Travascio, who won both races Thursday and has five wins and a pair of second-place finishes in the eight races so far. She holds the overall lead with nine points.
Rafuse and Boyd trail the six-boat fleet with 38 points. Six races are scheduled for Thursday.
Terry McLaughlin stands second overall in the open J-24 fleet. Fourth- and fifth-place finishes Wednesday leave him and crewmates Sandy Andrews, David Ogden and David Jarvis, all of Toronto, with 13 points, four more than Argentina’s Matias Pereira, who was second and first in Wednesday’s races.
Pereira has won four of the seven races sailed so far, McLaughlin has two wins and Peru’s Luis Olcese won Wednesday’s other race. He stands third with 20 points.
Evert McLaughlin, like his father a Queen’s University grad, is fifth in the 10-boat open Snipe fleet. He and Alexandra Damley-Strnad were fourth and eighth yesterday and have 29 points after seven races, 20 behind leader Raul Rios de Choudens of Puerto Rico, who won both of Wednesday’s races, his second and third straight wins.
Both the Snipe and J-24 fleets will try to complete three races Thursday.
• Thursday night on the St. George fields at the University of Toronto, Canada fell to 1-1 in women’s field hockey competition after being beaten 5-0 by Argentina, which improved to 2-0 and has yet to allow a goal in Games competition. The Canadians, with midfielder Kate Gillis of Kingston in the lineup, will play their next game Friday against Mexico, 0-1-1 after a 1-1 tie Wednesday with the Dominican Republic.
Kingston-connected athletes have now won eight medals at the Games, seven of them gold. In addition to the rowers, gold medals came from Napanee's Brittany Benn and former Queen's player Nadia Popov in women's rugby, and ex-Gael Matt Mullins in men's rugby.
On Thursday, the only Kingston-connected athletes competing will be the sailors. On Friday, the men’s volleyball tournament begins, with former Queen’s Golden Gael Adam Simac in the Canadian lineup.