It’s a go. Tens of thousands will flock to picturesque Quidi Vidi Lake today for the 205th running of the Royal St. John’s Regatta, which bills itself as the oldest organized sporting event in North America.
Over 70 crews will compete in 19 races today, culminating with the men’s and women’s championship races at 6:30 and 7 p.m. NTV – with hosts David Salter, Siobhan Duff and Mark Dwyer – will be live at pondside for the final two races in a special 90-minute broadcast.
The top men’s and women’s crews are back. Last summer, Hyflodraulic captured the triple crown in the women’s division, while NTV won a second-straight men’s title. However, the races are expected to be very competitive today with a number of teams capable of winning the women’s title. The men’s crown is also up for grabs with several teams hoping to win it all.
NTV will be providing live updates throughout the day, so stay tuned to ntv.ca for the latest results.
The Regatta is steeped in history. In 1818, there were less than 45,000 people living on this vast, majestic island. There was no formal government and – when rowing oars dug into the waters at the 1818 races – it was the fishing admirals who governed.
It would take almost a half a century before Canada would officially become a nation and, of course, almost another century before we’d even join the Canada Day party. Incredibly, The Royal St. John’s Regatta has survived a couple of world wars and the 1892 fire that literally flattened St. John’s and left 11,000 homeless. Years, decades and two centuries of rowers have etched their place into the history books and – although the passage of time have taken many of them – the Regatta legacy continues.
Thousands of rowers, stretching back generations, have pulled an oar on Quidi Lake over the past 205 years, although those earliest oarsmen actually raced on St. John’s harbor. Some have rowed just for fun – to simply say they did it – while others have made the sport their life’s passion..
Those travelling to pondside today, though, are there for much more than rowing. There’s games of chance, the party-like mood at pond side, the jarring sound of the starter’s gun and, for many, the tasty treats – whether it’s the French fries of today to the old crubeens of yesteryear. There’s something special about walking along the banks of Quidi Vidi, the same trek our ancestors also took to enjoy the races.