Friday, 7 August 2015

Regatta History: The Outer Cove Fishermen's Crew

On this day in 1901, history was made.

It was the 85th annual Royal St. John's Regatta.

"Not a cloud was visible in the blue canopy of the heavens and the
sun shone so hot that one could scarcely turn his eyes towards the
skies for its dazzling brightness. Just a slight breeze was blowing 
which covered the lake with gentle ripples and added fourfold to its great natural beauty." - The Evening Telegram, 1901

A rivalry between Outer Cove and Torbay had been ongoing for years. Torbay had beaten Outer Cove by the slightest of margins in the morning race, so tensions were running at an all time high.

The Outer Cove Fishermen's Crew was made up of the following men: Walter Power, coxswain; John Whelan, stroke; Daniel McCarthy, No.5; Denis McCarthy, No. 4; Denis Croke, No. 3; John Nugent, No. 2; Martin Boland No. 1. 

They entered the waters that afternoon for the championship race in their soon-to-be-famous vessel, the Blue Peter. They were facing off with their sole competitor: Torbay. It was said that no other team would dare to face off with these outstanding crews. The rivals anxiously awaiting the piercing gun shot that signified the start of the race. 

The two crews were neck in neck, until the very end, as Outer Cove crossed the finish line, setting a new record time of 9:134/5The crew had not trained in the typical way competitors train for the regatta nowadays, their sole practice was rowing their dories on the open ocean every other day.   

The most amazing part of this story is that their record stood for 80 years. The Outer Cove Fishermen's Crew were among the first to be inducted into the Royal St. John's Regatta Hall of fame after it was established in 1987. 

Their record time of  9:134/remained until 1981, when the St. John's Boys and Girls Club established a new record time: 9:12:04.
However, their victory was short lived. The following year, Mike Power assembled a crew to take back the championship. The crew consisted of Andrew Boland, Bert Hickey, Campbell Feehan, Gerard Ryan, Jim Hibbs and Owen Devereaux. The men, filled with determination, finished the race in the outstanding time of 9:03:48. Outer Cove rejoiced, as the record once again belonged to them.

If you ask anyone in the community what Outer Cove is most famous for, they will proudly tell you the story of the 1901 Fishermen's Crew; "the finest crew to grace the waters of Quidi Vidi."

-Katie Harvey

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