Last weekend Sechelt’s Shanti Thurber raced to a gold medal finish with the Shawnigan Lake School junior lightweight four-plus team at the 2012 Canadian Secondary School Rowing Championships (CSSRA) in St. Catharines, Ont.
An early contender for gold, Thurber and her teammates were still unsure going into the final.
“Going into the final race we were all very nervous about if we would be able to medal even though we had finished well in the semis,” said the Grade 10 athlete.
In a neck-to-neck final, the Shawnigan girls edged out their competition with a 7:47.99 finish, a full two-second lead on their main competition Branksome Hall from Ontario, to capture the gold medal.
“When we won and rowed up to the grandstands, we were all near tears of joy. Winning a race is an incredible feeling, especially when you aren’t expecting it,” Thurber said.
Having grown up in Sechelt, but attending boarding school since last year, Thurber first learned to row when her school friends influenced her sport choice.
“I joined rowing because my roommates all enjoyed it so much, and I thought it would be a relaxing sport. However, going into my second term, I was proven wrong about the relaxing part, but the fitness aspect made me enjoy it even more than I had expected,” she said.
As the “stroke” seat for her boat, Thurber has the added responsibility of pacing her crew throughout the race.
“My job is to keep the rhythm for the whole boat, which can be pretty stressful,” she added. “I have to be in tune with the starting gun to put the boat in motion for a good start but also find the surge at the end of the race to finish hard despite the exhaustion setting in.”
The CSSRA is held annually the first weekend of June at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta and is the largest high school regatta in Canada, possibly in North America. The event is open to high schools throughout North America with crews from as far as British Columbia, the United States and Mexico coming to compete.