Not all the liquid at the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association (CSSRA) Regatta this weekend in St. Catharines will be water floating boats on Martindale Pond.
Some of it will be in glasses raised to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Canadian high school rowing championships.
Linda Dirkes, the association’s past president, is extending a welcome to athletes and coaches — “past and present” — as well as family members and friends of high school rowing to a reunion on Saturday.
Taking place from 2 pm until 10 pm at the Henley Island Alumni Clubhouse, the Henley Island Party will feature music from as far back as the 1950s, “and favorite playlists to erg to.”
“It’s not like the old Schoolboy blowup when we didn’t start until 7 and went until 2 in the morning, but we’re all getting old,” Dirkes said with a laugh.
A cash bar will be run by alumni with pizza and “light bites” also available.
Participants on this trip down memory lane are invited to wear the uniforms from their heydays of rowing in high school, “if the stretch will allow.”
“Throw your medals on if you are still reliving your podium moments,” organizers said in a poster promoting the event.
“This is a great way to relive some of the classic Henley Island moments and retell those racing stories, where times suddenly got faster and the after-party was epic.”
Said Dirkes with a laugh: “The St. Catharines Rowing Club Alumni, up at their patio, are welcoming back former rowers and coaches to return to the scene of the crime, to return to relive their glory days.”
Organizers have used social media to encourage people to send in old photos and to, if able, wear their crew jackets, uniforms and singles if they are attending in person.
Also featured will be a slideshow and the Calder Cleland Trophy, the most prestigious award in high school rowing, will be on display.
“What we’re trying to do is get everybody back to the island to celebrate 75 years of high school rowing and to celebrate that we’re finally back on the water.”
Invitations weren’t limited to people who were part of high school crews that rowed out of St. Catharines Rowing Club.
“It’s open. We have people coming from Wyandotte, Mich., who rowed here in the ’60s,” Dirkes said. “We have a crew coming from the West Side Rowing Club in Buffalo who rowed here in the ’70s.
“The biggest crowd that seems to be answering and really interested are people who rowed in the ’70s and ’80s.”
“Silly prizes” will be awarded to people who bring their whole crew with them and those who can still squeeze into their uniforms.
“We’re just wanting to energize the crowd again, fill the grandstand, so when they’re up there they will be able to buy a wristband for Sunday.”
Finals in all 42 events in the three-day event, weather permitting, will be run Sunday beginning with the junior women’s lightweight 59-kilogram coxed quad.
The first CSSRA Regatta since 2019 is scheduled to wrap up with the senior men’s eight, for the Calder Cleland Memorial Trophy, at 3:15 pm
Considered among the most expensive trophies in Canadian sports, “The Calder” is an Omar Khayyan wine jug that features leaves and gold and silver entwined around winged dragons and hunting scenes.
The trophy doesn’t go home with the winning crew. It is returned to St. Catharines Public Library for display after the regatta.
One hundred and eight teams, for a total of 499 entries, are registered to compete in the event that gets underway Friday with qualifying heats.