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Annabel Sheila

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Nine Thirteen - St. John's Regatta
By Annabel Sheila
Thursday, May 14, 2009

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This is a true story about my grandfather, Denis Croke, who rowed with the Outer Cove crew in the annual St. Johnís Regatta (running for 191 years as of 2009) in Newfoundland. His name is now listed in the Canadian Sports Hall Of Fame. The Outer Cove Crew included: 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.


Excitement was at fever pitch! The pistol shot rang out and the two crews burst out of the starting position. It seemed as though the lake held its breath in the excitement of the neck and neck race between the fiercely competitive Outer Cove and Torbay teams. The smooth surface of Quidi Vidi Lake’s crystal clear water mirrored a brilliant blue sky. This was a challenge of the fittest as the Outer Cove Team in the Blue Peter, and the Torbay Team in the Red Cross raced bow-to-bow in an effort to gain an advantage. The Outer Cove crew was a strong, able-bodied team of fisherman. Their bodies soaked in sweat, muscles straining against the brute force they put into every stroke; these were men accustomed to harsh physical work.
When the two teams reached the buoys at the top of the lake, Outer Cove got their big break. Their coxswain, Walter Power, suddenly gained a half a length over the Torbay crew. Outer Cove maintained their advantage, as Power pushed his superbly conditioned crew to hold their position in the race back down the lake. The screaming crowd had no idea they were watching history in the making. As the Outer Cove crew crossed the finish line, the official time was recorded at nine minutes, thirteen and four-fifth seconds, a record that would not be beaten for eighty years to come.
“Ah, Din boy, we did it!”, shouted Denis McCarthy to his friend and fellow fishing companion Denis Croke. “That we did, my son”, Denis Croke replied. “Twas a grand race indeed.” The crowd went wild, as the Outer Cove team was announced the winner of the annual St. John’s Regatta for 1901. 
At the age of twenty, unknown to my grandfather, a very humble Denis Croke, his name was to be included in the history annals of the annual Royal St. John’s Regatta. The 1901 crew from Outer Cove, just outside of St. John's, set a time record that stood for 80 years. More than a century later, the existing mark, 8:57.14, is a mere 17 seconds better. And that's despite lighter boats - and vastly improved techniques.
By Annabel Sheila





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Reviewed by lin clendenny 9/7/2011
Hi Anna,
I loved you're story and have heard it before,but from my grandmom.Her nae was Mary McCarthy and her father's name was Denis McCarthy,who along with his brother Daniel was also a member of the 1901 crew!
You and I have a lot to be proud of!
Thanks for sharing
Reviewed by Sheila Roy 11/19/2010
Awesome, Anna. A true success story, and one to be proud of:)
Reviewed by Mariann Klimczuk 5/16/2009
This is a great story. Thanks for sharing.

Reviewed by Felix Perry 5/14/2009
I love the old stories of Nfld, as you know my last book was called In Deep Water and was about another hero of Newfoundland...Dobbin the Diver who hailed from St. Marys Bay and I am proud to claim him as my great great grandfather.


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