It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Central Alberta Rowing Club (CARC) as they prepare to host the 2017 Alberta Indoor Rowing Championships at the Abbey Centre this weekend.
Over 150 athletes from all over the province are set to converge on Blackfalds for the competition, which is one of the qualifiers that Team Alberta uses to choose their athletes for the upcoming Canada Games in Winnipeg.
“This year is the most participants; athletes we’ve had. I think we’re at 172, which means we’ll need 14 race-rowing machines,” said CARC President Andrew Nokes.
Competitive indoor rowing was created as a way for rowing athletes to keep fit and stay in shape throughout the winter. It uses special rowing machines which simulate the movement and feel of an oar cutting through water. Participants use the machines, along with a special software, to virtually race each other over set distances.
The one-day event, which takes place this Saturday, will feature athletes from the University of Alberta, University of Calgary and Lakelands College, as well as local Central Alberta competitors.
“The times they achieve at this competition will be taken into account during the selection process (for Canada Summer Games). It’s a great incentive to work on a good training program throughout the winter for the clubs,” Nokes said.
This year will mark the 13th time the Club has hosted the annual provincial meet and Nokes said it has been growing since then.
“We started out of the Collicutt Centre and I think we had four or five race machines. The attendance, I think I vaguely recall, was less than 80,” Nokes said.
After bouncing around to different venues over the years, the Club found the perfect place to host the meet in the Abbey Centre three years ago.
“When they opened the Abbey Centre it was the ideal location. It’s very close to the highway and the field house is an ideal location for the rowing event,” he said.
In addition to preparations for the Indoor Rowing Championships, CARC has also been hard at work fundraising and applying for grants in order to pay for their new boathouse on Lacombe Lake, which is set to open next month.
Nokes said the plan is to open up the new facility for use by other water sports such as kayaking and canoeing.
“The focus at the moment is to get the boat house up and then a fence compound so that we can move our boats from the current location,” he said, adding the compound will provide space for the various clubs to store their equipment in a place that is safe from the elements and from potential vandalism.
He also noted after the boat house and fence are up, the focus will turn to securing a dock and power so the Club can charge its battery powered rescue boat.
The Central Alberta Indoor Rowing Championships run this Saturday at the Abbey Centre beginning at 9 a.m.