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Emotional scene as Harbour Grace Regatta remembers Jennifer Kelsey

Sheena Martin, a member of the Bella Photography and Beauty boat, hugs Jennifer Kelsey's brother Brian after presenting him with his sister's jersey Saturday at the Harbour Grace Regatta on behalf of the team. Jennifer, right, died suddenly July 19 at the age of 37.
Sheena Martin, a member of the Bella Photography and Beauty boat, hugs Jennifer Kelsey's brother Brian after presenting him with his sister's jersey Saturday at the Harbour Grace Regatta on behalf of the team. Jennifer, right, died suddenly July 19 at the age of 37.

HARBOUR GRACE, NL — The Harbour Grace Regatta paid tribute Saturday to a dedicated coxswain and rower who died suddenly almost a week before the annual event.

Flowers were provided to those wishing to toss them into Lady Lake Saturday in memory of Jennifer Kelsey.

Jennifer Kelsey died July 19 at the age of 37. A native of Bristol's Hope who most recently lived with her family in Victoria, Kelsey started rowing in her youth and eventually served as a coxswain for crews.

She remained involved in the local regatta leading up to this year's event and was scheduled to row with one crew and cox another. The first event of the day was christened the Jennifer Kelsey Memorial Race and featured the team she was supposed to row with, Bella Photography and Beauty in a Flash. That team, which featured Sheena Martin, Aimee Slade, Krista Cox, Jill Colbourne, Heidi White, Heidi Snow and spare Kristen Smith, placed third in the race, coxed by Fred Chafe.

At 2 p.m. regatta organizers held a special ceremony in Kelsey's honour. Rowers and many others tossed flowers into Lady Lake in memory of her. Members of the Bella Photography and Beauty team took their boat out for another spin during this act.

"Jennifer's untimely and unexpected passing has left a void in our hearts," regatta committee member Kathy Tetford said during Saturday's ceremony.

It was an emotional scene lakeside as people tossed flowers into Lady Lake.

"While we can try to understand how this has happened to such a bright, sported-minded, dedicated woman, we never will. We are grateful for Jennifer's life and her love for our sport. Her drive and determination and contagious grin has impacted every single person who has ever been blessed enough to have had the opportunity to know her."

A large photo of Kelsey was on display at the awards stage by the boathouse. Tears were later shed in that area when Martin, the stroke on Kelsey's ladies boat, presented Jennifer's jersey to her older brother Brian. Several other members of her family were at the regatta Saturday.

The Bella Photography and Beauty in a Flash boat later placed third in the ladies' championship race. Bella Photography donated a framed print of the boathouse and lake, with proceeds from ticket sales going towards the regatta committee's Oar Fund in memory of Jennifer Kelsey.

editor@cbncompass.ca

This story was edited to correct information about Jennifer Kelsey's role with two crews at the regatta.

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