Although this year marks 54 consecutive years for he regatta, the sport of rowing is one that’s lodged deep into the town’s history, dating back to over 140 years ago.
In 1877, as the story goes, a group of Placentia fishermen carried their boat on their backs from Placentia to St. John’s, where they participated in and won the championship, carrying their boat again on the trip back.
In 1977, the Placentia Lions Crew replicated this feat, carrying their own boat to St. John’s. There, the Lions won three races, including the Men’s Championship, as well as their second consecutive Triple Crown of Rowing, which is awarded to a team that wins the championship in Harbour Grace, Placentia, and St. John’s.
The 1977 Lions Crew consisted of Adrian O’Keefe, Tom Whittle, Brendan Whittle, Anthony Whittle, Frank Lannon, Gerard Barron, Leo Collins, and Clem Whittle.
On Friday night, July 21st, the Town of Placentia will hold a special presentation starting at 8 p.m. for the Lions Crew to commemorate 40 years since the ’77 walk. Plaques will be awarded to the members, a slideshow will be screened onstage, and a special presentation of an enlarged photo of the crew from 1977 during their walk to St. John’s will be made.
President of the Placentia Regatta Committee, Gene Collins, told The Compass that the crew has also been nominated to be inducted into the Royal St. John’s Regatta Hall of Fame. Along with this, the 1977 Lions Crew will be the very first nominee for a new sports hall of fame for the Placentia area, which is still in the works.
Collins noted that a lot of preparation went into Friday night’s presentation, and specially thanked sponsors such as the Port of Argentia, Mary Brown’s, the Placentia Lions, and Harold and Thelma Kelly.
Collins also added that the town of Placentia has shown great pride and recognition for their past, and that he feels as though this commemoration is a step in the right direction for community spirit.
“There’s a lot of pride in the community,” Collins said. “We’re always getting phone calls, emails, and whatever else from residents about all this, telling us how proud they are of their home and how glad they are to see that (the Lions Crew) are getting the proper recognition.”
“Sport is really big in our community,” Collins added. “I think it’s very important to our residents that that’s recognized by other people.”
Following the presentation on Friday night, the Placentia Regatta will be held on Saturday, July 22nd.
Collins explained to The Compass that the regatta will have a day’s worth of events and concessions, which includes 17 races such as the Men’s and Women’s Championships at 6 and 6:30 p.m. respectively.
“The regatta is a pretty exciting day for the town. It goes back to our pride as residents of Placentia,” added Collins. “We’re eager to represent the town in any way we can, and to show what we’re capable of. It’s a day where everyone can come together to enjoy each other’s company, and we’re eager to see the community come to support the Lions Friday night as well.”
More information regarding the Placentia Regatta or the 1977 Lions Crew presentation can be accessed at www.placentiaregatta.com.