The Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee is pleased to announce three new inductees into the Regatta Hall of Fame: Torbay Fisherman’s Crew 1928-1938, Mr. Ronnie Whitten and Mr. Michael Hickey.
“This year, we have added three worthy inductees to the Regatta Hall of Fame,” said Noelle Thomas-Kennell, President of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee. “The Torbay Fisherman’s Crew 1928-1938, Mr. Ronnie Whitten and Mr. Michael Hickey have had a significant impact on the Regatta and fixed-seat rowing and we’re proud to honour their substantial contributions in this way.”
The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be hosted by the City of St. John’s on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022.
Torbay Fisherman’s Crew 1928-1938
The Torbay Fisherman’s Crew was the pride of Torbay during the 1920s and 30s, as many from the community made their way to town each Regatta Day to see their crew go head-to-head with their historic rivals from Outer Cove. Led by stroke, Mr. Robert “Coppertop” Codner, the crew won their races in 1928, and each year from 1933-1938. Described as a competitive and talented oarsman, Mr. Codner is remembered as one of the best strokes the pond has ever known. Today, Torbay’s roots in fixed-seat rowing are well established and the community has proudly produced many talented rowers over the years. We are honoured to recognize the role the Torbay Fisherman’s Crew 1928-1938 played in paving the way and inspiring countless rowers in the many years since by inducting this crew into the Rower/Crew category.
The team was comprised of: 1928 Stroke Robert Codner, T Gosse, W Molloy, M Manning, W Gosse, T Yeo; 1933 Stroke Robert Codner, W Gosse, H Codner, J Lacey, J Codner, W Cole; 1934 and 1935 Stroke Robert Codner, W Gosse, J Codner, Wm Codner, H Codner, G Morey, (Cox J Tobin); 1936 Stroke Robert Codner, J Codner, H Codner, WM Codner, G, Morey, Ed Codner (Cox J Tobin); 1937 Stroke Robert Codner, P Dunphy, J Codner, H Codner, Field, Bradbury (Cox. J Tobin); 1938 Stroke C Tapper, P. Dunphy, Ed Codner, P. Manning, C. Manning, J. Manning.
Ronnie Whitten began rowing in 1998 and made his first championship race in 1999. Since then, every year he’s rowed he’s competed in the championship race – fourteen in total. He has the second highest total of championship wins at ten.
Perhaps Mr. Whitten’s greatest achievement took place with the Crosbie Industrial Crew in 2006 and 2007. This team, considered one of the greatest of all time, would break the nine minute barrier in practice twice, and three times on Regatta Day. This includes the historic 2007 Royal St. John’s Regatta where the Crosbie Industrial crew would break the course record, not once, but twice in the same day. This achievement is considered one of the greatest single Regatta performances of all time. The time of 8:51.32 continues to be current long course record 15 years later.
Mr. Whitten has had great success in the Harbour Grace and Placentia Regattas as well, winning each regatta 4 times and 6 times, respectively. He has also won a record three VOCM Triple Crowns in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He has the distinction of being one of the few people to have the course records in the Royal St. John’s Regatta, Harbour Grace Regatta and Placentia Regatta.
Mr. Whitten’s Royal St. John’s Regatta Championship wins include: NTV (3 wins) – three straight wins from 2000 to 2002; Crosbie Industrial (2 wins) – in 2006 and 2007, including current course record and also awarded the Lord Warrens Medal; East Coast Marine Services (1 win) – in 2009; Rogers Bussey Lawyers (4 wins) – three straight wins from 2010 to 2012 and 2014.
For his contributions to the Royal St. John’s Regatta, Ronnie Whitten is inducted into the Royal St. John’s Regatta Hall of Fame as a Rower.
Michael “Mike” Hickey first sat in a rowing shell in 1955 at the age of 10 and, as they say, the rest is history. Mr. Hickey has spent a lifetime committed to the sport of fixed-seat rowing as a rower, coach, coxswain and volunteer with the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee.
Starting his rowing career at age 14, Mr. Hickey first rowed with the boys from Outer Cove. Through the 1960s to 1980s, he not only honed his skills as an athlete, but expanded his understanding of the shells and to this day remains one of the organization’s most knowledgeable when it comes to questions of equipment maintenance and repair. In the early 2000s, while doing his annual maintenance of shells before Regatta Day, Mr. Hickey noticed troubling inconsistencies between seats and footings, and further observed the impact this had on shell efficiency and race fairness. Not one stand idly by, these concerns eventually resulting in Mr. Hickey, along with John Barrington Sr. and Frank Dinn, developing a standardized seat prototype, that was tested in 2010-2011. These standardized seats, and eventually standardized footings, are now taken for granted, but no doubt had a significant role in creating fairness amongst crews.
Beyond that, Mr. Hickey was a leader in advocating for the introduction of the electronic timing system and judges tower. Following the controversial Women’s Championship Race of 1996, Mr. Hickey researched and passionately promoted for the use of a modernized timing system. His hard work and dedication resulted in the introduction of the new system in 2012, with Mr. Hickey standing pond side, supporting and overseeing the entirety of the installation. In fact, until the Judge’s Tower was opened in 2015, the electronic system operated out of Mr. Hickey’s very own motorhome on the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake.
Perhaps Mr. Hickey’s greatest contribution is the immeasurable impact he has had as a mentor and coach to countless rowers and coxswains over the decades. His wealth of knowledge of the sport made him a popular choice for crews seeking coaching and support. In fact, it was through a conversation he had with Dee Murphy in the late 1990s that the Royal St. John’s Regatta started the formal recognition of coaches, with the first acknowledgement of coaches in the 1996 regatta day program. His legacy as coach and coxswain, however, is perhaps best reflected in his integral role in the establishment of both the Learn to Row Program and Learn to Cox Programs. In particular, Mr. Hickey’s desire to support new crews and coxswains resulted in the Royal St. John’s Regatta’s first Cox Clinics in 1998 and his creation of the first RSJRC Coxswain Manual.
On May 21, 1998, Mr. Hickey was first elected to the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee and has remained an active and committed volunteer ever since. Recently, Mr. Hickey was also offered the title of Honorary Life Member of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee denoting his volunteer contribution to the Committee.
For his contribution to the Royal St. John’s Regatta as a Builder, Mike Hickey is inducted into the Royal St. John’s Regatta Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame Committee puts out a call for nominations in the spring of each year. The three categories are: Rower/Crew, Coach/Coxswain, and Builder. The Committee receives and reviews applications, and certificates are presented at a special luncheon the Wednesday before the Regatta.
The 2022 Royal St. John’s Regatta Hall of Fame Committee members are: Don Kelly (Chair), Brendan McCarthy, Brian Madore, Mike Power, Wayne Purchase, Gail Malone, Bob Whelan (Secretary) and Chris Neary.
“We take pride in ensuring deserving candidates are inducted into the Hall of Fame each year,” said Mr. Kelly. “We take passion in recognizing these exceptional individuals and highly encourage people to submit a nomination for future inductees.”
The Regatta Hall of Fame was established in 1987, with three objectives. The first is to recognize, honour and pay tribute to individuals or crews on the basis of ability, sportsmanship, character and achievement or extraordinary distinction in fixed seat rowing, whether amateur or professional.
The second is to recognize, honour and pay tribute to those individuals, groups or associations who have given distinguished service and who have made a major contribution to the development and advancement of fixed seat rowing in Newfoundland.
And the third is to encourage the development of all aspects of fixed seat rowing by permanently recording the achievements and history of such individuals, groups, associations, or crews.
The 204th Anniversary of the Royal St. John’s Regatta will take place on Wednesday, August 3 (weather permitting). Additional information about the regatta can be found at www.stjohnsregatta.com.
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Director of Communications
Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee
E: [email protected]
T: (709) 693-2722