1901 Outer Cove Crew
The finest crew to grace the waters of Quidi Vidi is unquestionably the Outer Cove fishermen who, in 1901, rowed the Blue Peter to victory in the record time of 9:13 4/5.
Outer Cove's perennial foes, Torbay, had beaten them in the Fisherman's race rowed in the morning of the 1901 Regatta by the scantiest of margins. It was a foregone conclusion that both crews of titans would row to the stakes as qualifiers for the Championship race.
There is something exciting as well as majestic with the mere mention of the name Outer Cove and that community's association with the Day of the Races. Crews from that settlement were ever famous as top-notch oarsmen. Indeed, for the period 1873 to 1900, oarsmen form Outer Cove had made Championship time in no less thank of our annual Regattas. In 1885, a crew from the community of Outer Cove, rowing in the Myrtle, established a course record of 9.20. From 1883 to 1887, Outer Cove reigned as Regatta champions with times of 9.45, 10.13, 9.20, 9.35 and 9.40 respectively.
Over the years, a keen rivalry developed between Outer Cove and the neighbouring settlement of Torbay. Indeed, Torbay was always a power to be reckoned with. Up to the Regatta of 1901, crews from that community had four Championships to their credit. All in truly impressive times over the 1.6 mile course.
Thus it was that emboldened by their victory over Outer Cove in the Fisherman's race, rowed in the forenoon, the Torbay crew in the Red Cross moved confidently to the stakes late in the afternoon of Wednesday, August 7th, 1901. An equally determined Outer Cove crew in the Blue Peter also took up its position to await the starter's gun. It was to be a two boat Championship Race. No others dared face off against those two magnificent crews. One jubilant, born of its victory in the forenoon and ready prove its superiority, the other fiercely proud of community heritage, equally eager to prove its ability.
Ideal conditions prevailed. A newspaper of that era states that
"the closing contest for the Championship was rowed on a surface untouched by the least sign of wind or motion."
In an elegant turn of a phrase the item adds:
"a painted lake could be no smoother."
Such favourable conditions seemed to heighten the sense of drama and capture the emotions of the crowd. Excitement was at fever pitch as the two crews got away from the stakes. The race itself became a battle of giants as Outer Cove in the Blue Peter and Torbay in the Red Cross fought bow-to-bow as each sought to gain an advantage. The break came at the buoys. There, Walter Power, coxswain for Outer Cove, gained half a length over Torbay. He doggedly and determinedly maintained that advantage as he exhorted his superbly conditioned crew to hold fast in the battle up the Pond.
Thousands of wildly cheering, excited fans lined the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake, creating a din which all but drowned out the band's rendition of "The Banks of Newfoundland." Few in the crowd realized that racing history was being made. Outer Cove's lead stood up. The Blue Peter crossed the finish line in the astounding time of 9:13 4/5. One half a boat length separated the victorious Outer Cover crew from Torbay. Both victor and vanquished were vociferously acclaimed. Both had beaten the course record. While Time's effacing fingers has little respect for records, it seems powerless to erase the mark of 9.13 4/5 set by the Outer Cover fisherman in the Blue Peter at the Regatta of 1901.
Having withstood the assault of over seventy years the record seems destined to endure forever. So too will the names and the memory of the Outer Cove Crew. Their's was indeed a proud, memorable and glorious achievement.
The following are the members of the Outer Cove crew who rowed the Blue Peter to victory in the record time of 9.13 4/5 in our annual Regatta in 1901:
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.
All members of the Outer Cove Crew have long since passed to their reward.