ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - Ben Courtney and his crew were considered underdogs heading into the 127th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, and that suited them just fine.
Cut from the St. Catharines Rowing Club's under-17 eight team, Courtney, Blake Sandham, Aaron Kirkey, Andrew Bush and Carissa Richardson combined for gold in the under-17 men's cox four Sunday.
"Weve only been together for about three weeks," Courtney said. "We were the four guys who got cut from the eight. We were considered the B four. We just clicked right away.
"We had mediocre equipment and then we started winning some races and got the best boat in the club. Nobody believed in us but we did it. We just won Henley."
Courtney said there was no doubt in the minds of the crew they could pull off the upset.
"Going into it, in the back of our minds we knew we were going to win," said Courtney, who is the crew's stroke. "Everyone called us the B four and no one thought we would win it."
The crew held off two other St. Catharines boats in the race. Greg Principi, Troy Mellen, Zachary Korsmit, John White and Alana Fraser placed second and Stephen Wakulich, Devin Sullivan, Jordan Heyworth, Nathan Smith and Nicole Venditti were third.
Courtney's crew had barely finished their medal presentation when the St. Catharines crew of Mike Fisher, Brendan Coffey, Corey Brunton, Jake Cushnie, Ian Connell, Daniel Downie, Matthew Schench, Sylas Coletto and cox Katie Bruggeling captured gold in the senior men's lightweight eight.
The senior lightweight women's eight of Kate Nay, Alex Meiklejohn, Erin Snelgrove, Emma Sheehan, Alison Thomas, Natasha Eikelenbo, Jenna Burke, Charlotte Brown and cox Carla Edwards then made it three in a row for the local club.
"We rowed together as a crew, not as individuals," said Meiklejohn, who also won gold in the under-23 lightweight eight and senior lightweight eight.
For Sheehan, Nay and Snelgrove, it was their fourth Henley gold of the week.
Five races later, Snelgrove finished third in the under-17 women's single.
Anna Ionson edged out Kayla Wakulich in one of the most exciting finishes for the gold in that race.
Later Sunday, Nay, Meiklejohn, Burke and Sheehan added to their hardware count with a gold in the under-23 lightweight women's four.
Mike Huurman, Clark Tyler, Mike Lewis and Patrick O'Conner also earned gold for St. Catharines with a win in the under-23 mens four.
In one of the most anticipated races of the day, Fraser Berkhout of Ridley, Ont., outdistanced Chris Jarvis of the St. Catharines club in the men's championship single. Berkhout and Jarvis placed second earlier in the day in the men's championship pair.
"It takes a special type of athlete to row with somebody and then row against them," said Berkhout. "Chris is the best athlete in Canada, so it was a real honour to row the pair with him and then against him."
The rain held off all week, but Sunday's races started at about 2:15 p.m. ET - about 2 1/2 hours late - because of rain and lightning.
"We've been unbelievably lucky," regatta chair Carol Purcer said about an hour before the storm rolled in. "I think this has been the best week for weather all year."