|The finest crew to grace the waters of
Quidi Vidi was, unquestionably, the Outer Cove fisherman 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 Fishermen'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 a
majestic with the mere mention of the name Outer Cove and that community's
association with the Day of the Races. Crews from the settlement were ever
famous as top-notch oarsmen. Indeed, for the period 1873 to 1900 oarsmen from
Outer Cove has mad Championship time in no less than eleven 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 - 1013 - 9.20 - 9.35 and 9.40 respectively.
Over the years a keen rivalry developed
between Outer Cove and the neighboring settlement of Torbay. Indeed Torbay, very
definitely , 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 time , over the 1.6 mile course.
Thus it was that emboldened by their
victory over Outer Cove in the Fishermen'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 other crews dared face off against those
two magnificent crews. One jubilant, born of its victory in the forenoon and
ready to prove its superiority, the other fiercely proud of community heritage,
equally eager to prove its ability.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The below was printed in the St. John's
"The Telegram" May 2nd 2009 as No. 4 of the Ten Best Teams
series and has been reproduced here with their permission.
No. 4: 1901
Outer Cove Rowing Crew
The 1901 Outer Cove
crew set a 9:13 time
in the St. John's
Regatta, a record
that would stand for
80 years. — Photo
may be long since broken, but
legend lives on
TEN BEST TEAMS
It is the most famous of times recorded within the arena of
Newfoundland sports, even after
all these years. Is it our
four-minute mile, our 10 seconds
in the 100 metres.
Nine minutes, 13 and 4/5
Many a ballad has been written,
much ink has been spilled on
pages hailing the legend of the
9:13 and the six Outer Cove
fishermen who made the time on
Quidi Vidi Lake 108 years ago.
It is that record-breaking 1901
Outer Cove crew that holds down
the No. 4 spot on The Telegram's
list of Newfoundland and
Labrador's 10 best teams.
Consider this: of the 500 or so
members of Canada's Sports Hall
of Fame, only nine are from this
province - a jockey from
Conception Bay South named Nick
Wall, who moved to Nova Scotia
at an early age; the great
Regatta coxswain Levi (Shotty)
Rogers and the seven Outer Cove
men who propelled the Blue Peter
across Quidi Vidi Lake in record
time 1901 - cox Walter Power,
John Whelan, Daniel McCarthy,
Denis McCarthy, Denis Croke,
John Nugent and Martin Boland.
Oh sure, the course has probably
changed quite a bit in the past
100 years, but nothing takes
away the feat of the Outer Cove
Presumably, there was no
training involved in rowing the
regattas at the turn of the 20th
century. For these men, their
training was all in a day's
work, rowing their dories around
the fishing grounds.
at the annual "Day at the races"
was nothing new to crews from
Outer Cove. Teams from the
tight-knit Northeast Avalon
community had established
several 19th-century records,
including posting the fastest
time of the day for five
straight years in the late
And it was a team from Outer
Cove that had owned the course
record of 9:20, established in
1885, prior to '01.
The weather on that Aug. 8 day
in 1901 was, according to The
Evening Telegram, "all that
could be desired."
"Not a cloud was visible in the
blue canopy of the heavens and
the sun shone so hot that one
could scarcely turn his eyes
towards the skies for its
"Just a slight breeze was
blowing which covered the lake
with gentle ripples and added
fourfold to its great natural
As had been the case for
previous regattas, many of the
citizens of St. John's had
convened on Quidi Vidi for the
"All business was suspended and
the town itself," the newspaper
reported, "looked as if it had
been deserted pending a great
In the morning Fishermen's Race,
Outer Cove had lost to its
nearby rivals from Torbay by a
slim margin in a preview of what
was sure to be a two-boat race
for the championship in the
In the final race, Torbay was
rowing in the Red Cross, Outer
Cove in the Blue Peter. The
famed Blue Peter had been
constructed by the great
boatbuilder Bob Sexton.
According to reports, Outer Cove
and Torbay were neck and neck as
each boat made its way up the
pond. But it was Outer Cove that
emerged first from the turning
of the buoys.
As the band struck up a chord to
the "Banks of Newfoundland,"
Outer Cove rowed with poise and
purpose to the finish line, no
doubt encouraged by a large
crowd unaware that history was
about to be made.
When the gunshot rang out to end
the race, it was Outer Cove in
the remarkable time of 9:13 4/5.
Torbay was just a half-boatlength
The time would stand for 80
Some of the Regatta's finest -
the great William Summers Jr.
crews come to mind - lined up
for their crack at it, and
And then, in 1981, Skipper Jim
Ring and his Smith Stockley (St.
John's Boys and Girls Club) team
did the unthinkable.
In the early afternoon of
Wednesday, Aug. 5, 1981, Skipper
Ring, stroke Randy Ring, John
Barrington, Tom Power, Brian
Cranford, Bill Holwell and Paul
Ring hauled the Native around
Quidi Vidi in the amazing time
Outer Cove mourned. It had lost
the record, but not for long.
The year after Stockley did the
unthinkable, Mike Power
assembled a crew of eager young
men determined to bring the
record back to Outer Cove.
Andrew Boland, Bert Hickey,
Campbell Feehan, Gerard Ryan,
Jim Hibbs and Owen Devereaux
In the men's amateur race, the
first race of the day in the '82
derby, Outer Cove gave what had
been up to that point in time
the most dominant performance in
a single race, covering the
course in an astounding 9:03.48.
After re-establishing the record
and winning the men's
championship race later that
day, pride was restored in Outer
As for the men of 1901, a plaque
in their honour sits in Kelly
Park in Outer Cove. The Blue
Peter, the only tangible
reminder of that glorious crew,
rested for years in the CLB
Armory, until the big Harvey
Road fire in 1992 destroyed it.
Needless to say, the 1901 Outer
Cove crew were among the first
inductees into the Royal St.
John's Regatta Hall of Fame when
it was established in 1987.