The adventures of HMCS Ville de Québec’s Ice Canoe Team
By Lt(N) Émilie Béchard
On the morning of January 28, a team of 8 members from HMCS Ville de Québec left Halifax for beautiful Quebec City to undertake a week of training prior to the Carnaval de Québec Ice Canoe Race. The race, held on February 4th, was the biggest event of the season for the Ice Canoeists in Quebec, but also attracted teams as far away as France. Incredibly popular, it gathered the most media attention for the sport. Some teams, like the HMCS Ville de Québec crew, only participated in that race, this year.
The race itself departd from Basin Louise where teams proceeded to the ferry terminal in Quebec City before crossing to the adjacent terminal in Lévis then return to Basin Louise. Each team was required to complete the loop twice, so long as they were able to meet the cut off time of 50 minutes for the first lap.
During the training sessions, the team encountered all sorts of weather, from freezing cold and wind with ice pellets in the air to comparatively warm and (mostly) open water. Race day, however, was mild and snowing making it difficult for the unexperienced team from Ville de Québec to differentiate between ice and slush, rendering the progression across the river wet, slow and difficult.
Due to the difficult conditions on race day, the team was unable to make the cut off for the first loop, completing their loop in approximatively 1h05m and taking 18th place out of 23 for the race.
Even though the team didn’t finish the race, they were still able to complete the first loop 20 minutes faster than the previous year, which was held in similar weather conditions. Many of the team’s members eagerly look forward to next year’s race, where they are hoping to make even better time. “We really enjoyed learning and taking on this challenge together” said Sub-lieutenant Antoine Blais, who acted as bowsman for the team. When the team rejoined Ville de Québec their spirit of camraderie was infectuous, and can only serve them well during the ship’s upcoming deployment for Operation REASSURANCE.